Monthly Archives

September 2010


With the help of, I selected two winners:

  1. Jodie Jackson
  2. Jann

Congrats! Please hit the contact button above and let me know where you’d like it sent. I’ll forward your addresses to Anna at Hachette Book Group, who will ship the book to you. If I don’t hear from you by Friday 9/10 at noon, alternate names will be chosen.

Thank you to all who entered. Stay tuned for giveaways of some great titles coming soon!


Book Review: ROOM by Emma Donoghue

Writing a review for Emma Donoghue‘s Room is a tricky thing since I wholeheartedly want you to read it but the less you know about the plot, the better. It’s told from the point of view of a 5-year-old named Jack and right away, you understand you’ve entered an unusual world but aren’t sure what’s going on. The dawning realization of Jack and his mother’s situation packs a huge emotional wallop I don’t want to spoil for you. Is it enough to say this book made me weep openly at times in public? That it haunts me and is unlike anything I’ve read in the last several years? How about the fact it’s been shortlisted for this year’s Booker Prize?

If you need more, I’ll give a brief description but must reiterate that your reading experience will be more powerful if you just pick up the book and jump in. The suspense factor is much higher when you don’t know where events are headed.


Jack was born in a windowless 11-by-11-foot room and has spent his entire life there. That’s because his mother, known only as Ma, has been held captive for the last seven years. Ma tries to give Jack as normal a life as she can, teaching him songs and how to read. She also tells him that things like trees and animals and cars only exist on another planet so he doesn’t long for them. But soon after Jack’s fifth birthday, Ma realizes she can’t raise him in confinement forever and forms an awful, desperate plan for escape. Though the author said the idea for Room was “triggered by” the real-life case of Josef Fritzl, the book made me think of Jaycee Dugard and how this story could have been told by one of her children.


Donoghue took a big risk writing in Jack’s voice but she handled it beautifully. The story is so disturbing, I’m not sure I could’ve handled it from Ma’s point of view. Jack leaves out information about things he doesn’t understand; our filling in the blanks is horrific enough. He has a unique perspective about the world but still behaves like a “normal” five-year-old in many ways. He’s not too cutesy or precocious; he feels real to me. His innocence moved me so much I sometimes didn’t know if I should laugh or cry and often did both at the same time.

Ma is also heartrending in her courage and fierce love for Jack. Here’s a woman who doesn’t waste time on self-pity, instead focusing all her energy on how she can protect her son. Ma and Jack’s resilience is what makes this book ultimately uplifting and one you won’t soon forget.

Nerd verdict: Make room for Room

Buy Room from Amazon| B&N| Powell’s| IndieBound



I wasn’t sure about writing this review because…well, does anyone care? Anybody plan to see it this weekend? OK, in case there’s one die-hard Drew Barrymore fan out there, here goes.

Barrymore’s Erin and Justin Long’s Garrett meet over a videogame, which should clue you in on their general maturity level, in a New York bar. He, an A&R guy at a music label, lives in the city and she, an aspiring journalist, is finishing an internship at the fictional New York Sentinel newspaper. They hit it off instantly and agree to embark on a casual fling for Erin’s remaining six weeks in NYC. To no one’s surprise but theirs, they realize they want to continue their relationship even after she goes home to San Francisco. So they Skype, attempt phone sex, and inundate each other with cutesy texts to try to keep the passion burning. It eventually becomes clear the long distance arrangement isn’t enough and one of them needs to sacrifice everything and move to make the relationship work.

The main problem with this movie is Long. He’s a competent enough actor in supporting roles and the Mac commercials but lacks the charisma to be a romantic leading man. It doesn’t help that his character looks and acts like a college student, living with a roommate (Charlie Day) who doesn’t close the bathroom while on the pot. When Erin is considering giving up a dream job to move to New York and be with Garrett, I thought, “Really? For him? Do you know hard it is to get a job in this economy?” Now, if Garrett had been played by, say, Hugh Jackman, I would’ve been shouting, “GO, girl! Don’t worry—it’ll all work out!” I would have encouraged her to move to Australia and adopt an aborigine wardrobe if need be.

The movie also suffers from a split personality. It wants to be both a crude Apatowish comedy and a rom-com but director Nanette Burstein, a documentarian helming her first fictional feature, doesn’t succeed at meshing the two styles. The romantic sparks barely flicker—Long and Barrymore come across more like platonic friends despite their off-screen history—and the bawdy humor seems forced. At one point, a drunk Erin yells at a guy, “Suck my dick!” It’s not funny the first time; she hollers it again. Still not funny. It’s as if Barrymore was trying really hard to show she can be as raw as any guy. I’d bet she can be (aren’t the sweetest-looking girls usually the dirtiest) but her attempt to prove it here falls flat.

Nerd verdict: Don’t bother Going to see Distance

Photo: Jessica Miglio