Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Featured Blogger: Riley from Book Blogs!

Today please welcome Riley, who blogs at Book Blogs!


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How long have you been blogging?

I have been blogging for about a year and a half now!

Writing in books: Yes or hell to the no?

No! The only writing that should be in books is the actual story not anything else!

What's your favorite place to read or blog?

At the beach, I love reading while hearing the waves crashing on the sand!

What have you learned from other bloggers or your readers?

I have learned so much such as how to get noticed and make better posts. Other bloggers have been so kind and helped me so much and I'm so thankful! 

What's one book that intimidates you?

There are so many books, such as A Tale Of Two Cities, that I want to read yet I can never bring myself to read them because they look so thick and the text looks really small and I'm afraid I'll get bored!

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

I love to figure skate, I love jumping and even just gliding across the ice. It makes me feel so free! :)


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Thank you for joining us today, Riley! Remember to check out Riley's blog, Book Blogs!, and leave a comment or question.

Monday, March 30, 2015

MOVIE MADNESS: The Votes Are In!


Thank you all so much for participating in MOVIE MADNESS MARCH!  What a great month it has been, and I cannot thank you all enough for contributing, commenting, and spreading the love!  Today marks the final day of our month of movies, and with that comes the votes for the best and worst book to movie adaptations according to our readers.

I was quite surprised with the responses on this survey!  I thought that we would have a lot more duplicates that we did, but sadly we did not.  There were a couple of responses that were repeats, but for the most part, I only have a simple list of movies for you.  Without further ado, let's take a look at the results.  Those marked with an asterik are the duplicates that I have mentioned.

FAVORITE BOOK-TO-MOVIE ADAPTATIONS

Hunger Games 
Lord of the Rings* 
RED* 
Shawshank Redemption
 The Dead (a short story by James Joyce) 
The Great Santini 
The Princess Bride 
The Thin Man 
Winter's Bone

LEAST FAVORITE BOOK-TO-MOVIE ADAPTATIONS

Anna Karenina 
Eat, Pray, Love 
Eragon 
Gone with the Wind 
Percy Jackson & the Olympians* 
Queen of the Damned 
The Grapes of Wrath 
The Lovely Bones 
Troy*


Be sure to check out all the amazing contributions for MOVIE MADNESS MARCH right here.  And, thank you again for participating!

Do you have any movies that you would add to these lists?  Which post(s) were your favorite to read this month?

Friday, March 27, 2015

MOVIE MADNESS: Remains of the Day


Kai from FICTION STATE OF MIND is our guest today for Movie Madness, talking about Remains of the Day.  Please give her a warm welcome, and share your thoughts with her in the comment section below.

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This 1993 film has been flitting around in my memory since I bought the novel by Kazuo Ishiguro in January. This year I have challenged myself to read some classic novels. I decided I was going to watch the movie again after reading the book.

This quickly became a problem as I struggled through the novel despite the beautiful writing. The Remains of the Day is a first person narrative from the perspective of English Butler Extraordinaire, Stevens. A letter from a former housekeeper sets Stevens to reminisce about his years in service to his former boss, Lord Darlington.

Stevens plans a journey to see Miss Kenton who is recently divorced and despairing about her future. It is Stevens’s intent to ask Miss Kenton to return to Darlington house and as he travels towards her his memories about their past overtake him.

Unfortunately, the novel’s use of flashbacks is really distracting and makes it difficult to follow the thread of the story.

The Movie however is Stellar! I originally rented this story years ago after seeing Emma Thompson in Sense and Sensibility. I was looking for more films of hers and discovered this one. Anthony Hopkins does a superb job as Stevens, every movement and gesture by him speaks volumes about a man that spends his life being unobtrusive.

Emma’s character, Miss Kenton brings an infusion of energy into the household. Sparks fly between the pair immediately. Steven’s is appalled by Miss Kenton’s familiarity with the staff and even himself. The two wage a very respectable war between the hallways of Darlington Hall. It soon becomes obvious to the viewer that the two have deeper feelings between them. Miss Kenton’s rash nature however leads her to try to get an emotional response from Stevens by threatening to marry and leave Darlington.

It backfires. And now the years and emotional distance between them seems to possibly be at an end. Yet life is rarely that simple and though both seemed primed to finally confess their feelings a twist of fate may leave them separated for ever.

Everything in this film is subtle yet emotional. The is one of the earliest Merchant/Ivory collaborations and it received stellar reviews. The cast is superb. I forgot Christopher Reeve was in this film. He does a great job in the small but important role of Mr. Farraday the American millionaire who saves Darlington Hall from being destroyed.

It’s everything I love about British films and it has a satisfying yet bittersweet ending. I highly suggest it to fans of British films.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Featured Blogger: Irene from Mysterious Bibliophile

Today please welcome Irene, who blogs at Mysterious Bibliophile.

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How long have you been blogging?

This blog has been active for 10 months; I've previously owned other blogs on books, film, and homeschooling.

What genres do you write about most, and why?

I am an eclectic reader and blogger, but my primary focus is on mystery and suspense. This genre is important to me because it connects me to my mom, who died in 2003. She was a huge mystery aficionado and wrote her master's thesis in fictional female detectives. It is also the genre I write. 

What's your favorite place to read or blog?

The recliner in our T.V. room.

What have you learned from other bloggers or your readers?

So much! Recommendations of genres, books, or films I might not have otherwise considered. Myriad ways of looking at books and films. Benefiting from being exposed to so much really terrific writing and reviewing.

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

Definitely by its lover. That said, I am a huge sucker for a gorgeous book cover, even if I'm buying it for my Kindle and won't see it anyway. I can't explain it.

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

I don't care for Wuthering Heights, which is a well-loved classic. Brooding, slightly creepy men just don't do it for me.

To DNF or not to DNF?

I definitely DNF. With so many great books out there that I'll never get a chance to read, I am way too old NOT to. :-)

What's one book that intimidates you?

Ulysses, and just about everything else by James Joyce (besides Portrait of an Artist).

What is your reading personality? (via quiz at http://www.bookbrowse.com/quiz/)

Your responses showed you fitting into three different personalities:

Involved Reader: You don't just love to read books, you love to read about books. For you, half the fun of reading is the thrill of the chase - discovering new books and authors, and discussing your finds with others.
Serial Reader: Once you discover a favorite writer you tend to stick with him/her through thick and thin.
Eclectic Reader: You read for entertainment but also to expand your mind. You're open to new ideas and new writers, and are not wedded to a particular genre or limited range of authors.


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Thank you for joining us today, Irene! Remember to check out Irene's blog, Mysterious Bibliophile, and leave a comment or question.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

MOVIE MADNESS: Last Day to Vote!!


REMINDER:  Today is the last day to vote!  This post was originally shared earlier this month, and we will be sharing the results next week to wrap up our month of Movie Madness.  Take a few minutes to share your favorites, or lack thereof!

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All month long, we are talking about movies with a literary spin.  As a reader, we tend to have pretty strong opinions about books that are made into movies.  We oftentimes find ourselves hesitant when the word is spread that our favorite book is being made for the big screen.  We worry that the movie won't give our book the justice that it deserves, and we are very well known in saying, "The book is always better."  When the movie finally hits the big screen, we leave that theater loving the story even more OR cursing at how ridiculous it turned out to be, complaining about the ruin.

Now, it is your turn!  Chime in with your favorite adaptation as well as your least favorite by filling out the form below.  If you cannot choose just one for either of these questions, feel free to complete the form multiple times.  We will be taking your votes until Wednesday, March 25, then compiling the data and sharing it at the end of the month.

When you are done, be sure you check out all of our latest MOVIE MADNESS guest articles.

Ready.  Set.  Go!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Spring 2015 Bloggiesta: Blogging Advice from Book Bloggers International


Welcome to the Spring 2015 Bloggiesta!

Not familiar with Bloggiesta?  Check out their website.  In short, it is an event that happens four times a year and allows bloggers to clean up and improve their blogs.  Who doesn't need that?!?

Today, it has been requested that bloggers share the best advice that they have received about blogging.  Here at Book Bloggers International, we (the minds behind BBI) thought we would all take a few moments and share our advice with you here.  Without further ado, we present to you our advice . . .

Becca of I'm Lost in Books

The best blogging advice I ever received was to not be afraid to be original, to be creative. I am this person already but I grew up thinking I needed to fit in and not rock the boat and keep the status quo. I decided to take this blogging advice and run with it, and it has proven to be invaluable. I do what I want, I create my own ideas of what my blog and blogging should look like, and I don't let anyone tell me I am doing it wrong. There is no right or wrong, there is only the same and different. I would much rather be myself on my blog - putting a piece of myself into my reviews, creating my own features, showing other bloggers love instead of viewing them as some sort of competition. Luckily for me, these things work for my blog and it makes me happy because I am myself.

Caro of A Girl That Likes Books

The Best Blogging Advice I've ever received is: don't do it for the clicks. In other words, if you are going to be blogging, reviewing, etc, do it because you enjoy it and you have things to say. Don't become a slave of the clicks and the page views. Don't freak out because the first month (heck, the first year) your blog doesn't have a ton of followers; it takes time to find your own voice and your own style. Don't be discouraged by a low traffic week, or month, keep doing it for yourself.

Tasha of Truth, Beauty, Freedom, and Books 

When I was first blogging on Xanga, years before I started a book blog, I ran across some great advice from a fellow Xanga blogger who was insanely popular on the network. In a post about how she got so popular, she added a paragraph at the very end titled, “What to do when you get hundreds of comments.” It thought it would be about how she managed to maintain that level of popularity, but it wasn’t. Her advice? Turn off your computer. Leave your phone. Go outside. Ignore your email for at least 24 hours. Play with your kids, go out to dinner with your significant other, hang out with your friends. 

Even though I’ve never received even close to a hundred comments on a post, that piece of advice has stayed with me. Basically it’s saying that whenever things in the blogging world seem overwhelming, take a step back. Gain some perspective on what your blog really is and why you started blogging in the first place. Being a successful blogger isn’t about spending all your time on social media or email, or stressing about popularity, it’s about supplementing your life with something you enjoy doing.

Tif of Tif Talks Books

The best blogging advice I ever received is twofold.  One, be yourself.  Find your own voice and use your imagination.  Don't try to be like all the other bloggers out there.  Do something different.  Stand out.  And, your readers will come to you.  Second, be realistic.  If you have a busy home life, don't burn yourself out by trying to post every single day or multiple times a day.  If blogging is your hobby, make sure to keep it fun and enjoyable.  Try to be consistent, but don't push your limits and ruin the desire.

Now that you have heard our advice, it is your turn to share your's!  What else would you add?

Friday, March 20, 2015

MOVIE MADNESS: Libraries in the Movies!


Let us give Wesley of Library Educated a warm welcome.  She is here today to talk . . . LIBRARIES!  And, not just any libraries, but some of the best libraries featured in literary movies!  Read on, enjoy, and please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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Tif and I were brainstorming about ideas for this post and we agreed on a post that would talk about libraries and librarians in movies. I decided to take it a step farther. We’re going to talk about libraries and librarians that are featured in movies that are based on books! Another layer of literary fun!

“The Name of the Rose” by Umberto Eco/ The Name of the Rose directed by Jean-Jacques Annard

In the 14th century, a friar, William of Baskerville (played in the movie by Sean Connery) and his novice Adso of Melk (in the movie, a very young Christian Slater) is sent to a monastery high in the mountains of northern Italy to solve the mystery of some disturbing deaths, all members of the monastery’s famous scriptorium. The movie is filled with intrigue, lies, shady pasts and a hidden labyrinth of a library. I love this movie! It feels moody and grim, the library is mesmerizing and the setting is beautiful AND scary somehow. Also, Sean Connery, come on!

“Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” by JK Rowling/ Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire directed by Mike Newell 

Obviously, books and the library come into play in all of the Harry Potter books, but we’re going to focus in on one: Goblet of Fire! When you need the answers about surviving underwater, who do you turn to? Books and the library of course! And Neville, with his love for all things botanical, can’t forget him. And you can’t talk about any of the Harry Potter books without talking about Hermione, the girl who was always hauling around a book and had all the answers. She would have been prime librarian material! This personally is my favorite Harry Potter movie, and not just because I find a certain Bulgarian Krumdidlyumptious!

“The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” by Alan Moore, Kevin O’Neil and Bill Oakley/ The League of Extraordinary Gentleman directed by Stephen Norrington 

Do you have a movie, that even though you know it’s not really a good movie you love it anyway? That’s LXG for me. But how can you blame me? (There are multiple volumes of the graphic novel, so if the premise intrigues you but you don’t like the movie there’s still hope to be found in the source material!) Characters pulled from some of literature’s greatest hits are recruited to form basically a literary superhero group to fight supervillains also pulled from literature. The members of this super league meet each other in a beautiful setting, a medieval library. What makes this library so wonderful is that it actually exists! And you can visit it! It’s the library at the Strahov Monastery in Prague and it appears to be just as beautiful in real life as it is in the movie. There’s also a scene in a library in the home of the mysterious Dorian Grey… (Also another Sean Connery movie, unintended theme!)

“The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood/ The Handmaid’s Tale directed by Volker Schl√∂ndorff 

To begin with, have you read this book? If you haven’t, please read this book. If I had the ability to stick one book in the hand of everyone I knew, this would probably be it.

It’s hard to even sum up in a few sentences but here it goes: The world is awful. There’s been all kinds of disasters and this incredibly scary government comes to power. Women who aren’t aristocratic (or are in some kind of way “criminal”) are forced to be handmaids. It’s their job to get pregnant by high ranking men (who are married) in a demeaning ritual once a month that also involves their wives. They get 3 chances with three different couples and if they don’t get pregnant they get sent to the colonies (not somewhere you want to go). Offred is one such handmaid. She used to be a librarian before things went to hell in a handbasket. Her situation is a little different because her assigned male sex partner is The Commander, and he takes an interest in her as a person. They sit in his library/office and play Scrabble and drink liquor (all of this a big no-no). Some of these evenings are where Offred learns more than any other handmaid usually does…

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Featured Blogger: Julianne from Outlandish Lit

Today please welcome Julianne, who blogs at Outlandish Lit.

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

My intent was just to be super clear about what kind of books I read! Sometimes I read pretty run of the mill adult literary fiction, but what sets my heart aflutter is stories that are weird, surreal, quirky, experimental, and/or dark. Or, for lack of a better work, outlandish!

How long have you been blogging?

Oooh, this is a good question haha. I want to say 2 years or so, but I had to stop for like a year early on due to school. So really only 1. I still feel like a new blogger.

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

I try to introduce people to books that they might not otherwise read. Books that are a little stranger, or aren't hugely popular (though I do like to read some of those books too). I love contemporary fiction, but I also review backlist books! And I try to keep my posts interesting and fun to read (like reviews in the form of chatlogs with another reader, or the occasional youtube video).

What's one book you think everyone should read?

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer!

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

I'm veeeeery partial to pretty, modern covers. I can't help it. Looking at books is almost as good as reading them, kind of.

To DNF or not to DNF?

I want to say that I can DNF, but like can I in practice? Hard to say, because I never do haha. It's not that I CAN'T, I just don't want to. I can stop whenever I want, I don't have a problem. I just sometimes get caught up in spite reading. Once I start saying "blah blah blah" out loud as I'm reading, it's probably a good sign that I should stop, though.

What's one book that intimidates you?

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. I started it a couple years ago, but it's too hard to commit to!

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

I go to school for CGI and visual effects, so I'm generally doing some sort of 3D modelling or compositing on the computer. Otherwise, I'm watching horror movies, camping, drinking Angry Orchard, playing the bagpipes, knitting, going to thrift stores, performing in live lit shows, or eating $2 tacos somewhere in Chicago.

What is your reading personality? (via quiz at http://www.bookbrowse.com/quiz/)

The All-Rounder

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Thank you for joining us today, Julianne! Remember to check out Julianne's blog, Outlandish Lit, and leave a comment or question.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

MOVIE MADNESS: Music in the Movies


Welcome to another day of MOVIE MADNESS MARCH!  Today, Tif from Tif Talks Books and one of the creators of Book Bloggers International is here to briefly chat about music in the (literary) movies.  She provides a few favorite songs and albums, but be sure to list your own personal favorites in the comment section below.

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We talk about book to movie adaptations all the time.  The good ones.  The bad ones.  Even, the ugly ones.  BUT, let's take a little different approach today and look at some of our favorite books and the music that has been a result of these movies.  I'm talking some of my favorite tunes to listen to on a daily basis.

The first one that comes to mind is from a recent movie -- "The Hanging Tree" from Mockingjay, created by the amazing Suzanne Collins and in the version I prefer, sung by Jennifer Lawrence herself.  It is haunting, yet beautiful, and I could listen to it over and over again.



The second song that comes to mind is from one of my favorite book to movie adaptations -- "May It Be" performed by Enya and played during the credits of The Lord of the Rings:  The Fellowship of the Ring.  Absolutely gorgeous.



Then, there are complete albums that I like to listen to on a regular basis:  anything from the Harry Potter movies, every single album from The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and Jurassic Park to name just a few.  These are mostly instrumental and perfect for when I'm reading or writing . . . especially if I am reading the books that they are associated with!

Last, but not least, there are albums that come to mind that are a compilation of songs that many of us may already be familiar with, but become one album of complete awesome.  The most recent one I can think of is Guardians of the Galaxy.  Talk about a fun one to listen to!  Here is just a little teaser for your enjoyment.



I know that I am missing so many more songs and albums that are associated with literary movies.  Now it is your turn.  Tell me your favorites, and feel free to link to Spotify, YouTube, and more, so we all can enjoy the music!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Featured Blogger: Tracy from postcard reviews

Today please welcome Tracy, who blogs at postcard reviews.

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

short straight to the point reviews 

How long have you been blogging?

since December 2014

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

they are reviews you could write on a postcard so i have to be creative in what i write 

What genres do you write about most, and why?

i read anything and everything

What's one book you think everyone should read?

second life s j watson its about online danger

Writing in books: Yes or hell to the no?

noooooooooo

What's your favorite place to read or blog?

i like to read on my sofa in front of the tv

Is Amazon.com the evil empire? Discuss.

i think there is a place for everything and everyone

What have you learned from other bloggers or your readers?

that everyone is different but we are interested in the same things

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

both, a good cover draws you in, a lover creates 'life'

To DNF or not to DNF?

if you don't like a book after the first few pages move on, then go back. you might be in a different mood 

What's one book that intimidates you?

one that tries to be too clever with words. where a writer hasn't really thought about its reader

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

i would go to greece victoria hislop style

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

i sew, knit and crochet and i also like papercrafts. i am addicted to pinterest

What's your favorite book to movie adaptation?

i loved gone girl, both book and film. it helped that the author did the screenplay so it followed the book 

What is your reading personality? (via quiz at http://www.bookbrowse.com/quiz/)

i am a faddy reader. what i like today i may not tomorrow

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Thank you for joining us today, Tracy! Remember to check out Tracy's blog, postcard reviews, and leave a comment or question.

Monday, March 16, 2015

MOVIE MADNESS: The Perks of Being a Wallflower


Please welcome Adam from Roof Beam Reader today as he discusses one of his personal favorites, The Perks of Being a Wallflower.  Don't forget to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Page-to-Screen: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (1999) by Stephen Chbosky is probably my favorite book of all-time. It is one that has stood the test of time and many, many re-reads. It is the one I return to when I need to reconnect with books on a personal level. So, when I first heard there was going to be a film adaptation, I was both thrilled and terrified. Fortunately, there are three things that make this page-to-screen adaptation one of the best I’ve ever seen, and those are its Screenplay, its Music, and its Casting.

The Screenplay

How much talent must it take to return to a nearly perfect book and retell it, updating the setting, references, and music, ultimately turning it into a nearly perfect film? A whole lot of talent! That’s Stephen Chbosky, though. His hand in this film, from writing the screenplay to involving himself in casting, music, and editing, not to mention hand-picking the location, is probably the only way this film was ever going to work. Fortunately, Chbosky found a studio willing to give him that much creative freedom and control.

Although there are some changes in the screenplay, most of the book actually makes its way onto the screen. The slow unveiling of Charlie’s inner-demons was handled better than I could have expected. Key scenes, such as Charlie’s dance with Sam and Patrick, the characters’ obsession with Rocky Horror, the major fight scene, and Charlie’s huge “oops” moment during “Truth or Dare” are all there. Other moments that had to be there, the surprising kiss, for example, and the main characters’ liberating rides in the back of a pick-up truck are not only there, but are elevated and highlighted to their appropriate places as essential scenes. Even some of the iconic images from the book’s original cover, Charlie with his hands over his ears or eyes, show up in the film.

The Music 

Those who have read (or will read) the book will know how important music is to Charlie and to the story in general. The book just wouldn’t be the same without it. So, naturally, one of the things I was concerned about with the film adaptation was how it would address the music – both the soundtrack and the way the characters’ friendship and conversations develop around music and musicality (like the Rocky Horror Picture Show). Fortunately, Stephen Chbosky proves to be as big a music nerd as I am. He kept music at the heart of the film, and the pathos this generates between the film and the audience is brilliant, reflecting the brilliance of that same relationship between the book and the reader (this reader even made a soundtrack, many years ago, based on the music mentioned in the book).

The opening sequence in the film is set to "Could it be Another Change" by The Samples, which could not have been more wisely chosen. The song has become a personal favorite. Chbosky did incorporate a lot more contemporary music, which at first irked me, but in retrospect I see it was an astute choice. It helps modern audiences connect with a story that had been written nearly 15 years before and whose plot was heavily-steeped in the pop culture of the story’s time (early 1990s).


The Cast

Surprise, surprise. Stephen Chbosky was involved in casting for this movie, too! What a wonderful thing it must be to have so much control over your own creation. Just as Chbosky’s involvement benefited the screenplay and the music, both of which are pivotal to a successful film, in my opinion, so does his involvement in this third major element show great insight and audience-awareness. Casting Logan Lerman as Charlie was a stroke of brilliance, and I have to admit that I often take credit for this because I repeatedly tweeted about that possibility well before the movie was made, and especially after the film option had been announced. So, you’re welcome, world!

Most of the minor characters are excellent, too. Considering that this was a small budget film, it was surprising to see actors like Dylan McDermott (Charlie’s dad) and Kate Walsh (Charlie’s mom) cast. Paul Rudd also has an important role, and Joan Cusack makes a critical appearance near the end. I was initially worried by the decision to cast Ezra Miller as Patrick, Charlie’s best friend. This was the one character who truly did not seem to fit the image I had in my mind, but ultimately there was no reason to fear. I’ve since looked into a lot of Miller’s work, as he’s a fantastic actor.

There was only one slight problem, in my opinion, with the casting, and that was Emma Watson as Charlie’s love interest, Sam. I adore Emma Watson and find her nearly flawless. She did a brilliant job in this role, as far as knowing the character and bringing her to life, my one hang-up was the fact that she’s a very English girl playing a very American role, and sometimes the accent was just too difficult to ignore. I almost wish Chbosky would have adapted the screenplay just enough to make it fine for Watson to speak in her normal accent (it wouldn’t have taken much – she and her brother could have recently moved to town?). Ultimately, though, that’s a minor quibble in an otherwise exceptional, nearly-perfect film adaptation of one of the greatest books of my generation.

The Last Word 

Overall, while I still prefer the book to the film, this is one of the best film adaptations I’ve ever seen. There are adaptations I prefer to the actual books (such as The Hunger Games, for example) and there are adaptations that I think completely miss the mark (this list would be endless). There are adaptions that come close (Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings) and adaptations I wish I had never, ever seen (The Scarlet Letter).

The reason The Perks of Being a Wallflower is an almost perfect adaptation is not because it is better than the book, but because it is the book, just in a different mode. I don’t think I’ve ever watched a page-to-screen adaptation where I felt that all of the actors must have read and understood the book, and where I felt that I was experiencing the book all over again. Perks does this, and it’s such a great experience!

Friday, March 13, 2015

MOVIE MADNESS: Howl's Moving Castle


We have another great guest here today, Juli from A Universe in Words!  Read on, and then share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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Hello everyone! My name is Juli and I usually write over at A Universe in Words. I am currently in my final year as an English Student and will be moving up to Scotland for a Masters in August! My favourite genres are Fantasy and Classics (does that count as a genre?). I am really excited to write this post for Book Bloggers International on book adaptations.

Before I started writing this post I asked around a bit. Because I study English Lit I'm surrounded by book fanatics every day, each of which has a very strong opinion about everything related to books. (Let's not even get into the paperback/Kindle debate!) I asked them what they thought was important about a book adaptation and out of all the answers two things kept coming back. A film had to stay true to the book, but also add something to it. In itself this struck me as a complete paradox that only book lovers could come up with! But then I thought about one of my own favourite adaptations and I understood what they meant. I am talking about Studio Ghibli's Howl's Moving Castle (2004), based on Diane Wynne Jones' novel of the same name.

I first got to know the novel through the film (shame on me, I know). I had been a fan of Studio Ghibli and its main director, Hayao Miyazaki, ever since watching Spirited Away (2001). I had heard from many people that Howl's Moving Castle was a great film and decided to give it a shot. 119 minutes later I was utterly in love with the story and desperate for more of it. I watched it in Japanese, I watched it in English and I told everyone about it. Maybe you can imagine my shock when someone told me there was a book. Initially I was hesitant to read the book, much in the way that most people are afraid to watch films based on their favourite books. Upon reading Jones’ book I realized Miyazaki changed quite a few aspects of the novel and, surprise surprise, I love all of them.

One of the key changes made by Miyazaki was move the reality of war to the forefront of the film. In the novel the war feels very far away, taking a backseat to Howl's conflict with the Witch of the Waste. Studio Ghibli on the other hand, has always had a very strong anti-war message, starting with the stunning Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind in 1984. Although some may argue that such big themes shouldn't be forced upon narratives that can't support it, Miyazaki found a wonderful way to incorporate the threat of war into the story. Our main characters find themselves stuck in a city during a night of bombing and Howl is forced to constantly reconsider his stance against choosing a side. The film doesn't shy away from showing how war changes people, both physically, mentally and magically, and it adds a sense of realism to the whole. Because of this added intensity the film will surprise even the most seasoned Wynne Jones-readers.

Now, you may wonder how Miyazaki would be able to preserve the essence of Jones' novel if he changes such a major part of the story. What is very clever about the film adaptation of Howl's Moving Castle is that it never forgets about its main characters. No matter what happens outside, Miyazaki always looks to the inside and there he finds Sophie, Jones' amazing main character. It is not often that a teenager-turned-eighty-year old successfully becomes the main character of a children's novel. Her self-discovery is crucial to the charm and magic of the novel and the film never once forgets that. Rather than shifting the attention to include more magic or explore Howl's past more, the film follows Sophie through everything and, as the emotional core of the movie, never abandons her. Because of this the film has a lot of heart, something that was crucial to Jones' novel. Not perfectly following every page of the novel to a T is no problem, as long as a director knows and loves the story he is adapting.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Featured Blogger: Killian from Leaf On The Breeze

Today please welcome Killian, who blogs at Leaf On The Breeze.

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

Well with my blog I have a pretty wide variety in posts, from books to music to film, so I wanted to have a blog name that would sum this up. I also love the TV show Firefly so I decided to *ahem* 'borrow' one of the quotes from it and use it as my blog name. 

How long have you been blogging?

About two months, I'm new to it all.

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

I think what makes my book blog unique is that it has a lot of variation. As well as reviewing the books I read, I also review loads of new music, as well as older music, films from all eras and I plan to review some anime/TV shows in the future. My taste in books is pretty diverse too. Out of the books I've reviewed so far there is a fantasy book, a science fiction book, a classic, a literary fiction book and a graphic novel. I read everything so there should be lots to choose from on my blog.

I also have a couple of features. I do Discography Reviews (this is where I pick a band and review every album in their discography), Leaf On The Breeze Essentials (kind of like a top ten/five list feature -- for example, my last one was the Top Five Series For Epic Fantasy Newbies), and Stuff I Bought (where I chat about the books/records that I bought recently). I have a few upcoming features like My Favourite Books (where I talk about my favourite books, weirdly enough) and Leaf On The Breeze Playlists (this should be a weekly feature where I make a playlist of some songs that I like. Most will be based around a certain theme).


What genres do you write about most, and why?

Prior to starting my blog I thought it would be mainly SFF but in the past few months I've started to branch out into loads of different genres. As I said above, I read everything, more or less, as I think it's more interesting for readers to have a bit of variation on my blog. Also, it allows me to experience loads of different genres and loads of great books.

What's one book you think everyone should read?

This is a really, really tough question but if I had to pick ONE it would probably be Lord Of The Flies by William Golding.

Writing in books: Yes or hell to the no?

I don't really like it but if it helps you just go for it. I don't do it takes me out of the moment in a book.

What's your favorite place to read or blog?

On my bed. 

Is Amazon.com the evil empire? Discuss.

It's no different from all the other big corporations in the world. I'm a big fan of small, local bookshops and record stores so I'll always go for them over companies like Amazon. That being said, many people just don't have access to shops for whatever reason so I guess Amazon is good for them. Even still, whenever I buy books I always buy them from actual shops in Dublin and never Amazon.

What have you learned from other bloggers or your readers?

Commenting on other blogs is the way to go. You should read other people's posts and write comments that actually mean something, because then the blogger will be happy and will leave a nice comment on your blog and everyone works together and gets a happily ever after.

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

It's lover all the way. I will only read a book if I feel confident that I will enjoy it and I usually base this on praise from people I respect. I have an inability just to buy a book based on what it looks like because I don't want to waste my money (I'm 16, people my age are hardly famed for their affluence).

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

I love Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve but seemingly nobody else has heard of it. It's one of my favourite YA series of all time but I still haven't found another person who likes it.

A book that I hated but everyone else loved would definitely be The Hunger Games. I thought it was shallow, predictable and vaguely demeaning to the reader. There are a couple of others too but I'm here to promote my blog so it's probably a bad idea to talk about books that I hate.


To DNF or not to DNF?

DNF all the way. If I don't like a book, there is no point in being masochistic about it, I might as well stop. This does change for books that I bought myself because, in that case, I generally want to get my moneys worth. However, overall I DNF if I don't like a book.

What's one book that intimidates you?

Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban. It looks really good, but I think all the words are written phonetically and some are just made up and whenever I see it in a bookshop I always try, and fail, to read the first page.

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

Hogwarts. I'm not even that big of a Harry Potter fan but it is by far the coolest literary world to live in. While I have encountered better worlds, especially in fantasy, I'd rather live in one where the chance of death is relatively slim.

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

Obviously I love music and I'm constantly trying to find new bands that I might enjoy. I've also recently cultivated a love for film and television, so I watch those whenever I can. Other than that I play tennis and enjoy watching rugby.

What's your favorite book to movie adaptation?

The Golden Compass was beyond awful. The book is one of the few YA novels that I really love but the movie was a mess.

My favourite one would have to be The Shawshank Redemption. I haven't actually read the story it's based on but the movie is so good it just had to be first, for me.


What is your reading personality? (via quiz at http://www.bookbrowse.com/quiz/)

The Involved Eclectic

"Your responses showed you fitting into two different groups - the involved reader and the eclectic reader.

You don't just love to read books, you love to read about books. For you, half the fun of reading is the thrill of the chase - discovering new books and authors, and discussing your finds with others.

You read for entertainment but also to expand your mind. You're open to new ideas and new writers, and are not wedded to a particular genre or to a limited range of authors."

That was surprisingly accurate, wow.


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Thank you for joining us today, Killian! Remember to check out Killian's blog, Leaf On The Breeze, and leave a comment or question.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

MOVIE MADNESS: Better Than The Book


Welcome back to Movie Madness March!!  Today, we have special guest, Akilah from The Englishist, chatting about movies that are better than the book.  Read on, and enjoy!  And, don't forget to share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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Better Than The Book

Some people think that the book is ALWAYS better than the movie, but that’s just simply not true. There are movies out there that are better than the source material—either because they ramp up themes present in the original, streamline material, or reimagine the book in an entirely new way. Here are five that I think take what the books give them and turn out something even better.

1.  The Godfather (The Godfather by Mario Puzo)
The movie takes all the good parts of the book and leaves out all of the stuff no one cares about. I mean, does it really matter that the bridesmaid Sonny has sex with in the beginning of the movie has an extra large vagina and winds up in Las Vegas with Fredo? Of course not. (Also, yes, that’s mostly what I remember from the book.) In the movie, the focus stays on the Corleones and Michael’s transformation from war hero to don, and isn’t that all we care about, anyway?

Not to mention, everything good about the book that’s not in the movie (like Don Corleone’s backstory and, you know, how Fredo winds up in Vegas) shows up in The Godfather II (also better than the book).

2. The First Wives Club (The First Wives Club by Olivia Goldsmith)
The book is a lot more serious and a lot less fun than the awesome, awesome movie. Did I mention the movie is awesome? My mother, daughter, and I have watched it more than once. Love Goldie Hawn, love Bette Midler, love Diane Keaton. Love, love, love. The book is depressing and sad, and the movie manages to cover all the stuff the book does with humor and grace and is a wonderful testament to the power of female friendship.

3. Whip It (Derby Girl by Shauna Cross)
Honestly, there’s not a whole lot to say about the book than it serves as an outline of the movie (written by the author). Everything the book lacks–character nuance, character development, clear plotting, dialogue–the movie fills in. So my recommendation is to just skip the book entirely and see the movie instead.

4. The Wizard of Oz [1939] (The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum)
The book and the movie have so little in common that it’s almost not fair putting them on this list—well, the basic plot is the same. Dorothy does wind up in Oz and does befriend the Tin Woodsman, Scarecrow, and Lion; there are witches; and there are sparkly shoes. But that’s about it. Read the book if you want lots of beheadings and silver shoes and to learn about Midwestern hospitality in the 1900s. Watch the movie to see the stark difference between Kansas and Oz and to sing along to awesome songs.

I’m not saying the original is bad. I’m just saying there’s a really big emphasis on beheading and purposeless wandering and the movie is perfect in every way.

5. Legally Blonde (Legally Blonde by Amanda Brown) I couldn’t make it past the first chapter of this book (and the reviews on Goodreads and Amazon show that the people who did, didn’t particularly enjoy the rest of it). And while I wouldn’t count the movie as a favorite of mine, I would say the movie is far superior based on the fact that I could watch the whole thing. Plus: Elle Woods as portrayed by Reese Witherspoon. She is awesome.