Friday, July 29, 2016

BOOKS VS ???: Books to Pair With Your Favorite Beverage (And I'm Not Talking About Milk)

Today is our final piece of the month for Books vs ???, and I am excited to welcome my team member and fellow co-founder of Book Bloggers International, Tasha!  She is here to talk about books and booze, and it is perfect timing since she just released her book, The Introvert's Guide to Drinking Alone!  


If you enjoy the occasional adult beverage, and you enjoy reading, why not combine the two and get twice the fun out of life? These are some of the best books with, about, or sponsored by alcohol I've come across.

the drops of god
The Drops of God by Tadashi Agi

Pairing: A Burgundy wine.

A manga about wine? Yes. This graphic novel about a young man who must find thirteen famous wines in order to inherit his father's estate has absolutely gorgeous artwork, lovable characters–I adore Shizuku and Miyabi, his friend who's training to be a sommelier–and storylines that feel like a rollercoaster ride, in a good way. But what's really going to make you love this manga is how beautifully it expresses the feeling of drinking wine.

There are some books that just grab you and make you want to recreate them in real life, and The Drops of God is one of those books. It's no wonder Decanter called this series the most influential books about wine published in the last 20 years. As soon as you read it you want try the wines the characters drink, or at least something similar (you will also want to buy a wine decanter. I'm just warning you right now).

the brewer's tale
The Brewer's Tale: A History of the World According to Beer by William Bostwick

Pairing: Stella Artois, one of the oldest still-brewed beers in the world.

It's been said civilization started so that people could have a reliable source of beer. Maybe that's an exaggeration, but it's definitely true that beer and civilization go hand-in-hand. Our earliest known recipes are for beer, and beer has been brewed at one time or another in nearly every continent on earth. In this book, William Bostwick goes back in time, not just by learning about the history of beer, but by making it. A really fun and fascinating story that travels from the hop-erific craft IPAs of today back to Babylonian brewmasters.

waking the merrow
Waking the Merrow by Heather Rigney

Pairing: Good ol' whiskey on the rocks.

A spooky horror novel featuring mermaids, with a self-professed "functional alcoholic" as the main character. I was disappointed by the ending (spoiler alert: she quits alcohol), but the beginning was very entertaining and funny.

the thin man
The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett

Pairing: Martinis, many many martinis.

You've probably seen this movie and noted there's a lot of drinking going on. Well, let me tell you: the amount of drinking in the movie is nothing compared to what's in the book. It's mind-boggling these people could even get out of bed.

liquid intelligence
Liquid Intelligence by Dave Arnold

Pairing: Gin & tonic, preferably made following the obsessively "perfect" recipe in Arnold's book.

A very sciency, precise book on the art of making cocktails. Although the audience is definitely professional bartenders, it should appeal to anyone who loves a good drink. Arnold covers everything like how to mix cocktails, make ice, invent your own cocktails, and even molecular mixology.

shake em up
Shake 'Em Up! by Virginia Elliott and Phil D. Stong

Pairing: Something really old skool, like a scofflaw or a clover club.

How to party, 1930s style. This book is simply fascinating. It contains a ton of useful advice, like how to prep for a party you know will be too much for you, or how to get rid of your guests without appearing to be rude. Also: bathtub gin. This is a trip back in time to the golden age of cocktailing, but without the 21st Amendment putting a kibosh on your fun.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

BOOKS VS ???: The Shining vs The Shining

Raise your hand if you are a Stephen King fan.  If that hand is raised, you will definitely want to join in the conversation today about one of King's most well-known books:  The Shining.  All of this is courtesy of Dinara Tengri.  


Stephen King's The Shining is one of my favourite books. I have read it more times than I can remember. A Stephen King fangirl I am not. But this book has something that keeps me coming back to it time and again. And with each re-read I discover something I didn't notice before. Reading this book is like peeling layers off of an onion. A scary bloody onion.

What's interesting is that with each re-read I also become more convinced that Stanley Kubrick's take on The Shining is a very poor adaptation of a very good book.

My main complaint about the movie is not that Kubrick changed many key plot points of the book, or that he changed Wendy Torrance's hair colour from blond to black. My main issue with the movie is the characters. The people whose stories we are following. This is where King's book wins, while Kubrick's movie... Well, it gets a participation trophy.

In this rant essay, I am going to give my personal, one hundred percent subjective analysis of the characters in the book and compare them to their movie equivalents.

I should warn you beforehand, that at some point in this essay, I will get angry, and things will get messy. Let's go!

The book

The characters in The Shining are living breathing people. Throughout the book, they reveal themselves as the people they are - beautiful, flawed, plagued by their own insecurities and driven by their addictions and fears.

There is a reason for every one of these people's actions, either internal or external.

We relate to Wendy and Jack and Danny because we can see ourselves in them. In their vices and in their love for each other. Which makes Jack's gradual descent into madness all the more tragic. We get to witness him trying to fight the awesome force of the Overlook Hotel as it's slowly taking over his mind and his free will. And because we know him and can relate to him we don't want to loose him.

In the book, it's not Jack who is the monster, it's the Overlook. Far from being an archetypal haunted house, the Overlook becomes a character in its own right. It uses Jack as a disposable napkin, pitting his own alcoholism and his ego against him and his family, in its attempts to get to Danny and his psychic powers.

And while the Overlook is manipulating Jack like a macabre puppet master, Wendy and Danny choose to be active players in this game. They don't simply react to the situation that they have found themselves in. They don't stand by and watch helplessly while their husband and father is loosing his marbles. They don't let themselves be defined by their archetypes.

Just like the Overlook, alcohol is an omnipresent force in the Torrance family life, hanging above them like a storm cloud. Whether Jack is drunk or sober, his alcoholism is affecting every aspect of their lives. I think that in its core, The Shining is a book about alcoholism and domestic violence and how it can affect a family. The Overlook might as well be a bottle of whiskey. And Jack just isn't strong enough to fight it.

Even the supporting characters are strong and well-developed. King doesn't settle on surrounding the main characters with one-dimensional extras.

The Movie

The problem with the characters in the movie adaptation of The Shining is not the actors' portrayal of them, but the way Kubrick has changed them and the direction in which he's taking them.

These characters don't have a history that we as the audience get to explore. We don't know anything about them. How did they get to where they are now? What's motivating their actions?

The truth is, the characters' actions are motivated by the purpose that they serve in the movie. They each have a job to do, and that is to move the plot from point A to point B, without growing, without changing their own environment.

These characters exist in little boxes, and stay in them throughout the entire film. They don't evolve towards anything. You may say, what about Jack? Doesn't he evolve from the loving father to a homicidal monster? Well, no, not really. And King has put it perfectly in his interview with The Rolling Stone:

"In the book, there's an actual arc, where you see (Jack) trying to be good and little by little he moves over to this place where he's crazy. And as far as I was concerned, when I saw the movie, Jack was crazy from the first scene."

In the book, the Overlook is the monster. In the movie, the monster is Jack. As the audience, we know that at some point he will snap and pick up that axe. It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when. Gone is the unpredictability that makes the book so realistic. Jack's descent into madness is not tragic, it's simply inevitable.

And if in the book, alcohol becomes the major catalyst for Jack's insanity, in the movie it's just one of those details that make a better scene. The major themes of alcoholism and its consequences are downplayed to a point where they become insignificant to the plot.

As it is Jack's job in the movie to be crazy, it's Wendy's job is to react to her husband's growing insanity. King himself, in the same interview, has called the movie "misogynist", because,

 "I mean, Wendy Torrance is just presented as this sort of screaming dishrag."

While I don't agree with King that Kubrick's movie is misogynist, Duvall's weeping and shivering version of Wendy is definitely a step down from the strong and determined woman we see in the book, who fearlessly protects her son from the forces of evil.

The supporting characters are one-dimensional and they only exist to serve a purpose. Where King takes time to give the supporting characters personality and a voice, Kubrick takes that all away and turns them into extras.

My final thoughts

What I take away from King's horror novel and its famous movie adaptation is that unlike King, Kubrick was not a storyteller. After reading the book, I know what kind of story King was trying to tell, but after seeing the movie so many times, I still struggle to understand what message Kubrick was trying to convey in his film.

While the characters in King's book are living breathing people, Kubrick's characters become a part of the setting, blending perfectly with the cold and gloomy atmosphere of the film. And where King injects humanity and warmth in his characters, Kubrick sucks the life out of them.

If the book is a character study, the movie appears to be a study of light and sound effects.

If the book is a story about people, then the movie is a story about ghosts.

And if I'm allowed a few more pretentious metaphors before I'm done with this rant:

King's The Shining is like a living organism, that's always changing and evolving. Kubrick's The Shining is like a gothic painting: beautiful and mesmerising but in the end lifeless and static.


How about you? Do you agree? Disagree? What's your favourite vs. least favourite book to movie adaptation? My two personal favourites are The Martian and John Carpenter's The Thing.

And thank you Caro, Tif and Tasha for letting me vent some of my frustrations about The Shining on your awesome blog!

You can also read:

Stephen King: The Rolling Stone Interview, by Andy Greene

What Stanley Kubrick got wrong about "The Shining" , by Laura Miller

Monday, July 25, 2016

BOOKS VS ???: Books and Musicals

I am so excited to welcome Kenya from Booked Up and Bossy today!  She is here to share a fabulously fun pairing, but I will let her tell you more about it!  Read on . . . 


Thanks to Book Bloggers International for doing a month of posts focused on pairings. It gave me the chance to think about my two loves together. I love musical theatre. I love books. BOOM!

A lot of musicals were based on books, so if you enjoyed one of these popular shows, reading the original text isn’t a terrible idea. Though tread lightly, because just like when your favorite book becomes a movie (just say no, y’all) there are often many things reinterpreted to fit a different audience.

For the sake of brevity, I picked three of my favorite musicals for this guest post, because once I got started, I kind of got carried away and we don’t have time for that. At least, they were my favorite before I saw The Color Purple two weeks ago, which basically blew me away. You can expect another musical- book pairing post over at my blog soon.

All right. Let’s start with something easy:

Theme: Old characters in new situations, or there’s more than one side to everyone’s story.

Wicked is a retelling of the Wizard of Oz story that tells a bit about the witches as children and teens and about how they met. They grew up with different families and different ambitions which really change their experiences and options as they get older. An obvious book to read is Wicked, the book on which this musical is based. I have to tell you, I didn’t care for it. But my love of the musical makes me want to go back and give it another try. Another obvious choice is ANY OTHER OF THE MILLION stories about Dorothy and Oz. A great one is Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Page. I loved the whole series.

Less Obvious: Chris Colfer’s The Land of Stories is another great choice if you enjoy fantasy and seeing old favorite characters in a new light. These books are fun and sunny, written for middle graders. They follow twins as they discover they can enter into the land of the fairy stories their grandmother read to them as children.

Ok… my Even Less Obvious book pairing is The MadWoman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell. This is the story of a girl who grows up knowing she is the last descendant of the Bronte sisters and her father, now deceased, was basically obsessed. The world thinks the family is hiding the vast Bronte fortune.  The main character knows everything about the Brontes and her father until she goes to school to live in the old tower he lived in.

Theme: Girls overcoming hard situations and finding their strength (especially against jerk adults).

Matilda is a musical about a 5- year- old bookworm who is neglected by her television- obsessed father and her ball-room dancing obsessed mother.  She teaches herself to read and spends as much time as possible reading through every book at the local library and telling stories to the librarian. She has started telling a story about great circus performers, finds a loving adult in her teacher, and finds an inner power to defeat her mean old principal. Can I tell you that I LOVED LOVED LOVED the sets and musical and just IT ALL about this show.

The Most Obvious book to read if you love this musical is Roald Dahl’s original book. There is no parallel story of the circus performers but the story is quick and cute.

Less obvious: Seraphina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty is a book about a girl who lives in the basement of a large estate on which her father works on electrical equipment. She doesn’t know why she’s a secret or anything about the rest of her family. She lives there in secret and has perfected the art of being invisible and unseen. But, then, something terrible happens and she has to come out of hiding and find the power to overcome a great darkness, the Black Cloak.

An Even Less Obvious book, if you loved the themes in Matilda, is Dime by E.R. Frank. Dime is a young teen girl who lives in poverty and the general rough life it brings. When she meets a man who says he loves her, she joins his girls who bring money into the family by working the streets. Because she’s smart, she is promoted to helping her man start working a bigger hustle. Dime has to find a way to get herself out of the messiest situation ever and get back to herself.

Theme: The stuff girls do to stay on top.

Heather the Musical was based on the movie from 1988 starring 80’s cult classic stars Winona Ryder and Christian Slater both of whom later got into trouble and then dropped off the planet, I think. Anyway, the musical is about Veronica. She’s a high schooler in a school where everyone is shitty to everyone else and the three most popular girls are all named Heather. She joins their little group but hates how she has to cower to the lead Heather’s power. And then she meets a boy with fewer morals and a bad case of untreated complicated grief.

The three books that I think pair with this musical are all basically about teenagers who look really together but are really just not.

The Luckiest Girl Alive by Jennifer Knoll is told from the perspective of now- adult Ani, who is going back to her prestigious private school to talk to a reporter about “the thing that happened” when she was in school there. In trying to fit in with the popular rich kids she lost much, but she’s never really been able to tell people about everything she went through or what exactly happened on the day the school really got the shock of its life.

Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight is a wonderful book about a girl who was in over her head at school. Her mother, Kate, comes to get her from school, where she has been accused of cheating, and Amelia is dead by the time she gets there. Kate is sifting through the remains of Amelia’s life to figure out what Amelia was involved in and if she ever really knew her daughter at all.

A less obvious book pairing is the haunting The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma. I don’t really want to say too much about this one. One, because it’s been a while since I read it and I’m sure I’ll mix up the details and two, because there are a few twists and turns that make this one worth reading even with only a little info.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Featured Blogger: Stephanie of Bringing Paperback

Today please welcome Stephanie, 
who blogs at Bringing Paperback.


What's the meaning behind the name of your book blog?

My blog's name is play on words. It can be read as both Bringing Paperback or Bringing Paper back.  

How long have you been blogging?

I have been blogging for about 10 months now.

Tell us a bit about your book blog. What makes it unique?

My book blog features book reviews for all types of young adult books all while adding a couple of blog posts in between. 

What genres do you write about most, and why?

Young adult, fantasy, and contemporary because those are the books I enjoy reading the most.

Every blogger feels pressure at some point. What's something you feel pressured to do or not do on your blog? How do you deal with it?

I was pressured as to whether or not I should switch to wordpress, but I decided to stay with Weebly because I believe that if I work hard enough the domain site won't matter to the readers.

What's one book you think everyone should read?

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas!

Writing in books: Yes or hell to the no?

No.. but I do use post its to write notes if I need to!

What's your favorite place to read or blog?

At home or at the library!

Is the evil empire? Discuss.

YES.. I can't leave without adding something to cart...

Book shelfie time! Take a "shelfie" of your bookshelves and share it with us.

I don't have much of a shelf.. instead I have a pile?! YAY

Check it out here!

What have you learned from other bloggers or your readers?

I have learned that blogs can be whatever you want them to be!

Do you judge a book by its cover, or its lover?

I try my best not to! (but sometimes it just happens).

One book you like that no one else seems to, or vice versa?

Paperweight by Meg Haston was a book I didn't particularly like, but I saw a lot of other reviewers liked!

To DNF or not to DNF?

Only ONE book ever. I was too scared to continue.

What's one book that intimidates you?

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (the same book I couldn't finish...).

If you could go to any literary destination, where would you go?


How about non-book related hobbies? What do you do when you don't feel like reading?

I love to draw, paint, play volleyball, or bake!

What's your favorite book to movie adaptation?

Harry Potter movie series is one of my all time favorites!

What are 3 favorite posts or reviews you've read by other book bloggers?

When We Collided by Nikki Want at Fiction Freak
A Court of Mist and Fury by Twirling Pages
Lady Midnight by Thinpaperback

What is your reading personality? (via quiz at

All Rounder!


Thank you for joining us today, Stephanie! 
Remember to check out Stephanie's blog, Bringing Paperback
and leave a comment or question.

Want to get more book blogging news, events, and giveaways? Sign up for our newsletter!

Friday, July 8, 2016

BOOKS VS ???: Books vs Vacations

Please welcome Wesley of Library Educated 
as she explores BOOKS VS VACATIONS!


When I saw this call for posts in the June edition of the Book Blogger’s International newsletter my first thought was “Well, I better email Tif and get in on this before someone takes the topic that I want”. And I did! ☺

Trying to figure out what books I’m going to take with me on vacation is always an anxiety ridden task for me. I don’t like to fly, and I don’t sleep on planes so I have all kinds of time available to me to be keeping my brain occupied with a good book. So I pack a lot of them.

Here are suggestions of books that would be good, or not so good to read at a given vacation spot. This is not to say that the “bad” books are books that should not be read, because that’s not true! But something about the book means you probably shouldn’t be reading it at that location.


Good vs Bad 

On the “good” side of things you have “Like Water for Chocolate”, an international bestseller about a Mexican family filled with romance, tradition, and food. On the “bad” side of things it’s “The Ruins”, a story about a bunch of tourists who get trapped on top of an old Mayan ruin with an evil, sadistic plant. (That doesn’t make it sound scary, but it actually is. Not like “Boo!” scary, but like what-do-I-do-when-I-face-almost-certain-death/psychologically scary.)

Czech Republic 

Good vs Bad 

The “Smoke and Bone” trilogy is a super fun read for Prague. Though they are hefty books, so maybe an e-book is the way to go! Magical creatures, romance, loyalty and family are all themes that come to play in the story that has a lot of its action in Prague. The action that happens in Prague is more of a violent type in “Galerie”; it will have you looking over your shoulder if you read it while in the city!


Good vs Bad 

In “Never Cry Wolf”, a scientist who is isolated in the Canadian wilderness to study caribou learns about wildlife, native peoples and himself in this great, classic book (also some of the most desolate scenery I’ve ever seen in a movie) in this “good” pick. The “bad” pick is book that I think about ALL THE TIME. It’s the tale of a group of teenagers who live in a poverty stricken Canadian outpost whose lives crumble when the Devil himself comes to town. “A Man Came Out of a Door in the Mountain” is spine-tingling tense and gripping.


Good vs Bad 

A small town in 1960s-ish Germany is unsettled when a village girl goes missing from a busy village celebration (dressed as Snow White, ironically enough), but then another girl goes missing too. "The Vanishing of Katharina Linden” is a reminder that sometimes the stinky kid in class is a good friend to have… “Your House is On Fire, Your Children All Gone” is yet another book that I picked up and can’t stop thinking about. This book follows a bunch of incredibly creepy/evil German kids who are basically homicidal- stone cold monsters. The very first few pages tell the story of a little boy who trades his sister's soul for a peak into hell itself. It’s so creepy and scary I don’t know why I love it but I do.


Good vs Bad 

The Housekeeper and the Professor” brings us a math professor with a traumatic brain injury and an incredible short memory, a determined housekeeper and her son. It sounds like a heartwarming tale about family and living life as you are dealt it. A heartwarming tale with math? I will read it and let you know! I’m not going to lie to you guys, “Silence” is a tough read. It follows a Jesuit missionary in Japan in the 1640s. If you are like me, previous to picking up this book, you might not know what an INCREDIBLY dangerous situation that this could be. Based on true stories there is torture, betrayal and men and women who are martyred for being Christians. I can’t believe that in all my years of religious schooling I was never assigned to read this book. It’s a gut punch, but it also is short and informative and worth the queasy feeling in your stomach you will get occasionally.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Announcing Books vs ??? Month!

Another month, which means another theme from Book Bloggers International!  All this month, we will be having guests share their take on BOOKS VS ????.  What exactly does this mean?  It's comparisons, pairings, and more.  We already have BOOKS VS VACATIONS and BOOKS VS BROADWAY.  What do you think YOU can bring to the conversation?  Here are some additional ideas and we have a number of spots still available for YOU to fill . . .

  • Books vs Booze
  • Books vs Movies
  • Books vs Beaches
  • Books vs Books (Pit two books against each other!)
  • Books vs The Bad (What doesn't mix with books!)

These are just a few ideas, but as usual with BBI, we encourage you to think outside the box and get creative on your own.  If you are interested in contributing, email us at  Looking forward to hearing from you, and stay tuned for some fun articles coming your way during the month of July!