Archive for the ‘Books & TV’ Category

Hitting Screens, Week of Feb. 15

Friday, February 12th, 2016

Blame it on the Super Bowl, but last week’s new movies failed to perform, with Variety reporting that both The Choice and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies did not do well at the box office.

There are more hopes for Deadpool. opening today even though it’s not your normal superhero movie. Entertainment Weekly lauds it  for having “the balls to mess with the formula and have some naughty, hard-R fun. It’s a superhero film for the wise-asses shooting spitballs in the back of the school bus.”

There are no tie-ins, but collected editions of the comics are available in book form. Wired recommends “The 5 Comics You Have to Read Before Seeing Deadpool.”

The comedy How to Be Single, very loosely based on the book by Liz Tuccillo, will be taking aim at those opting out of Valentine’s Day.

On TV, only one new adaptation airs in the upcoming week, a Hulu special series based on Stephen King’s 11/22/63 (S&S/Gallery; S&S Audio; OverDrive 9781501120602_36daeSample).

An alternative history about a man traveling through time to prevent the assassination of JFK, it has big names attached, produced by  J.J. Abrams (The Force Awakens, Lost) and starring  James Franco the time traveler.  However, Entertainment Weekly gives it a lowly C+.

The attention has brought the novel back to best seller lists. It is #6 on the 2/21 NYT Paperback Mass-Market Fiction list. In late January, it came out in both mass market and trade with a sticker linking it to the adaptation.

The eight-part series premiers on President’s Day, Feb. 15.


Hitting Screens, Week of Feb. 8

Friday, February 5th, 2016

Today. we will learn if  Pride and Prejudice and Zombies adapted from the book by Seth Grahame-Smith (Quirk Books, 2009), overturns the box office curse that afflicted its predecessor, Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter. On the other hand, it’s a safe bet that the Nicholas Sparks’ adaptation The Choice will open well and continue into Valentine’s Day weekend.

Two adaptations open next week:

9781501140648_4ff7f  9781501140525_6d31e
How to Be Single is a rom-com (with a stress on the com) that traces the fates of a group of singles on the dating scene in NYC. It stars Rebel Wilson, Dakota Johnson, Leslie Mann, Dan Stevens, Alison Brie, and Damon Wayans Jr.

It is loosely based (with a stress on “loosely”) on How to Be Single, Liz Tuccillo (S&S/Washington Square Press; OverDrive Sample – also in mass market). Tie-ins came out just a few weeks ago.

MV5BMjQyODg5Njc4N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzExMjE3NzE@._V1_SY317_CR1,0,214,317_AL_The second movie is a big anti-Valentine’s Day play (note the poster).

Deadpool features the Marvel Comics character who has evolved from villain to antihero. Ryan Reynolds portrayed him in X-Men Origins: Wolverine and reprises the role in this feature.

There is no an official tie-in, but the wise-cracking, super-skilled mercenary features in many comics, so many that Den of Geek provides a lengthy guide to reading the oeuvre.

Up LATE, with Authors

Thursday, February 4th, 2016

Squeezed in among the celebrities, sports figures and musicians on yesterday’s late night talk shows were two authors.

Stephen Colbert mixed it up with Michael Eric Dyson, author of The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; OverDrive Sample), stirring up the audience as well.

Seth Meyers featured novelist Alexander Chee, but the exchange didn’t give much of a feel for his new book The Queen of the Night (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Blackstone Audio). It is getting wide review coverage, however, as we noted earlier.

In the second part of the interview, he talked about how he inadvertently started Amtrak’s “Writers in Residence” program:


Monday, February 1st, 2016

Stephen Colbert continues to sneak authors on to The Late Show.

9780316387804_c4316First up is Harvard professor and TED Talk hit, Amy Cuddy, set to appear tonight. She is the author of the bestselling Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges (Hachette/Little, Brown; OverDrive Sample). Her book has been featured on the cover of the NYT Book Review and was a People magazine “Book of the Week.” Skeptics will enjoy a recent Slate article that calls Cuddy’s work an “example of scientific overreach.”

Currently t at #3 on the NYT Advice Best Sellers list after five weeks, it has strong holds at many libraries we checked.

9780544387669_be015On Wednesday night Michael Eric Dyson has his turn with Colbert. His newest book (out tomorrow) is The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; OverDrive Sample), in which he explores how President Obama has navigated and responded to issues of race over the last eight years, taking a largely critical stance.

Also on the schedule are several actors promoting FX’s upcoming American Crime Story series on O.J. Simpson, including John Travolta and Courtney B. Vance tonight and David Schwimmer tomorrow. The show debuts tomorrow night and is based onJ effrey Toobin’s 1996 book The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson. A tie-in edition (Random House) was released in September..

Hitting Screens, Feb. 1 thru 7

Friday, January 29th, 2016

Debuting in theaters today is Disney’s big budget, The Finest Hours, based on the true rescue story written for young adults by Michael J. Tougias and Casey Sherman (see our earlier story).

The big kids animated movie opening is Dreamworks Kung Fu Panda 3. Check our list of tie-ins.

The upcoming week brings several adaptations for TV as well as for a high-profile movie.

American_Crime_Story_Season_1_PosterThe People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story is the first in a new series on FX, produced, in part, by Ryan Murphy (Glee, American Horror Story).

The 10-part project premiers Feb. 2, starring Cuba Gooding, Jr. as O. J. Simpson, Sarah Paulson as Marcia Clark, John Travolta as Robert Shapiro, David Schwimmer as Robert Kardashian, Courtney B. Vance as Johnnie Cochran, and Nathan Lane as F. Lee Bailey.

9780812988543_6d385It is based on Jeffrey Toobin’s 1996 book The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson. The tie-in edition (Random House; OverDrive Sample) went on sale last September.

The series is getting strong reviews for its intimate, 360 degree take on the crime that kept viewers glued to their TV screens twenty years ago.

Riffing off the popularity of Serial and Netflix’s Making a Murderer, FX’s plans for American Crime Story to re-create other true life stories. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the events of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath will be the subject of a second season.

As we reported earlier, on Feb. 3, ABC will begin airing a miniseries detailing the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme with Richard Dreyfuss playing Madoff and Blythe Danner playing his wife, Ruth.

9781484752692_9fce2The show is based on the 2009 book by ABC News’s chief investigative correspondent, Brian Ross, The Madoff Chronicles (Inside the Secret World of Bernie and Ruth) (Kingswell; OverDrive Sample). A tie-in edition came out earlier this month.

Taking aim at the Valentine’s Day crowd (who last year crowded theaters to see Fifty Shades of Grey), Nicholas Sparks’ The Choice hits theaters a bit ahead of the holiday, on Feb. 5.

The film stars Teresa Palmer and Tom Welling and tells the story of two neighbors in a small town who fall in love when one moves next door to the other.

9781455588985_c9307The tie-in came out in late December, The Choice by Nicholas Sparks (Hachette/Grand Central Publishing; Hachette Audio; OverDrive Sample).

The movie adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith (Quirk Books, 2009), starring Lily James (CinderellaDownton Abbey) as Elizabeth Bennett, Sam Riley as Mr. Darcy and Bella Heathcote as Elizabeth’s sister opens on Feb. 5th as well.

9781594748899_966e2The tie-in edition came out in mid-December: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (Movie Tie-in Edition), Jane Austen, Seth Grahame-Smith (Quirk Books; OverDrive Sample).

As we reported, it has been a bit of a rocky road getting the film made but with star Lily James set to return to Downton Abbey in upcoming episodes of the final season (with strong hints that her character, Lady Rose is pregnant) the many shifts in lead actresses ended up with a hot star. Now the producers hope audiences will forget that an earlier mashup adaptation, Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, was a major flop.

For more books to movies and TV, see our list of upcoming book adaptations, as well as our list of tie-ins.

Netflix In the Kitchen

Monday, January 25th, 2016

9781594204210Michael Pollan’s 2013 book Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation (Penguin; OverDrive Sample) is about to become a Netflix series.

Set to air on February 19th, the four-episode adaptation offers viewers a mix of culinary travelogue, anthropology lessons and sessions in Pollan’s home kitchen.

Based around elemental cooking methods, the globe-spanning series will focus on fire, water, air, and earth. Eater, one of the leading culinary websites, reports:

“In the ‘Fire’ episode, Pollan will delve into the cross-cultural tradition of barbecue by looking at fire-roasts of monitor lizards in Western Australia and visiting with a barbecue pitmaster; in the ‘Water’ episode, he’ll take lessons from kitchens in India and cover the issues surrounding processed foods. An episode titled ‘Air’ explores the science of bread-making and gluten, while the final episode, ‘Earth,’ looks at how fermentation preserves raw foods.”

Variety says,

“Personalities and places featured in Cooked include … a Connecticut Benedictine nun and microbiologist who makes traditional French cheese; Peruvian brewers who use human saliva to ferment a traditional beverage; and an ancient Moroccan granary powered by rivers.”

Alex Gibney (Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief) is the executive producer of the series. Eater reports a different filmmaker is in charge of each episode.

No tie-in is planned but the book is available in various print editions as well as eBook.

The Book

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

Mozart in the JungleThe surprise winner of two Golden Globes last week, for Best TV Comedy or Musical as well as for Best Actor in the same category, was Amazon’s series, Mozart in the Jungle. Amazon streamed both seasons of the series for free over the weekend, bringing new viewers (and taking the opportunity to offer special discounted subscriptions to Amazon Prime).

Even those familiar with the series may not realize that it is based on the 2005 memoir of the same title by oboist Blair Tindal detailing the highs and lows of her adventures in New York’s classical music world. Subtitled Sex, Drugs, and Classical Music it was a gossiped-about book among fellow musicians. Interviewing the author at the time, Entertainment Weekly, referred to it as a “hoity-toity version of VH1’s Behind the Music.” As the NYT writes this week, that fascination has been revived by the show.

With all this attention, expect to hear soon that Mozart has been renewed for a third season.

Season One trailer:

Season Two trailer:

Hitting Screens, Jan. 18 thru 24

Friday, January 15th, 2016

MV5BMTUxNzY5MzgwNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDM0NDgxNzE@._V1_SX214_AL_After stealing key scenes in Downton Abbey and wowing small girls in Cinderella, Lily James stars in one of the great epics of all time, Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace. She takes up the role along side another familiar PBS face, James Norton from Grantchester.

The two help lead the newest BBC historical drama (in partnership with the US based Weinstein company), which is set to air in the US on January 18th on no less than three channels, A&E, Lifetime, and the History Channel.

Reaction to the sexy, violent, and lush drama has been mixed at best.

Here is The Guardian’s drooling take:

“This is proper, proper costume drama at its most lavish and its most dreamily, romantically Russian. This is how you do it, people. This is how you do it. Stop all period dramas being made now because nothing is going to match up to this. Sunday-night TV has been rescued. It’s hard to imagine how the BBC could have done a better job. It makes Downton Abbey look like am dram. It’s tonally perfect, striking exactly the right balance between drama and wit, action and emotion, passion and humour.”

On the other hand, in their preview, Flavorwire says:

“It’s hard to say whether American audiences will take to a literary miniseries comprising six one-and-a-half-hour episodes, but any low ratings won’t be for lack of celebrity or sex or war or incest … it’s Downton Abbey with war scenes, which should be enough to draw and retain an American viewership … Still, based on a single episode, it seems unlikely that this production of War and Peace will reach the heights of the 1966-67 Sergei Bondarchuk version, or the 1956 King Vidor adaptation starring Audrey Hepburn … Anyway, shouldn’t you be reading the book?”

51GF8ik4yoL._SX317_BO1,204,203,200_Oddly, War and Peace: Tie-In Edition to Major New BBC Dramatisation, Leo Tolstoy, (BBC Books) is not due to be released until Feb. 23.

Hitting a completely different note, MV5BMjQwOTc0Mzg3Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTg3NjI2NzE@._V1_SX214_AL_The 5th Wave is coming out on Jan. 22nd.

An alien invasion movie based on the novel by Rick Yancey, it stars Chloë Grace Moretz, Matthew Zuk, and Gabriela Lopez.

9781101996515_7d7c3As we reported earlier, tie-ins came out in November. In addition, another book the series has been released, The Infinite Sea (Penguin YR/Putnam, 2014). A third book The Last Star (Penguin YR/Putnam) is due in late May.







Monday, January 11th, 2016

9781400067688_ec1ddRobert Redford is planning to adapt Elizabeth Strout’s The Burgess Boys (Random House; RH Audio; BOT) for an HBO miniseries according to Deadline Hollywood.

MV5BMjIzOTk4NzMzMV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTczMzY4MjE@._V1_SX214_AL_This is the second of Strout’s books to make it to the cable network, following the Emmy winning Olive Kitteridge.

Frances McDormand, who worked for years to get Olive made, produced that hit pavinf the way for Redford.

9781400067695_a388eStrout’s newest book, My Name Is Lucy Barton (Random House; Random House Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample), will be published on Tuesday.

See our Titles to Know and Recommend, Week of January 11, 2016 for more. Strout is scheduled to appear on NPR’s Fresh Air on Wednesday, Jan. 13.

No word yet on an air date for Burgess.

Hitting Screens, Jan. 10 thru 15

Friday, January 8th, 2016

After the flurry of releases timed to the awards season cut-off, only one movie based on a book premieres in the upcoming week (The Revenant, which debuted in a very few theaters last month, opens wide today amid buzz for Sunday’s Golden Globes). TV takes up the slack with one movie and a new series.

Opening next Friday, January 15, is 9781455538393_3a2ba13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi based on 13 Hours: The Inside Account Of What Really Happened In Benghazi by Mitchell Zuckoff (Hachette/Twelve trade paperback tie-in; also mass-market). Opening the same weekend that American Sniper did last year, the producers are hoping for similar magic.

The movie revisits an event with heavy political implications, explored by the New York Times although director Michael Bey and the producers, “shared the conviction … that partisan politics should generally be avoided,” focusing instead on “an unabashed celebration of the armed operatives, who were defying orders when they moved to defend the diplomatic compound.”

Starring John Krasinski and James Badge Dale, the release of the trailer, as we previously reported, was enough to send the book moving up Amazon’s sales rankings. This week it hit the NYT Nonfiction paperback list at #8.

On TV, the Hallmark channel debuts the next in the Murder She Baked series, The Peach Cobbler Murder this Sunday, January 10.

9781496707819_8e1e4  9781496705389_727b5   9781496701862_85861

Also airing back-to-back on Sunday are the previous two titles in the series based on Joanna Fluke’s Hannah Swensen series.

Tie-ins have been published for all three:

Peach Cobbler Murder, Joanne Fluke, (Kensingon, trade pbk and mass market)

Plum Pudding Mystery,  Joanne Fluke, (Kensingon, trade pbk and mass market. Sept 2015)

Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder, Joanne Fluke, (Kensington, April, 2015)

As a result of the success of the series,  Kensington is re-releasing Fluke’s backlist. The next book in the Hannah Swensen series, Wedding Cake Murder is coming in February.

The seven-episode Shadowhunters series premiers on Jan. 12.

9781481470308_c6d61Based on Cassandra Clare’s YA series, The Mortal Instruments, it airs at 9 p.m. on the Freeform network (formerly ABC Family). A tie-in edition came out in late December, City of Bones: TV Tie-In (S&S/Margaret K. McElderry).

This is not the first time Clare’s book has been adapted. As we reported earlier, it was made into a movie in 2013. After it flopped at the box office, the producers changed their plans of creating a film franchise and turned to TV, with a new cast of actors, all of whom are fairly new to the screen.

For those not familiar with the story, E! Online offers a  Shadowhunters 101.

Hitting Screens This Week

Sunday, January 3rd, 2016

9780451234780Debuting on Monday on the cable channel VH1 is a fictional movie about the origins of hip hop, The Breaks, inspired by the nearly 700-page nonfiction title, The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop.  Examining the journey from book to TV movie, Forbes magazine suggests tit may be the beginning of a series. There is no tie-in, however.

Sister station MTV begins its big gamble (the most expensive original production in the network’s history) in trying to attract new audiences on Tuesday, Jan. 5th with the 10-part series Shannara Chronicles.

The L.A. Times notes, “Yes, the network of Real World and Jersey Shore is now channeling Tolkien.” Switching to another comparison, reporter Steve Zeitchik (formerly of Publishers Weekly) adds, “Shannara is a counterpart of sorts to HBO’s Game of Thrones and seeks both to ride that wave and set itself apart from it, though whether it can do both simultaneously is among the more interesting questions of the winter television window.”

Reviewing it under the to-die-for headline “The Next Game of Thrones Is Great On MTV, But It’s Really The Next Star Wars,Forbes does not equivocate on that question,

“…while Shannara appears like another small screen Lord of the Rings in its marketing, its premise and actual presentation make it much more akin to the likes of Star Wars … From the first scene of its pilot, The Shannara Chronicles sets itself apart from the pack and makes it clear that this is going to be unlike any magical fantasy series we’ve seen before. The ways it does this are vast and supremely accessible to audiences that may not typically find much enjoyment in the genre, and that’s wonderful. Even if the series is nothing more than a gateway drug to the likes of heavier fantasy, it will still go down as one of the first great new shows of 2016 and one of the best new shows of the 2015/2016 television season.”

9781101965603_c3c5c 9781101886052_27f49 9781101965610_b08cc

As we noted earlier, tie-in editions of the first two titles in the book series have been released (although the TV series is actually based on the second volume):

The Elfstones of Shannara (The Shannara Chronicles) (TV Tie-in Edition) by Terry Brooks (PRH/Del Rey; OverDrive Sample), released in both a trade edition and a mass market version and

The Wishsong of Shannara (The Shannara Chronicles) (TV Tie-in Edition) by Terry Brooks (PRH/Del Rey; OverDrive Sample).

The heavily promoted movie The Revenant opens wide this coming Friday, after it Oscar-qualifying debut in December. The trade paperback hit the NYT best seller list this week at #6. Released to little fanfare over ten years ago, LJ reviewed the new tie-in edition last week, calling it “A must-read for fans of Westerns and frontier fiction.” More on the book in our earlier story.

9781590514375Debuting on Friday is the indie movie Lamb, based on a novel of the same title by Bonnie Nadzam (Other Press, 2011). About the friendship of an 11-year-old girl and a 47-year-old man,  it was featured at film festivals earlier this year, called “beautiful and troubling” and “dangerously unclassifiable” by Variety and “difficult to market” by the the Hollywood Reporter. Likewise, the book was called “daring and disturbing” (The Telegraph). The movie receives a lackluster C+ in the current issue of Entertainment Weekly; “about as strange as it sounds: a Lolita story almost more unsettling for the lines it doesn’t explicitly cross.”

Nadzam’s next novel Lions, is scheduled for publication in July (Grove Press).

DOWNTON ABBEY, The U.K. Says Goodbye, We Say Hello

Monday, December 21st, 2015


The holiday season marks an end and a beginning for Downton Abbey.

In Great Britain, the beloved series is coming to a close with the final episode airing on Christmas Day.

Season six began there on Sept. 20th, marked by this tearjerker of a preview:

To jolly-up viewers, the show offered a holiday spoof created as a fundraiser for the U.K. charity Text Santa:

(Last year’s effort featured George Clooney, see it here).

In the U.S., all things Downton are just getting started. Season six begins on PBS Sunday, Jan. 3 at 9 p.m.

PBS offers American viewers a decidedly more upbeat preview than the U.K. version:


For those who cannot wait to find out what’s happened to the huge cast, there is plenty of coverage of Downton events to date in the London papers, such as this summary in the Daily Mail. as well as the book,  Downton Abbey – A Celebration: The Official Companion to All Six Seasons by Jessica Fellowes, (Macmillan/St. Martin’s Press. 11/10/15).

The Week’s Books on Screen

Friday, December 4th, 2015

Macbeth_2015_posterDebuting in theaters today is a new version of Macbeth, with Michael Fassbender as Shakespeare’s troubled king and Marion Cotillard (Inception) as his wife, Lady Macbeth. The Guardian calls a “noir-thriller soaked with operatic verve.”  People magazine lists it as a pick of the week, “this gruntingly powerful version tells the tale with… coiled fury.” Entertainment Weekly lauds Fassbender’s acting, but ultimately gives it a B grade, because “the rest of the movie isn’t nearly as interested in playing as many nuanced notes as its star.”

There is no specific tie-in edition (image above is of the poster).

9781476748658_e8f31Premiering Sunday on the Hallmark Channel is The Bridge, based on Karen Kingsbury’s novel, part of Hallmark’s deal with “the queen of Christian fiction.”

A tie-in edition came out in October, The Bridge by Karen Kingsbury (S&S/Howard Books; S&S Audio; OverDrive Sample).


Season Six in April

Friday, December 4th, 2015

The first teaser for the next season of HBO’s Game of Thrones has just arrived, along with the news that it will debut in April.

Those 41 seconds are bringing much speculation on what will happen this season (see Rolling Stone, the Telegraph, and Wired).

There is no tie-in to turn to because George RR Martin has not yet completed the sixth in the book series, Winds of Winter, although he recently dropped hints about what to expect. In the past, he declared it was his goal was to finish it before the HBO series begins. That window is now getting shorter.

OUTLANDER, Season 2,
Trailer & Tie-ins

Thursday, December 3rd, 2015

The first trailer for new season of Outlander on STARZ was just released.

Based on the second novel in the book series, Dragonfly In Amber (PRH/Delacorte, 1992; Recorded Books; OverDrive Sample), it follows Jamie and Claire as they escape to France and try to stop the Jacobite rising. This moves the action from the Scottish Highlands to upper-class life in France.

Once again, it spans multiple time periods and also introduces new characters, including Jamie and Claire’s adult daughter Brianna, Fergus, Jamie’s spy and one-day-adopted son, and a young Lord John Grey.

Season two is slated to air some time this spring.

Tie-ins (Season 2 Cover Art to Come):


Dragonfly in Amber (Starz Tie-in Edition) ,  Diana Gabaldon
PRH/Delta, March 8, 2016
Trade Paperback