This week on Hot Toasty Rag, we're celebrating Kevin Costner! His page is up and running here, and be sure to check back every day for 3 new reviews.
To kick things off, we have Rumor Has It, American Flyers, and No Way Out.
Today is the last day to celebrate Jennifer Aniston, and all 29 movie reviews are now posted on her page. Tomorrow will feature a new "Star of the Week" on Hot Toasty Rag. Any guesses?
Here's a hint: He's a blond cutie pie co-star of Jennifer's. Check back tomorrow to find out who!
The Rag's first star of the week is Jennifer Aniston! All the movies I'll be reviewing are listed on the Jennifer Aniston page in black; when I post the reviews, they'll be linked in red. And as you can see, the Movies page is up and running! Be sure to check back every day this week for 4 new Jennifer Aniston reviews :)
To start the week off, reviews are posted for Along Came Polly, The Good Girl, Life of Crime, The Object of my Affection, and Office Space.
Up until now, I've only reviewed books on The Rag. But there's a page at the top titled "Movies" so I guess I'd better start filling it.
How to start posting movie reviews, I asked myself. Classics first? Favorites first? Then it hit me; I'll post by actors instead! After all, how often do we say, "I'm going to see that 1937 movie that got mediocre reviews"? Versus, "I'm going to see that Mark Wahlberg movie!" I say that all the time, lol. But you know what I mean.
Starting tomorrow, Hot Toasty Rag will honor a "star of the week" and I'll post reviews of all the movies of his or hers that I've seen. Any guesses as to who the first one will be? Find out tomorrow!
As you know by now, I was a film student at Chapman University. As you also know, I changed my major. There isn’t a blog long enough in the world to tell you all the reasons, so I’ll stick to today’s topic. There was one teacher in all the film classes I took in three years who was different from the rest: John Badham.
When I got my class schedule before the term started and saw “Directing 1, Prof. John Badham” listed, I flipped. One of my all-time favorite movies was and is Point of No Return—I actually watched it once a week for a few years—so I knew who my teacher was. Of course, I walked into the first class scared out of my mind, terrified to meet the man who directed my favorite movie! There isn’t a nicer man in the world, and to this day, my autographed DVD case of Point of No Return sits high on my shelf, near my acting awards and other prized possessions.
If all my teachers had been even one-tenth as kind as Professor Badham, I wouldn’t have changed my major.
John Badham has written two books from his decades of experience directing. It’s no surprise that I loved them. To see if my reviews are just utterly biased (they’re not) or if you should go out and read them too, check out I’ll Be in My Trailer and John Badham On Directing.
Incidentally, when I brought him my DVD case and asked him to sign it, he asked, shocked, “This one’s your favorite?” Totally adorable. And it just shows you, what you put out into the world can influence people, even when you’re not expecting it.
Hi everyone! Here at The Rag, we've reviewed a whole bunch of books. I think it's over a hundred.
Anyway, that's a lot of scrolling, so to make things easier, I've redone the "Books" page, separating the books into Nonfiction, Memoirs/Bios, and Fiction. There's still a lot of scrolling to do if you're browsing the fiction, but I think it helps. Check it out and let me know what you think!
Maybe tomorrow I'll do some nonfiction to even the score.
Well, this is a surprise! I don’t go in much for scary books. I’ve never read Stephen King or James Patterson, and I screamed my head off when I watched the movie The Others. But, here I am, reviewing (favorable, mind you) three spooky books!
Sweet Valley University # 8.5: Wanted for Murder
My first major while an undergrad at Chapman University was film production. I ended up changing my major, but that’s another story.
During the three years I took lots and lots of film classes, I also read lots and lots of books. Today, I’m reviewing three books that kept me company all those years ago, during my writing and comedy classes. Check them out!
Writing the Comedy Film: Make ‘em Laugh
Comedy is a Man in Trouble: Slapstick in American Movies
Romantic Comedy: Boy Meets Girl Meets Genre
Certain literary characters are iconic household names, like Atticus Finch, Scarlett O’Hara, and Holden Caufield. Unfortunately, for those three, their books weren’t named after them. Then again, that makes their memories that much more indelible, doesn’t it, if they stand out even without being the title character?
Today’s post reviews three classic novels, each named after the lead character. What are your favorite classics?
The Count of Monte Cristo
The Phantom of the Opera
Alright, it’s a new month! Hot Toasty Rag has officially been open for 32 days now, and since we’re now so old, it’s time to work on ourselves. That goes for you too! It’s time for a few self-help books. (Tomorrow I’ll go back to novels, don’t worry)
Anger issues? Someone done you wrong? Check out The Forgiveness Formula.
Are you a twentysomething? Are you trying to understand that generation? Look no further than Twentysomething: Why Do Young Adults Seem Stuck?
And, for the ladies out there—or men who hate women—you can read Don’t be That Girl, if you dare. . .
Remember when I promised to make up the difference on tomorrow’s post? Today is here, and I have four spectacular books to share.
I call them the “Alanna books” even though the name of the series is “The Song of the Lioness” because the main character Alanna has become such a staple in my household since I was a child, it doesn’t make sense to call her books anything else.
These aren’t standalones, so start with the first one here. These are stories of knights of old, and the one girl who longed to be one of them.
The First Adventure
In the Hand of the Goddess
The Woman Who Rides Like a Man
I don’t happen to like Shakespeare. In fact, I can’t stand him. Now, why is my post today about The Bard, you might ask? Because I’ve actually read one book that helped me appreciate his stories. The author has made an illustrated, hilarious version of Shakespeare’s plays! Even if you already liked him, you’ll still love it: Tales from Shakespeare
And in King of Shadows, a young actor gets to go back in time and meet The Bard himself! How? Find out in my review!
I know I usually post three reviews, but I only have two Shakespeare-related books to share. I’ll make it up in tomorrow’s post.
Happy birthday Marilyn! As everyone knows, I love Marilyn Monroe the actress. The woman? Well, when you’ve read as many biographies as I have (over a dozen) that becomes a very loaded question. If you’ve never read a biography about one of America’s most mysterious, beloved stars, what are you waiting for? And if you have, but you’d like to read more, this will be the first of many posts with Marilyn books, so I’ll be sure and share all the ones I’ve read—and what better day to start than on her birthday?
Marilyn Monroe: Quote Unquote
The Marilyn Monroe Treasures
Sue Monk Kidd’s debut book was The Secret Life of Bees, an instant best-seller and home to the New York Times bestseller’s list for two years. Her most recent book The Invention of Wings, is sitting on my bookshelf, waiting to be read. In between the two, she wrote another book club favorite The Mermaid Chair, which I have reviewed today along with her debut novel.
The Moonflower Vine is my third book today, but it wasn’t written by Sue Monk Kidd. It has the same sort of flavor: many different women finding each other’s strength and a secret lurking in the shadows. Check it out!
I’m only sharing three books today, so my list of classics is by far non-inclusive. What classics would you like to see reviewed on The Rag?
Today’s list is kind of a “man list”. What guy didn’t enjoy the required reading list in high school of Lord of the Flies, Of Mice and Men, and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man?
Well, I’m a girl, so I just might feel differently about them…
Ah, memoirs. Such a broad range for something as simple as one person telling his or her story. Memoirs can include an entire lifespan, or just a slice, an event, or a day. They can be in the format of a poem, snapshots of life, loquacious literature, or just a conversation with a tape recorder.
Today, I’m sharing the dirtiest, nitty-grittiest memoirs I could find. Not really, but I have read them, and I’d certainly classify them as gritty. From three very different authors—a television actress, an Irishman, and a sociologist—come three very different stories of addiction, childhood, and poverty in the slums of Chicago.
Check them out!
Remember the rage that swept across America, the desire to own a little pet pig? When our parents wouldn’t buy one for us, we settled for stuffed animals, toys, calendars, stationary, and of course, little piggy books. I wanted a little pig more than anything in the world, and for a few years, my room was all pink-and-white piggy themed. My brother counted once; I had 35 piggy items in my room.
So, from a former wannabe pig owner, here are three pig books:
Oink! My Life with Mini-Pigs
Piglets at Play
[photo credit and full story can be found here)
Fractured fairy tales are so in, aren’t they? Rocky and Bullwinkle would be proud. Bonus points for you if you get that reference.
Everyone wants to know what really happened to Cinderella or Snow White. Just look at the recent resurgence of fairy tale movies--Snow White and the Huntsman and Mirror Mirror even came out during the same year! Add in the wildly popular Disney rehashes with no end in sight, and the film adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods, a hodgepodge of fairy tales gone wrong, and you’ve got a trend on your hands.
And it’s the same in literature, too. There are more “with a twist” books than I can count! I saw as many as five Peter Pan remakes on the same best-sellers list last year.
Here are three retellings featured today on Hot Toasty Rag.
For those who couldn’t resist seeing the recent Beauty and the Beast, check out my review of Beauty.
Those who love Greek mythology, head this way for The Goddess Test, a fantastic remake of Persephone and Hades.
Like the Once Upon a Time TV show? I certainly do, that’s why I bought A Curse Dark as Gold, featuring none other than the dreamy Rumpelstiltskin. Only, the book doesn’t star Robert Carlyle. Bummer.
Those of you who know me know I tend to avoid SciFi and fantasy books like the plague. I don’t know why, but I think anything that takes place in the future is scarier than Hades. I guess it’s because our present world is scary enough, why add to it, you know?
That being said, I am an open-minded reader, and if the synopsis blurb on the back cover catches my eye, I’ll read a futuristic or fantasy book from time to time. The three I’m sharing today I absolutely loved! That’s right, no scathing reviews today—just recommendations!
What are your favorite SciFi or fantasy books? Mine are
What do Ragtime, Little Women, and My Sister’s Keeper have in common? They were all made into movies, and in my opinion, all three of the books were infinitely better than the Hollywood products.
I know, I’ve been ragging (pun intended!) on book-to-movie adaptations lately, so I figured it was only fair to mention that I do think it’s possible for the book to be better than the movie. Just look at one of my favorites, Peyton Place. The movie was good, but there’s just no comparison to the groundbreaking novel.
Anyway, today’s listings are mentioned above. Let me know what you think in the comments. Which film adaptations have made you cringe? Which books do you wish were made into movies?
If you look it up, the Victorian era spans from 1837 to 1901, the years of Queen Victoria’s reign. It was such a beautiful time period, for more reasons than I can list in this little blog post. If you’re a fan of Victorian fashions, art, customs, and literature, today’s post is for you. I love all things old-fashioned, too; I’ve sat through so many bad movies just because the dresses are pretty!
Thankfully, all the books today are getting good reviews from Hot Toasty Rag, so there will be no enduring necessary.
First off, I have a novel written in the Victorian era, Anne Bronte’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Next, a novel written in modern times, but set at the turn of the century: Fortune’s Rocks by Anita Shreve. And for those of you who like the culture but not the writing style, a nonfiction compilation of Victorian Times will be the book for you: Manners and Morals of Victorian America.
I know I’ve been doing some non-fiction and movie comparisons recently, so today let’s just get back to straight novels. Ironically, the three novels I’m reviewing today were all made into films, but that won’t be my focus.
Historical fiction fans, check out the Civil War drama Cold Mountain.
Romance lovers? The French Lieutenant’s Woman might be the book for you.
And for the best of the brave, give An American Tragedy a try.
Calling all theater buffs, actors, and makeup artists! Today’s post is for you. In a former life—and by that, I mean earlier in my life—I used to act onstage. That tidbit might explain a lot, just in case you were wondering about my dramatic flair in some of The Rag’s reviews.
These three books were all gifts: one from my uncle as a birthday present, one from my other uncle for my opening night of Grease, one from my mom as a “welcome to the theater” present. Acting runs in the family.
Check out my reviews for Uta Hagen’s Respect for Hagen, Creative Theatrical Makeup, and Broadway Musicals: The 101 Greatest Shows of All Time. All incredibly interesting, and great reads for all you out there who used to join me at cattle calls—or still go to auditions!
Agatha Christie, the mother of mysteries, is the author of hundreds of novels, short stories, and plays, with iconic heroes of Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple to solve her fictional murders. Personally, I’m a Poirot fan, but it’s probably because David Suchet personified him so flawlessly in the 13-seasoned television program Agatha Christie’s Poirot.
If you’re a mystery fan, you are probably well-versed in Ms. Christie’s stories. Even if you don’t usually pick up novels about grisly murders—it’s okay, I don’t either—you’ll probably enjoy the three I’m reviewing today. They’re not particularly graphic, since they were written in the early 20th century, and the stories have some of the most famous twists of all time:
Murder on the Orient Express
And Then There Were None
Evil Under the Sun