Differently Great

(OR: ADAPTATIONS THAT CHANGE THINGS UP
WITHOUT SUFFERING FOR IT.)

When books are adapted for the screen, I tend to shove them into one of two categories, “faithful” or “rubbish”, and I suspect that this is a common trait among book lovers. After all, if I love a book enough to want to consume it as more than one form of media, I’m not likely to be happy about significant changes to the plot or characters (or even aesthetic, though that’s more forgivable, I think, as no two people are going to imagine something exactly the same, however well it’s described)… Of course, not all writing translates well to the screen, so changes sometimes really do need to be made – but this can often sour the opinions of the books’ biggest fans.

I’ve been thinking about adaptations quite a bit lately, as the release of the new Mortal Engines film inches closer and closer; it’s one of my childhood favourites, and so far I’m feeling optimistic about the adaptation (which I will absolutely be seeing at the earliest opportunity!), even if they do end up making some changes… So I thought I’d share with you some films (and a TV series) that I thought bucked the trend, and managed to be great in their own way, despite diversions from their source material. 😊

1) How to Train Your Dragon

More inspired by Cressida Cowell’s series of novels than actually based on it, this film retains the heart and main character of its source material, but changes basically everything else. I can’t think of anything specific in the books that would make these changes strictly necessary, but since the result was so fantastic, I don’t really mind… The two are different enough that it’s easy to think of them as entirely unrelated, to be honest, but it’s absolutely worth reading/watching both.

2) The Little Prince

The 2015 adaptation (available on Netflix, if you couldn’t tell from the thumbnail!) of Antoine de Saint Exupéry’s classic novel is actually remarkably faithful, but the original story only takes up about half of the film. A new storyline, where the book’s narrator is befriended by a new protagonist (a little girl who is rather more grown-up than one would expect from a child her age) plays out alongside the old one, to make a story-within-a-story that is incredibly well-executed. I couldn’t recommend this film more. 💕

3) Howl’s Moving Castle

Contrary-wise, fans of Studio Ghibli’s interpretation of Diana Wynne Jones’ novel (of the same name) might be surprised to know that parts of the book are set not in the fantasy world of Ingary, but in 1980s Wales, and that Howl is actually a Welshman called Howell, as this detail was cut entirely from the film. There are other (quite significant) changes as well, from the war that Miyazaki invented, to the modified roles of many of the supporting characters, and even the different aesthetic of Howl’s castle itself (described as a wizard’s tower in the book, but a beautiful steampunk monstrosity in the film) – but both versions are absolutely wonderful.

4) The 100

The CW version of Kass Morgan’s post-apocalyptic series The 100, is perhaps a slightly dubious addition to this post, as I found the books enjoyable, but not great. So I was very much in favour of almost all the changes that the TV series’ writers and directors made… and I also wouldn’t be at all surprised if die-hard fans of the books were less impressed by the adaptation. These changes, needless to say, are too numerous to list, but I did write a whole discussion post about them a little while ago, as I found it quite interesting spotting what changes were – and weren’t – made. You can find it here, but beware of (minor) spoilers.

5) Ella Enchanted

This last one  – which is a loose adaptation of Gail Carson Levigne’s Cinderella-retelling – is one that some people may argue against, as I know that the film of Ella Enchanted isn’t the most popular… but I really enjoyed it. It’s a much more light-hearted take on Levigne’s original story, and misses out a lot of important story moments, but is still great fun. It will likely appeal to a much narrower age range than the book, however.

Thematic Recs: Short Stories & Novellas

The end of the year is coming up quickly now, and I’m sure that many people – like me – are seriously behind on their overambitious Goodreads reading challenges. But fear not! I’m here to help, with some recommendations for really short, but still fantastic books for you to read! 😉 Obviously, not finishing your Goodreads (or equivalent) challenge isn’t the worst thing that could happen in a year (and I know I won’t finish mine, even if I read nothing but short stories from now until New Year), but seeing that shiny “COMPLETED” label always gives me a small sense of achievement. 😀

Yuri Herrera//Signs Preceding the End of the World1) Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera. This most recent novella that I read is a thought-provoking story about a young woman crossing the border illegally from Mexico to the US in order to find her brother, an illegal immigrant, and pass on a message from their mother. Despite its length, this is one of the most powerful books I’ve read in a while, and because I picked it up as part of the Library Scavenger Hunt, I’ve also posted a review – you can find it here. 🙂

Brandon Sanderson//Perfect State2) Perfect State by Brandon Sanderson. The tale of a man who has become the God-Emperor of his people, but is forced by the mysterious Wode to choose a partner and procreate. The woman he ends up choosing is at the very bottom of his compatibility list – a women’s rights activist – and the personality clash when they meet makes for a fascinating read. Additionally, this is another story that I’ve reviewed, as I read it during Booktubeathon this summer.

Rainbow Rowell//Kindred Spirits3) Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell. A World Book Day 2016 story about a small group of strangers waiting in the overnight queue to see Star Wars on its release day. It’s simultaneously adorable and hilarious, and I only wish there was some way that I could read more about these characters. 😀

Ursula K. Le Guin//A Fisherman of the Inland Sea4) Another Story OR A Fisherman of the Inland Sea by Ursula K. Le Guin. Rather on the longer side for a short story, this tale blends science, mythology and emotional drama in a way that pulled at all my heartstrings, and tells the story of a young man leaving for university on a planet far away from his own, and the difficulties he faces in keeping in touch over such long distances. I don’t think that this book is available on its own, but it can be found in both Le Guin’s A Fisherman of the Inland Sea anthology, as well as the massive time-travel compilation, The Time-Traveller’s Almanac (volume 1, for the curious). It’s also part of the Hainish Cycle, but it can be read individually.

Antoine de Saint Exupéry//The Little Prince5) The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Last but by no means least is The Little Prince, a novella that I’m sure you’ve all at least heard of about a pilot who crash lands in the desert, and there meets a little boy who claims to have come from an asteroid. Beautiful, poignant and touching, this story is known as a classic for a very good reason, and I only appreciate it more every time I re-read it. As a side-note, I watched the film adaptation of this recently, and it’s also fantastic; you should definitely check it out if you have access to a Netflix account.

August Wrap Up

Another month over, another load of books to tell you about~ and this was a really great reading month for me! Overall, I managed to read 9 novels, 4 graphic novels, 8 manga volumes, and 2 short stories, and 1 (amazing) picture book – and I even discovered a new favourite! 😀

Booktubeathon started before I managed to finish anything else, so the first eight books I read were all part of the challenge! I’ve already written mini-reviews for each of these, so I won’t say much about them here, but you can see my ratings and ramblings by clicking on the covers below:

Yumi Unita//Bunny Drop vol. 1 Sarah J. Maas//A Court of Thorns & Roses Marcus Sedgwick//Killing the Dead Winston Graham//Ross Poldark
Kate Beaton//Hark! A Vagrant Antoine de Saint Exupéry//The Little Prince Sarah Dessen//Saint Anything Cory Doctorow & Jen Wang//In Real Life

Emily Carroll//Through the WoodsThrough the Woods by Emily Carroll. A collection of scary short stories, in graphic novel form! First off, the illustrations for this book were amazing, with just the right blend of beauty and creepiness, and I don’t think this book would’ve been half so good without them. In terms of the story, I (thankfully) didn’t find them too scary myself, but I did still really enjoy them, and they were definitely chilling. People who scare easily might want to avoid this book!5 starsNoelle Stevenson//NimonaNimona by Noelle Stevenson. A graphic novel that follows the adventures of Lord Ballister Blackheart, supervillain, and his new shape-shifting sidekick, Nimona. I really loved this! The characters were all really interesting, the story was surprisingly deep, and the art style was incredibly cute. I just wish there was more of it! 😦4 starsShigeru Mizuki//Onward Towards Our Noble DeathsOnward Towards Our Noble Deaths by Shigeru Mizuki. A semi-autobiographical manga series, which tells the story of a company of Japanese soldiers stationed in Papua New Guinea during the World War II. After miraculously surviving a suicide charge, they’re told that they must perform another, since their deaths have already been reported. I wasn’t initially all that into this book, since there are a lot of characters, and it’s quite difficult to keep track of them all (despite the character list at the beginning of the book). But after I’d identified the most important characters, I found myself really enjoying it. Which is not to say that this is an enjoyable story – it really, really isn’t – but it is powerful, and very well-told. The art is really great as well, and the contrast between the realistic backgrounds and the cartoony character design is incredibly striking.4 starsYun Kouga//Loveless vol. 11Yun Kouga//Loveless vol. 12Loveless Volumes 11-12 by Yun Kouga. A manga series that follows a young amnesiac boy called Ritsuka, who – after coming to school one day to find his brother’s charred corpse at his desk – becomes involved with the mysterious Soubi, and gets dragged into the strange hidden world of Fighters and Sacrifices. It sounds intriguing, right? And much darker than you’d expect, judging by the cutesy artwork! Obviously, a lot has happened since the beginning of the series, but it’s still weird and wonderful, and I’m still loving it. I was a little lost at the beginning of volume 11, since it’s been a while since I last picked up this series (and I’m also pretty sure that I’ve skipped a couple of volumes somewhere along the line, so that will need to be rectified soon), but I managed to get back into it relatively quickly, and overall, it was a really fun read. 🙂4 starsRyuji Gotsuba//Sasameke vol. 1Ryuji Gotsuba//Sasameke vol. 2Sasameke by Ryuji Gotsubo. Another manga series, this time about boy called Rakuichi, a high school football player who’s recently returned home from Italy, having sworn off football for good – only to be dragged kicking and screaming into his new school’s football club. I had high hopes for this series – I read the first (bind up) volume of it several years ago, & I remember loving it – and first volume (which I re-read, as I couldn’t for the life of me remember anything that had happened) started off pretty well. But unfortunately it just got worse and worse as it went on… The characters were all either unremarkable or unlikeable and the storytelling was all over the place. I did like the art style, but it really wasn’t enough to make up for the sheer stupidity of the rest of the book. If you like sports manga, or football, then I’d advise you not waste your time on Sasameke, and just read Whistle! instead. Or Area no Kishi. Or Giant Killing. Or, really, any other number of far superior football manga – there are a lot of them out there.2 starsYumi Unita//Bunny Drop vol. 2Bunny Drop Volume 2 by Yumi Unita. The continuing adventures of Rin and Daikichi! This time featuring such exciting events as: Getting Rin ready for elementary school! The search for Rin’s mother! And Daikichi starting his new job! 😉 All jokes aside, this series continues to be adorable and charming, and I’m definitely looking forward to getting hold of the next few volumes!5 starsMatsuri Hino//Vampire Knight vol. 11Vampire Knight Volume 11 by Matsuri Hino. This series follows a student called Yuuki Cross, a prefect at the prestigous Cross Academy, whose duty is to keep the peace between the Day Class and the Night Class – who are all secretly vampires! At this point in the series, Yuuki is adjusting to life outside the Academy, and is still torn between her feelings for the pureblood vampire Kaname and the vampire hunter Zero. Vampire Knight is clearly trying very hard to break my heart with all it’s love-triangle drama, and it’s doing a very good job of it! I’m still firmly on Team Kaname, but Yuuki’s struggle over her feelings for Zero are super-painful (in a good way!) to read about!4 starsPatrick Ness//Monsters of MenMonsters of Men by Patrick Ness. The third and final installment in the Chaos Walking trilogy… Now I just have to get my hands on those novellas! Because I really, really want more of this universe. Obviously there’s not much that I can say about the events of this book, because of spoilers, but it was basically the perfect ending for this series. So many feelings! Such drama! And a surprising new protagonist, whose viewpoint was really interesting, too. Highly, highly recommended! 😀5 starsJuan Tomás Ávila Laurel//By Night the Mountain BurnsBy Night the Mountain Burns by Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel. A story that recalls the narrator’s childhood on a small, impoverished island in Equatorial Guinea, which was apparently based on the author’s own experiences growing up on Annobón Island. The book is written in an almost stream-of-consciousness style, which I found a bit frustrating, as it meant that the narrator never stayed on point for very long – and, in fact, I found it difficult to tell what the focus of this story really was: At several points, it seemed like there was going to be some kind of dramatic revelation about his mysterious grandfather, but it never materialised… That said, I did enjoy this book; the writing was beautiful and the setting was very interesting, as was the narrator’s outlook on the events of the book… If you were at all intrigued by my Teaser Tuesday post for this book, then it’s probably worth giving it a try. 🙂3 starsGeorge R.R. Martin & John J. Miller//Dead Man's HandDead Man’s Hand by George R.R. Martin & John J. Miller. The seventh book in the mosaic Wild Cards series, which I picked up for the Library Scavenger Hunt this month. Consequently, I’ve already written a mini-review for this book, so I won’t say too much about it here – only that I really enjoyed it, & I’m looking forward to reading more of this series! 😀4 starsJames Joyce//The Cats of CopenhagenThe Cats of Copenhagen by James Joyce. A short, playful letter that Joyce sent to his grandson in 1936, about how there are no cats in Copenhagen. I picked this up while I was at Waterstones, & read through the whole thing (it was really short) – and it was incredibly cute! The illustrations (by Casey Sorrow) were great, too, and managed to make me chuckle a few times, but I don’t have much to say about it otherwise…3 starsKate Beaton//The Princess & the PonyThe Princess & the Pony by Kate Beaton. A children’s picture book about an tiny princess who wants a proper warrior’s horse for her birthday. What she gets instead is a roly-poly little pony, with an unfortunate flatulence problem… 😛 I don’t often read books targeted at small children, but this one caught my interest because it’s by the same author/artist as Hark! A Vagrant, so I decided to pick it up anyway – and I’m really glad I did! It’s one of the cutest books I’ve read in years, with a charming story, and beautiful illustrations. Definitely recommended. 🙂5 starsKatie McGarry//Nowhere But HereNowhere But Here by Katie McGarry. The first book in the Thunder Road series, which centres around a motorcycle club: This story follows Oz, a teenage boy who’s grown up around the club and is hoping to join it, and Emily, the biological daughter of the club’s leader, who comes to town unexpectedly when she hears about her grandmother’s funeral. Naturally, what follows involves romance, and way more secrets than are good for any family… I remember when I was reading the first few chapters that my initial thought was how refreshing it was to be reading a Katie McGarry book where the heroine seemed to have a normal, loving, supportive (immediate) family. Then things progressed, and I realised just how mistaken that impression was. But regardless, I really enjoyed this book. Oz and Emily were both great characters to read about (and there were a lot of really great side-characters, too!), and I found Oz’s motorcycle club lifestyle interesting, if not particularly healthy… All in all, it was a great start to a new series, and I’m looking forward to reading more.4 starsJenn Bennett//Night OwlsNight Owls by Jenn Bennett. Called The Anatomical Shape of a Heart in the US, this book follows Bex – a teenager who wants to become a medical illustrator – and Jack – a notorious graffiti artist – who meet on the night bus. The story was both cute and touching, with some surprisingly dark moments; the characters were great, and their relationship was really fun to read about; and as the icing on the cake, the writing was brilliantly witty and engaging. I read this in two sittings, but it would’ve been one if only I’d started reading a little earlier in the day – I found it very difficult to put it down!5+ stars

Booktubeathon: Update 6 & Mini-Review

Antoine de Saint Exupéry//The Little PrinceJUST FINISHED: The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

The charming tale of a pilot who crash lands in the Sahara desert, and there meets and befriends a little boy from another planet, who tells him stories about his home planet and the people he’s met on his travels.

I’ve read this book several times before, and it seems that I like it a little more every time – there’s just something incredibly sad about it (the ending and the part with the fox always make me tear up a little), but at the same time, the little prince’s stories are so whimsical and lovely (and often quite philosophical, too!). 🙂

The main theme of the book is childhood, and the absurdity of the way grown-ups look at the world, and this comes across beautifully. A must-read for children and adults alike.4 stars

CURRENT READATHON STATUS: Much as ever.

Books Completed: 6
Pages Read: 1298
Challenges Completed: 6

BOOKTUBEATHON TIME!

Tomorrow is the start of the 2015 Booktubeathon, which I’m super-excited about, as you can probably tell from the capslock title~ 😛 Last year’s Booktubeathon (before I even started this blog) was my first ever readathon, and I had so much fun that I’ve been looking forward to this one ever since… And it’s finally here!

So, first of all, here are some handy informational links:

The readathon will be going on from 3rd – 9th August, and there’s no official sign-up, so it’s never too late to join in! And all the challenges are non-mandatory, so there’s no need to worry if you don’t complete them, or if there’s one that you just don’t want to do. I really enjoy them, however, so I’ve made a tentative TBR with each of the challenges in mind, which is as follows:

 Morgan Matson//Second Chance Summer1) Read a book with blue on the cover.

The book I’ve chosen for this challenge is Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson, which I’ve been meaning to read for a while. I find Morgan Matson’s writing style to be quite quick to read, so hopefully this won’t take me too long.

Marcus Sedgwick//Killing the Dead2) Read a book by an author who shares the first letter of your surname.

An author with an S-W surname would be a task to find, unless I wanted to read something by one of my relatives (which I don’t; they’re all dry, academic volumes on subjects I know next to nothing about). So I’ve decided to stick with “S”, and pick Killing the Dead by Marcus Sedgwick, which is the novella he wrote for World Book Day this year, so it’s very short.

Antoine de Saint Exupéry//The Little Prince3) Read someone else’s favourite book.

I asked my friend Chloë about this challenge, and her favourite book is The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, which works out quite well for me. I’ve already read it a couple of times, but it’s quite short – so it’s a good choice for a readathon – and I’ve been meaning to re-read it for a little while anyway, in preparation for the film… 🙂

Yumi Unita//Bunny Drop vol. 14) Read the last book you acquired.

The last book I got my hands on is Bunny Drop Volume 1 by Yumi Unita, which I bought when I was in London yesterday. I’ve also ordered a few graphic novels from the Book Depository, however (using the Booktubathon discount code!), so if they arrive today, then I’ll be reading one of them instead – probably Nimona by Noelle Stevenson.

5) Finish a book without letting go of it.

As I’ve got two very short books on my TBR already, I’ll be combining this challenge with one of the earlier ones, and reading either Killing the Dead or The Little Prince. Whichever is shorter (probably Killing the Dead).

Sarah J. Maas//A Court of Thorns & Roses6) Read a book that you really want to read.

What I choose for this challenge will depend largely on my mood at the time, but at the moment, I’m leaning towards reading A Court of Thorns & Roses by Sarah J. Maas, simply because I’ve been dying to read it since I bought it, and other priorities keep getting in the way… 😡

Sarah Dessen//Saint Anything7) Read seven books in total.

Winston Graham//Ross PoldarkSince I’ve only got five books on my TBR so far, I’ll be picking a couple more to finish up this challenge (that is, if my new graphic novels don’t arrive before the end of the week). And my most likely choices are: Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen, which is another one like A Court of Thorns & Roses, where I just don’t understand why I haven’t read it yet; and Ross Poldark by Winston Graham, a historical romance/social novel that I’ve been wanting to read since I finished watching the TV series~ 😛

I’m planning on writing mini-reviews for each of the books that I read, and I haven’t heard if there are going to be blog/video challenges in addition to the reading challenges this year, but if there are, then I will likely be posting some of them, too. So if all goes well, they you will be hearing from me a lot over the next few days! 😀

11 of the best books for children

The BBC recently came out with a list of the 11 greatest children’s books, as chosen by critics… And it’s an interesting article, but not one that I necessarily agreed with. For instance, I’m sure a lot of people remember Little Women fondly, but I personally found it unreadable when I was a child. And where are the Harry Potter books? So many people my age (myself included) only started reading for pleasure because of them, so surely that should earn them a place on the list! 😦

Anyway, I thought I’d try my hand at making my own list, as a counter to theirs, and I’d really love to hear what you consider to be the best children’s books, too! (And, for the record, when I think of children’s books, I think of the kind of books I would’ve been reading in primary school, so there won’t be any teen books on the list – though I know that, technically, they still count…)

Lemony Snicket//The Bad Beginning11) A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

An incredibly creative series of books about a trio of orphans trying to solve the mystery of their parents’ deaths, whilst simultaneously being pursued by their distant cousin, the nefarious Count Olaf, who’s after their inheritance.

Dr. Seuss//Green Eggs & Ham10) Green Eggs & Ham by Dr. Seuss

A book that’s most famous for having been written using only 50 words, to settle a bet between Seuss and his publisher over whether it was possible to write a book with so few words. It’s a simple story about somebody who doesn’t like green eggs and ham.

Maurice Sendak//Where the Wild Things Are9) Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

The story of a boy who, after being sent to bed without supper, finds himself on an island inhabited by monsters, who make him their king. An amazingly-written book, with great, atmospheric illustrations, and themes of anger and growth.

J.R.R. Tolkien//The Hobbit8) The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

My favourite book as a child, this tells the story of an ordinary gentlehobbit called Bilbo Baggins, who is manipulated by the wizard Gandalf into going on an adventure with thirteen dwarves, in order to reclaim their homeland from a dragon. Probably one of the best pure adventure books ever written, though some people find Tolkien’s writing prosy.

David Almond//Heaven Eyes7) Heaven Eyes by David Almond

Skellig is the most critically-acclaimed of David Almond’s books, but my favourite has always been Heaven Eyes, which is about a group of friends who escape from their orphanage on a raft, only to find themselves stuck in a bog not too far down the river. They’re rescued by a strange girl called Heaven Eyes, who lives in the boggy island with her grandfather.

Roald Dahl//Matilda6) Matilda by Roald Dahl

Matilda is raised by her abusive parents and brother, and is constantly bullied by the awful Miss Trunchbull, the headteacher at her school. But through her own wits, she manages to forge a happy ending for herself and her friend, Miss Honey. A wonderful story about friendship and resourcefulness.

Dick King-Smith//A Mouse Called Wolf5) A Mouse Called Wolf by Dick King-Smith

There are a lot of Dick King-Smith books I could have chosen, but the one I remember most fondly is A Mouse Called Wolf, which follows the tiny Wolfgang Amadeus Mouse (named for Mozart, naturally), who has a great love for music, and becomes the world’s first singing mouse.

J.K. Rowling//Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone4) Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

This series really needs no introduction, as it’s famous worldwide, and for good reason! Reading about all Harry’s adventures is the best kind of escapism, and these books left millions of people wishing for their very own Hogwarts letters.

Antoine de Saint Exupéry//The Little Prince3) The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

A pilot stranded in the desert meets a prince from a small asteroid, who tells the tale of his travels on different planets, and the people he met on the way. This book is sombre, but incredibly touching, and all about childhood, and the strangeness of grown-ups.

C.S. Lewis//The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe2) The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

The tale of four siblings, evacuated to the countryside just before the second world war, who find another world by climbing into a wardrobe, and are tasked with saving Narnia from the White Witch. A great story about family, friendship, and loyalty.

Frances Hodgson Burnett//A Little Princess1) A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Sara is made to become a servant at her elite boarding school, after her father dies, leaving her with enormous debts to the school, but she is able to make the most of her situation, befriending the school’s other servant girl, as well as, and keeping her spirits up through imagination and storytelling.