Friday, April 28, 2017

Unpopular Opinion, Or: An Instance Where the Movie Might Be Better Than the Book

I'm guessing that quite a few of you reading the title of this post will wonder what I'm thinking. How could an adaptation of a beloved book possibly be better than the ink and paper original? I used to think that way too and vehemently stand on the side of the book. I said it was always better, no exceptions.

Except, as I got older and started thinking about it, I realized that there were, in my opinion, a couple of instances where I thought that the adaptation was either a) a version of the story that added or subtracted certain elements that made the work better as a whole or b) a flat out better version that cut the crap and made it much more enjoyable, whether it was through eliminating unnecessary secondary characters, altering who had what story line, etc.

Today I'm going to share with you a few instances where I believe that the adaptation was better than the book. This week: Coraline. The book: written be Neil Gaiman. The movie: directed by Henry Selick.

I don't expect everyone to agree with me and if I've accidentally offended one of your favorite stories, I am very sorry. The opinions stated herein are mine and mine alone. Also, a SPOILER ALERT is in affect here, as I will be talking about details regarding these films and books.


Coraline

Coraline is one of my favorite Neil Gaiman stories, but the stop motion film adaptation by Laika Studios brought the story to a whole other level. 

  • It made it easier to envision Pink Palace Apartments.

The book takes place in England while the movie takes place in the US (Oregon, I think?). Coraline has moved from Michigan to Pink Palace Apartments, a former mansion that has been converted into apartments. The description in the book of Coraline's home was always a bit difficult to picture for me: which apartments were on what floor, who lived where, in particular where the door opened, that sort of thing. Being able to see the actual apartment building made things much better, plus I think that by giving Coraline's family more room in the overall building made sense, considering the adventures she goes on.

  • The movie added a character and a sub-story that added layers of substance to the mystery of the Beldam.

In the book, Coraline never has anyone else her age to interact with. By adding Wybie, a boy whose grandmother is the owner of the Pink Palace, the screenwriters added more content to the mystery of the Beldam, the villain of the piece.

It's revealed through the movie that Wybie's grandmother is a twin, whose sister was one of the victims of the Beldam. The two girls used to live in the Pink Palace and ever since her sister was taken, Wybie's grandmother has retained ownership of the building in an attempt to prevent anymore children from being taken. Wybie even says:

Surprised she let you move in. My gramma, she owns the Pink Palace. Won't rent to people with kids.
With another child her age, Coraline has someone to bounce her issues off of, even though he doesn't believe her. She has someone to almost have fun with, giving her another reason to remain in this world rather than the tempting Other realm. Also, while there were ghosts in the book, they didn't connect to anyone in Coraline's immediate life and thus were less personal than they are in the movie.


  • The movie added to and prolonged Coraline's adventures into the Other world.


While there were glimpses into some of the things that Coraline got to see while in the Other realm in the book, these were expanded and fleshed out in the movie. She wasn't hesitant to stay in the movie, or least not as quickly as in the book. The mouse circus was flashier and she had a "friend" to share it with (the Beldam having made a fake Wybie for her). 


The show that Misses Spink and Forcible perform, for example, is different in the movie. It's a fabulous circus act that showcases the wonder that Coraline is sorely craving. This may have something to do with her age, as well, because another thing that was changed from the book to the movie was Coraline's age.

  • Coraline is aged up.


In the book, Coraline is about 10 years old, though potentially younger. She's just past the age of playing with dolls and having tea parties, though she still has the accouterments for these games (pivotal in the final showdown with the Beldam's hand). 



In the movie, while her age is never stated, I think that Coraline is 13. She's stuck at a crossroads in her life, both literally and figuratively. Starting a new school, moving to a new place. Not quite a child that plays with dolls anymore, not quite an adult that's serious about everything. This subtle change gave Coraline a bit more depth, I thought, and made her more relatable. It made the magic of the Other realm much more enviable. I understood better why she might want to stay rather than return to the, as she saw it, restrictive life of her parents. Book Coraline was still young enough to see the darkness of a fairy tale while Movie Coraline was old enough to have dismissed it in her mind, or maybe not believe in it any longer.



I hope you've enjoyed my reasoning as to why I think that the Coraline movie was better than the book (sorry Gaiman!). I look forward to doing another installment of this post next time, looking into the movie and book, The Jane Austen Book Club.







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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Top 5 Authors-Second Chances


I’m all about giving authors a second chance. Didn’t particularly enjoy the first books that I’ve read by them? Never fear, my reading life is open to giving them another shot. Here is my top 5 list, (in no particular order):

Julie Buxbaum's first YA novel, Tell Me Three Things, was something that I gave two stars to and seriously considered DNFing. The middle and ending seemed extremely draggy, and the mysterious element of the plot felt very predictable. However, with all that in mind, Buxbaum has a knack for writing realistic fiction in the high school settings. Her character actually act like real teens, with first loves, heartaches, and the dramas that come with being a member of that population.
Her next novel, comes out on July 11th and I'm willing to give it a try based on this part of the synopsis:"When an unlikely friendship is sparked between relatively popular Kit Lowell and socially isolated David Drucker, everyone is surprised, most of all of Kit and David... When she asks for his help figuring out the how and why of her dad’s tragic car accident, David is all in. But neither of them can predict what they’ll find. Can their friendship survive the truth?"

Lisa Unger's 2016 release, Ink and Bone, was not my favorite thriller by any shot, and unfortunately didn't fill that thriller-sized hole in my heart. Throughout the whole book, I remember feeling so utterly confused on the events that were taking place, as well as finding some scenes completely unnecessary. However, the Unger definitively knows what she's doing. She has an extremely intriguing concept, and has a knack for keeping the suspense running high. 


This next story, sounds like it will explore deep themes of things like justice and revenge, and follow two strong women's traumatic stories. Just this part of the excerpt make me shiver:
"Strangers to each other, and walking very different paths in the wake of trauma, these two women are on a collision course—because Zoey’s past nightmare and Claudia’s dreams for her future take place in the very same house. As Zoey seeks justice, and Claudia seeks peace, both will confront the monsters at the door that are the most frightening of all."


Rin Chupeco, who had one of my most anticipated book of 2017, The Bone Witch, which also had a beautiful cover, really didn't live up to all the hype that I expected. I gave it a measly 2 stars, because there was instalove, an irritating ending, & a confusing train of events. Honestly, for most of the book it felt like nothing significant happened. Where Chupeco did win was the the intricate & exquisite worldbuilding. Her voice feels like an authentic storyteller, with a vivid imagination that spills onto the page.


The next book in the series, entitled "The Heart Forger" which comes out on March 1, 2018. This seems to be the second continuation in the "The Bone Witch" series. I do plan on picking it up, just because I'm genuinely curious as to see her grow and mature in her writing style.






Shari Lapena wrote a an immensely popular mystery thriller novel, The Couple Next Door, which I thought was written in a fast-paced way which got me out of a reading slump. It have be engaged mostly, at least at the beginning it felt like there was action happening consistently. Towards two thirds of the way through, I lost that focus and engagement that had sustained me.I noticed some poor mental illness rep, which bothered me immensely, as well as an ending that I could not wrap my head around.


Her new book has the flavor of an intriguing premise that I think that I might genuinely enjoy this. Based on the synopsis, I feel an electrifying atmosphere with an unreliable narrator:
"You wake up in hospital, with no idea how you got there. They tell you that you were in an accident; you lost control of your car whilst driving in a dangerous part of town.The police suspect you were up to no good. But your husband refuses to believe it. Your best friend isn't so sure. And even you don't know what to believe ..."




Roshani Chokshi has written her debut novel, The Star-Touched Queen, which seemed to be lyrical magical story. For me personally, I only gave it two stars because I felt very unsatisfied with the character development, the lack of female friendship, and slut-shaming which I disapprove of. However, the writing is very lyrical and magical and quite exquisite, so I would like to take a shot with one of her future books that she will write.


Although I really didn't enjoy our main character in the first book, this companion novel follows her sisters' adventures. I feel like this might be a whole other beast of characters, and so I am eager to try out Choksi's writing style again with this lookin'-lovely book.








So, what are some of the authors that you potentially are willing to give a second chance?


Monday, April 24, 2017

About 13 Reasons Why

I just finished watching the new Netflix series 13 Reasons Why which is based on the book of the same name by author Jay Asher. While I thought that the show was well written and the actors are talented,the scene where Hannah commits suicide was difficult to watch without thinking about the time I attempted to commit suicide but in a different way. As someone who has attempted to commit suicide in the past,watching that scene brought back the feeling of hopelessness I had as a teenager. Even to this day I struggle with those feelings but I'm no longer ashamed to talk about how I'm feeling or my mental illness. I even see a therapist once a month to talk about things. But my struggles aren't the point of this post. The point is that the scene was a trigger for me and I'm not the only one who was triggered by the scene where Hannah commits suicide or the scenes where two of the female characters are sexually assaulted.
What bothers me is the sudden obsession with 13 Reasons Why. There now are a variety of items bearing lines and images from the show which is a common occurence but it makes me feel like people aren't getting the seriousness of suicide and sexual assault. Neither one is something that should be glamourized. The damage done by suicide and sexual assault spreads to everyone close to the person who committed suicide and/or was assaulted. Most girls and women won't report sexual assaults because they are ashamed and afraid of being labeled a slut and/or a liar by their peers.

The Hate U Give: Page to Film by The Hermit Librarian


32613366 As reported by The Hollywood Reporter on 23 March 2016, Angie Thomas's debut novel The Hate U Give was snapped up by Fox 2000 in an all out bidding war, a full year before the novel was even published. If that doesn't tell you that this book is something special, then let me explain. The Hate U Give is an important novel whose plot is inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and whose title is inspired by Tupac's THUG tattoo (spelled out in the narrative as: T.H.U.G. L.I.F.E. = The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everyone). It tells the story of Starr Carter and what happens after she witnesses the police shooting of her unarmed friend, Khalil. Should she speak up or protect herself? She's seen the hashtags, the protests. What is right when it's you that is in the middle of it all? I'd encourage everyone to read the novel, as I myself am doing as I write this article, but the movie is sure to add to the total audience. To begin with, Amandla Stenberg of The Hunger Games and forthcoming Everything, Everything fame has been cast as the main character Starr. Poised to be the next young adult film star, her exposure can only add to the attention this film will garner.
  amandla

The Hate U Give: Page to Film

by The Hermit Librarian
@Getty Images
Not only is Amandla starring in several adaptations in the coming years (Everything, Everything; The Darkest Minds), but she is already an outspoken activist for many issues and is no stranger to voicing them. In an interview with Estelle Tang of Elle.com, Amandla said:
...I never feel reluctant talking about issues or defending people and their identities. I don't feel afraid to talk about racism or to talk about sexism or the gender binary, because I feel like it's important and necessary and that importance outweighs any potential backlash that I can receive. I'm lucky because the most dangerous thing that could happen to me is that someone will say something mean on a computer screen miles away and so I feel like if that's all that I'm facing then why would I not use my platform to talk about things?
Attached to direct and bringing his experience in film making to the project is George Tillman Jr., a director with a strong background directing movies regarding black culture. His work includes Soul Food (1997) for which he was nominated for Best Director at the Black Film Awards and Notorious (2009), a film about The Notorious B.I.G., which earned him a Best Director award and a Best Screenplay award for its screenwriters at the Black Reel Awards. Fox 2000 is also an amazing choice of studio for The Hate U Give, given the experience the studio has in turning young adult novels into successful films. In 2014 John Green's young adult romance novel The Fault in Our Stars was made into a movie with a budget of $12 millions dollars and brought in a return of $307 million dollars worldwide. Being, arguably, one of his and the most popular young adult books at the time and comparing it to THUG's popularity prior to and since publication, the projected estimates for box office returns are likely to be through the roof. At this time there's not much more news on potential screenwriters or other casting decisions, but with two of the most important roles filled already, that of the main star and of the person that will lead all others toward the final product, one can imagine that the future is looking bright.

The foundation has been set and, as The Hate U Give enters its 7th week on the New York Times Bestseller List, with a personal best of #1, one has to wonder if any book or film will be able to bring it down. The issues brought up in it remain current and the film adaptation will keep them fresh in the public's mind. It will hopefully keep the conversations going about what goes on in our country every day, regardless of whether or not we as individuals see it in our communities. Our towns are not the only ones in the country. Personally, I live in a rural farm town and know there are things I will never understand from a personal perspective. However, I listen, I absorb, and I pay attention. I don't ignore and hopefully this book and this film will encourage others to do the same.

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Melody of You and Me Review

After dropping out of university and breaking up with her girlfriend of three years, Chris Morrison’s life is now a mind-numbing mess. She doubts that working at the small neighborhood bookstore is going to change that. The rest of her time is spent mostly playing guitar and ignoring the many messages her mother keeps sending her about going back to college.
But one day, an adorable and charming new bookseller waltzes her way into Chris’s life. Josie Navarro is sweet, flirty, and she always has a new book in her hands. The two girls start a fast friendship that, for Chris, holds the promise of something more. But is she reading too much into this or is it possible that Josie feels the same way?
The Melody of You and Me is an extremely adorable New Adult romance that I happened to find on Kindle Unlimited. I'm not going to lie, F/F bookstore romance includes pretty much all of my favourite things, so I was destined to like this one. (There were a couple of pretty steamy moments too, which I always enjoy).

First of all, Chris pansexual, and she says so explicitly! When she comes out to Josie, it is so realistic. Even though she knows Josie is a lesbian, this doesn't necessarily mean that she'll react well. There's unfortunately a lot of misconceptions about non-monosexual people, and I thought Chris' apprehension was a really great thing to include. However, as Josie is the human equivalent of a cupcake, she reacts well. I also thought that it was interesting that there is also a brief mention that Chris doesn't feel comfortable ID-ing as bisexual, and I wish the book could have talked about that a little bit more. I'm okay with the fact that it didn't go too into pansexuality though - the novel was far more focused on the romance.

The love interest, Josie is also from the Philippines, and I believe that M. Hollis is Filipinx herself. (Here is a twitter thread where she recommends a whole bunch of Filipinx novels - definitely worth checking out!) I am not sure if the author is pansexual herself, but I am tentatively calling this an own voices novel.

If you're looking for a short and sweet F/F romance, The Melody of You and Me is a great place to start! The sequel, The Paths We Choose, has just been released, and I'm seriously considering jumping back into this adorable, sapphic universe.

Friday, April 14, 2017

The Girl From Everywhere Review

Nix has spent her entire life aboard her father’s ship, sailing across the centuries, across the world, across myth and imagination.

As long as her father has a map for it, he can sail to any time, any place, real or imagined: nineteenth-century China, the land from One Thousand and One Nights, a mythic version of Africa. Along the way they have found crewmates and friends, and even a disarming thief who could come to mean much more to Nix.

But the end to it all looms closer every day.

Her father is obsessed with obtaining the one map, 1868 Honolulu, that could take him back to his lost love, Nix’s mother. Even though getting it—and going there—could erase Nix’s very existence.

For the first time, Nix is entering unknown waters.

She could find herself, find her family, find her own fantastical ability, her own epic love.

Or she could disappear.
The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig is an adventure in what YA can be. Diverse, exciting, fantastical, and including quite a lot of time-travelling piracy. What more could you possibly ask for?!

I was immediately hooked by The Girl From Everywhere. For one, the worldbuilding is incredible - if there's a map of a place (even if it isn't real), Nix and her crew can sail there. For example, her friend (and love interest) Kashmir is from a map of 1001 Arabian Nights. Furthermore, if it is a fantastical version of a real land, the myths about the land are true!! This also immediately captured my imagination - could they sail to Narnia, using a map drawn by C.S. Lewis, or something like that?

The characters were also fantastic. Kashmir, a charming thief, is definitely my favourite character. I'm always a sucker for a loveable rogue <3 I really like Nix too - she's got a good head on her shoulders, and the way she immerses herself in new cultures and mythologies is fascinating to me. She also doesn't take crap from anyone, most especially men.

I do wish that the book had gone a little bit more into Nix's mixed race heritage - her mother is Chinese, and her father is (presumed) white American. I'm hoping that the sequel, The Ship Beyond Time, explores this aspect of Nix's past a bit more. For information about representation in the novel, I would recommend reading Shenwei's review which talks a lot about the use of Mandarin. I would never have picked that up, so thanks to Shenwei for pointing out the potential problems there.

Overall, I hugely enjoyed The Girl From Everywhere. I perhaps read it a bit fast, which is why the plot didn't always make sense to me, but I had to read it that fast - I needed to know what happened next!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Serendipitea Tour: Amanda Gernentz Hanson,author of Something Beautiful

Today I'm hosting Amanda Gernentz Hanson as a part of the Serendipitea Tour. Amanda is the author of the
upcoming release Something Beautiful. She is giving away a lovely package pictured below.

Amanda Gernentz Hanson has been writing stories since the third grade, when she turned in a five-page story about talking dogs to a local youth arts contest. She is an instructional designer by day and an everything else by night. Amanda is a proud Latina who earned her Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Hope College and her Master’s degree in Technical Communication from Minnesota State University. You can find her on the internet at browneyedtwentysomething.com and diverseladybookproject.tumblr.com, and on Twitter and Instagram @amandamariegh. If you see her in the wild, she probably has a book in her purse.






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