THE RUM DIARY gets a release date

Fans of the late Hunter S. Thompson rejoice!  After over two years of distribution hell, a release date for Johnny Depp's film adaptation has been announced.  The Rum Diary will hit US theaters on Oct. 28, 2011.

NEW YORK, March, 29, 2011 – It was announced today at CinemaCon, by Bob Berney, President, Theatrical Distribution that FilmDistrict will release “The Rum Diary,” based on the early Hunter S. Thompson novel that was ultimately published in 1998. It stars Johnny Depp and will be released on October 28, 2011.  The film is directed by Bruce Robinson (“Withnail and I”) from his own screenplay and also stars Aaron Eckhart, Amber Heard, Michael Rispoli, Richard Jenkins and Giovanni Ribisi.  “The Rum Diary” is produced by Infinitum Nihil, the production company headed by Depp and Christi Dembrowski, along with Graham King and Tim Headington.  Anthony Rhulen and Robert Kravis also produce.

Cover: Simon and Schuster

Laura Hillenbrand's UNBROKEN to be adapted by Richard LaGravenese

In an exclusive from :

Richard LaGravenese To Adapt Lou Zamperini Survival Tale 'Unbroken' From Laura Hillenbrand Book

EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has set Richard LaGravenese to adapt Laura Hillenbrand's bestsellerUnbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. Francis Lawrence is attached to direct the film about the unbreakable spirit of Louis Zamperini, the former Olympic track prodigy who endured unimaginable hardship as a WWII POW at the hands of Japanese prison guards.
LaGravenese will be working for the second straight time with Lawrence on a book adaptation. The scribe adapted the Sara Gruen novel Water For Elephants into the drama that Lawrence directed for Fox 2000 with Reese Witherspoon, Robert Pattinson and Christoph Waltz starring. Matthew Baer and Erwin Stoff are producing Unbroken. Lawrence and Mick Garris are exec producers.
For the complete news exclusive please visit DEADLINE.COM for this and more film news. 

A Lesson in Secrets by Jacqueline Winspear

  • A Lesson in Secrets
  • By Jacqueline Winspear
  • 336 pages, $25.99
  • Harper, March 22, 2011

It's 1932 England and Maisie Dobbs has just taken her first undercover assignment directed by Scotland Yard's Special Branch and the Secret Service. Posing as a junior lecturer, she is sent to a private college in Cambridge to monitor any activities, "not in the interests of His Majesty's Government." As in all good mysteries, it's not too long before a dead body appears, this time it's the college's controversial pacifist founder and principal, Greville Liddicote and Maisie is asked to step aside for the gents from Scotland Yard. Just to make Maisie's world a bit more exciting, a new case arrives when young widow Sandra Tapley wants to know why her mechanic husband died in a strange garage related accident.  Familiar characters on the periphery of A Lesson in Secrets include James Compton, Maisie's often absent lover, whose mysterious absences cause Maisie to doubt his love for her,  my favorite Scotland Yard heart throb Insp. Stratton, Maisie's father Frank with an unexpected new love interest, as well as her assistant Billy Beale and his family, and of course Priscilla Partridge. Throw some budding Nazis and their sympathizers and this story is complete. 

Let me just cut to the chase here. I loved this eighth addition to the Maisie Dobbs series. I think author Jacqueline Winspear has added another level to the ever evolving Maisie in A Lesson in Secrets!  

I am drawn to English fiction of this time period, there was so much happening in the years between The Great War and World War II and Ms. Winspear highlights the changing world beautifully. I enjoyed the main story and the subplots as well, all in all...a winner! Maisie Dobbs continues to be a wonderfully brilliant character, not too modern, but not too stodgy. Maisie's just right! 

If I gave a star rating, this would be 4 1/2 out of 5 stars!

This book was provided to me by the publisher at my request and in no way affected by review. 

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Since today is St. Patrick's Day, I thought I mention a couple of my favorite classic books by the legendary American-Irish author, the legendary J.P. Donleavy. I was blessed to be able to speak with Mr. Donleavy in 2006, you can read my phone interview with him here.

And here's a great book for the kids, I just love the "Tucker" series by Leslie McGuirk, if you don't know Tucker the Terrier, please find all of Ms. McGuirk's books for the kids in your life!

A Widow's Story by Joyce Carol Oates

A Widow's Story, A Memoir
By Joyce Carol Oates
$27.99, February, 2011
432 pages, Ecco Publishing

A Widow's Story is exactly what the title tells you it is. The story of a woman struggling to cope with the death of her beloved spouse.  The widow telling her story this time is the very well known fiction writer Joyce Carol Oates. Oates is not writing fiction this time, so readers, please pay attention to the title, as it tells you this is "a memoir."  What we don't know going into this work is how difficult it will be to read, how wrenching Oates can write when she writes from her heart about the people who are important in her life. I've not been a fan of her fiction, but I am now a huge fan of her non-fiction.

Raymond and Carol Smith were married for forty seven years, a veritable lifetime, so when Raymond died from an infection after being hospitalized for pneumonia, Carol's life and her own persona are changed. Its the little things that Oates describes that get you in the gut.  For example when  Oates explains that she ceased eating meals at the dining table because meals "just become plates of food."  Oates carefully documented the email conversations as well as the elegant longhand notes and messages in condolence cards. The descriptions of  her emptiness and sense of  no longer "fitting" into her old world were painful enough for me to put the book down and take an emotional brake. Sadly she didn't get to take a break from her life.

 It took me several weeks to get through her memoir. I can't imagine her drive and sense of wanting to share with other widows that you can move though a loss this devastating.  This is the story of how Mrs. Raymond Smith survived the death of her spouse and how she continues to move forward with her life, as a widow.

I highly recommend A Widow's Story. I'm glad that I fought to get through it, it's beautifully written and heartbreakingly candid.

4 out of 5 stars.

This book was provided to me by the publisher at my request and in no way affected by review. 

666 Park Avenue by Gabriella Pierce

666 Park Avenue
By Gabriella Pierce
320 Pages, $13.99, paperback
Avon, February 1, 2011

While living in France, beautiful young architect Jane Boyle is literally swept off her feet by "mister wonderful" Malcolm Doran, of the Duran's of New York's fashionable upper East Side. Life's going along pretty wonderfully for the orphaned Jane until things begin to feel a little odd.  Jane discovers that she has the magic touch!  Yes, Jane's a witch!  And to stir the cauldron just a bit more, the society family she's about to marry into is full of witches!   And of course, her nemesis in her about-to-be mother-in-law, Lynne.  The biggest witch of them all. Really.

I knew from the "666" in the title that this book wasn't the usual "chick-lit" sort of story, but I wasn't sure if it was urban fantasy (which I love),  witch-lit or what?  Now, don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the read. I liked the characters, even Jane's witch of a mother-in-law was well formed and evilly delicious, but for me there was something a bit off. I couldn't decide what genre first time author Gabriella Pierce was writing and frustrated me somewhat. 

All this considered, I liked the book. Pierce's writing is tight and moves quickly. 666 Park Avenue is great to read by the pool or on a plane as you are taken into Jane's newly found world immediately. Just don't worry so much about trying to categorize it like I did,  and just ignore some of  the cliches.  Just sit back and enjoy the fun read!

If I gave a star rating, I'd give this 3 1/2 out of 5 stars.

This book was provided to me by the publisher at my request and in no way affected by review. 

The Winter Ghosts by Kate Mosse

The Winter Ghosts
Kate Mosse
Putnum Adult, 288 pages
February, 2011,  $24.95

The Winter Ghosts by Kate Mosse is a story of love, ghosts, war and memories.  It tells of Freddie Watson, who still carries the battle scars of The Great War and the emotional lingering ghosts that continue to haunt him. When Freddie's car careens off the icy and snow covered roads while traveling through the Pyrenees, he's forced to stay in the tiny, crumbling village of Nulle.   It's there that he has a chance meeting with Fabrissa,  a woman who is also haunted by the past.  And also the woman who now also haunts Freddie. 

I had looked forward to receiving this book and was so prepared to love it as I had loved Mosse's Labyrinth and Sepulchre.  But I didn’t. I all but abandoned it. I couldn’t get involved in the story or the characters and just didn’t care if I turned the page or not.  I was so disappointed. Then I did a bit of research about The Winter Ghosts and found that this book started as a novella  supporting adult literacy. That explained to me why the characters didn't seem fleshed out and gave me the feeling that I was reading a short story that had fallen flat and been stretched beyond its limits.

If I gave a "star" rating, this one would sadly get 2 out of 5.

This book was provided to me by the publisher at my request and in no way affected by review. 

On Deathly Hallows to premiere July 7 in the UK

The ending of this wildly popular book and film series will have its London premiere on July 7 according to the Variety article below. .

"Potter' premiere set for July 7

Warner Bros. sets date for 'Hallows' bow

Warner Bros. has set July 7 for the world premiere for "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2" for London's Trafalgar Square and Leicester Square.
Studio announced Tuesday that the event's the first red carpet premiere event in Trafalgar Square. The final Potter pic will be screened at Leicester Square's cinemas.
London mayor Boris Johnson said in a statement, "As befits a great British triumph, I can think of no better venue than the iconic surroundings of Trafalgar Square in which to stage the most spectacular of send offs for this dramatic finale."
The seven "Harry Potter" films have grossed more than $6 billion worldwide. The final pic will open worldwide during the July 13-15 period."
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