Tag Archives: novels

2017 Movies which started as Library Books

As the calendar year turns, it’s a great time to reflect back and to look forward. One of my favourite things at this time is to discover new movies on the horizon. Often the best are based on solid novels otherwise known as library books. Which books have been chosen to be made into new, hopefully insightful and thrilling movies in 2017? Many are coming, but here are just a few for your consideration. How best to prepare? Read or reread the book (or at least a good book review).


Silence by Shusaku Endo

“The most important novel of the acclaimed Japanese author Shusako Endo caused a major controversy in Japan following its publication in 1967. Now with a forward by Martin Scorsese (the movie’s director). A Japanese Catholic, Endo tells the story of two 17th-century missionaries attempting to shore up the oppressed Japanese Christian movement. Father Rodriques has come to Japan to find the truth behind unthinkable rumors that his famous teacher Ferreira has renounced his faith. But after his arrival he discovers that the only way to help the brutally persecuted Christians may be to apostatize himself.” (Publisher summary)
Stars Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver and Liam Neeson
Release: January 6


Dennis-Lehane.jpgLive By Night by Dennis Lehane

“From New York Times bestselling author Dennis Lehane comes this epic, unflinching tale of the making and unmaking of a gangster in the Prohibition Era of the Roaring Twenties–now a Warner Bros. movie. Meticulously researched and artfully told, Live by Night is the riveting story of one man’s rise from Boston petty thief to the Gulf Coast’s most successful rum runner, and it proves again that the accolades Lehane consistently receives are well deserved.” (Publisher summary)
Stars Ben Affleck, Elle Fanning, Zoe Saldana, and Sienna Miller
Release: January 13



The Gunslinger  by Stephen King

“‘An impressive work of mythic magnitude that may turn out to be Stephen King’s greatest literary achievement’ (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution), The Gunslinger is the first volume in the epic Dark Tower Series.

“A #1 national bestseller, The Gunslinger introduces readers to one of Stephen King’s most powerful creations, Roland of Gilead: The Last Gunslinger. He is a haunting figure, a loner on a spellbinding journey into good and evil. In his desolate world, which mirrors our own in frightening ways, Roland tracks The Man in Black, encounters an enticing woman named Alice, and begins a friendship with the boy from New York named Jake. Inspired in part by the Robert Browning narrative poem, ‘Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came,’ The Gunslinger is ‘a fresh compelling whirlpool of a story that draws one irretrievable to its center’ (Milwaukee Sentinal). It is ‘brilliant and fresh…and will leave you panting for more’ (Booklist).” (Publisher summary)
Stars Matthew McConaughey and Idris Elba
Release: July 28


The-mountain-between-us-by-charles-martin.jpgThe Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin

“Flying together on a storm-ravaged night are a surgeon facing a painful separation from his wife and a young magazine writer on her way to her wedding. When their plane crashes in a frigid and remote mountain wilderness, they must learn, as week follows week without rescue, to rely on each other for their mutual survival.” (Publisher summary)
Stars Idris Elba and Kate Winslet
Release: October 20



Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey

“Fourth-grade class clowns George Beard and Harold Hutchins have created the greatest superhero in the history of the elementary school — and now they’re going to bring him to life! Meet Captain Underpants! His true identity is SO secret even HE doesn’t know who he is!” (Publisher summary)
Stars Kevin Hart, Kristen Schaal, and Nick Kroll
Release: June 2


by Stephen Kingindex.aspx.jpeg

“It’s a place as hauntingly familiar as your own hometown. Only in Derry, the haunting is real. In 1958, the small town of Derry, Maine, is shaken by a series of brutal murders targeting children. That fateful summer, seven kids are drawn together in a fierce bond of friendship to face a force of unspeakable evil. Unsure if they have vanquished the nightmarish creature that lurks in Derry’s sewers, they vow to return should IT ever reappear. Twenty-seven years later, when the murder cycle begins again, they are summoned back to their hometown, reunited for a final, decisive battle against the reawakened evil. Winner of the British Fantasy Award and the bestselling book in America when it was published in 1986, It is Stephen King’s incomparable epic about evil in all its forms and that which it cannot destroy.” (Publisher summary)
Stars Bill Skarsgard, Finn Wolfhard, and Jaeden Lieberher
Release: September 8


The-Breadwinner-by-Deborah-Ellis.jpgThe Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis

“Afghanistan: Parvana’s father is arrested and taken away by the Taliban soldiers. Under Taliban law, women and girls are not allowed to leave the house on their own. Parvana, her mother, and sisters are prisoners in their own home. With no man to go out to buy food, they face starvation. So Parvana must pretend to be a boy to save her family. It is a dangerous plan, but their only chance. In fear, she goes out – and witnesses the horror of avoiding landmines, and the brutality of the Taliban. She suffers beatings and the desperation of trying to survive. But even in despair lies hope.” (Publisher summary)
Stars Soma Bhatia, Ali Kazmi and Kane Mahon
Release: 2017


The Long Home
by William GayThe-Long-Home-by-William-Gay.jpg

“In a literary voice that is both original and powerfully unsettling, William Gay tells the story of Nathan Winer, a young and headstrong Tennessee carpenter who lost his father years ago to a human evil that is greater and closer at hand than any the boy can imagine – until he learns of it first-hand.” (Publisher summary)
Stars James Franco, Josh Hartnett, Josh Hutcherson, Ashton Kutcher, Timothy Hutton and Courtney Love
Release: 2017

Happy reading and viewing!

  • Lyle

Books turning into Movies in 2015

Watching your favourite book as a movie is like watching your child turn into something you weren’t expecting. You want to hold on to what was, but you know you have to let what “is” be free.

Recently I watched the Danish film adaptation of Jussi Adler-Olsen’s crime-thriller The Keeper of Lost Causes. The movie is actually quite good, but I first cringed when I saw the film version of my favourite character, Carl Morck the bumbling, wildly sarcastic cop who solves cold cases. My imagination of who he  needed to be was retooled when I saw him on the screen – he wasn’t as funny and awkward as I thought he was. But he was still Carl, a newly reimagined character who had more subtle contours in his personality. I learned to like the new Carl, and that made all the difference. By the way, I recommend the movie (but only if you like subtitles)!

Here are some notable books being made into (hopefully) interesting movies this year:


Serena: “Newlyweds George and Serena move from Boston to North Carolina in 1929 to start a timber business. The pair are ruthless in building their empire, and when Serena finds out that she can’t have children, she sets out to kill George’s illegitimate son.” Based on the novel from noted Southern author Ron Rash.


The Zookeeper’s Wife: “This true story follows the keepers of the Warsaw Zoo, who helped to save hundreds of people from the Nazis in World War II by smuggling them into empty cages.” Based on the novel by Diane Ackerman.

Walk-Woods-Bill-Bryson A Walk in the Woods: “The humorous memoir follows an Iowa-born man who returns to America after 20 years in England to walk the Appalachian Trail.” Based on the memoir by Bill Bryson.



Silence: “Set in 17th-century Japan, the book follows the story of Jesuits who are trying to bring Christianity into Japan.” Based on the book by Shusaku Endu.


The Secret in Their Eyes: “An M15 agent trying to solve a murder works for the FBI and uncovers a terrifying new truth.” Based on the book by Eduardo Sacheri.



Room: “A 5-year-old boy grows up in a small shed, which becomes the only world he knows because his mother hides the truth — they’re being held captive.” Based on the novel by Emma Donoghue.


Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children: “In this YA novel, a teenager named Jacob explores the ruins of a strange house on an island near Wales.” Based on the book by Ransom Riggs. The movie may be delayed until 2016.

Martian-Andy-WeirThe Martian: “Astronaut Mark Watney gets stranded on Mars and must survive alone while NASA tries to rescue him in this sci-fi novel.” Based on the fantastic novel, in more ways than one, by Andy Weir.


A Hologram for the King: “A struggling businessman heads to Saudi Arabia for a fight to save his finances, hoping to steer clear of foreclosure and pay his daughter’s college tuition.” Based on the book by Dave Eggers.

Frankenstein (Movie title is ‘Victor Frankenstein’): “Told from Igor’s perspective, we see the troubled young assistant’s dark origins, his redemptive friendship with the young medical student Victor Von Frankenstein, and become eyewitnesses to the emergence of how Frankenstein became the man – and the legend – we know today.”  Note that Igor is not actually in the original novel but a welcome addition in the early movie versions.

Far from the Madding Crowd: “A young woman named Bathsheba Everdene has to deal with the difficult, sometimes tragic consequences of being in a relationship with three different suitors at the same time.” Based on the novel by Thomas Hardy.

Dark-Places-Gillian-FlynnDark Places: “This thriller from the author of Gone Girl (Gillian Flynn) tells the story of Libby Day, whose mother and sisters were murdered at the family’s farmhouse when she was only seven. Her testimony sent her older brother, Ben, to prison for life, and 25 years later, Libby decides to meet with the Kill Club, a group of crime enthusiasts who investigate the case and force her to rethink what really happened.”

A Book of Common Prayer: “An American woman travels to Central America to reunite with her fugitive daughter. The country is on the brink of a violent revolution, and she is anything but prepared for what she sees.” Based on the novel by Joan Didion.

Black Mass: “The true crime novel follows the infamous mobster Whitey Bulger, the head of the Irish mob in the ’70s, and his relationship with childhood friend John Connolly, who grew up to work for the FBI.” Based on the novel by Dick Lehr and Gerald O’Neill.

The Secret Scripture: “A 100-year-old mental patient, Roseanne McNulty investigates her past and unearths some troubling memories.” Based on the novel by Sebastian Barry.

More movie-based-on-book descriptions at PopSugar.

– Lyle

The Scotiabank Giller Prize Nominees

gillerAs you may know, The Scotiabank Giller Prize is an annual award given to the best work in Canadian fiction, as chosen by a small yet distinguished group of jurists. The winner of the Prize, now in its 20th year, receives 50 grand. The five finalists will be announced October 8th (the winner November 4th) , but until then, here is the full list of nominees, a handy reference on what to read during our long winter nights, or what to get a loved one this Christmas!

The promoters summarize the list beautifully: “These are essential stories. Each of these novels and story collections offer a glimpse of who we are, who we might be. Whether set in postwar Vienna, or 1970s Montreal, contemporary Afghanistan or Newfoundland, each of these books took us out of ourselves to places that were at times uncomfortable, at times exhilarating. Some of the short stories in these collections exhibit a scope and breadth one would normally associate with a novel; some of the novels on this list have the distilled intensity one expects from short fiction. But all of these books surprised us with their formal rigour, the ferocity of their vision, and their willingness to tell unknown stories in remarkably familiar ways.”

That list of nominees promised:

goinghomeagainGoing Home Again by Dennis Bock
“A novel about the mysteries of the human heart, Going Home Again is rich with the exquisite tensions between men and women as they fall in and out of love.”

The Orenda by Joseph Boydenorenda
“Boyden’s bloody and brick-thick new novel, The Orenda, is a historical epic about an idealistic missionary caught between warring tribes, hundreds of years before confederation. . . Full of head-bludgeoning and throat-cutting scenes set in the wilds of what is now Ontario, the novel feels like a hybrid of Pierre Berton and Cormac McCarthy: perfect for readers who like a little arterial spray with their history.” – Toronto Life

hell goingHellgoing by Lynn Coady
“With astonishing range and depth, Lynn Coady gives us eight unforgettable new stories, each one of them grabbing our attention from the first line and resonating long after the last.”

cataract-cityCataract City by Craig Davidson
“Owen and Duncan think they are different: both dream of escape, a longing made more urgent by a near-death incident in childhood that sealed their bond. But in adulthood their paths diverge, and as Duncan, the less privileged, falls deep into the town’s underworld, he and Owen become reluctant adversaries at opposite ends of the law. At stake is not only survival and escape, but a lifelong friendship that can only be broken at an unthinkable price.”

How-To-Get-Along-With-WomenHow to Get Along With Women by Elisabeth De Mariaffi
“Infused with a close and present danger, these stories tighten the knot around power, identity, and sexuality, and draw the reader into the pivotal moments where – for better or for worse – we see ourselves for what we truly are.”

extraordinaryExtraordinary by David Gilmour
“A heart-rending novel about end-of-life, family and children. A gentle consideration of assisted suicide, but it is also a story about siblings – about how brothers and sisters turn out so differently; about how little, in fact, turns out the way we expect. In the end, this is a novel about the extraordinary business of being alive….”

october 1970October 1970 by Louis Hamelin
“Two kidnappings. One dead. A crisis unlike anything the country had ever seen; here is the story behind history…”

emancipation dayEmancipation Day by Wayne Grady
“How far would a son go to belong? And how far would a father go to protect him?” “…this is an arresting, heartwrenching novel about fathers and sons, love and sacrifice, race relations and a time in our history when the world was on the cusp of momentous change.”

The-Son-of-a-Certain-Woman-711x1024The Son of a Certain Woman by Wayne Johnston
“The Son of a Certain Woman is Wayne Johnston’s funniest, sexiest novel yet, controversial in its issues, wise, generous and then some in its depiction of humanity.” – Google Books

the-woman-upstairs-claire-messud-n4kimy14The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud
“From the best-selling author of The Emperor’s Children, a masterly new novel: the riveting confession of a woman awakened, transformed and betrayed by a desire for a world beyond her own.”

caughtCaught by Lisa Moore
“…about a man who escapes from prison to embark upon one of the most ambitious pot-smuggling adventures ever attempted. Here are bravado and betrayal, bad weather and seas, love, undercover agents, the collusion of governments, unbridled ambition, innocence and the loss thereof, and many, many bales of marijuana. Here, too, is the seeming invincibility of youth and all the folly that it allows. Caught is an exuberant, relentlessly suspenseful, and utterly unique novel, and promises to be the astonishing Lisa Moore’s most accomplished work to date.”

crooked maidThe Crooked Maid by Dan Vyleta
“A dark and suspenseful novel set in post-war Vienna among the spectators in a criminal trial mid-summer, 1948. Two strangers, Anna Beer and young Robert Seidel, meet on a train as they return to Vienna, where life is just resuming after the upheavals of war. Men who were conscripted into the German army are filtering back home, including Anna’s estranged husband, Dr. Anton Beer, who was held prisoner in a brutal Russian camp. But when Anna returns to their old apartment, she finds another man living there and her husband missing.”


– Lyle

100-Mile Book Diet for Winnipeggers

100-mile-signI’ve heard of the wisdom of the 100-mile (or kilometre) food diet, but I was surprised — read “delighted” — to hear that books have entered the picture. What would be a suitable corollary: “Think globally, read locally”? I’m not quite ready to give up reading authors from afar, but is it not cool to add an occasional spicy book or two to your reading diet that’s set in your own backyard? Reading a mystery that navigates the streets of the Exchange District rather than San Francisco can add an enjoyable level of familiarity. And novels that deal with the human issues we face here invariably can help us understand ourselves just a bit better.

The 100-Mile Book Diet idea is developed on the website, 49thShelf.com, “the one-of-a-kind resource for discovering, discussing, and indulging in Canadian books” produced by the Association of Canadian Publishers. Although publishers get their say, anybody can add titles to the nationwide map of book settings. It’s well worth a look.

By my count, at least 31 novels are documented as being set in our big small town (I don’t think the list is exhaustive.) So here are just a few examples to keep in mind while constructing your reading menu for spring and summer:


Twenty Miles  by Cara Hedley

“Both fast-paced and hesitant, Twenty Miles celebrates women’s hockey and offers an uncompromising look at the ways in which the sport haunts the women who play it.” The author, now living in Alberta, once played for the U of M women’s hockey team.

9781894994026_cover_coverbookpage_embed Cherry by Chandra Mayor (a former Winnipeg Public Library Writer-in-Residence)

“Set in the Winnipeg skinhead scene of the early 1990s, Cherry is an unsettling account of a woman’s negotiation of violence, memory, and identity. Mayor deftly employs the technique of pastiche to craft her story: newspaper articles, notes, photographs, letters, and even appointment slips are used to signify the multi-layered nature of her narrative… Cherry is a punk rock bricolage, a poetic novel, a loss of innocence story, and an ode to the city of Winnipeg.”

9780394224176_cover_coverbookpage_embedThe Republic of Love by Carol Shields

“With a viewpoint that shifts as crisply as cards in the hands of a blackjack dealer, Carol Shields introduces us to two shell-shocked veterans of the wars of the heart.” And we can’t forget her Larry’s Party, set in the ‘Peg as well!

index-3.aspxThe Girl in the Wall  by Alison Preston

“Former Inspector Frank Foote has left the Winnipeg Police force and gone into home renovations, but after tearing down a wall on a job one day and finding the skeleton of a small female who has been imprisoned there, he finds himself following the leads to a photographer who specialized in taking photos.” Sounds mysterious.

index.aspx Dadolescence by Bob Armstrong

About that largely untold story of househusbands, of which there may be some. “Bill and Julie live in thrifty middle-class wedded bliss with their 12-year-old son Sean. Julie brings home the bacon while Bill keeps house and frets over his never-ending PhD thesis: an anthropological study of the role of men in society. All is relatively well until Julie’s ex-fiancé, the dashing and successful Blake Morgan, returns to Winnipeg with his wife and kids.While Bill takes solace in Blake’s premature grey and pot belly, next to Blake’s professional success Bill feels emasculated and questions what it means to be a man; especially a domesticated one.”

index-1.aspxCrackpot by Adele Wiseman, with an afterward by Margaret Laurence

“Hoda, the protagonist, is one of the most captivating characters in Canadian fiction. Graduating from a tumultuous childhood to a life of prostitution, she becomes a legend in her neighbourhood, a canny and ingenious woman, generous, intuitive, and exuding a wholesome lust for life. Resonant with myth and superstition, this radiant novel is a joyous celebration of life and the mystery that is at the heart of all experience.”

index-2.aspxThe House with the Broken Two: a birthmother remembers by Myrl Coulter

Actually a non-fiction book: “Dr. Myrl Coulter reflects on the family politics and social mores that surrounded closed adoption in the 1960s, and examines the changing attitudes that resulted in the current open adoption system and her eventual reunion with her first-born son. The book is an intimate, honest look at the way personal histories combine with political truths, and Coulter mixes revealing personal details with sharp political observations.”

9780888013484_cover_coverbookpageAn Ordinary Decent Criminal by Michael van Rooy

“All ex-drug addict and reformed thief Montgomery Haavik wants to do is settle down with his wife and baby in their new Winnipeg home and work on building a straight life; one free of the day-to-day hustle and danger of being a career criminal. But for a man who’s never held down a legitimate job and who faces the daily temptation of returning to the drugs and violence of his past, it isn’t going to be easy.”

Others to choose from include The Bolshevik’s Revenge by Allan Levine (the backdrop of this mystery is the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike) and Under the Ribs of Death by John Marlyn.

Read locally, learn a lot!