Books to Movies Monday - From Here To Eternity

Since today is Memorial Day,  when we honor those who have died in service defending our freedom and our country, I thought I'd spotlight a book and a film that focuses on the days leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor:  From Here To Eternity by James Jones.

And of course the stunning film starring Deborah Kerr, Burt Lancaster, Mongomery Clift,  Frank Sinatra, Donna Reed and Ernest Borgnine.

The Floor of Heaven by Howard Blum

The Floor of Heaven: A True Tale of the Last Frontier and the Yukon Gold Rush 

By Howard Blum
Crown Publishing, $26.00

Author Howard Blum about his book:  I wanted to write a story about the intrepid men who traveled from the newly civilized West to a place that remained excitingly dangerous, a fierce and lawless land. I wanted to tell a story about people so squeezed by the economic hardships of the times that they were willing to do or to try just about anything to fill their lives with the prospect of something better. I wanted to write about heroes, villains, and dreamers who joined the great stampede to the frozen north.

I wanted to capture the boldness, self-reliance, and tenacity of men and women who helped shape a still vibrant strand in the American character. I wanted to tell an engaging tale that contained both high drama and a perplexing mystery. And, oh yeah, as I said, if all that wasn’t challenge enough, I wanted to write a true story, to boot.

For me to be drawn to a non-fiction book it has to be something unique!  I prefer to drift off into a  made-up world that someone else creates. OK, it's escapism. But every now and then a true story comes along that triggers the escape mechanism in my mind and I HAVE TO read the book. The Floor of Heaven is one of those rare books. Howard Blum sets the stage for this true life tale so perfectly, the reader forgets it's true! 

Blum tells the story of three men hunting for a better life, and the place they chose was 1896 Alaska, the Yukon. Gold Rush territory. Soapy Smith, Charlie Siringo and George Carmack,  a swindling con man,  a Pinkerton detective and the prospector who's find at Bonanza Creek started the Yukon gold rush, respectively.  Three more diverse people you'd never find, but they all shared the drive to make something better of their lives. Thanks to Blum's ability to tell a story I was entranced from the very beginning.

In writing The Floor of Heaven Blum unearthed first hand accounts of these men's lives, so through the use of letters, diary entries, poems, legal papers and any number of written accounts, Blum weaves together the good, the bad and the often ugly that permeated their struggles.  This book is structured so flawlessly that you must constantly remind yourself that this is real!  These things really happened!

I highly recommend The Floor of Heaven, be prepared to step back in time and watch as the last days of the Alaskan frontier and the mad rush for gold unfold  on the pages in front of your eyes.

4 out of 5 stars!

According to   Fox 2000 has acquired screen rights to The Floor Of Heaven.  I can't wait to see this one on the big screen!

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

The Moment by Douglas Kennedy

The Moment
By Douglas Kennedy
Atria, $26.99

Thomas Nesbitt is a divorced writer in the midst of a rueful middle age. Living a very private life in Maine, in touch only with his daughter and still trying to recover from the end of a long marriage, his solitude is disrupted one wintry morning by the arrival of a box that is postmarked Berlin. The name on the box—Dussmann—unsettles him completely, for it belongs to the woman with whom he had an intense love affair twenty-six years ago in Berlin at a time when the city was cleaved in two and personal and political allegiances were frequently haunted by the deep shadows of the Cold War.
 Refusing initially to confront what he might find in that box, Thomas nevertheless is forced to grapple with a past he has never discussed with any living person and in the process relive those months in Berlin when he discovered, for the first and only time in his life, the full, extraordinary force of true love. But Petra Dussmann, the woman to whom he lost his heart, was not just a refugee from a police state, but also someone who lived with an ongoing sorrow that gradually rewrote both their destinies.
A love story of great epic sweep and immense emotional power, The Moment explores why and how we fall in love—and the way we project on to others that which our hearts so desperately seek. 

Douglas Kennedy's newest novel The Moment  defines and spotlights the moments that change our lives. Kennedy grasps the little things that occur in life, that in retrospect, become THE moments that change or define a life. The story is told primarily through Thomas Nesbitt's memories, as he relives his life as a travel writer in 1984 Germany, during the time of the "Berlin wall" and of a woman named Petra Dussmann.

I really loved The Moment. Kennedy uses words the way a painter uses paint on a canvas, highlighting the highs and shadowing the lows. For those who don't remember the Cold War time frame, The Moment serves as a brilliant learning opportunity, a chance to see the world as it was, to see the heartbreak of two people divided by a political system that robbed people of the freedom to live and their freedom to love. Kennedy also clearly uses Nesbitt's remembrances as a way to remind us that even the smallest decision, the smallest moment can haunt us forever.  Nesbitt's decisions touch and forever mark the life of another woman and mold the life of his daughter.

Forever changed and forever haunted, once Nesbitt receives Petra's box, Nesbitt finally tries to come to terms with his choices at the important moments of his life.

This is a book that I'll keep, it's on my book shelf now, and I'll read it again and will surely see something else in it that I missed during the first read. But isn't that the way moments are in retrospect?

I give The Moment 4 1/2 out of 5 stars.

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

I now return you to your regularly scheduled stuff

Don't you just hate it when you can't get online??? For 5 days in a row?? NO internet access??  All's better now...things have returned to normal...sorta...around here on NovelChatter!

Thanks for stopping by....

Oscar Wilde and the Vampire Murders by Gyles Brandreth

Oscar Wilde and the Vampire Murders
 By Gyles Brandreth
 Touchstone, $15.00

The description:

Oscar Wilde and the Vampire Murders opens in 1890, at a glamorous party hosted by the Duke and Duchess of Albemarle. All of London's high society—including the Prince of Wales—are in attendance at what promises to be the event of the season. Yet Oscar Wilde is more interested in another party guest, Rex LaSalle, a young actor who claims to be a vampire.
But the entertaining evening ends in tragedy when the duchess is found murdered—with two tiny puncture marks on her throat. Desperate to avoid scandal and panic, the Prince asks Oscar and his friend Arthur Conan Doyle to investigate the crime. What they discover threatens to destroy the very heart of the royal family. Told through diary entries, newspaper clippings, telegrams, and letters, Oscar Wilde and the Vampire Murders is a richly atmospheric mystery that is sure to captivate and entertain.

My thoughts:

Oscar Wilde and the Vampire Murders was my first Gyles Brandreth book, but it sure won't be my last. I was a little afraid of this one, as I am not a fan of some of the mashups that have been so popular. I thought Brandreth's story was fun and entertaining!  His characters, both historical  (Wilde,  Arthur Conan Doyle, The Prince of Wales. Bram Stoker) and fictional have depth and a certain smartness and wit that I enjoyed. 

Coming after the Jack the Ripper murders, but still in the "Victorian" era, Brandreth somehow manages to use letters and diary writings to make these character seem more real.  

I really enjoyed this one, it was quick to read and not a slow moment in the book. All I can say, not wanting to give too much plot line away... you don't want to have one page ruined of read it now!!

4 out of 5 stars!!!

This e-galley was provided to me by the publisher and in no way affected my review.

Books to Movies Monday - On Stranger Tides

What better way to start the week but with this Book to Movie Monday selection!  The Disney people say the new PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES is suggested by the award winning science fiction author  Tim Powers.  ON STRANGER TIDES opens world wide Friday, May 20.

What say  you, why not read the book AND see the movie!    Savvy??   arrrrrrrrr!

Top cover image: Harper Books
Bottom two images: Babbage Press

You can read our interview with ON STRANGER TIDES author Tim Powers here on Novel

And now there's the movie...  

Poster image The Disney Company

Books to Movies Monday - The King's Speech

The King's Speech is a wonderful story, both in book form by Mark Logue and Peter Conradi and also in the form of the recent Academy Award© winning film!  

Read the book, see the movie.

Love the story of triumph over adversity.

Film poster copyright The Weinstein Company, UK Film Council, See-Saw Films and Bedlam Productions

Cover image Sterling Publishing

The Sandalwood Tree by Elle Newmark

The Sandalwood Tree
By Elle Newmark

Atria, $25.99

Here's what the publisher tells us:
A sweeping novel that brings to life two love stories, ninety years apart, set against the rich backdrop of war-torn India. 

In 1947, American historian and veteran of WWII, Martin Mitchell, wins a Fulbright Fellowship to document the end of British rule in India. His wife, Evie, convinces him to take her and their young son along, hoping a shared adventure will mend their marriage, which has been strained by war.

But other places, other wars. Martin and Evie find themselves stranded in a colonial bungalow in the Himalayas due to violence surrounding the partition of India between Hindus and Muslims. In that house, hidden behind a brick wall, Evie discovers a packet of old letters, which tell a strange and compelling story of love and war involving two young Englishwomen who lived in the same house in 1857. 

Drawn to their story, Evie embarks on a mission to piece together her Victorian mystery. Her search leads her through the bazaars and temples of India as well as the dying society of the British Raj. Along the way, Martin's dark secret is exposed, unleashing a new wedge between Evie and him. As India struggles toward Independence, Evie struggles to save her marriage, pursuing her Victorian ghosts for answers.

Bursting with lavish detail and vivid imagery of Calcutta and beyond, The Sandalwood Tree is a powerful story about betrayal, forgiveness, fate, and love.

My thoughts:

There's so much about  Elle Newmark's The Sandalwood Tree that I want to say. So, where do I start?  This is not a simple story of a husband and wife struggling in their rapidly deteriorating marriage. This is not a simple story of a peek into lives that were lived one hundred years before Evie and Martin, when Evie unearths yellowing and tattered letters between Felicity and Adela, who lived in the Mitchell's rented house in the Victorian age the novel begins to hum with the sights and sounds of old India.

I love books that tell two stories woven into one, I like flipping back and forth in time and space. Newmark brilliantly depicts the world of Martin and Evie as they record the end of the British Raj in India after WWII, and does an
equally stunning job in painting for the readers, the world of Felicity Chadwick and Adela Winfield, set in the mid 1880s India and England.  What a joy to read Newmark's vivid descriptions of these caracters' worlds and their lives. 

I remember, after the death of my dear Mother, reading letters she had written to friends and family. It was with complete amazement and with rapt attention that I  sat cross legged on the floor of her bedroom, reading about her world, struggling to read her script, written with such excitement about her live.  I read with equal amazement, the words that author Elle Newmark put down in Felicity and Adela's world.  I am such a sucker for stories told in letter form!  84 Charing Cross Road is a long time favorite of mine.

Not wanting to give too much away, as always, I want to add that in both story lines we find, mystery, love,  joy, friendship, betrayal and ultimately...forgiveness.  

In The Sandalwood Tree, Elle Newmark crafts an almost perfect novel. There are virtually no unnecessary scenes, no sentences that don't paint a complete picture, and the plotting is so seamless that you completely suspend your disbelief!

I say, go buy The Sandalwood Tree, download it...whatever you do, but read this book and share its story with everyone you know who loves a great book.

I give it 4 1/2 out of 5 stars!!  

ARC provided to me by the publisher and in no way affect my review.

Books to Movies Monday - Imitation of Life by Fanny Hurst

Since next Sunday is Mother's Day here in the US, I thought I'd spotlight a film about two mothers and their daughters...and how their lives intertwine and are for ever changed.

Fanny Hurst's 1933 tear jerker story was made into two films and is still a popular film in the "classic" film genre and runs regularly on various cable channels.

Claudette Colbert and Louise Beavers in the 1934 film adaptation:

And then there's the 1959 Lana Turner, Juanita Moore film version:

I love them both!  There are four great roles for women in both films and I'd love to see this adapted again today!

Imitation of Life film posters copyright Universal Films International.
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