Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Monday, August 14, 2017

Bad Movie Month shifts into gear with Maximum Overdrive

Welcome back to Bad Movie Month, folks, where we continue with our Worst of Stephen King theme by hitting the horrible highway heading for Bad Adaptation Road with 1986's Maximum Overdrive.

Like our previous entry,Children of the Corn, this  cinematic dumpster on fire with wheels is based upon a short story(entitled Trucks) from King's Night Shift collection. One of the main differences between those two hot movie messes,however, is that Stephen King was in the driver's seat as director/writer for this particular car wreck.

We start things off with an opening title card that explains what's about to happen as the earth is the tail of a strange comet whose effects are supposed to last for about a week or so. I'm sure this was meant to be helpful but it leaves so many questions unanwered.

For example, this celestial event is the reason given for all of the mechanical devices in the world to suddenly turn violent against humanity. Yet, not every machine seems to be on board with the new lethal program as while such things as trucks, soda can machines and even an electric carving knife come to life and draw first blood, regular cars don't attack people at all.

 If trucks can use their new found free will for evil, why not cars?  Surely, cars would be able to do plenty of damage to the human population,  right along side their eighteen-wheeler brethren, and we all know King is no stranger to evil cars there! I guess that King didn't want to go too far beyond the borders of his original short story here but there are hints of what else he had in mind as one poor guy is zapped by a video game machine with the added indignity of dying with snack cakes sticking out of his hat:

As in the short story, most of the action here is centered around the Dixie Boy truck stop run by the sleazy owner Hendershot(Pat Hingle) and all too soon, the hapless staff and civilians are held captive by a band of trucks relentlessly circling the place.

The leader of the trucks appears to be a toy delivery vehicle,which has the gruesome grinning face of Spiderman's arch nemesis, The Green Goblin, mounted on the front grille. How Marvel let them have that in this movie, I don't know, but then again, it gives that big rig more of a personality than most of the human actors here:

Speaking of lack of personality, Emilio Estavez is intended to be our hero, playing diner cook Bill whose biggest grip until the trucks take over is being cheated out of his overtime pay due to his ex-con status by Hendershot.

It's a legitimate complaint but really doesn't add much to either him or the situation at hand, not even when Hendershot gleefully tells Bill's new found girl friend(more on that in a moment) about his short lived life of crime. Estavez maintains the same level of annoyance at that as he does toward the killer trucks outside, which registers as moody with a side of grumpy and a dash of belated teen angst:

Estavez's laconic performance(which earned him a Golden Raspberry nomination) is more than made up for by Pat Hingle's glee at chewing the scenery in the same manner that his character chomps his cheap cigars.

Both of them, however, are out done by the ladies in this film, two out of the three being world class hysterical. Sure, killer machines are something worthy to be upset about yet the screech levels that these gals reach could break the sound barrier at times.

From Yeardley Smith's newly wed whiner with her brilliant questions such as "Curtis, are you dead?" to Dixie Boy waitress Wanda June(Ellen McElduff) who takes the revolt of the trucks way too personally, the only feminine strength on display here is lung power.

 Sure, we do have the feisty hitchhiker(Laura Harrington) who fights off the advances of a sleazy salesman only to fall into bed with moody cook Bill*pause for serious eye-roll* but even she doesn't get to do much of anything to fight back against the murder machines. The only woman who does that in the entire film(and not by much other than her "We Made YOU!" stance) pays for that greatly well before the end credits:

I know, I know, this wasn't intended to be anything other than a grade Z drive-in type of movie but still, at least one female character could've been more than a helpless maiden in distress or a sexy sidekick.

To be fair, most of the characters were pretty dumb, especially in taking their sweet time to load up with the stash of weapons under the diner(how convenient!) to fight their way out of the truck stop. Instead, they let the trucks blackmail them into refueling them for hours on end, a sequence that is laughable sad to say the least.

King has said that making this movie was a "learning experience" and the lesson he got from it was to never do something like this again. At least the man is smart enough to learn from his mistakes, unlike some I could mention. A made-for-TV film was made from Trucks several years later but the reviews for that were only slightly better than the critical thrashing that Maximum Overdrive received.

Stop by next week, folks, to see Firestarter blow things up real good! Yeah, Drew Barrymore and Stephen King movies tend not to mix together very well indeed, kind of like popcorn and motor oil:

Friday, August 11, 2017

My summer of Series-ous Reading introduces me to Jane and The Genius of the Place

For my summer selection in my Series-ous Reading challenge, I thought that the fourth book in Stephanie Barron's Jane Austen Mystery series,Jane and The Genius of the Place, would be a quick read.

 Turns out, it took longer than I expected(partly due to my putting it aside during the High Summer Readathon) but that is not the fault of the book at all.

Here, we come upon our Miss Austen during a visit to her brother Edward and his family at Kent in the year 1805. Jane, along with her delightful snarky sister-in-law Elizabeth and brother Henry Austen,attends the annual horse races in Canterbury and as soon as the main race is over and done with, a brutal murder is discovered to have taken place nearby.

 The victim is Francoise Grey, the youthful wife of well-established(and far older than she) banker Valentine Grey, found strangled by her own hair ribbon and placed in a carriage owned by Denys Collingforth, one of several men whom the lady was known to have a serious flirtation with.

Since Edward happens to be the local Justice of the Peace, he must investigate the crime and is willing to take assistance from any quarter, including Jane who he knows has prior experience in such matters.

 I really enjoyed that aspect of the story, not putting Jane in a position where she would have to sneak around for evidence(although she does a little of that) or have her input be ignored. Kind of gives the book a Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew vibe to it:

While Collingforth flees the scene, he is not the most likely candidate to have done away with Mrs. Grey as Jane and friends soon learn.

In addition to the other gentlemen callers she entertained, Francoise also received regular correspondence from her adoptive family back in France, a rather difficult  thing to do given the tensions between Napoleonic France and England during such a time.

Her main correspondent was the Comte de Penfleur, who is said to have had strong affections for Francoise and less than thrilled that she married Valentine as part of a business alliance at best. Was it a jealous lover, a jealous husband or another party who unwittingly shared secrets with the seductive Mrs. Grey who made her last time on horseback a truly final finish?:

While Jane and her brothers look into some of the inconsistencies of Francoise's death-how was it that the lady was seen by all to be riding away from the races yet found only a short time later in Collingforth's carriage without her signature red riding coat?-a new source of intrigue enters the scene.

Julian Sothey, a "Gentleman Improver" happened to be a trusted guest at the estate of the Greys, giving helpful hints as to the renovation of the grounds and quite the charming fellow to boot. His sudden appearance catches many a lady's eye but is he truly trustworthy?

 Jane does find him agreeable company but soon suspects that Julian knows more than he's telling and perhaps answers can be found in the confidence of Anne Sharpe, governess to Jane's young niece Fanny, who seems to know Julian far better than she respectably should:

The story does take a couple of twists and turns that I didn't expect yet all in all, it was engaging to read. I did adore Elizabeth, who seemed to have a droll remark for every occasion, and while I did wish for a slightly more dramatic ending, this did work out well.

I did think that I would be spending more of my summer reading with a much longer book for Series-ous Reading but a change of plans can be good, so I'll finish out the remainder of this season with Daniel O'Malley's The Rook, the first in the Checquy Files series.

This supernatural spy story has a very inventive blend of Jason Bourne meets Atomic Blonde with a sharp tang of Buffy the Vampire Slayer laced with Kingsmen. Sounds a bit all over the place but trust me, this novel is more organized than my description of it. So, see you all in September with more Series-ous Reading to come:

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Bad Movie Month babysits the Children of the Corn

Welcome back,folks, for more of Bad Movie Month where we are somewhat celebrating The Worst of Stephen King.

 A good number of bad Stephen King based movies can be traced back to his first short story collection,Night Shift. The film rights for that book were sold off in the early days of King's career, long before the term "creative control" became many a writer's best friend in Hollywood.

That particular book even has a cameo in one of best examples of how not to make a short story a full length feature, the camp classic Children of the Corn from 1984.

The original tale has a middle aged couple, Burt and Vicky, driving thru Nebraska on a deserted highway where they accidentally hit a child on the road and seek some help from the nearest town called Gatlin.

Turns out, that kid was already a goner and as our hapless heroes discover, the whole town is overrun with creepy kids who worship He Who Walks Behind the Rows, a deity that demands blood sacrifice in exchange for fresh corn crops. I like corn on the cob,too, but that's quite the steep price there!

That sense of mystery is completely blown by the beginning of this movie, as we start things off with a flashback to the slaughter of the grown-ups,ordered by kiddie cult leader Issac(John Franklin).

Narration is provided by young Job(Robby Kiger), whose little sister Sarah likes to do psychic drawings, the kind that any sensible adult looking at them would be immediately reporting to CPS.

Job and Sarah have a strange little subplot going here, as they secretly rebel against Issac and his red headed henchman Malachi(Courtney Gains) by playing board games and listening to records, activities now forbidden by the New World Order in town. Malachi finds their lack of faith disturbing but Issac considers Sarah an asset for her "gift of sight." I swear, at times, this movie plays out like a satanic version of Bugsy Malone:

Meanwhile, a much younger than originally conceived Burt and Vicky(played by Peter Horton and a pre-Sarah Connor Linda Hamilton) hit an escaping corn child while needlessly driving down a back road.

 After placing the body in the trunk of their car(which doesn't potentially make them look suspicious to any strangers they come across for help, not at all!) they make their way to Gatlin and take a hell of a while to buy a clue that the whole place is abandoned and dangerous.

 Gee, everywhere we go in town, no one's around, the phones are out of order and the buildings are crawling with rats and creepy corn themed decorations-guess we should keep looking for help just because we found one kid in a deserted house! Burt is supposed to be a doctor but I suspect that his medical license came out of a box of Cracker Jack:

Eventually, Burt and Vicky are targeted by the corn fed care bears that run this place, with prolonged chase scenes for Burt and a spot on a corn stalk cross for Vicky.

Sure, she gets cut down briefly for Malachi's big "Outlander, we have your woman!" moment but surely, Linda Hamilton deserved a chance to fight back a little against these corny creeps,seriously!

Meanwhile, the more interesting plot line continues as Burt goes around lecturing the cutthroat choir about how they don't use religion the right way at all(it's like listening to internet commenters debate) with Malachi staging a coup over Issac and offering him up to He Who Walks Behind the Rows, who either burrows like a Caddyshack gopher or makes scary cartoon faces when attacked by fire.

During Burt's big scene as he smacks down Malachi, the best part comes when Issac returns from his visit with the Lord High Corndog to avenge himself upon his former right hand man. This whole movie would've been so much better if they had simply stuck with the kids and skipped the adult characters altogether here:

What's truly amazing about the whole Children of the Corn legacy is the number of films that followed. Including the made-for-Syfy channel remake in 2009, there are eight COTC movies, most of which went directly to video.

Granted, the Syfy channel remake did actually stay closer to the source material but other than that, I'm not sure what inspired such a cornsilk silly franchise like this to be born, other than an easy cash-in on King's name and the cult status of the first film. Hopefully, eight is enough when it comes to harvesting this crappy crop of cornball terror.

With that in mind, I hope you'll tune into next week's BBM selection as we take a Maximum Overdrive with Stephen King himself sitting not so pretty in the director's chair while cranking up AC/DC on the soundtrack as loud as he can:

Monday, August 07, 2017

Winding down my summer reading with a book haul or two

After coming off such a wild literary ride as the High Summer Readathon the other week, the pace of my regular reading has slowed down a tad bit.

 Don't get me wrong, I'm not abstaining from my books yet my page turning activity is more focused on finishing one book(for my Series-ous Reading challenge, on which I will be updating later on this week) than my usual spreading the wealth approach via reading several books at once.

To keep those bookish juices flowing, I made a little trip to the library and picked up a couple of titles that were published years apart yet just feel right together. The most recent one is Mr. Rochester by Sarah Shoemaker and yes, it is about that Mr. Rochester, the dark,brooding leading man of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre.

The story follows Edward Rochester from his childhood days, coldly ignored by his father and older brother Rowland, to his journey to Jamaica to earn his fortune and eventually back to England with an emotionally altered wife in tow until he meets a certain governess. So far, the story is rather engaging and feels as if it could have been written as a stand alone novel inspired by Bronte instead of a companion piece to the original book.

Shoemaker does have the right tone for the time period and while I am still in the early chapters of the book, her words are painting quite the sensitive portrait of such a classically conflicted character that I truly want to stay on to see the completed painting revealed right to the end:

I paired that with Mistress of My Fate by Hallie Rubenhold, a novel set during the late 18th century in England with a rather crafty heroine.

 Her name is Henrietta Lightfoot, a young woman raised to be a companion to her more well-off cousin Catherine and destined to be a poor relation/servant for the rest of her life. Well, that won't do for our girl as she schemes and seduces her way into a far better and more advantageous position than her family ever dreamed of.

This is meant to be the first of a trilogy and if this turns out to be as entertaining as it seems, I may have to see if the other books are readily available. From what I have seen from a casual glimpse through these pages, this story feels like the kind of old school fare that Jane Austen might have read in secret and smirked with joy through every chapter:

I also received a couple of books in the mail, one of which will be arriving at bookstores this week. Lisa Beazley's Keep Me Posted follows the correspondence of two sisters, Cassie and Sid, who are leading very domestic lives in separate countries.

While they both do have internet access, Sid is reluctant to share her personal thoughts even in an e-mail, so Cassie agrees to the letter writing scheme in order to stay in touch. Over time,however, Cassie misses being a working woman and decides to liven up her at-home mom life by keeping a blog, it's contents made up of scanned letters to and from her sister.

The blog was supposed to be private but a wrong click makes it very public and puts a serious strain on this sisterly bond.  Sounds like a good heartfelt story of love and (hopefully) forgiveness that should make for a lovely late summer read to me.

Speaking of lovely, I was happy to get a hold of The Little French Bistro by Nina George, whose previous book, The Little Paris Bookshop, was such a charmer. Our leading lady is Marianne, a German woman in Paris who flees her lackluster marriage via a rather drastic ruse.

She makes her way to the coastal county of Brittany, finding sanctuary in the small town of Kerdruc where the kitchen of the local bistro welcomes her, along with it's love stricken head chef.

Taking the chance to refresh her outlook on life, Marianne finds pleasure in the simplest things such as the taste of newly caught seafood and  is able to consider what she truly wants for her future. A book like this feels like a real vacation, right down to the exquisite flavors of the food to the emotional awakenings that give each character much to savor in their souls:

Well, it does make sense to feel a little slowed down around this time of year as the last few weeks of summer do tend to make leisure time a much cherished item to cling to. All too soon, back to school shopping has already begun and a whole new batch of books and movies suited to the cooling days of fall will be upon us.

The magic of summer is somewhat dependent on taking that break from the everyday,which any good book can do all year long. Yet, like turning that last page, facing the regular grind of reality after a good recess can make you a bit off kilter there. Luckily, we always have a few good books on hand to help us ease back into things, although some may be harder to adjust from than others:

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Bad Movie Month gets Carrie-d away with The Worst of Stephen King

Welcome to Bad Movie Month, where every August we salute some of those cinematic stinkers that fester at multiplexes around this time of year.

Our theme this year is The Worst of Stephen King, an author who I truly admire yet he would be the first to admit that many of the Hollywood renditions of his work are far from ideal.

Since my sister's birthday is coming up this weekend, part of my gift to her is choosing a particular film that she loathes to be included in these dubious festivities. With that in mind, we begin with the 2013 remake of Carrie, a film experience that we sadly shared.

I am disappointed that this was the version my sister got to see, as the original film made quite an impact on me back in the day. Without getting too autobiographical, let's just say that it wasn't hard for me to identify with a tale about a female outsider fighting back against her bullying classmates.

That film was my first exposure to Stephen King and while it wasn't the first book of his that I read(that honor goes to Christine), that first impression went a long way indeed towards getting me to give his books a try.

Prior to 2013, there was a small screen remake that was meant to launch a TV series(which didn't get picked up), a sequel called Carrie 2: The Rage and even a Broadway musical that was recently revived. Those renditions clearly showed the pop culture impact of the story but the main difference between those and this particular remake is that I actually had hope that this one would work.

For one, the iconic lead roles played by Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie(both of whom earned Oscar nominations for their performances) in 1976 were given to Chloe Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore, a rather talented pair and a female director,Kimberly Peirce, was hired.

Sounds good, doesn't it, to have a trio of exceptional ladies like this to breath new life into this female fear fest? Well, that just wasn't enough to guarantee a worthwhile remake as studio interference and screenplay rewrites shackled the story big time.

Before we get into that, I do have comment on Moore's version of Margaret White, the religious zealot of a mother who helps to drive her daughter over the edge. While Piper Laurie's over the top take on the role can be parody worthy, it was very effective and showed the dominance of the character as King originally wrote her.

Julianne Moore, on the other hand, takes a more subtle approach and while she's somewhat scary, at times she doesn't seem to be than much of a threat to Carrie, who is a bit more forceful in standing up to her in this version. Less may be more but not for a major role like this:

Moretz does a bit better,using her body language to convey much of Carrie's social awkwardness, Yet, her overall performance is not as convincing as it could be.

Some of that may be due,in my opinion, to the lackluster supporting cast and I say this without any intent to shift the blame from Moretz. She doesn't connect well with Julianne Moore on screen either but it doesn't help that the majority of the cast is seriously forgettable. Especially the teen actors, most of which come across as either generic Mean Girls or male extras from a CW series:

A major flaw,however, is the script, which was written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa yet so reliant on the Lawrence D. Cohen screenplay from '76 that the writing credits had to be shared by both.

While it reproduces many of the key moments from that earlier film,it also removes the flavor that director Brian DePalma gave to those sequences, not to mention making pointless changes. Why have this story take place in modern day, for example, with social media included? Clearly, Carrie has no access to the internet outside of the school library so that makes little importance to her emotional struggles or her daily torments.

 Sure, they worked in at the prom but wasn't being dowsed with pig's blood enough of a shocker without a YouTube video playing for additional agony points?  Speaking of the prom, that sequence is the high point of the story and it's impact in this version is severely diluted. Part of the problem is due to the evolving nature of Carrie's powers as showcased throughout the story.

In the original film, her abilities were shown gradually, from that blown out light bulb in the girl's shower to an ashtray being knocked over in the vice principal's office, then the mirror at home cracking and when facing down her mother over prom, slamming every window in the house shut all at once.

That slow yet steady build-up helped to increase the fear factor as Carrie unleashed her full potential at prom. This movie, however, has Carrie burning out a bulb at first but then taking out a water fountain, smashing a bathroom mirror at school(which no one seems to notice!) and before being taken to the prom, sealing her mother's mouth up before shoving her into the dreaded closet as well as searing the lock shut!

Therefore, her rampage at the prom is not as surprising and frankly comes off as something more out of an X-Men movie than a horror film:

In addition to that, there were numerous scenes cut, such as an opening with a younger Carrie causing rocks to rain down on her house, something that is called back to during the finale yet makes no sense without that prior intro!

It would have made a better opener that the one they used, which has Margaret White giving birth alone and deciding at the last minute not to stab her newborn with scissors, which is not in the book and also takes away any surprise that Carrie is in danger from her blade happy mom.

The ending scene, with a gravestone that cracks while a rock song is playing, is incredibly tone deaf to say the least. The studio seem to want it both ways, a new Carrie with all of the best stuff from the original crammed into it. Well, that never works out well as the folks who did the shot-for-shot remake of Psycho(which came out long before this movie) could've told you.

 It's a shame because you could remake this story with the right approach, say have it take place in the past with an adult Sue Snell recounting that tragedy for a documentary? Then again, perhaps it's best to leave well alone and let poor Carrie rest in peace.  Tune in next week, when we go Midwestern madness with Children of the Corn, a holy horror indeed:

Monday, July 31, 2017

My literary hightlights from the High Summer Readathon of 2017

Once again, I've been having a wonderful time with the Seasons of Reading bookish events, with the annual High Summer Readathon allowing all who partake a good two weeks to indulge in page turning.

Unlike my last readathon, I added in my current loans from the library to this particular TBR and it's paid off in abundance. I was able to finish Fiona Barton's The Widow rather quickly, thanks to the high octane pace of the writing, and dive deeply in to Alison Weir's take on the most famous Tudor Queen.

Anne Boleyn, A King's Obsession is the second novel in the author's continuing series on each wife of Henry the VIII and yes, I did mean to start with the prior Catherine of Aragon book but someone got to it before me on my last library visit, so I went straight to Anne's story.  This particular tale takes us through Anne's time at the courts of Burgundy and France, where she saw many regal women speak of female independence yet also saw just how those words were only words when push came to shove.

Upon Anne taking a place in the court of Queen Catherine, she witnessed her own sister Mary being subject to King Henry's advances and yet when that focus was turned on her, Anne winds up choosing to use his one sided attentions to her advantage.

Despite the long trials and tribulations in eventually becoming Henry's queen, Anne still held on to the hope that it would all be worth it to have a child of hers take the throne of England(granted, she thought such offspring would be male as Henry wanted it to be, but fate's a funny thing there).

The pacing here is a tad long, as Alison Weir is also a historian as well as a historical fiction writer and her details about the events of Anne's life are as neatly woven as the designs on a medieval tapestry. However, this is an interesting take on Anne Boleyn and even if you're very familiar with the wives of Henry the Eighth, there are plenty of engaging developments within the story to keep your interest going. I do plan to check out that Catherine of Aragon book and to look forward to the rest of Weir's Tudor Queens series:

The first book that I did finish for the HSR,however, was Arena by Holly Jennings. The story is set in the year 2054, where competitive virtual reality gaming is a true sport that is just as fiercely competitive as any other, complete with pressure from sponsors and owners and a fast track lifestyle encouraged for the players.

Kali Ling is one of the best in the field and becoming the first female captain of her team upon entering the RAGE tournaments is ground breaking to say the least. Trouble is, part of the reason that she got that spot is due to the death of the previous captain(who was also her lover) Nathan from a drug overdose that is swept under the rug.

She not only has to figure out a winning strategy against the opposition team that almost took her group out of the running, Kali has to deal with a replacement player named Rooke, who is insistent on her relearning the basics of Taoism as a way of coping with stress. Part of Kali's stress comes from denying a growing addiction to VR, to the point where she's having trouble telling the difference between the real world and the virtual.

I like that the story here was more than video game action(although that is a compelling element of the overall plot and done well,in my opinion) and that it turns into a character study. Kali does have a romantic relationship with Rooke but it's depicted as a tale of two equals seeking to help each other deal with their problems in life in a healthy manner than just a "you saved me" scenario.

 Arena does have a sequel out,Gauntlet, and I might check it out at some point. In the meanwhile, seeing a video game heroine with strength of mind and body certainly gave me a new perspective on that genre and hopefully, more female friendly leads will follow in her wake:

For a truly seasonal selection, I went with Jenny Colgan's Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery, where Polly Waterford and friends seem to be doing well at their island community of Mt. Polbearne.

However, when the formerly grumpy owner of Polly's bake shop passes away, her disagreeable relatives take over(particularly a nasty piece of work named Malcolm) and want Polly to simply sell pre-made goods instead of her amazing homemade bread and pastries that folks all around flock to.

Eventually, Polly is fired and has to quickly find a way to make money as the lighthouse she lives in has a pretty expensive upkeep. In addition to that, her boyfriend Huckle goes back to America, not only to earn enough money for them both but to fix the problems that his feckless brother Dubose has left behind on a farm run by his girlfriend Clemmie and beloved pet puffin Neil is injured by a cat. Don't worry, Neil is okay but Polly sadly realizes that he needs to be with his own kind.

Polly finds herself running a food truck of sorts as well as making an unexpected friendship and finding out just how strong she can be on her own. Jenny Colgan has quite the charming way with her stories of women seeking self satisfaction as well as love in their lives and the best parts of this book are Polly embracing the joys of baking, a beacon of bread making that is truly inspiring as well as appetizing:

Unfortunately, I didn't have any unread holiday books on hand to take part in the Christmas in July portion of the readathon(not to mention the need to finish the Anne Boleyn book, due back at the library this week!) but I hope that a merry reading time was had by all who did. My goals were well met, as I completed five out of the six books that were on my TBR, so my thanks to Michelle Miller for setting up another fun time for reading.

I do have to say that this readathon was one of the high points of my summer and while many of the splendors of summer is engaging in outside activities, there's no reason why you can't have the same fun with a book in hand. Although, some of us may be more suited to strolling through a book than taking a walk in the great outdoors:

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Setting up your fall TV reading list

I know that it is still summer yet those back to school sales are not that far off,folks, so the time to look ahead to fall entertainment is now. With that in mind, I have a trio of upcoming TV series that happen to be book adaptations as well, combining two great tastes that tend to taste great together.

First up is Netflix with Alias Grace, based on Margaret Atwood's 1996 historical fiction about a notorious murderess in 19th century Canada. Grace Marks was a housemaid accused and convicted of killing the wealthy man she worked for and his mistress,who happened to be the housekeeper.

Grace was sent to a local mental asylum as part of her life sentence yet must also serve as maid to the governor during the week, Over a decade after Grace's conviction, a budding psychiatrist,Dr. Simon Jordan, is allowed to practice some new techniques on her in the hopes of proving her innocent and finding out what really happened. Grace has no choice but to submit but what is discovered is shocking in more ways than one.

I've read this book a long time ago and happy to have a good reason for a reread. This miniseries was filmed in Canada and stars Sarah Gadon in the title role. I'm not familiar with Gadon yet am well acquainted with director Mary Harron( American Psycho,The Notorious Bette Paige) and curious to see how this offbeat tale will be brought to life this November:

Next up is season three of Outlander, which is naturally based on the third book in Diana Gabaldon's series entitled Voyager. Here, we follow Claire back in the twentieth century, hoping to find out if her beloved Jamie truly survived the Culloden massacre and where she could find him by once again going back in time.

You have to give Starz a heaping amount of credit for making such an elaborate plot line work as smoothly as this one does that not only pleases the book fans but brings in a new crowd interested in the human drama as well as the time travel/historical fiction aspects of the story.

I've held off on reading Voyager in order to be surprised by the new season,although come September, I might just read along with the show in order to keep that momentum going:

Speaking of momentum, the third season of Poldark is set to air in the US by October and there is plenty to deal with, as Elizabeth is married to the hated Warleggan and due to give birth to a child that is not her new husband's, for one.

I must confess that I'm a bit behind in reading the Winston Graham books on which this current series is based(two books behind,to be exact), However, I do believe that the upcoming season will use the plot points from the fifth and sixth novels,The Black Moon and The Four Swans.

As convenient as it is for the show to double up on the books, it can make things tricky for those of us trying to catch up. On the other hand, it's also a good excuse to pick up those gorgeous tie-in cover editions,so, maybe this is a bookish blessing in disguise?:

With the world in various states of chaos at the moment, it is a comfort to have some good reading and viewing to look forward to. It does occur to me,though, that all three of these book and TV series are set in the past,which is fine but it would be nice to have something a bit more contemporary on this horizon as well.

For example, it's wonderful that Stephen King's Mr. Mercedes will be airing soon but alas, it's on a streaming channel that many of us don't have access to. Oh well, perhaps it will be out on DVD at some point, giving us a golden binge watch opportunity for the future. In the meanwhile, I hope that the next Stephen King small screen adaptation arrives on a more accessible avenue of entertainment: