2017 Book Challenge: A Book that was Made into a Movie

A Book that was Turned Into a Movie

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

Like Water for Chocolate

Synopsis: The subtitle is A Novel in Monthly Installments with Recipes, Romances, and Home Remedies. Tita loves Pedro, but because she’s the youngest daughter of Mama Elena, she must stay home to take care of Mama Elena when mama gets old. Instead, Pedro marries Tita’s sister to be close to her. The only way Tita can express her emotions is through the food she makes.

I remember seeing the trailer for this movie a long time ago and being intrigued by it. I’m really glad I read it. It’s some of the best magical realism I’ve read. I hated Mama Elena and felt so sad for Tita. But I loved reading about Tita’s journey as she grows up. The recipes are fascinating as they are a bit of realism to anchor the magic in the narrative. I was really surprised by the ending, since Tita makes a choice I wouldn’t have made had I been in her shoes, but it’s consistent with the novel.


Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen


Synopsis: Thirty minutes after meeting a doctor for the first time, Susanna Kaysen finds herself on the way to McLean Hospital at the age of 18. There she is treated for her diagnosis of borderline personality disorder (what would be considered a case of depression by today’s standards) and remains at the institution for nearly two years. Kaysen describes her time, her health, and those she met while at McLean.

I saw this movie not to long after its 1999 release. I don’t remember much besides Angelina Jolie’s character was much more “messed up” than Wynona Rider. I wasn’t sure whether this book was going to be rhetoric on women’s healthcare or mental healthcare in the late 1960s, but I was surprised that it was neither. By Kaysen’s descriptions, she was definitely suffering and needing specialized assistance, but the reason she began having treatment was because she was found to be “promiscuous.” Girl, Interrupted was a quick read with short chapters and fascinating people (I mean, come on, mental institution); with her own insight on why she was there. It’s crazy (yes, I did choose to use that word) to think that today Kaysen would have been given Prozac and recommended weekly sessions with a medical professional not covered by insurance.

Have you read a book that was turned into a movie? What did you think? Is the movie better or the book? 

Our next book challenge is: A Book with Pictures. See what Fallon and I chose on July 14.

Sale & Re-release of A Different Blue

Sale & re-release blitz
A Different Blue by Amy Harmon

Excerpt at bottom of post

Purchase links:

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Paperback: http://amzn.to/2iBa6bF
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FREE ebook: June 26-28, 2017

Re-release paperback: June 27, 2017



Blue Echohawk doesn’t know who she is. She doesn’t know her real name or when she was born. Abandoned at two and raised by a drifter, she didn’t attend school until she was ten years old. At nineteen, when most kids her age are attending college or moving on with life, she is just a senior in high school. With no mother, no father, no faith, and no future, Blue Echohawk is a difficult student, to say the least. Tough, hard and overtly sexy, she is the complete opposite of the young British teacher who decides he is up for the challenge, and takes the troublemaker under his wing. 

This is the story of a nobody who becomes somebody. It is the story of an unlikely friendship, where hope fosters healing and redemption becomes love. But falling in love can be hard when you don’t know who you are. Falling in love with someone who knows exactly who they are and exactly why they can’t love you back might be impossible.




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About the author:

Amy Harmon is a Wall Street JournalUSA Today, and New York Times Bestselling author. Amy knew at an early age that writing was something she wanted to do, and she divided her time between writing songs and stories as she grew. Having grown up in the middle of wheat fields without a television, with only her books and her siblings to entertain her, she developed a strong sense of what made a good story. Her books are now being published in seventeen different languages, truly a dream come true for a little country girl from Levan, Utah.

Amy Harmon has written eleven novels – the USA Today Bestsellers The Bird and The Sword, Making Faces and Running Barefoot, as well as From Sand and Ash, The Law of Moses, The Song of David, Infinity + One, Slow Dance in Purgatory, Prom Night in Purgatory, and the New York Times Bestseller, A Different Blue. Her latest novel, The Queen and The Cure, book two in The Bird and The Sword Chronicles, was released May 9, 2017.

Find & follow Amy online:

Website: www.authoramyharmon.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authoramyharmon

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Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Amy-Harmon/e/B007V3HXUY

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5829056.Amy_Harmon

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/amy-harmon

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Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/authoramyharmon/


A Different Blue – Excerpt

I stood and moved next to Wilson but kept my eyes trained on the sculpture so that I didn’t have to make eye contact with anyone in the room.  The class had fallen into stunned silence.  Wilson started by asking some basic questions about tools and different kinds of wood.  I answered easily, without embellishment and found myself relaxing with each question.

“Why do you carve?”  

“My . . . father . . . taught me.  I grew up watching him work with wood.  He made beautiful things.  Carving makes me feel close to him.”  I paused, gathering my thoughts.  “My father said carving requires looking beyond what is obvious to what is possible.”  

Wilson nodded as if he understood, but Chrissy piped up from the front row.

“What do you mean?” she questioned, her face screwed up as she turned her head this way and that, as if trying to figure out what she was looking at.

“Well . . . take this sculpture for example,” I explained. “It was just a huge hunk of mesquite. When I started, it wasn’t beautiful at all.  In fact, it was ugly and heavy and a pain in the ass to get in my truck.”

Everyone laughed, and I winced and muttered an apology for my language. 

“So tell us about this particular sculpture.” Wilson ignored the laughter and continued, refocusing the class. “You called it ‘The Arc’ – which I found fascinating.”

“I find that if something is really on my mind . . . it tends to come out through my hands.  For whatever reason, I couldn’t get the story about Joan of Arc out of my head.  She appealed to me,” I confessed, slanting a look at Wilson, hoping he didn’t think I was trying to butter him up.  “She inspired me.  Maybe it was how young she was.  Or how brave.  Maybe it was because she was tough in a time when woman weren’t especially valued for their strength.  But she wasn’t just tough . . . she was . . . good,” I finished timidly.  I was afraid everyone would laugh again, knowing that “good” was not something that had ever been applied to me. 

The class had grown quiet. The boys who usually slapped my rear and made lewd suggestions were staring at me with confused expressions.  Danny Apo, a hot Polynesian kid I’d made out with a time or two, was leaning forward in his chair, his black brows lowered over equally black eyes.  He kept looking from me to the sculpture and then back again.  The quiet was unnerving, and I looked at Wilson, hoping he would fill it with another question.

“You said carving is seeing what’s possible.  How did you know where to even start?” He fingered the graceful sway of the wood, running a long finger over Joan’s bowed head. 

“There was a section of  trunk that had a slight curve.  Some of the wood had rotted, and when I cut it all away I could see an interesting angle that mimicked that curve.  I continued to cut away, creating the arch.  To me it looked like a woman’s spine . . . like a woman praying.”  My eyes shot to Wilson’s, wondering if my words brought to mind the night he had discovered me in the darkened hallway.  His eyes met mine briefly and then refocused on the sculpture.

“One thing I noticed, when I saw all your work together, was that each piece was very unique – as if the inspiration behind each one was different.”

I nodded.  “They all tell a different story.”

“Ahhh.  Hear that class?” Wilson grinned widely.  “And I didn’t even tell Blue to say it.  Everyone has a story.  Everything has a story.  Told you so.”

The class snickered and rolled their eyes, but they were intent on the discussion, and their attention remained with me.  A strange feeling came over me as I looked out over the faces of people I had known for many years.  People I had known but never known.  People I had often ignored and who had ignored me.  And I was struck by the thought that they were seeing me for the first time.  

My Antonia

My Ántonia by Willa Cather

Literary Fiction

My Antonia

Overall Rating: 4.5

Quick summary: When Jim Burton’s parents die he is sent from his home in Virginia to the Nebraska prairie to live with his grandparents. His nearest neighbor is Antonia, another child new to the difficulties of farm life. As he and Antonia grow up, they discover the simple joys and heartaches in America’s heartland.


This is a literary classic that is an American pastoral. Cather extolls the virtues of farming, hard work, and the pioneering spirit of immigrants. This novel is especially poignant now that we’ve gotten so far from those first Americans who tamed the prairies to grow corn and wheat. Some may find the descriptive passages a little boring, but if you think of them as analogies for Jim’s emotional state and his relationship with Antonia, it might make them more interesting.


While there are compelling arguments to make about Native Americans and patriarchy, this is a fine example of feminist writing. Cather takes a male narrator and chronicles the immigrant girls who become women as strong, flawed characters who defy simply stereotypes. Jim himself experiences a near rape, as he is mistaken for a woman, and is ashamed and embarrassed. And Jim himself acknowledges the double standard to which women are held. The female immigrants in this novel work hard at farming, going so far as to get jobs in town when doing so caused people to question their virtue. They make sacrifices few town women would make so they can see their younger siblings have a more comfortable life.


But more than that, what I love about this novel is that it gets at the dichotomies that make up the truth of life, the bitter sweetness of love. The closing scenes explain so eloquently the way we live in the present alongside the past. It has beautiful lessons that still speak to me today, which is the hallmark of any work of classic literature.


Is it worth buying? (Kindle FREE)

I think it goes without saying that if a book is free, and I’ve given it a 4.5 rating, you should “buy” it.


Something else you might enjoy:

If you’d like a more traditional literary romance, and by that I mean you want a marriage at the end of the novel, try Mansfield Park by Jane Austen. It too is about a boy and a girl who grow up together and learn some difficult lessons as they realize the constraints of society. It is also free as an ebook.

2017 Book Challenge: Lion, Witch, or a Wardrobe

The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir who got Trapped in an IKEA Wardrobe

By Romain Puertolas


A fakir by trade, Ajatashatru Oghash, takes an unexpected trip across Europe and into Africa in what should have only been a few hours in Paris. Aja travels by plane, taxi, wardrobe, trunk, hot air balloon, and merchant ship and meets a variety of individuals before he realizes his ultimate destination.

On the surface, this story is whimsical, fantastical, and even enjoyable. I found myself anticipating the protagonist’s next misadventure. But it was within the first two pages of the novel I found myself thinking some of the humor was racist. In a running joke that lasts throughout the novel and extends to several characters, the story offers multiple phonetic translations of certain names, for example: “Ajatashatru Oghash (pronounced A-jar-of-rat-stew-oh-gosh!)”. I know this doesn’t blatantly intend to harm or degrade a person of another race, but it’s that ever present racism that makes fun of anything different. And in this case, that difference is the inability for a Westerner to pronounce an Indian name. On the flip side, Puertolas’ novel touched upon the struggles of immigrants, so it made me go, “huh?” I also wish the other characters that Aja met were fleshed out beyond stereotypes (with the slight exception of Assefa). Any woman in the story, besides his mother-figure, was either beautiful or overtly sexual. Maybe some jokes were lost in translation (the original text is in French). I’m sad I couldn’t laugh more and feel good about it.

The Magician’s Nephew (The Chronicles of Narnia Book 1)

By C.S. Lewis

the magician's nephew

A boy and a girl become friends over a dreary summer. When the boy’s uncle manipulates them into a dangerous situation, the two must outsmart an evil witch and the boy’s hapless uncle. Through situations that test their character and their courage, the two friends play a hand in the future of Narnia.

So, most people have read this book when they were young. I missed it growing up. Too much time spent on the Boxcar Children series and not enough time reading the classics, I guess. But in any case, since this challenge was obviously inspired by the series, I decided to go to the original books and read them. Unfortunately, the wait for the ebooks is very long and this is the only book I’ve managed to borrow and read. The good news is that I found the second book in the series, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, in hardback and so I’m reading it with my 5 year old and 2.5 year old now. It’s great to share in these books and have it be new to all of us.

Next challenge: A Book that was Made into a Movie

Read along with us by picking your own book that fits into the category and sharing it with us on June 30.

EBook Giveaway!

Penny Reid is giving away an ebook copy of her book Dating-ish on my blog! Read why this book is my favorite book of 2017 here: https://loveserially.wordpress.com/2017/06/10/my-favorite-book-of-2017-dating-ish/

To Enter: Simply read the review, like it, and comment. Giveaway will close on June 17.

This giveaway is not sponsored by wordpress or any other company. It is free to enter. The winner will need to send me their email address so the ebook can be sent. The ebook will be in English.

My Favorite Book of 2017: Dating-ish


Dating-ish, an all new standalone from the USA Today bestselling Knitting in the City romantic comedy series by Penny Reid is available now!

20170306 Dating ish 01 (2)

‘Dating-ish’ can be read as a standalone, is a full length 100k word novel, and is book #6 in the Knitting in the City Series.

There are three things you need to know about Marie Harris: 1) She’s fed up with online dating, 2) She’s so fed up, she’s willing to forego the annoyance and consider more creative alternatives, and 3) She knows how to knit.

After the most bizarre and irritating first date in the history of humankind, Marie is looking for an alternative to men. With the help of her friends, she quickly identifies a few possibilities:

Need a cuddle? Use a professional cuddler. Need affirmation? Get yourself a life coach. Need an orgasm? Try orgasm meditation! Why does she need the hassle of a romantic partner when she can meet all her needs with paid services?

But then her irritating date resurfaces. And he’s not at all the person she thought he was. And he suggests a different–and crazier–solution to her dilemma . . .

As everyone knows (or will soon come to realize), traditional relations between humans are a thing of the past. Robots are our future. And if robots are our future, then why do we need other people at all?


He was quiet for bit, we both were, and I felt myself relax more and more. His palm took a detour every so often, dutifully skipping my hip and sliding along my side, and then back to my leg. Soon, I was so relaxed I felt drowsy.

I felt fingers in my hair, moving the mass away from my neck with treasuring strokes just before Matt nuzzled the back of my neck, causing goosebumps to scatter over my skin.

“Mmm.” I smiled. “Hey. Jared said no tickling.” My voice sounded sleepy.

“Does this tickle?” Matt asked softly, nuzzling me again. I felt the brush of his lips—not a kiss, a brush—paired with hot breath against the bare skin of my neck and a zing shot straight down my spine, making my toes curl and a sudden hot ache twist in my lower belly.

Oh no.

I knew that ache. I hadn’t felt it because of another person’s touch in quite a long time. Nevertheless, no one ever forgets that ache.

My back arched instinctively, my bottom pressing back against his crotch, and I stiffened. I felt my nipples harden, strain beneath the cotton of my bra. I was now fully awake. No longer drowsy.


Not even a little.

Matt stiffened, too. His movements abruptly ceasing.

“Are you okay? What’s wrong?” he asked, alarm coating his words, and in the next moment his hand was suspended in the air above me. “Did I touch something I shouldn’t?”

I exhaled a short, nervous laugh, gripped by the urge to sit up.

“No. No. You didn’t.” I moved to the edge of the bed, righting myself, away from Matt, needing distance. “I’m good.” I gathered a silent breath and released it slowly because my pulse was racing.

Crap, Marie. Get a grip. It’s Matt Simmons. Professor Matt. The big kid. Why are you reacting this way?

“Did I . . .” These initial words were hesitant, and a moment of silence stretched before he continued, his tone comically teasing as he finished his thought. “Did I arouse you?”

I snorted, shaking my head, laughing at his silly tone. Turning at the waist to peer at him over my shoulder, Matt was grinning at me, twisting a make-believe mustache between his thumb and forefinger.

But then he stopped.

“I did, didn’t I?” he pushed, his hand dropping. He looked pleased, if not a little amazed.

I sighed, feeling a smidge embarrassed, and nodded. “Actually, yes. That’s a sensitive spot for most women.”

“The back of your neck?” He lifted himself to one elbow, his eyes darting to my neck with keen interest.

“My neck in general, actually.”

“Huh.” Matt frowned thoughtfully. “Where else?”

I pressed my lips together and gave him an incredulous look. “I’m not telling you that.”

“Why not?”


“What if I needed it for research reasons?”


“What if I told you it was part of our questionnaire?” He tossed his legs over the side of the bed and stood, walking around to my side and offering me his hand. “You should give me a schematic of your body with the erogenous zones circled and rated.”

“Let me guess, you want them rated on a ten-point scale,” I deadpanned as I accepted his hand, stood, and stepped away to gain some distance and straighten my shirt.

He shrugged, crossing his arms, stalking after me. “Or exponential. I was going to say a Likert scale, but a logarithmic scale works, too.”

Chuckling, appreciative of his attempt to diffuse my embarrassment and awkwardness with the joke, I realized Matt Simmons wasn’t a bad guy. He might even be a good guy, just a little . . . peculiar.

And wants to replace romantic relationships with robots. Best not forget that detail.

Yeah, he’d make an interesting friend.

“Thanks.” I gave him a small smile.

“For what?” His eyes moved between mine.

“For the cuddle. Thanks for the cuddle, Matt.”

“Anytime, Marie.” He grinned down at me, his eyes dancing as he leaned forward and whispered, “Anytime.”


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Meet Penny Reid:

Penny Reid is the USA Today Bestselling Author of the Winston Brothers and Knitting in the City series. When she’s not immersed in penning smart romances, Penny works in the biotech industry as a researcher. She’s also a full time mom to three diminutive adults, wife, daughter, knitter, crocheter, sewer, general crafter, and thought ninja.


Connect with Penny:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PennyReidWriter/

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2lakzsD

Twitter: @ReidRomance

Newsletter: http://pennyreid.ninja/newsletter/



The Knitting in the City Series by Penny Reid

Romantic Comedy


Dating-ish (Book 6)


While this book is sixth in the Knitting in the City Series, it can be read as a standalone. I received a complementary copy of this novel because I am a fan freak of Penny Reid’s. I voluntarily chose to review this book because this book is really great and I love it.


Overall Rating: 4.5 (sXe)


Quick & Dirty summary: Marie has been on more bad dates than she can count. Actually, she’s very smart so Marie can count them all; she’d just rather not. When she goes on her most recent crash and burn online date, she decides to swear off dating for a while. Instead she focuses on her work, and her work as a reporter leads her to the very interesting idea of replacing romantic relationships with paid services. Of course, she has to test out this theory, like any good scientist would, with a series of experiments. And who better than to help her with her experiments than an honest to goodness scientist. Never mind that the scientist in question is also the abovementioned crash and burn date. And never mind that the scientist in question also happens to have an insanely hot body, beautiful brown eyes, and a vulnerability that makes Marie’s lady parts melt. Never mind any of that.


There is so much about this book to love. I love, love, love Marie. She is another great example of how intelligent people come with different kinds of intelligences. For example, I could not possibly study for the bar and pass it without taking a class. That’s just not how my brain works and I like to think I’m reasonably smart. But Marie can do it! And she has the ability to ask the right questions, which get her interesting answers, which make her smart in this incredibly fun way. So yeah, I love Marie.

And then there’s Matt. Matt, Matt, Matt. My book boyfriend Matt. I love his vulnerability. His intensity. His desire to do good in the world. And, of course, his hot bod. And yes, I know Matt isn’t a real person. But I feel this way about him because this book is so good! He is not the quintessential alpha. But that’s not to say he isn’t an alpha male. He is, but he definitely complicates the stereotype, which is a signature of Reid’s writing.

So, here is where I explain why this particular book isn’t a five star. Despite it being a lovely book, the entire problem that the plot centers on is a little flimsy to me. Marie is so straightforward and honest. She doesn’t play any games and I love that about her. And Matt has his flaws, as any good character does, but I think the problem is a little unbelievable. I won’t say more because I don’t want any spoilers in my review.

Second, there were a few things that I’d like to see tied up. One is the question Marie poses to Matt about the ethics of personal robots. We have laws against animal abuse. Will there be laws against robot abuse? Not only is this an interesting conversation to have in general, but I think it’s an important one for Matt’s character development.

Second the gossip tree must be explained in more detail. It might not be necessary in this book, what is in this book is sufficient, but it must be explored more. I demand this Penny (if you’re reading this review)!

Third, I’d like to know how Marie’s article turns out in the end. Maybe that’s for another book. Maybe my answer is in this particular book and I didn’t read it closely enough. That’s one problem in devouring a book in a single day. But I like to write my reviews based on my first impression of the book, so as much as I would have loved to re-read this book already, I haven’t because I think what you are probably interested in when reading reviews is how did this book go over the first time. So my apologies if this last point is illogical, although who even remembers what my last point is in the midst of all this rambling.

Is it worth buying? (Kindle $5.99)

Yes. You will want to read this book again and again.

Something else you might enjoy:

There isn’t a direct overlap in my recommendation, but I think if you like Dating-ish, you might also like The Gene Project. It’s about a very awkward nerd trying to find a spouse. I loved it!

Tempting Levi

Title: Tempting Levi
Series: Cade Brothers #1
Author: Jules Barnard
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: June 6, 2017


Off-limits never looked so tempting…problem is,
she’s my ex’s little sister.

Cade men are known for two things: arrogance and competitiveness. I grew up in
one of the wealthiest, most dysfunctional families in Lake Tahoe, and all I
wanted was to get the hell out. I thought I’d succeeded. Until an accident
burned up my firefighter ambitions. Then Dad died and left me in charge of the
family’s luxury resort.

Now I’ve got financially uptight advisors telling me what to do, and I need
someone I can trust working at my side. The perfect candidate walks through the
door in her pencil skirt, fitted white blouse, and that mass of wavy blond hair
she tries to contain.

The only problem? She’s my cheating ex’s younger sister.

Hell no. The last thing I need is another Wright female in my life.

But Emily’s good at the job, and she seems trustworthy. I should ignore the
desire I have for her. But after all I’ve lost, I’m tempted by what I can’t
have and ready to stoke the flame that smolders between us. As long as this
Wright sister doesn’t betray me the way the last one did.

Then again, I always liked playing with fire.

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She climbed to her feet and leaned into him, tracing the
scar above his eye. “I like this scar.”
He chuckled and dropped his cheek into her hand. “Glad it
pleases someone. It didn’t feel too good when it happened.”
“I don’t like it because you were hurt. It’s just—it brought
you to me. And it reminds me that you’re not the same person I met years ago.
That we’ve both changed… However”—she grinned saucily—“scars are pretty
He tugged at her top and kissed her collarbone, tickling her
with his lips, because the naughty man had quickly discovered a sensitive spot.
“My scar looks hot, does it?”
She laughed as he continued to pepper her skin with light
kisses. She lifted her shoulder in defense. “Very sexy.” 
“Hmmm, don’t give me ideas, Emily, or I won’t let you go
Also Available
Men of Lake Tahoe Series

Author Bio

RITA-nominated author Jules Barnard began her publishing
career in 2014 with her first contemporary series, Men of Lake Tahoe, making it
onto romance bestseller lists. In 2015, she launched, Fates Divided,
the first of a romantic fantasy series Library Journal calls
“…an exciting new fantasy adventure.” Whether she’s writing about
sexy men in Lake Tahoe or a Fae world embedded in a college campus, Jules spins
addictive stories filled with heart and humor.
When she isn’t in her sweatpants writing and rewarding
herself with chocolate, Jules spends her time with her husband and two children
in their small hometown on the California coast. She credits herself with the
ability to read while running on the treadmill or burning dinner.
To learn more about Jules, visit her website at: http://www.julesbarnard.com./
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FREE extra scenes!
Author Links