From bookshelf to cinema: Gone Girl

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I started this blog with the intention of writing about sweets and books. However, during and after college I spent much of my time writing movie reviews. The whole idea of this blog was to do something different, but with the recent release of Gone Girl—a book turned movie—I thought I’d make an exception.

I am a fan of the book Gone Girl—a huge fan actually. I was enthralled by the way it was written. I found the depth of the characters and character development to be on a completely different level than most modern day novels, and I got completely wrapped up in the story itself.

When I saw the preview for the movie I felt two emotions: excitement that it was coming to the big screen and fear that it would be a mediocre replica of a book truly enjoyed (as most book to movie transitions are). Plus, there was a rumor going around that the ending was being changed so it would be a surprise. Thankfully, though, that was just a rumor.

gg3When I saw Gone Girl this weekend, I was pleasantly surprised. The truth is, this was the closest book to film adaption I’ve ever seen. The plot stayed consistent, the characters were just how I imagined them and nothing was added to the story that wasn’t a part of the original.  This is probably because the writer of the novel, Gillian Flynn, actually wrote the screenplay, which rarely ever happens. Overall, I was very pleased with the script she created and the movie as a whole.

That, to a certain extent, is lost a little in the film. The movie runs a solid two and half hours and does seem slower paced than the book. However, that didn’t really bother me, because I love a good crime movie, and I generally have no problem sitting for long amounts of time eating Twizzlers and watching whatever is on in front of me. On any given day you can find me watching a two hour episode of Dateline, so adding thirty extra minutes to that for a scripted film sounds great to me.

That being said, even though I knew exactly how it was going to play out, I never once got bored or found the movie to be long winded. I imagine had I not known the ending, I probably would have been even more captivated by the way the story played out. Not too terribly much was taken out of the original story, and the things that were removed weren’t that important to the story as a whole. The film version, for instance, has a lot less back story than the book, but I don’t think that was a key element to making us understand who both Amy and Nick are.

ggbenOne thing I really enjoyed about the film was the cast. Ben Affleck did a great job playing the role of Nick Dunne. He was likable and mysterious at the same time. Unlike the 80 percent of the world who has decided they hate Ben Affleck for no reason at all, I am a huge fan. Honestly, besides the travesties of 2003 that are Gigli and Daredevil, I pretty much think he can do no wrong. Maybe the man just had a bad year 11 years ago and we should give him a break. I mean did anyone else see Argo or The Town? Ben Affleck has talent.

Most of the supporting cast was memorable too. Neil Patrick Harris did a wonderfully creepy job as Desi Collings, and I really enjoyed both Kim Dickens and Patrick Fugit in their roles as Detective Boney and Officer Gilpin, respectively.

I never thought I’d utter these words in my life, but Tyler Perry did a great job in the film as well. He plays Tanner Bolt, who has a minor, yet important role in the film.

My favorite character in the book and movie was Nick’s sister Margot (affectionately referred to as Go). In the movie, she was played by Carrie Coon, who you may recognize from The Leftovers. She fit the character of Margot perfectly and actually made me like the character more when brought to life.

The standout performer, however, by far is Rosamund Pike who played the Gone Girl, Amy Dunne.

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Even though I’ve seen her in a few things here or there, when I saw the original trailer, I was thinking, “why the hell did they cast this nobody as the most important person in the whole movie?”

Boy, was I wrong.

I can’t say too much about this character, because I don’t want to give anything away, but I can say that Pike was an absolute fit for the role of Amy. I’m predicting, like the rest of the world, an Oscar Nomination could be in the future for Pike.

If you like the tone and style of David Fincher movies, you will enjoy this flick for sure. It’s got the cinematography of the Curious Case of Benjamin Button, the craziness of Fight Club and the tone of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo all rolled into one. Above all that, though, it has a fantastic storyline. I honestly already want to watch it again.

I think Gone Girl is a phenomenal movie, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone. However, I think if you see the movie without reading the book you are doing yourself a huge disservice—not because the movie is bad, but because the book is just so good.

 

*Photos Courtesy of New Regency Pictures

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“Best of Me” isn’t the best of Sparks

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When leaving for my vacation, I decided to pack a book for those early mornings I would find myself soaking in a hot tub in the middle of the Smokey Mountains relaxing all by myself. While I had many books to chose from I decided upon the book The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks.

I made this decision party because I keep seeing the trailer for the upcoming movie of the same title and partly because as much as I hate to admit it, I love a good sappy Nicholas Sparks’ book.

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Now before you make judgements about that or decide I lose all credibility as a reader or writer let me say this: I realize Nicholas Sparks books are a little hokey. I also realize they are far from masterpieces. However, there’s something about them I enjoy and find entertaining. Please don’t judge me for my confession in this, and I will try not to judge you for the fact you read all three Fifty Shades of Grey novels.

The story centers around two main characters-Dawson Cole and Amanda Collier who meet and fall in love in high school. Dawson is your average boy from the wrong side the tracks who has been abused and belittled by his family his entire life, while Amanda is the perfect girl who was born with a silver spoon in her mouth. Of course her parents don’t want her to have anything to do with Dawson, which only makes these two want each other more. As all star crossed love stories go, these two are forced to go their separate ways and begin new lives apart from each other. Amanda grew up, married and had children, but Dawson never could move on and forget about her.

After 20 years apart the two are forced to see each other again and face all their inner demons when a close mutual friend of the two passes away and leaves notes and instructions in order to reunite these two. However, neither of them are the same person they were in their youth.  Both of them have had their fair share of tragedy and bad luck. Amanda lost a child and is married to an alcoholic she can hardly stand to be around,  and Dawson spent years in prison  for a car accident strictly because he carried the Cole name.

After their time together, Dawson and Amanda must decide whether to go back to their old lives or rekindle their romance.

While I won’t give away any details, I will say the ending, like the majority of Sparks’ books,  is pretty sad. I also saw the twist at the end coming much before it actually did, which took a little bit of the impact away from me I’m sure.

There are a couple of Sparks’ books that end happily but, I pretty much always go into them expecting the absolute worse. Readers of this one should be warned that it may leave you with a somewhat unpleasant feeling. Bittersweet is the best way to put it.

While I can’t ever recommend a book by Sparks to the masses because I think it takes a certain breed of hopeless romantic to read one, I will recommend it to those of you like myself who are self deprecating and enjoy screaming at your book when you’ve finished.

Even thought it  wasn’t the best Nicholas Sparks book I’ve ever read and I saw the ending coming a mile away, I still enjoyed reading it and am looking forward to seeing the movie. However I don’t think it’s necessary to go out and buy the book. You might as well wait until October 17th and see it in theaters.

 

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*Photos courtesy of IMDB and Relativity Media

 

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A Gatlinburg Treat

Recently I went on a little vacation to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. While I was on my trip, I threw out all my inhibitions, and I ate whatever I wanted to. I didn’t think about calories once, and the idea of carbs never even crossed my mind. After dieting for quite a while, I can promise you, this week was quite liberating.

I say that because you need to know upfront, that I ate my fair share of sweets.

From the chocolate chip pancakes with peanut butter syrup I had at the world famous Pancake Pantry to the many samples of fudge and taffy we had along Parkway, I definitely got a taste of what Gatlinburg had to offer.

Because this blog is called Sweet & Exceptionally Read, though, I thought I should let my readers know about the best morsel of sweetness I had on this retreat to the Smokies—a cinnamon roll from Davy Crocket’s Breakfast Camp.

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Davy Crocket’s Breakfast camp was certainly a hidden gem. In all my research of Gatlinburg, I never once read an article about Crocket’s, nor did anyone suggest it to me. However, while driving down the street looking for a breakfast spot, we ran into this little restaurant and believe it or not, we judged the book by the cover. The outside was cute, so I immediately wanted to go there.

The menu had dozens of delicious looking options, but my eyes zeroed in on the cinnamon roll immediately. I would venture to say that my favorite sweet in the entire world is a cinnamon roll. I honestly could eat them every day and have—on multiple occasions—eaten a Cinnabon as my dinner.

When I ordered the roll, I wasn’t expecting something the size of my head to come out of the kitchen, but when it did I accepted the challenge silently.

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The pastry portion was perfection. It was warm, sweet and perfect consistency, while the cinnamon filling was an exceptional mix of sugar and spice. The icing on the top was some of the best icing I’ve ever tasted—not just on a cinnamon roll. My experience was divine and by far the best thing I had while on vacation in Gatlinburg.

Not only do they make cinnamon rolls, but they make cinnamon roll French toast. My husband ordered this, and it is not your ordinary French toast with a little icing and cinnamon mixed in to make it taste like a cinnamon roll. Instead they literally take a cinnamon roll, dip it in eggs, vanilla and milk and then fry it up like French toast. The result is one of the most decadent dishes you can find on the Gatlinburg strip.

While there are many things I can recommend along the streets of Gatlinburg, one stood out above the rest. Next time you’re in Gatlinburg make note of the cute little restaurant with a giant skillet for a sign, and do yourself a favor by ordering the giant cinnamon roll.

Not only will you thank me after, but you will eat every last bite—just like I did.

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Barely made it through Bared to You

Recently my girlfriends and I began a book club. The premise is that each month a different person will pick the book and host the club. We’ve read some interesting books along the way, and each of them was different from the one before. This month, the book Bared to You, the first novel in the Crossfire series by Silvia Day, was chosen. While I would have never picked a book coined as an erotic novel on my own, I took the challenge, and let’s just say it was an interesting ride.

Aside from all the sexually explicit scenes—that I’ll get to later—this book has a lot going wrong in it. For instance, there is no plot. Generally in a review, one of the first things I do is give a spoiler free synopsis. However, in a book that seems to be missing a plot, that isn’t so easy to do.   I guess this is my best overview. Eva meets Gideon. Eva runs away from Gideon. Gideon chases Eva. They have sex. Eva runs away from Gideon. Gideon chases Eva. They have sex. This little cycle continues throughout the entire novel. 6d5105a911e50900a412fb220b58f6c6 Bared to You is as flat as they come. There was no point in the book where I was anxiously awaiting what would happen as I turned the pages. There were conflicts, but they were minor. The climax of the story isn’t even evident. It’s just one page of Eva running away after another.

I also really have a problem with the character development. While these books are obviously geared towards women, Day decided to make the male lead the kind of man that makes the great dead feminists of our world roll over in their graves. He is a chauvinist only using his hormones to make decisions about love—he is not really interested in romance.

Our protagonist Eva is even worse. She is an emotional wreck who continues to make bad decision after bad decision. When I was reading this book, I couldn’t care less what happened to her. For the main character in a book to be that unlikeable is a serious flaw.

And then, there’s the meat and potatoes of Bared to You. Generally I’m not interested in this genre, so you can call me a little biased. Honestly, though, I don’t really see what’s entertaining about a bad book filled with sex scenes. Actually, I found the book quite vulgar—and that’s saying a lot for someone who religiously watched “Trueblood” for years and has seen every Judd Apatow movie there is. Call me a prude, but there are only so many times I can read certain words before I feel like I need to repent.

I get it different people are into different things, and this is only my opinion. But my opinion is that this book is laughable—not sexy. I did have a lot of fun with it though—I enjoyed laughing and talking about Bared to my girlfriends more than I enjoyed actually reading it. Even though it wasn’t my thing, I’m glad my friend chose it and got me reading something I never would have read on my own.

To be fair, it wasn’t all bad, and it certainly wasn’t the worst book I’ve ever read. Silvia Day does a great job describing things in vivid detail. While the things she is describing make me squirm, I can recognize her talent for telling a story. She uses eloquent phrases to say the simplest of things. That’s a good trait for a writer to have.

If you’re looking for a great end of summer read, this may not be the one for you. I don’t recommend it to anyone who wants to walk away from a book feeling like they accomplished something. However, if you’re lonely, looking for a way to waste a few hours or looking for a good laugh, you just might enjoy this. Just make sure you have time to shower afterwards.

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Nutella and Salted Caramel Pie

There are a lot of things I love in this world, but to say I love Nutella is an understatement. Who doesn’t love the rich decadent taste of that hazelnut spread? Generally speaking, if something has Nutella in it, I’m willing to try it or bake it.

Recently I decided to try to bake something I found called Salted Carmel Nutella Pie (or as I like to call it, Stuck to the Fridge Pie). If you’re wondering why I call it that the reason is simple—the first time I made this delicious piece of dessert I didn’t realize the pan had a little bit of caramel stuck to the bottom. My dear friends and I then spent a good 25 minutes trying to figure out how to remove the pie from the glass. I will never be able to eat this pie without remembering that delicious and hilarious event.

WHAT INGREDIENTS DO I NEED?

For the crust:

-3/4 Cup of butter

-2 Cups Flour

-1 Teaspoon Salt

-2 Tablespoons Heavy Cream

-3 Tablespoons cold water

 

For The Filling:

-A Bag of Caramel Candies

-1/2 Teaspoons Salt

-1/3 Cup Heavy Cream

 

For the Topping:

-1 & ½ Cup Nutella

 

HOW DO I MAKE IT?

  1. The first thing you need to do is make the pie crust. Mix together the flour and salt. Then add the cubes of butter a few at a time until it is all blended together.  Add both heavy cream and water, and then turn your mixer back on. When it creates a well-mixed dough, roll it into a ball and let it cool in the freezer for an hour.

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2. During the next hour, sit back and relax. Or do what I do–pour a glass of wine.

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3 .  After the hour is up, roll it onto a floured surface, mold it into a circle and place the circled dough into a pie crust. Pat the dough to cover up the pie pan.

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4.   Poke holes into the bottom of the crust, using a fork.

5.   Bake the crust for about 20 minutes.

6.    While it’s baking, unwrap the caramels and melt them in a medium saucepan with salt and heavy cream.

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7.  When it’s all melted, pour it on top of the crust and let it harden in the refrigerator for about 5-10 minutes.

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8.   While its hardening, melt the Nutella on the stove. Then pour the Nutella on top, and place the pie back in the fridge.

9.   This pie is best served at room temperature, because the caramel will become too hard if served cold. Remove the pie from the fridge at least an hour before serving. Pour a cup of Joe and enjoy!

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What is Sweet and Exceptionally Read?

Hello World. Welcome to Sweet and Exceptionally Read—a blog written by me, Stacy K.

There are so many blogs out there today that it’s hard to distinguish what the differences are between each one. Some blogs are about fashion, while others are about sports. There are blogs containing recipes, and some containing how-to instructions.

So what is Sweet and Exceptionally Read? Sweet and Exceptionally Read is about two of the most delicious things in the world—sweets and stories.

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When it comes to sweets, I will share recipes for desserts, as well as give suggestions and reviews of sweet treats I find along the way at bakeries, cafes, coffee shops, etc.

When it comes to stories, I will be reviewing novels, as well as non-fiction works. Whether it’s fresh off the press or an old classic, I will be dissecting it and giving it my honest opinion.

I bet you’re wondering out of all the possible topics out there why I chose to write about these two in particular. The truth is, I’ve always heard you should write about what you know, and I know a lot about the topics at hand.

I believe myself to be quite the experienced baker, and to be honest, I’ve had my fair share of desserts out and about. Also, there are few things in life I enjoy as much as sitting on a big comfy couch nuzzled up with a good book. Not only did I go to school to perfect my craft of writing, but I have hopes to someday be a novelist myself. While I am no expert in either case, I do feel like I have something to say on both counts that may be unique and entertaining to read.

Welcome to my blog. I hope you enjoy the sweet and novel things in life as much as I do.

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