30 August 2012

R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril VII

I don't know about you, but when Carl posts the RIP announcement, I get giddy with glee. You know I like dark and scary books, and the fall season is the. perfect. time.

I implemented changes in July, and basically, I now decline 99% of pitched review requests. I've been happier with my own selections and having no external deadlines. As I don't get paid for my reviews and my regular day-job is much more involved this year since being in my new role, I wanted to ensure that this little corner of my blogosphere continues to just be my happy place with no stress. With that being said, I don't really have any specific reading choices for the upcoming RIP season. I plan to read whatever jumps out at me. Not literally, I hope.

I am committing to Peril the First (read at least four books) and Peril on the Screen (watch scary films). Peril on the Screen will be my reminder to finally watch Rebecca after reading it last year! Not to mention the #ITalong hosted by Fizzy Thoughts and Reading Thru the Night (Annotated Reading) and my own project with Kathleen at The Stephen King Project will clearly be mixed in with this RIP season as well.

Items of Note:
  • RIP VII runs September 1 through October 31
  • Most Important Rules: Have fun reading and share that fun with others!
  • As always, Carl's hired a fabulous artist for this season's artwork. Take a look at Gothicrow's beautiful work here.
  • To read all of the RIP particulars and to add the link for your sign-up post, click here.
  • Once you've written a review of a book, short story, or film, click here to post your review.
So... why don't you join? It's the most, wonderful time of the yeaaaaarrrrrr!! *singsongyvoice*


28 August 2012

Fingerprints of You, by Kristen-Paige Madonia

Fingerprints of You was not what I planned to include in my reading portfolio this summer. While I earnestly declined book review requests as of July to make room for personal selections, I made an exception because of the engaging first chapter posted on The Story Siren's site many moons ago, and after meeting the author at the Virginia Festival of the Book earlier this year when she introduced Robert Goolrick, author of A Reliable Wife. I knew I could fit this in, and after all, I've been reading everything from Stephen King to classics and audiobooks crossing the gamut of all things fiction, non-fiction, and more, so why not? Lately, I've read a number of YA books, but they've mostly been stories set in a fantastical and paranormal world, which can be a bit tiresome after a while.

Fingerprints of You, however, was startlingly unique in its simplicity: A young girl becomes pregnant by an older man and at seventeen-years-old decides to take a road trip with her best friend to San Francisco to find the father she's never known. How refreshing was this compared to the YA books I'd read the past few months? Extremely.

It's been a long time since Lemon's remembered what it was like to live in a stable and routine life when they lived with her grandmother. Named Lemon by her artistic mother for her favorite color the month of her birth, Lemon's moved most of her young seventeen years from one place to another whenever Stella decides to make a change, mostly as a result of a relationship gone bad. Unfortunately, trying to start anew is never as satisfying as initially expected, and Lemon's felt the void of friendships and stability ever since. When an afternoon rebellion with her mother's tattoo artist in a small Virginia town results in a pregnancy, she and her mother move again to an even smaller town in West Virginia. With a new best friend, Emmy, whose father was shipped off to Afghanistan, the decision to take a road trip during the winter school break becomes even more important for them both. The real reason why San Francisco was chosen though, is known only to Lemon, who decides she must meet her father before her own child is born.

With quiet and contemplative moments, Fingerprints of You became a sleeper hit for me. I wasn't anticipating the tiny struggles of pain that would suddenly burst forth from the pages as Lemon tried to make sense of so many things at once: an absent, unknown father, a flighty mother, a sense of emptiness in not having a place to call home, while simultaneously finding independence and roots in a cultural city full of art and music so unlike the small towns she's used to. Kristen-Paige Madonia certainly doesn't leave anything out in this tender coming of age story, and whether it's a handwritten inscription in a book, or a road trip made cross country between best friends, it's a lesson to all that we each can make an indelible impression on another, no matter how quickly a moment may pass between people.

Fingerprints of You is a multi-layered story of loss, hope, and discovery, and with San Francisco as the vibrant backdrop, the wealth of art and music at each corner is impressively vivid. Although set in contemporary times, the sights and sounds of San Francisco seemed to echo an earlier time and made me think of what I'd imagine it might have been like to be young in the 1960s, the young striving to find purpose during a time of war, a place of their own, or even just a little bit of independence amidst the routines of day-to-day life. Every generation feels this, of course, but there seemed such a marked sense of relationship between the two eras, that it beautifully blended into one for me, and I appreciated the story that much more.

It's a bit minor to state, especially since it's clear I thoroughly enjoyed the book and I could so easily envision the city and key character moments, but I think just a little more editing was needed to tighten down some scenes that were too descriptive, and conversely, there didn't seem to be enough emotional insight when it came to the pregnancy, which surprisingly felt detached in just a few scenes. And part of me (the immature part) wanted Stella to get a new tattoo to cover up the one made by the man who got her daughter pregnant, but maybe it was intentional to keep that a silent piece of resolution.

Ultimately, though, my quibbles are ridiculously minor in the grand scheme of the essential core of this story, which was immensely satisfying. I'd recommend this coming-of-age tale to an older YA audience especially, but all age groups in their twenties on up will find a little something that resonates with them. And like Lemon's understanding that we each make a permanent impression on each other in life, Kristen-Paige Madonia has unquestionably cemented her spot in the publishing industry world with  her debut Fingerprints of You, and I eagerly await her next novel.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: 8/7/12
Pages: 272

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher.

About the Author (from her website)
Kristen-Paige Madonia's fiction has appeared in various publications including Upstreet, New Orleans Review, American Fiction: Best Previously Unpublished Short Stories by Emerging Writers, and Sycamore Review, and she has received awards or fellowships from the Sewanee Writers' Conference, the Vermont Studio Center, the Juniper Summer Writing Institute, Virginia Center for Creative Arts, Hedgebrook Writer's Retreat, Millay Colony for the Arts, the Key West Literary Seminar, and the Studios of Key West. She was a finalist for the 2011 Virginia Commission for the Arts Fellowship in Fiction, and in 2010 she was awarded the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival Prize. She currently lives in Charlottesville, Virginia where she teaches creative writing and is at work on her second novel.

Visit the author:


22 August 2012

The full title is key to understanding everything this book has to offer. Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen. What you don't know from that title, though, is that you do not have to be a runner to get caught up in this story and be completely fascinated.

As you all know, I started running a few months back and fell in love, to the point where I now write a separate blog (This Chick Will Run) documenting my progress. I've spent most of my time over there, and I am kicking myself that now, in my late thirties, I have taken up a sport I thought I would never enjoy. You're not supposed to regret, or wish you did something different in life, but I do. I wish I tried to understand running earlier in life, the science and spirit behind it, so I could feel that complete feeling of freedom and satisfaction of running the way I want to, with no pressures other than my own to get better, and at my own pace. It's exhilarating and I love it now.

Born to Run is known as one of *the* books to read in the running community. McDougall's tale of an unknown tribe and the athletes who wanted to keep up with them is succinct and fascinating, and no stone is unturned as he analyzes his own running techniques. Reviewing controversial insights into the "right" shoe to wear, the "right" form, and his experiences with the ultrarunning athletes who are wildly impressive (and just plain crazy) kept me up late, rapt with attention. (Ultrarunners are those who complete distances further than the marathon distance of 26.2 miles. In fact, what is normally considered a minimum ultrarun, according to Ultrarunning's site, is 31.07 miles (a 50k), and extending all the way to 100 miles. There are even events that go for days, not just distances.)

All runners experience injuries and McDougall is no different. When his foot hurt, doctors advised a break. He kept running, and with the help of the mysterious Caballo Blanco, met the Tarahumara tribe of Mexico who easily run extreme distances daily, mileages that will make your jaw drop. They blew me away, I admit. Could anyone easily run a distance from New York to Detroit within a couple of days and not be completely destroyed? Probably not. But the Tarahumra tribe can. And when they run, they wear thin soled sandals that go against everything you were taught to believe about the "right" running shoe. Sometimes, the tribe even run barefoot and still, no issues.

I listened to the audio book and let me tell you, it's a perfect choice to listen to while running, especially if you're like me and don't like to listen to music. I was motivated to get out there and feel inspired by the ultrarunning legends, and the talents of the Tarahumara tribe. Born to Run will definitely be on my list of best books read in 2012, and I will be referring to this book several times over for motivation and insight. Whether you think you are "built for it" or not, you may become convinced we really were born to run, and to run long distances at that.

Interesting fact from the book: We were faster in the 1970s. Six amateur men in a local running group could break a 2:12 marathon mark, but in 2000 we didn't have any US marathoner in the Olympics who would have been able to meet that time. In fact, for the men's marathon, we finished in 69th place. Could it be the way shoes are made nowadays? The Tarahumara go barefoot a lot.

Runners and non-runners: You can't go wrong with this incredible story of Christopher McDougall's quest to understand running that first started because he wanted to find out why his foot hurt. In fact, those who don't run may actually be inspired to go for a short run. I would recommend that. After all, you might surprise yourself.

Publisher: Random House Audio
Release Date: 5/5/09
Audio Time: 11 hours, 9 minutes
Narrator: Fred Sanders

Others said:
Chrisbookarama (Audio Review)

About the Author
Christopher McDougall is an author and magazine writer, and is also an avid runner and ultrarunner. Documenting the sport on his site and in his book, Born to Run, McDougall is now a barefoot runner in the mountains of rural Pennsylvania working on his next book.

Visit the author:

Audio Notes: Guys, you can't miss with Fred Sanders at the helm of this book. Click here for the sample on Audible.com. Sanders has a clean voice, easy to understand, and the right inflection on words and events in the story are properly placed. With a background on Broadway and acting roles including Seinfeld and Will and Grace, he's a joy to listen to for this book. I'd highly recommend picking up the audio book and especially listening to it while you run.


14 August 2012

Yes, I am double-posting today. Don't get mad at me. Shh. This is important. What's that sound? Is it behind me? Should I look? No? Okay.

Clearly, you all know my inane, insane fascination and love of (most) Stephen King books. So much so, Kathleen (who also has a Stephen King plan to read his books in order of publication) and I have a separate blog entitled The Stephen King Project to celebrate all of your bookish and filmish reviews of all things Stephen King. Then earlier this summer, Trish hosted the Standalong and I fell in love with Stephen King's The Stand.

So what am I supposed to do when bloggers come a-knockin' and they start talking about doing another readalong. And this time for It? You know, the one about... the clown? Oh, yes, bloggers are a persistent bunch. *iameasilypeerpressured*

Then they made thisbutton. People. How could I NOT participate? amiright?

So I am so. in. Here are the details:
  • ITalong hosts: Fizzy Thoughts and Reading Thru the Night (aka Annotated Reading)
  • Sign up post: Click here
  • Formats: Read, listen, watch the TV movie *gigglesnort* (if it's anything like the TV version of The Stand, it will require a lot of grains of salt to deal with all that cheese)
  • Dates: Now through 10/14/2012
  • Midway Post: Sunday, Sept. 16, reading up through Part 3 (not including the Third Interlude)
  • Final Post: Sunday, Oct. 14
  • Twitter chat? Heck yeah. Thanks to Trish's brilliant hashtag for The Stand (#standalong), you can tweet and chat using #italong
Am I scared? A little. I started reading this when I was a teenager on a family trip to the beach and for some reason I stopped because I was scared and meant to pick it back up. Obviously, I was a scaredy-cat with that so now, at the ripe ole age of 38, I have to dive in again. Why don't you join? It's much more fun if we alllll do it.

Bring it, clownie. BRING. IT.


I cannot believe I doubted this for a minute. Brava, Ms. Taylor! *standingovation*

Karou, a seventeen-year-old, lives in Prague and has a few friends at the art school she attends. With her naturally blue hair and gifted drawings of a magical world her classmates don't believe exists, Karou has more secrets than even she knows what to do with. Regularly called on by Brimstone, a creature with a ram's head who runs a curious shop filled with teeth, to complete mysterious tasks requiring her sudden departures, it's not a surprise for others to write off her disappearances. While her best friend, Zuzana might raise an eyebrow to Karou's answers, she doesn't pursue more detail. No one knows that Karou speaks multiple languages and uses magic to travel from Prague to Morocco and other cities within a blink of an eye. Brimstone, almost a father-figure for Karou, regularly reminds her that, while magic may be fun, it always comes with a price. It's only when Akiva comes into her life, a glorious angel who knows much more about her past than she does, that Karou learns just how much of a price it actually is. Her own mysterious past could be even more than she can handle.

With love, magic, battles, and loyalty, the creative tale from author Laini Taylor unfolds with style and intrigue. Each and every character was crucial to the story, thoughtful and compelling in their own ways, whether innocent, selfish, or even creepy and malicious. I particularly loved Zuzana, but that could be attributed as well to the incredible narrator bringing her to life. Daughter of Smoke and Bone is an adventure that in its last few pages becomes so incredibly amazing with each event that I was left thoroughly breathless and awestruck at the creative tale.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: fantasy stories are just that.much.better in audio. Even more so in this case, as Daughter of Smoke and Bone is read by Khristine Hvam, one of the most talented narrators in town. This was my first time listening to her voice, but I can assure you, it will not be my last. With Hvam in control, every character became so immensely distinct that the story stepped up with its magical moments.

My absolute only issue is pretty ridiculous and more than likely to be expected, as I'm well out of my teen years. *sadface* At first, all of the "ooey-gooey-lovey-dovey" stuff was a little over the top, but I had to remind myself I'm not the intended audience. As a general reader who is appreciative of Young Adult fiction, however, the initial first blush of romance was a little more than actually needed. But, no matter. It's simply my own gentle reminder that you should push through it; a little elderly eye-roll every now and again is no big deal when the story ultimately is so incredibly worth it.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone will not let you down; it will likely make you stamp your feet, though, annoyed that you have to wait for Days of Blood and Starlight, the next installment in the series, to be released on November 6, 2012. I think I'm going to just pre-order it right now because I am so impatient. *hatestrilogies*

Publisher: Hachette Audio
Release Date: 09/27/11
Audio Time: 12 hours, 32 minutes
Narrator: Khristine Hvam
About the Author (from her website)
Laini Taylor is the author of 3 novels including the Dreamdark books. She was also a finalist for the National Book Awards for Lips Touch: Three Times. She lives in Oregon with her husband and daughter.

Visit the author:

Audio Notes: Click here for a sample. As I've already mentioned, Khristine Hvam was absolutely wonderful for this story. She clearly felt comfortable voicing each of the characters, easily punching up drama and emotion and love when necessary. What a talent she is! I can't wait to listen to more from her. Click here to go to her website.


08 August 2012

The Days of Abandonment, by Elena Ferrante

My initial interest in this book was solely based around the public shyness of the author. From Naples, Italy, Elena Ferrante's work is published by Europa Editions. Rumors abound on who the real identify of the elusive writer is. Some say she is covering for another writer. Some say it might be a male author. And some just think she doesn't want anything to do with public scrutiny.

It was intriguing and I wanted to pick the book up immediately. Thanks to my local library, I was able to get it right away, and I promptly read it in a day and a half. I would have finished it a lot sooner, had I not thrust the book down for extended periods of time in complete disgust by several actions by the main character, Olga.

The down and dirty of this story is that Olga has been married to Mario (one heck of a sh*t human being) for fifteen years and they have two children. He decides to leave her, unceremoniously announced one day, and Olga is left completely alone in the city. The summer is upon her and she begins to unravel. Her identity with this man was clear for fifteen years and The Days of Abandonment is a thoroughly unapologetic view of one woman's breakdown. It is vulgar, it is heart-wrenching, it is disturbing. It's hard for me to say whether or not I liked it, though. When I look back at my notes on Goodreads, it seems pretty evident that I miserably and voraciously hated it. I don't think there is one single note I made in that day and a half that was positive at all. However, I don't feel right to say that I hated it. I'm conflicted.

Olga's husband is a complete loser. I hated him immensely. He is no honorable man. I understood the initial moments of Olga's immediate breakdown, sanity falling away in those first few moments, but the eventual result and actions (or inaction, in some cases) of her worst moments that occur with her children and her dog made me absolutely mute with helpless anger. I couldn't deal with any more pages of Olga falling apart, and so many times it was almost willingly. In part, I cheered her on to come out of it, since I did not want her to lose herself and allow her husband, that little moron, to come out unscathed. Argh, he was horrible. Horrible! But so was Olga and there is no excuse with it at all, I felt. So I was just frustrated. But it's when the actual finality of her weakness is evident with her responsibilities and her children, and then with her dog that I found it all completely unforgivable and I had absolutely no sympathy. There was just no way I, as a reader, could recover from page after page of this helplessness. I hated Olga.

After coming off of Kate Chopin's classic short story The Awakening, I'm struck by some of the similar themes of a woman falling apart, from books published more than 100 years apart. I'm annoyed by it because doggone it, women can be and are, much, MUCH stronger than this.

So that is why I am conflicted by The Days of Abandonment. I was insanely frustrated by Olga and was disturbed by her complete lack of common sense and how she miserably threw it all away, allowing her children and dog to suffer (which drove me BATTY with anger, resentment and frustration with her), but again, like The Awakening, it was still beautifully written. It was so VIVID, the descriptions of certain scenes absolutely painful, poetic and genuine. Amazing. There is almost a stream of consciousness to the writing style that I loved, but then again, it was also a stream of only Olga suffering all the time, and it was something like complete selfishness that overtakes her and she ultimately focuses only on her own pain, allowing others to suffer who depend completely on her.  I get that this is extremely symbolic to the story, but it drove me nuts. Beautifully written, but absolutely frustrating to read.

It's very difficult for me give a thumbs up or down for this book. You read it and let me know what you think. For me, I wanted to devour the beautiful words (excellent translation), and then on the other hand, I wanted to throw the book across the room as I read.

I'll still read another one by Elena Ferrante, though.

Passages of Note:
Certainly something had happened to me during the night. Or after months of tension I had arrived at the edge of some precipice and now I was falling, as in a dream, slowly, even as I continued to hold the thermometer in my hand, even as I stood with the soles of my slippers on the floor, even as I felt myself solidly contained by the expectant looks of my children. It was the fault of the torture that my husband had inflicted. But enough, I had to tear the pain from memory, I had to sandpaper away the scratches that were damaging my brain. (p.101)
Publisher: Europa Editions
Release Date: 9/15/05
Pages: 192

Others said:
Bibliophile by the Sea
Care's Online Book Club
Dolce Bellezza
Reviews by Lola

FTC Disclosure: I checked this book out for free from my awesome local Virginia Beach Public Library.

About the Author (from Europa Edition's website)
Elena Ferrante was born in Naples, Italy. Though one of Italy's most important and acclaimed contemporary authors, she has successfully shunned public attention and kept her whereabouts and her true identity concealed.


05 August 2012

The Sunday Salon: My First 5k. Check.

That's right, folks. My very first 5k is DONE, son.

You may recall a couple of months ago that I started running. You may recall I then started a separate running blog called This Chick Will Run in order to hold myself accountable. And yesterday, I did my first 5k and had. a. BLAST.

I didn't expect to do a 5k so soon after starting running, but I felt that, symbolically, I had to do this one. It was the Coast Guard 5k in Yorktown, Virginia and both my father and husband were in the Coast Guard. I had to do this one. So I signed up for it a month ago, and with my heart in my throat, and my body a jangle of nerves, I showed up today.

Nerves and all, I still ran, and ran the entire time even though I was only used to flat roads and there was one hill that made me feel like my legs were sluggishly sloshing through molasses.

But the finish line was one heck of a great feeling.


02 August 2012

Note to my fellow bloggers/friends/Stephen King fans: Ok. This is just my letter to Ben Affleck who has signed on to direct The Stand. I am a humble fan who doesn't know all of the fantastic actors in Hollywood, so my picks for the characters in Stephen King's The Stand may seem horrendous to you. If they are terrible choices, tell me why (nicely). Do not throw the book at me. However, if you do throw the book at me, please only throw the edited pre-1990 version which is about 400 pages less and won't hurt as much. Thank you.

Image Source
Dear Mr. Affleck,

Kudos to you for taking the reins on remaking The Stand. If you do this right, you could make this Academy-award worthy, knowwhatimsayin? I wouldn't want to be in your shoes, though, because after all, you will have a legion of Stephen King and The Stand fans who will question your eh-ve-ry move. You will have to tread lightly and not kill key moments and also make sure all the special effects are fantastic without allowing them to be crazy over-the-top cheesiness (*coughcoughArmageddoncough*)

Picking the right cast, the dream team, is key. It's a story requiring an ensemble, a crucial conglomeration of a gazillion different Hollywood personalities that you'll have to logistically contend with/manage. Blah. I can't even imagine having to deal with the divas and divos and their attitudes. Ick.

But it's so important to pick the right people. Even I am terrified of posting into the public forums my "dream team" cast for this epic story. I'm certain there are a few picks below that I may need to duck as insults and outrage are hurled at me. So be it. And just as a side note, I realize that the 1994 TV version selected a lot of older actors for crucial roles, but I've chosen younger actors and actresses since I always thought all of the characters were in their twenties or so, with the exception of a few.

But, before we go on, sir, just a few things to make note of:
  1. Music. Don't forget about the music. Please. The TV version was aight and all but it was so melodramatic because there was music in almost every flippin' scene.
  2. Stephen King Gets in the Way of a Good Story. What? Whaddidshesay? There. I said it. I think King is brilliant and created stories and characters that will never be forgotten. He's a genius. Songs will be written about him one day. But. BUT. Don't let him write the screenplay or produce it! As a King fan, I think he's so close to his stories that he can't get out of his own way and the end movie result is never, ever good. He might strongarm you into doing what he wants because he's the master of horror, for cryin' out loud. You're from Boston, so I'm sure you probably have a high respect for the man and don't want to tick him off. But just remember that when he gets his hands really dirty and writes the teleplay or produces it, unfortunately, it usually isn't that fabulous. Stick to your guns and make the film the way you know it will work.
  3. One Film? Or Two? Three? You're going to enrage fans if you put this epic story into just one movie. It's a book with so many important characters and events that if you skinny this baby down to 100 minutes, an overwhelming amount of internet-angst will be unloaded from fans who will point out every.single.thing.you.cut. You don't want that. Split it into at least two films. (Money!) 
Ok. So below are my picks for the cast of The Stand. (Fellow bloggers/readers: Let me know what you think in the comments, but please do not yell at me!) Disclaimer: Obviously, none of these pictures are mine, however I've included the link to the site. Email me if I need to remove the picture or if I have the wrong link.

Mother Abagail: Cicely Tyson
I love Cicely Tyson and think she could be incredible, although part of me was also wondering about Alfre Woodard, since she's amazing as well. Ultimately, I had to go with Cicely Tyson because I think she really embodies the role of Mother Abagail and I think Cicely Tyson could be magical. [Photo]

Randall Flagg: Viggo Mortensen
I can't think of anyone else who could play the hardcase, the Walkin Dude any better. He can pull off the right combination of creepy and sexy, from gentle to frightening (Isn't this a scary picture?). [Photo]

Stu Redman: Ryan Gosling
Stu has to be someone the audience immediately is drawn to, someone easily likable and trustworty. (I tried to pick a very Stu-like picture. East Texas, y'all. Has to be good-looking and self-assured.) [Photo B/W]

Frannie Goldsmith: Maggie Gyllenhaal
If anyone could make me actually like the character of Frannie, and even believe someone as awesome as Stu could love her, and at the same time be so appealing that Harold would also fall madly in love with her, it would be Maggie Gyllenhaal. This actress is equal parts quirky, innocent, and sexy. She could do this role in her sleep. [Photo]

Harold Lauder: Jesse Eisenberg
From Social Network fame as the Facebook founder, Jesse Eisenberg has the youthful look necessary for the character, and could believably evolve into the brooding Harold. Harold, the untrustworthy, and possibly dangerous member of the Free Zone, the one that makes yer skin crawl and all. I think this actor could easily transform from heavyset and pimply Harold Lauder, into the later Harold/Hawk who is still confused, but slimmer. [Photo B/W]

Larry Underwood: Zac Efron
Oh, boy. I know I'm going to get yelled at on this one. Larry is one of the most important characters and I want this guy to do it? Yes. He's all grown up now, folks. (He cut that silly shaggy haircut, too.) You know Zac Efron can sing "Baby, Can You Dig Your Man?" and we also know he's a pretty doggone good actor no matter what the script gives him, so why not? I think he could do this character well. [Photo B/W]

Lucy: Zoe Saldana
Known for her stellar performance in the movie Avatar, Zoe Saldana would change it up considerably. She's got to have such a different look than Nadine Cross and while she is a little older than Zac Efron, I think there would be awesome chemistry between them. She is so incredibly unique and beautiful and has to hold her own against the incomparable Nadine. The audience has to feel and see that difference without question. The character of Lucy was thoroughly under-appreciated in the TV movie and I hope that Ben Affleck will remember that Lucy is such an important character in keeping Larry on the good side. [Photo B/W]

Nadine Cross: Marion Cottilard
This beautiful French actress would knock it out of the park. There are rumors Ben Affleck is considering Jennifer Lopez for the role and that his wife, Jennifer Garner, is understandably annoyed. I hope he doesn't pick J. Lo, much as I like her, because I just don't see her in this role at all. I want someone different and think Marion Cottilard would be great. She's got the right amount of exotic sex appeal to carry off the naive, hesitant, and ultimately led astray character perfectly and who doesn't love her accent? [Photo B/W]

Joe/Leo: Griffin Gluck
Not sure if this character would make the big screen version, or even get much screen time if he does. If so, I think this kid is perfect for the role. Many may remember him in the movie Just Go With It with Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston. He's also been on the TV show Private Practice as Cooper's son.  [Photo]

Nick Andros: Joseph Gordon-Leavitt
He killed it in the movie Inception, clearly holding his own against megastar power Leonardo DiCaprio. The tough role of a young man who can't hear or talk, Nick Andros is one of the most important players in the group of the good guys, and I can see this actor represent him with such heartfelt attention to detail. The character is tough to translate to the big screen, and I don't think they fleshed out the importance of the role in the TV version, so Rob Lowe was kept pretty much in the background. Joseph Gordon-Leavitt could make it happen, without a doubt. One stipulation I'd request: Please don't kick out Nick's teeth or have his eye gouged! That's one change that the TV version did right. [Photo B/W]

Tom Cullen: Philip Seymour Hoffman
I love the character of Tom Cullen so much that I am absolutely frightened for anyone else to play him. I think only this actor can do the character justice, a character who is so important to the ultimate stand. [Photo B/W]

Glen Bateman: Denzel Washington
Curve ball, huh? How awesome is this actor? Denzel Washington could play any character on the planet and rock it. He would be completely believable as the amiable, yet tough, sociology professor who helps in the overall creation of the Free Zone, and who also understands how society falls apart and then recreates. [Photo B/W]

Ralph Brentner: Josh Lucas
You may recall Josh Lucas in a flurry of smaller films, but most know this actor from his role starring opposite Reese Witherspoon in the romantic comedy Sweet Home Alabama. I can see him as the Midwest farmer walking across the country with Stu, Larry, and Glen.

Traschcan Man: Daniel Radcliffe.
Wait, wait, wait. Before you get all you-can't-mess-with-Harry-Potter on me, hear me out.  Yes. I think Daniel Radcliffe is a talented acter and could completely go out of character from the good wizard into the insane and burn-ravaged man. Stephen King mentioned that Billy Bob Thornton would be a good choice for this role, but I never thought Trashy was an older character. In my mind's eye, I envisioned the tormented character as a pretty young guy so I think Daniel Radcliffe would be fantastic. It would be such a CRAZY choice but can't you see him screaming, "My life for you!!!!" [Photo]

Lloyd Henreid: Ed Norton
I love the idea of Ed Norton as Poke's criminal sidekick who frighteningly evolves into the smart and confident second-in-command to Randall Flagg. Yes. Ed Norton would be perfect. [Photo B/W]

Judge Farris: Ken Watanabe
Yet another curve ball! And I really like this one. This cool dude is best known as starring opposite of Tom Cruise in the epic fierceness of The Last Samurai. He would be incredible as the soft-spoken and thoughtful, wise judge. Plus, we allllll know he can kick butt. [Photo B/W]

Dayna: Rosario Dawson
As one tough cookie in Sin City, one of my all-time favorite movies, not only can Rosario Dawson exhibit dignified strength (she has to be waaaay tough), she can also easily reflect that softness which will be irresistible to anyone in Flagg's camp. [Photo]

Rita Blakemoor: Glenn Close
Yeah, this character probably won't make the remake, but if so, wouldn't Glenn Close be outstanding? She's over 60, perfect age for the role, and has that sex appeal. [Photo]

And you know that guy who works for the government and comes in at the beginning to try and kill Stu in the facility in Stovington? I thought it would be a pretty cool cameo to have Matt Damon, a la Bourne salute, to be that dude. [Photo]

My sweet Roma is not a Pit Bull, 
but will happily accept the role of Kojak.
This picture is from my sister, www.digitalgraces.com
Kojak: Any Pit Bull
We have an opportunity here. Why not pick a dog who could help represent the opposite of what everyone thinks "dogs like that" are? It would be fantastic to have a dog that could be the "poster child" representative of ending the horrendous "Breed Specific Legislation" nonsense, which innocent Lennox was fatally punished for. The character of Kojak is a sweet and smart good dog and it would be nice to have a pit bull represented in a film of this magnitude who is not evil. It's time to break stereotypes, people! My dog is not a pit bull (she's a Vizsla), but people always think she is, so I'll include Roma the Dog as an example.

So, Mr. Affleck. While my letter is long and you'll probably never read this, I hope you get my drift on how important this movie is. I do envision a disgustingly high budget that will put Titanic to shame, but if you do it right, you will end up like James Cameron and make so much money you never have to do anything again except make random documentaries and wallpaper your house with cash. So with that, I wish you Godspeed and good luck to you, sir!

Natalie ~ the Coffee and a Book Chick

P.S. I read The Stand to participate in Trish's #standalong and also read this for my own project at The Stephen King Project, which I host with Kathleen from Boarding In My Forties.