Under the DomeStephen King began to write his novel entitled “Under the Dome”, back in 1976. That endeavor lasted about two weeks and only yielded 75 pages before King gave up. Then, while watching the Simpsons Movie in 2007, King was moved to again write on the subject of a community being enclosed in a glassy dome. Thus, in the period of November 22, 2007 to March 14, 2009, Under the Dome was proclaimed.

Under the Dome

This is a science fiction/political novel set in and around a small Maine community. The story tells how an invisible barrier literally drops out of the sky, cutting off this small community from the outside world. It has multiple characters and tells how the community inhabitants contend with such a calamity. The local used car salesman, “Big Jim” Rennie, seizes the opportunity to take over the town when the police chief is killed when his pacemaker explodes when he gets too close to the dome. And so begins the struggle for power between the federal government agents and “Big Jim’s” misguided followers acting as police officers.

“Under the Dome” is currently adapted for television on CBS. The Executive Producer is Stephen Spielberg, but is Co-Produced by several others including author Stephen King.

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Is It Really “A Long Way Down”?, By Nick Hornby

by Emily Roberts on June 21, 2014

A Long Way Down jacket coverThis book, written by United Kingdom’s Nick Hornby, is a 2005 dark comedy about suicide, depression, and promiscuity. When the four main characters meet on top of a building (as strangers) on New Year’s Eve, they each have the intent of committing suicide. They are varied in age, gender, and career, but end up sharing with each other their individual stories and why they came there on that night. They stay connected through various episodes of individual chaos, and each time they meet back on the roof, they keep postponing the planned suicides.

The novel has been adapted to film. Johnny Depp bought the rights to the book before it was published, and hired a screenwriter, but Hornby awarded the rights to his partner, Amanda Posey. The cast includes Pierce Bosnian, Imogen Poots, Toni Collette, Aaron Paul, and Sam Neill.

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Heaven is for Real“Heaven is for Real” is about the four year old son of a Nebraska minister, Colton, who requires emergency surgery, and describes being able to look down to see the doctors performing the surgery, and also could see his Dad praying in the hospital waiting room. There were many doubters who attributed the reason for the stories to various causes. But soon even the doubters were convinced and became believers. The central message of the inspirational book is to live each day with the hope of heaven and eternal life.
This incredible true story has been adapted to film. The movie will be in theaters this Easter weekend, April 16. It is a TriStar Pictures Production, under the direction of Randall Wallace. The inspirational characters are played by Greg Kinnear, Kelly Reilly, Connor Corum as Colton, Jacob Vargas, Nancy Sorel, and Lane Styles as Colton’s sister.

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Devil's KnotThis non-fiction novel is based on the 1993 murders of three eight year old children and the three teenagers who stood trial for their murders. The children went missing from their homes on May 5th and on May 6th their bodies were found in the woods near their homes. The murders were savagely executed, giving the community the evidence they thought they needed to claim it to be Satanic ritual.
The story follows the process of finding those who were thought to have perpetrated the crime and all the mishandling of the evidence and trial by the detectives, lawyers, and what the author perceived to be a prosecution biased judge. All three were convicted with poor representation and nothing more than circumstantial evidence. Two received life sentences without parole, and one a death sentence. Eventually, they were released from prison. This novel uncovers the blatant abuses of the criminal justice system in a horrific case.

A movie is soon to be released adapted from the novel starring Reese Witherspoon and Colin Firth (directed by Atom Egoyan)

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Divergent jacket coverThe novel, the first in the Divergent Trilogy takes place in a futuristic Chicago. The citizens are divided into five factions: Candor…..the honest; Abnegation…..the selfless; Dauntless…..the brave; Amity…..
the peaceful; and Erudite…..the intelligent. All sixteen year olds must decide which faction best defines them. They will spend the rest of their lives as part of that faction. Central character, Beatrice, has a conflict in wanting to stay with her family and choosing a faction…..she cannot have both. She goes through a name change, having a boyfriend she is not sure she can trust, physical and mental trials, and she still has her secret. If discovered, it could possibly mean her death.
Comparisons have been made to other novels such as The Hunger Games. Divergent is similar but with the theme of dividing society into personality types. The final novels of the trilogy are “Insurgents” and “Allegient”.
The movie “Divergent” will be released in March 2014 with a top notch cast, including Kate Winslet.
Follow Tris (Beatrice)as she learns she has been labeled a Divergent and her life is at risk for it.

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Big Girl Panties jacket coverPlus size Holly Brennan has been grieving for her late husband with pals Ben and Jerry, and has ballooned to the point of embarrassing. Returning home from a trip, she meets superhot personal trainer Logan Montgomery. In an unexpected effort to help, Logan offers Holly his services to get into shape. A tenuous friendship builds, through hard work and a lot of sarcasm from Holly. The ever-optimistic Logan finds himself having feelings for Holly, which is a huge change from his usual detached involvements with shallow supermodels. Holly has opened herself up to more than she ever has and develops her own feelings for Logan, but doesn’t believe it will ever progress beyond a friendship. After all, men that look like Logan Montgomery do NOT fall in love with girls like Holly. While Holly struggles with her self-esteem, Logan struggles with having genuine feelings for a woman for the first time in his life. The sweet and funny novel reminds us that we need to look beyond the surface and not judge people based on first impressions.

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Endless Love, by Scott Spencer

by Emily Roberts on February 14, 2014

Endless LoveThirty years ago, “Endless Love” established Scott Spencer as a master of contemporarylove stories. An exciting story of teenage love where there is passion, but also obsession. If the feeling were an object, it seems so intense that it might shatter and break. It has been given the distinction by some critics as having been the most powerful book ever written about young love. It is a very adult version of sexuality between characters David Axelrod and Jade Butterflies. Along with the passion, is the very dark side of obsession and pursuit.
The new film version of “Endless Love” is in theaters now. The current characters of David and Jade are played by Alex Pettyfer and Gabriella Wilde. The 1981 original film starred Brooke Shields and Martin Hewitt.

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Winter's Tale jacket coverThis 1983 novel by author, Mark Helprin, takes place in a mythic New York City. In the novel, Peter Lake, an orphan and master-mechanic, plans to rob a mansion on the Upper West Side. In this version of NYC there is Arctic wind and darkness much of the time. Peter assumes the house is empty, but finds the daughter of the owner is at home. Daughter, Beverly Penn, is a young, dying girl. Peter falls in love with her as she dies in his arms. He struggles with his ability to stop time and bring back the dead. It is a magical story about the beauty and complexity of the human soul, including God, love, and justice. The most memorable words of the book are found on a page before the novel begins: I have been to another world, and come back. Listen to me.
The film adaptation premiering on Valentine’s Day 2014, stars…..Collin Farrell, Russell Crowe, Jessica Brown Findlay, Jennifer Connelly, and Will Smith. Filming was delayed by the presence in New York City of Hurricane Sandy. The distinguished cast promises to deliver a quality film.
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The Mayor of MacDougal StreetEveryone who lived through the era of folk singers and folk music
are familiar with names of Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez……..but, the”King” of them all was folk singer, Dave Van Ronk. He took over Greenwich Village, and specifically Washington Square Park. Van Ronk was a merchant marine who developed his own following and became one of the first white, urban blues singers in his own unique style.
Bob Dylan came into the picture when Dave Van Ronk had already accomplished half of his career. It was said that Bob Dylan spent the first years sleeping on Van Ronk’s sofa. Dylan, in those early days, aspired to be as popular as Dave Van Ronk. Just think of all the talented folk singers who passed through Greenwich Village…….The Kingston Trio, Peter, Paul, and Mary. Van Ronk was there and befriended them all, and set the bar high for excellence.
Whether you are a 60’s music fan, or just curious about the musical life of Dave Van Ronk, reserve your copy of “The Mayor of MacDougal Street”, and be entertained!
A piece of interesting trivia…..”The House of the Rising Sun” was Dave Van Ronk’s original song, but without asking permission first, Bob Dylan recorded it. Van Ronk was accused of stealing it from Bob Dylan. Then, when The Animals recorded it, Bob Dylan was accused of stealing it from them!
Also interesting will be the movie, “Inside Llewellyn Davis“, starring Justin Timberlake and directed by the Coen brothers.

The Book ThiefThe Book Thief, having many complicated layers, takes place in a fictional town, but could have been in any town located in Germany, on the path to Dachau (one of the most infamous interment camps). The story is narrated by the main, nine year old character, Liesel. She has already experienced death in the loss of her brother. She is sent to live with the Huberman family where she morphs from an illiterate, unable to read child, into a young girl who is in love with books and their words. Eventually, death takes over the narration of the story and speaks of Leisle’s love for and safety in words. She learns that those words can also cause hate and sadness.

The book follows Liesel through the complicated life of struggling just to survive through the atrocities of Nazi Germany. Before her death, she ended the story of her life by saying, “I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right”.

Director Brian Percival has given his best to create a movie, out now, based on the novel. The movie, accompanied by music by John Williams, affirms the story of survival and of the resilience of the human spirit.