Archive for the ‘ Books-to-Movies ’ Category

Lena Dunham Signs $3.5 Million Book Deal

Monday, October 8th, 2012

What’s it like to be a 26-year-old media mogul? I have no idea. I do know that I love Lena Dunham,and the last episode of ‘Girls‘ on HBO was epic. It was titled ‘She Did.’

Yes, she certainly did.

Today, Lena Dunham signed a $3.5 million book deal with Random House. (That publishing house rocks, BTW. I did my book ‘Redemption‘ with them.) Dunham is working on a collection of essays called ‘Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s Learned.’ Supposedly, it’s along the lines of Tina Fey’s ‘Bossypants.’ They’re also comparing it to Nora Ephron‘s stuff. Yes. Definitely yes.

Even though I’m 12 years older than Dunham, I relate to what she writes about young women’s career, guy, money and friend woes. Her show reminds me of my 20s and makes me glad that I’ve graduated to the next decade. The darker ‘Girls’ gets, the more I like it. Twisted and funny is a winning combination.

While we’re waiting for Dunham’s book–from what I read, most of it is already written, and it should be out within a year–check out Dunham’s first movie called Tiny Furniture. I’ve seen it three times on Netflix.

What would you do on the day you got a $3.5 million deal? I’d be planning my trip across India. Instead, Dunham, is fretting. Around the time the deal was announced today, she tweeted:

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Midwives are Hot: Watch ‘Call the Midwife’ on PBS and Read ‘The Midwife of Hope River’

Friday, October 5th, 2012

Obsessed with midwives? I am. Not so long ago, midwives were a lifeline for pregnant women and their families. Today, they’re wonderful additions to standard healthcare. Get advice about them here and here.

Get a dose of what midwifery was like in the old days with a great TV show, ‘Call the Midwife,’ and a moving novel, ‘The Midwife of Hope River.’

Call the Midwife‘ could be the new ‘Downton Abbey‘. It’s that good. It’s about Jenny Lee (pictured above), a young midwife in East London in the 1950s. She navigates the social mores of her era while helping pregnant women solve their complicated problems. She’s the new girl among the seasoned nuns at her Anglican hospital, and she’s just as shocked by the soon-to-be mothers as she is by the nuns who have become immune to their sad stories. I couldn’t stop watching. What happens to the Spanish mom who went into early labor? Can Jenny help another patient with her sudden case of preeclampsia? Find out this Sunday at 9 EST on PBS. (If you missed last week’s series premiere, catch it here.)

‘The Midwife of Hope River’ is a novel set in West Virginia during the Depression. Main character Patience Murphy loves helping women bring their new babies into the world, but she is hiding secrets that keep her from getting close to anyone. Patience is a loving, intriguing and enlightening protagonist. Her realistic birth stories are fascinating. That’s because the author, Patricia Harmon, was herself a midwife in rural communes and, later, in hospitals. Harmon’s memoirs, ‘The Blue Cotton Gown’ and ‘Arms Wide Open: A Midwife’s Journey,’ are also supposed to be informative and entertaining.

I love fiction that sheds light on history, especially the histories of mothering.

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Half the Sky: Check It Out on PBS Tonight

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

Last night, the humanitarian journalist Nicholas Kristoff‘s name kept showing up on my Facebook feed. Kristoff’s new documentary movie Half the Sky, which is based on his bestselling book, was about to air at 9 p.m. on PBS. I turned on my TV just in time to catch Part One, and I cried until the program ended.

You can see the second part tonight–and check out the movie trailer after the jump. In the film, Kristoff and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, take celebrities like George Clooney, Eva Mendes and Meg Ryan to Somaliland, Kenya, India, Vietnam, Cambodia and Sierra Leone. There they meet real women who have been raped, sold, maimed, beaten and more. According to the authors, women and girls endure more human rights tragedies than any other group. Kristoff and WuDunn work and write tirelessly to make a difference. They push for change. They want the violence to stop.

The stories devastated me. I just wanted to do something. I wanted to punish the rapists and the unsupportive fathers and the men who ran the brothels. We are so lucky in our country–we can press charges; convictions happen. We live in a society that values women. The bad men in Half the Sky treated females like abused animals.

Feeling helpless, I looked up what I can do. Through the nonprofit organization called Half the Sky Movement, I can donate and send packages directly to the females in the film–and to others who need relief. The film isn’t suitable for young kids, but I can tell my little ones an age appropriate version of what’s happening. We will start a family project to help these girls and women who are hurt, destitute and in so much need.

Part Two airs from 9 to 11 p.m. EST tonight on PBS. I can’t not watch it. I will get out my tissues–and probably my checkbook, too. (more…)

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YA Friday: NPR Tells Us Which Kid Lit is Best

Friday, August 10th, 2012

I’m kind of confused on why NPR is rating children’s literature, but rate they did. They came out with a “scientific” list of the top 100 young adult books of all time. I’m still scratching my head. Shouldn’t they be broadcasting the European debt crisis on BBC and pondering the makings of a gunman on All Things Considered? Whatevs.

Then all the book writers had something to bitch say about it. The Atlantic applauds the NPR list for being dominated by female authors and protagonists but manages to put down the reasons why we all love the genre so much. (It’s not that simplistic, and we’re not “adverse to nuance.”) The Guardian ponders why Diana Wynne Jones is all the way down at number 36. And one of my favorite websites, Forever Young Adult, complained that there was’t enough Meg Cabot while John Green got five nods–and why did NPR think Lord of the Rings is YA?

Best-of lists always stir controversy, and that’s probably what NPR intended. They got a lot of attention, and who doesn’t love getting some of that? But my point is that NPR’s opinion is this week’s big book story, and I’m not complaining. I’m always thrilled to see people–adults no less–obsess over young adult literature.

So, how many of the 100 have you read? I checked off 36.

Below, see NPR’s Top Ten YA Novels of all time (with links to Forever YA’s book reviews):


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Hot Release: ‘Where We Belong’ by Emily Giffin

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

Emily Giffin, at left, blazed onto the book scene with her quirky, emotional and unpredictable novel called Something Borrowed in 2004. The story–about a 30-year-old who falls in love with her best friend’s fiance–became a bestseller and a movie with Kate Hudson. It also brought hot, smart, sexy Dex into the fictional world.

Since then, Giffin has written five more fun, popular chick lit books. The latest one, Where We Belong comes out today. In it, a 30-something woman has a great career and boyfriend when her 18-year-old daughter–a secret no one knows about–shows up at her front door. As we all know, keeping secrets can get very complicated.

I have a lot in common with Giffin. We both lived and loved in New York City before we got married; we have twins plus a younger kid around the same ages; and we’re both writers. See, we’re just alike! Except somehow I missed my name on the bestseller list–I’m still working on that.

I had the chance to email Giffin questions about how she manages her busy life. Newsflash: She hasn’t finished her daughter’s baby book either. She’s human like the rest of us.

Me: Where We Belong is a touching book about secrets, love found and lost, and of course, family ties. What inspired you to write it?

EG: At its heart, the book is about secrets and what happens to us and those closest to us when we keep them.  I’ve always been intrigued by the power of secrets and the questions surrounding them. When is it justifiable to keep them from the ones we love? And does keeping them irrevocably change who we are? Adoption (under the secretive circumstances inWhere We Belong) seemed to be a great way to explore some of these broader themes.
Me: You’re a busy, famous writer these days–and you deserve every accolade. But when things get hectic, what’s your favorite way to relax and unwind?

EG: It’s a funny thing–when I’m crazed with work, spending time with my children relaxes me. Yet, at the end of a long weekend with them, the very thing I need to relax is a little work and time away from them! I think it’s important to try to be present with whatever it is you’re doing. And if you can’t be present, take a break. For true downtime, I enjoy going for light runs, having drinks with friends and going to the movies with my husband.
Me: Parents readers, like me, have so many big dreams and plans (in addition to being the best moms we can be). We have books we want to write, projects we’d like to see through and business we’d love to start. What is your advice for getting started on a dream project and–gulp–finishing it?
EG: Just take it one step, one day at a time. Often I feel that projects overwhelm us when we look at how many hours are involved until completion. But just getting started is usually not that difficult. And yet … I still haven’t begun my daughter Harriet’s baby book and she is five!
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