Saturday, 24 January 2015

Favourite Book to Movie Adaptations

These days it seems like books are made into movies so quickly that it's hard to even have a chance to read them first. I'm already a bit gutted that I've watched The Drop (book by Dennis Lehane) before having a chance to read the book - but it was that good that I will definitly be reading it at some point.

I'm definitly a book first, movie second kind of person. Reading gives me the chance to develop the characters in my head myself and explore a lot more of the story before seeing a directors take on it. With so many great book to movie adaptations I thought I would pick out my favourites - these are all books and movies that I find hard to pick a favourite format over.

Bridget Jones Diary by Helen Fielding. This will forever be one of my favourite, most funny and loveable characters in my book collection. When it comes to the movie I really think the cast couldn't be better with the original Mr Darcy played by Colin Firth and a smug Hugh Grant playing Bridget's boss and love interest Daniel Cleaver. I think I've watched and read the book and movie in equal measures!

High Fidelity by Nick Hornby. Failing record store owner Rob Gordon takes us through his top 5 failed relationships, if only to prove that his most recent relationship breakup hasn't effected him. John Cusack captures Rob's character as a redeemable arsehole pretty perfectly and although the book is British and the movie American this book to movie adaptation is perfect.

Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote. I know how much people harp on about this iconic movie and the lovable gamine Audry Hepburn but the book is truly sublime. Holly Golightly's character is truly as sparkly and delightful on the page. If you are a fan of the movie you must pick up the book as it's too good not to get lost into.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I was a bit skeptical that the movie could be as good as the book as The Book Thief was one of my favourite reads of 2013 but I could quite happily watch and read both over and over again.

What are your favourite book adaptations that you think transitioned to to the big screen perfectly?

**This will be my last post for a few weeks as I'm about to embark on a wee holiday probably sans convenient internet connection. I'll be back posting at the beginning of February, in the meantime take a look at the archives section or the most popular posts if you're after some good reading recommendations!**

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

The Non-Fiction Bookshelf

Reading #Girlboss last year was probably one of my first forays into reading a non-fiction book (if you don't count ones I was forced to read at School or when I was studying) and has actually made me a little more interested in reading more from this extremely vast category. Here are three books that have piqued my interest into reading more non-fiction:

I Quit Sugar by Sarah Wilson. I'm quite intrigued about the concept of quitting sugar for good as in theory it sounds fabulous. In reality I like my coffee with a good sprinkle of the white stuff and there are always a few treats to be had in the form of biscuits or chocolates in my house. But the reality is that the more I learn about sugar the less I like the sound of it in my diet. Maybe this book will give me the kick I need to be a little bit healthier?

Stuffocation: Living More With Less by James Wallman. Even though I know stuff doesn't make a person happy it's still a hard habit to break out of not wanting more of things I don't necessarily need. This book takes a look at the psychology behind owning too many unneeded things and how it is actually making us unhappy.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain. I watched a TED talk by Susan on the same subject and it really resonated with me. As an introvert, although one who does like a variety of extroverted qualities such as parties and teamwork, I've always felt like it's not considered okay to be a quiet person. Our world places so much value on being loud and extroverted (which is needed) but sometimes to the detriment of those of us who aren't like that. I'm really intrigued to read her take on why we should value introversion just as much.

Do you have any non-fiction titles on your want to read list?


Sunday, 18 January 2015

The Bedside Table Stack #4

I'm pretty excited about some of the books that are cluttering up my bedside table at the moment as two of them have been on my must-read list for ages. Take a look at my rather diverse range of books that will be appearing in review form over the next month or two:

Landline by Rainbow Rowell. Georgie McCool is supposed to be visiting her husband's family for Christmas in Omaha but when her job as a TV writer forces her to stay in LA to work, her husband unexpectedly packs up the kids and heads home without her. Georgie wonders if she has strained their relationship for good but she might just have one last shot at patching things up.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I mentioned in my very first post on this blog that this book was on my reading list and can I just say how pretty is that book cover? Anyway, Doerr took ten years to craft the story of two children, one French one German whose lives cross in German occupied France.

The Collected Works of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. This is the type of book that people who love books will love. Amelia is a book rep who visits AJ Fikry's Alice Island book store on a seasonal basis. A baby called Maya is left abandoned on AJ's bookstore floor and he has no clue as to what to do with it.

Pretty Honest by Sali Hughes. If like me you have often found beauty books to be entirely useless then perhaps you might want to pick up this book. It's filled with words, lots and lots of them! and with Sali's background in journalism she knows what she is talking about.

Dark Aemilia by Sally O'Reilly. Also a book I picked out in my very first post, Dark Aemilia mixes magical realism with historical fiction (my two favourite genres) richly imagining Shakespear's muse and lover the poet Aemilia Lanyer.

Have you read any of these titles?

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Book Review: What Alice Forgot By Liane Moriarty

If you're looking for a fantastically easy to read summer novel and one that's not only well written, funny and engaging then I suggest you stop what you are doing and head to pick up What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty. This is the first novel of Moriarty's, an Australian author, that I have had the pleasure of reading and I can't wait to check out more of what she has to offer. So, onto the good stuff!

Alice has an accident at the gym one afternoon and after rather seriously hurting her head, has lost all memory of the past ten years of her life. In fact she thinks that the year is 1998 and that she is turning 30 and is pregnant with her first child to her husband Nick. In actual fact it's 2008, Alice has three children and is in the midst of a bitter divorce and custody battle with her husband.

For the first week after her accident Alice is like a stranger in her own life. She can't remember the births of any of her children or even who they are or how to behave like the suburban yummy mummy everyone is telling her she was. As Alice starts to piece together clues about who she has become over the last ten years she discovers how much she has changed as a person. In some ways 'new Alice' (as she refers to her almost-40 year old self) has changed for the better - she's developed a backbone, likes to exercise, is organised and volunteers regularly for her children's school. On the other hand she doesn't like any of new Alice's friends, has become bitter towards her husband and is forcing her children into all kinds of extra school curricular activities that they hate.

As glimmers of Alice's memory begin to filter back to her Alice has to decide whether her new found perspective is enough to change the relationships that once mattered to her. What Alice Forgot is a reminder that sometimes people can get onto the wrong paths in life but it's never too late to go back.

Liane Moriarty has such a way with writing characters, that even the supporting cast of this book felt like they were well fleshed out - her sister, husband, mum, stepdad and children allow us to glimpse parts of what Alice's life had become. There is a great deal of humour to this book that I really enjoyed peppered with enough heartache in the characters stories to offer a deeper connection.


Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Thoughts On Abandoning 'Bad' Books

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I have a habit of hating to abandon a book even if it is taking months to read. If I've read the first chapten and I'm not digging it I'll carry on in hope that there's a hook in chapter three just waiting to pull me in. Well 2015 must have been the year I subconsciously decided to curb my habit. With so many books on my 'want to read' list (and wanting to post reviews of ones that I have actually finished) I've decided I ain't got time for bad books.

Unfortunately the first book I was reading this year I decided to abandon. Not a great way to start off the year in books if you believe that whole 'start as you mean to go on' malarky but as I said, time is a 'waisting and actually my reading pile has some really good titiles on it. The abandoned book in question was Temple by Matthew Riley which had been suggested by a friend of mine as a great read, but after about two hundred pages I just couldn't stand it any longer. When I read the back of the book it had real promise to me. It sounded like a cross between Dan Brown and Indiana Jones and who doesn't love a little bit of action and adventure during their holiday period?

I've never read any of Matthew Riley's novels before but the over-descriptive writing style of Temple just really started to do my head in. Every object is described in great detail and sometimes even twice which was really distracting. Adjective stuffing is one thing that I'm getting quite pernickity about and I'm pretty sure Temple could have been about fifty pages shorter if half of the unnecessary descriptors had been taken out.

The second and final thing that lead me to abandon Temple was the action. Now, I know there are some books that are best enjoyed by leaving any sense of realism at the door. But. It was when the hero of the book survives riding on the roof of an SUV down a swollen Peruvian river which then crashes into an army helicopter while simultaneouly being attacked by caymans and black panthers that I decided to give this story a pass.

If you have read Temple by Matthew Riley let me know your thoughts (and should I have given it a second chance?) and tell me if you like to stick with a book that isn't working for you or do you throw them away with wild abandon?!

Sunday, 11 January 2015

January New Release Books

If your New Years resolution was to do more reading why not check out some of these new release
books for January?

Unbecoming by Rebecca Scherm. On the outskirts of Paris, Grace had made a new life for herself. She calls herself Julie, tells people she's from California and restores broken items for a living. Every evening she checks her hometown paper online, searching for news of two men who have just been paroled for a crime she planned herself.

The Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins. Rachel commutes each morning on the train and each morning she passes a couple breakfasting together on their deck. When she witnesses something happen, Rachel reports it to the police but quickly finds herself immersed in lives of those involved.

The Magician's Lie by Greer Macallister. Amazing Arden is the most famous female illusionist of her day. After performing her famous trick of sawing a man in half, Arden's husband is found dead under the stage and she is taken into custody. Arden has one night to convince the police that she didn't do it. Is it innocence or smoke and mirrors that policeman Virgil Holt is seeing?

Rodin's Lover: A Novel by Heather Webb. Behind every great man is a great woman - aspiring sculptor Camille Claudel becomes lover to Auguste Rodin and inspires some of his most applauded work. When Rodin's career begins to outshine her own Camille's passion for Rodin turns into something obsessive and dangerous for both involved.

The Season of Migration by Nellie Hermann. Another famous artist is brought to the page, this time the early life of Vincent van Gogh. van Gogh travels to the Borinage region of Belgium on a spiritual mission but what he experiences in this desolate place changes him and teaches him of love, suffering and beauty in a way that the gospel never could.

First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen. The Waverley sisters are heir's to an unusual legacy - a tree whose fruit bears magical properties to those who eat it. As the temperatures drop and autumn arrives the first frost of the year will test the sisters in different ways. When a meddlesome stranger turns up the sisters must look for a way to hold their family together through the first frost.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult is the story we've seen unfold before but never represented in the way that Picoult has framed for us. In the opening chapter, seventeen-year-old Peter Houghton wakes up one morning and packs his bags for school. Rather than pack the usual text books and stationary, Peter packs two sawn-off shotguns and two pistols as well as a home-made pipe bomb to prepare for a rampage on Stirling High School.

Ninteen Minutes isn't just the story of a school shooting, but a deeper look at how the way we treat people has consequences and that we all have a role to play in shaping people's lives. In true Jodi Picoult style this book has no real heroes, rather that each character is explored and their flaws laid bare. Picoult even takes us back seventeen years before the events at Stirling High School, unfolding Peter's family and childhood to paint a backstory of how he committed his terrible crime.

Growing up Peter is an awkward and unpopular child who has only one friend Josie Cormier. As they reach middle school and Josie is welcomed into the popular crowd, Peter loses his only friend. Over the course of his life at school Peter is constantly bullied, ignored and made fun of until he decides to seek his revenge.

I enjoyed the way Picoult divided the story between different points of view including Josie, her mother who is also the judge sitting on the case, Peter's parents and the detective who is working the case. While Picoult is trying to explore each of the characters, Peter's didn't seem to fit with that of a violent kid who would go on to commit mass murder.

Also I couldn't help but see the character of Josie Cormier as being very one dimensional. She chose to hang out with the popular kids who she hated and her dick-head boyfriend because if she wasn't popular then she would get picked on. It's like the whole school was divided into 'jocks' and 'nerds', when I think the majority of high schools are just filled with normal teenagers.

All in all I think Nineteen Minutes is a book which is well worth picking up at least for the ideas the Picoult is trying to put forward. 

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Author Discussion: Jodi Picoult

Having just finished reading Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult I was going to include her as an 'author of note' for this month. However on closer review of some of her past books I realised that I have quite mixed feelings about some of her novels. Therefore this months Author to Note has been turned into an Author Discussion, lets address the good and the bad shall we?

If you love reading about topics that spark debate, thought and tackle big ideas than Picoult is a must-read. She's also an author who loves exploring complex ideas from multiple points of view. There always seems to be so much more to her characters than just good or bad, as Picoult prefers to shows us her characters faults as well as their strengths. I always feel that her books encompass the many shades of grey that issues in life often are rather than being black or white.

Many of her books would be great recommendations for a book club or just for a read that makes you think and I'm always left questioning the outcome of her novels. For better or worse I do love a book that makes me question the characters and their actions. What I love about her books is that the story is never quite as straight forward as you first think, there is always some twist at the end to keep you guessing or a revelation that completely changes your view of the characters she portrays.

The not so good part? Sometimes I feel if you've read one Jodi Picoult novel you may as well have read them all. (Nineteen Minutes I think is an exception, if you are going to read one read that!) Her novels can be very formulaic and seem to always include a suffering mother who doesn't always make the right decisions for her family, a courtroom drama and an annoyingly convenient love story that distracts from the main point of the book and doesn't really add anything of value.

Here are my favourite Jodi Picoult picks:

Nineteen Minutes: In nineteen minutes the lives of the students at Sterling High will never be the same again as 17-year-old Peter Houghton unleashes a massacre on his fellow students. There's no doubt as to his role in the shooting but the students and teacher who died that day were not the only victims.

My Sisters Keeper: Anna is conceived to save the life of her sick sister Kate. By age thirteen she has undergone multiple surgeries and become almost as sick at times as her sister who has leukemia. When Anna is asked to donate a kidney to her sister, a major operation with serious side-effects Anna decides to fight for her right to control her own body, a move that will tear her already broken family apart.

And in my opinion one to avoid:

Keeping Faith: In the middle of her parents divorce seven-year-old Faith White starts hearing divine voices, developing a stigmata and the ability to heal people. In the midst of a custody battle, Faith is thrust into a media circus surrounding whether her abilities are real or not. I actually really liked this book until the ending which pretty much clarified nothing for me!

What do you think of Jodi Picoult's novels - are you a fan or not?

Sunday, 4 January 2015

2015 Book Blogging Goals

Aaaaand with the New Year comes the making of new resolutions. Honestly I've never been a big resolution person but this year I thought I would share a few of my goals to see me through 2015. Although I didn't start my blog until mid way through 2014 the whole point of me starting it was to get back into reading again in a big way. Even in my slump I was still reading a little bit but I'm really stoked that I have rekindled my love of a good book. So, in 2015 I would like to:
Improve my photography: In the last six months I think I've already upped my standards from some of the photos I first took and published on here. I don't have a fancy camera (in fact I use my boyfriends tough camera which isn't actually designed for taking lovely closeups) but I would really like to try taking a more well-thought-out photos.

Read different genres: I'm a sucker for a good historical novel or contemporary fiction but not a whole lot else. There's nothing wrong with sticking to the tried-and-true but this year I would like to read more YA fiction, classics and maybe even a bit of futuristic sci fi fantasy stuff, that's really out of my usual reading comfort zone.

Step up my design game: Okay when it comes to the look of my blog there's still a hella lot to be desired. I'm hoping to make some changes and do a bit of a spruce up of the design around here while still having it look 'me'. I love the look of really clean well laid out blogs with a small pop of colour, but am yet to find any templates that fit the bill, the search continues!

Get planning and organised: I would love to post more often than three times a week but this is really where being more organised and planning comes in. At the moment I can handle my blog schedule but I don't want to feel like I have to publish a post just for the sake of it. Making myself an editorial calendar and getting an actual diary to keep track of what I'm writing is top of the list of my organisational goals.

Do you have any blogging goals for 2015?

Thursday, 1 January 2015

2014 In Reviews

Woop, weclome to the first post of 2015! While you're nursing that hangover I thought I would put together a little 'year in reviews' post for any great reads you happened to miss out on in 2014.

Part of the reason I started my blog this year was to get back into the habit of reading and I am so happy that I did for two reasons: There are so many new books and authors I've discovered this year through book blogging that I probably wouldn't have otherwise and not only have I enjoyed getting back into the swing of reading a lot more I also love sharing my thoughts on books with anyone who will listen! Although I only started this blog halfway through the year, here you can take a look at the best books I reviewed in 2014:

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes A little book with a big heart, Me Before You is definitely one of the most thought provoking and heart-wrentching books I had the pleasure of reading this year. An easy read that will stay with you long after you've finished the last page.

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith JK Rowling's books under her psuedonym are getting better and better and The Silkworm had me hooked until the very last page. I can't wait to follow on the story of Detective Strike and his capable assistant Robyn in their next case.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. Don Tillman is probably one of my favourite characters to have come across this year. His mix of adorable and annoying offbeat personality will make you fall in love and drive you bonkers at the same time. My reading list for 2015 has The Rosie Effect firmly at the top!

How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran.I've been a fan of Caitlin for years and years. Her Times columns are some of the funniest I've ever read so it's a wonder that it's taken me this long to read How to be a Woman. But, the wait was worth it as this is one of the funniest books on feminism that I've read ever. I love her no bullshit approach to feminism and couldn't stop laughing all the way through.

The Miniaturist by Jesse Burton. A stunning debut novel The Miniaturist had me cheering for the young bride Nella as her miniature cabinet causes things to get pretty weird in the Brandt household.

Frog Music by Emma Donoughe. One of the standout historical novels for me during 2014, Frog Music was really a lot of fun to delve into and I loved the character of Blanche, a French dancer who tries to solve the mystery of her friends'.

#Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso. I don't often delve into the world of business books but #Girlboss is unlike any that I've ever read. A kickarse inspiring read from a young woman who has certainly got her stuff together. Sophia delivers some straight shooting advice to all us 'special snowflakes' who need it.

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. A beautiful book about an unlikely friendship between a young girl and the concierge of her apartment building. A book to make you smile and to cry.

Longbourn by Jo Baker. This was a standout novel for me this year. Featuring the characters from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Longbourn takes us behind the scenes of the Benett girls lives and into the daily happenings of the servants below stairs. I literally had trouble putting this book down.
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