Tag Archives: Harry Potter

Weekly Reader No. 1

So, I have this problem. I’ve been reading tons and tons of books and feeling very guilty about not writing reviews on all of them. After all, what is the point of book blogging if I read and don’t blog?? However, I’ve been on a major reading binge ever since school got out and the idea of sitting down to write reviews on all the amazing (and some not so amazing) books that I’ve been reading, just seemed like a bit much. Also, when I read this way I get a huge backlog of book reviews. So I’m going to try posting things that I’ve read from week to week on Mondays. If I feel like a book needs a lengthy review, I’ll write it but most books are going to get a few sentences. For the purposes of this format, we are going to go to a simple five-star rating system (regular reviews will still use the regular blog system).

 

89507-hp5The week started with a reread of the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. I used to reread all the time. I love the thrill of going back to something familiar. It’s like visiting an old friend from college. You rehash the same stories with a joyful air knowing exactly what will happen. You catch greater nuance and discover things you never knew but it still has a comfort level that a new book simply misses.  This time through the books, the complexity of the relationship between Harry and his muggle family stood out to me most. Petunia and Dudley in particular.  I do wish that we had seen Dudley standing on platform 9 and ¾s during the epilogue. It would have been poetic justice.  I love going back to visit this world and will always wish that Rowling would go back to her magical world. While I’m excited to read her latest, nothing will ever quite compare to Harry Potter. Rating –  ★★★★★

 

I had a bit of book hangover after reading that series. I couldn’t seem to pick up anything for a couple of days. Finally I settled down and dove into VIII by H.M. Castor. A fictional retelling of the life of Henry the VIII which was exactly the kind of thing I needed to get through my Harry Potter book hangover. So often historical fiction about his reign comes form the point of view of one of his many wives. It was interesting as the author strove to get inside his brain. I think what I found most interesting was all of the politics that went on with his first marriage. This book would be a great starting point to create interest about Henry the VIII. Rating – ★★★★

 

I have a love/hate relationship with Charles de Lint. I love some of his stuff and simply can’t get through other things he writes. I think it’s largely me. I’ve picked up some of his Newford stuff and loved it. However I tried to get through Dreams Underfoot, the first book and I simply couldn’t do it.  Sadly this one went back in my library bag, mostly unread. I might return to it at some point. I think I just picked it up at the wrong time. I hesitate to rate it right now but I rate everything so… Rating – ★

 

I’m not a judge a book by it’s cover kind of girl, but this one is lovely.

I’m not quite done with The Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White but should finish in the next hour or so.  I have a feeling I know exactly where this book is going and I think I’m going to enjoy getting there. I love the idea of looking at Egypt’s mythology as the focus. So far the main character is very enjoyable to read and the author captures the idea of not fitting in anywhere in a somewhat simplistic but sincere manner.  While it is definitely light reading, it is entertaining. Rating – ★★★

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Filed under historical fiction, Review, Sci-Fi/ Fantasy, Teen Book review

Top Ten Tuesday: Best/Worst movie adaptions of a book

Top Ten TuesdaysBest and Worst movie adaptions of a book, otherwise known as the longest Top Ten Tuesday post ever. I love this topic because it is one that I find myself constantly complaining about. I cannot stand it when great books have to suffer bad adaptions. It is just sad to see something you love be tortured and twisted into something completely different from the author’s intention. However, there are times when it goes so well that you want to thank the writers for not screwing it up. I don’t know that I’ll be able to stop at ten but I’ll try.

Best Adaptions

1. The Twilight Saga Breaking Dawn – I know that many are scratching their heads right now. A Twilight movie? Really? I say yes and here is why. Somehow the writers were able to stay true to the book and manage to shock the audience all at the same time. This one makes the list for the ending confrontation sequence on its own. I have never seen a book adaption that was able to make me mad one minute and applauding the next. I kid you not. Applause broke out in my theatre when we figured out what was going on. Not only was it a shock but it stayed with the story (in an unexpected way) AND it threw everyone for such a huge loop that you didn’t have time to guess what was going to happen until they were showing you that they had in fact messed with you completely.

2. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy – I loved this series because it had the guts to stay true to the original work as much as possible while not making the movies so painfully long that no one could sit through them. Then they went back and made them longer for home release so that  people could see most of what was missing! It was a brilliant way to make the fans happy while making a profitable movie. It also earned them more money by creating two versions of the movies. I have all three of the extended editions of the movies sitting on my shelves and love watching every minute of them.

3. Harry Potter and Sorcerer’s Stone – I add this one because of all the movies, this one holds truest to the books. It tells the story faithfully and builds a level of trust with the audience that they were going to need in order to get the audience to stick with them over seven more films, including the one that is on my list of worst movie adaptions ever made.

4. The Princess Bride – Don’t bother reading this book. Really. We all love the movie and there is a reason that it differs so much from the original material. I rarely say this about a book but this is not one to encourage someone to read after hearing that they absolutely loved the movie. While there isn’t anything really wrong with the book, it is so vastly different from what ended up on the screen that most readers will be disappointed. The book has a much different audience than the movie as well. I think it’s a great adaption because they took the source material and turned it into something completely new. The book as it was wouldn’t have made for a good movie. The screenwriter here did a masterful job!

5. The Green Mile – I think this one ends up on the list simply because it is one of the most faithful book to screen occurrences that I have ever encountered. I finished reading the book and then watched the movie in the same sitting and was pleasantly surprised to find out exactly how accurate they were to each other. I really appreciated the accuracy because I don’t think the story would have been as good if they had left things out.

6. The Silence of the Lambs – Yep. Had to be said. This was a great adaption of a truly chilling story. Not for the faint of heart but definitely one worth seeing and reading. I hesitate to include the sequels simply because I think that they missed something that the first movie had. The only one that even came close for me was Hannibal and they completely ruined the ending. They should have filmed the book ending. I know I’m one of the few but I actually liked the book ending so much better than the drivel they created for the movie. Silence was by far the most faithful to the original material and while some of the others had some truly chilling scenes, this one started it all.

7. A Requiem for a Dream – Okay, I’ve only seen this one once. I don’t think I could ever watch it again. It is incredibly disturbing and is full of mature content due to the issues it deals with. However, due to is powerfully redemptive qualities, I think it is one that must be mentioned. While the book does a good job of dealing with the issues that come from drug addiction, the movie takes another step into the confusion and lengths addicts will go to in order to get their fix. This one doesn’t shy away from anything and so it is not one that most people will find appropriate to view due to it’s extremely graphic nature. This is the ultimate PSA about drug use. Unfortunately it is so graphic that many people will never watch it.

8. The Hunger Games – I thought long and hard before including this one on the list. While it was a really good movie, they made some serious mistakes that will be hard to fix. There are entire characters missing and plot points that were not included that needed to be there. The whole thing about the Mockingjay is so wrong. They really needed to leave that bit of the story alone. If you haven’t read the book you don’t know that there is a vital character completely missing from the movie. However, they did an amazing job of communicating how bleak their lives are outside of the Capitol and how horrific the games are. The other thing that bothered me was the mutts at the end of the movie and how they left out the most horrific detail behind them. That being said, I walked out of the theatre after seeing that movie and it stayed with me in a powerful way, the way a good movie should. So I think that it is overall a wonderful adaption, even though there a couple of things I would have done very differently.

9. The Wizard of Oz – I can’t leave this one off the list. Yes I know all the issues but I simply don’t care. It’s a classic for a reason. It is also one that should never be remade. You can tell other stories from Oz or show other perspectives but this one simply shouldn’t be touched.

10. 10 Things I Hate about You – Didn’t realize this one was an adaption? Yep! The source material is Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew and this tale simply hits it spot on. I’m a big fan of Rom-coms in general but this one is great. it is one of the best examples of taking a classic tale and making it modern in the best sense. It maintains the original feel of the story while making it matter to a modern audience. Add Heath Ledger to the mix and it is an automatic win.

Worst Adaptions

1. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – This movie cut so much out from the original story that it felt completely rushed and like half of the story was missing. It is the worst of the Harry Potter movies in my opinion and one I wish could be completely redone or at least added to. it really needed some serious help. The fans wouldn’t have cared it if was even another half hour in length if it had felt more relaxed in its pacing and hadn’t skipped large chunks of the story. I want an extended version of this one so we can see all the missing pieces.

2. Beautiful Creatures – This one failed simply due to horrific casting. Lena was one of the worst casting decisions I have seen made in recent film history. This movie is supposed to be exciting but I fell asleep in the middle  because it simply was missing any emotion. You cannot do a good film adaption of a book if you don’t get the main characters right. It simply doesn’t work. Add to that the fact that there were entire characters missing and you’ll wish they would have left this one alone.

3. The Lightening Thief – This could have been awesome and it just wasn’t. It was a great book and the movie was just cheesy. It had some decent moments but overall it was so bad that I’m shocked they are doing the second one. I hope they don’t mess this one up as much as they did with the first one.

4. The Count of Monte Cristo – I absolutely love this book. I am an advocate for the unabridged version if you can get your hands on it. The movie however completely twists everything. It isn’t even the same story. The ending is completely off base. Major characters are missing completely and it’s just cheesy. This one is one of those books that deserves a serious movie adaption, not something loosely based on a great piece of literature that is a massive farce.

5. The Time Traveler’s Wife – Eric Bana. Yep. That and half of the story was completely missing. I was so disappointed in this one.

6. Eragon – I loved the book. Loved it even more when I found out exactly how old the author was. The movie looked like it was directed by a kid though. It missed every bit of magic that the book contained.

Remember when all the fan girls screamed at this image??

7. Twilight – I know that the last movie in the series made the best list but honestly this one simply is completely off when compared to the other movies in the franchise. Yes I know it suffered from a tiny budget and that they had no idea how it would explode but the poor filming is just painful when compared to the rest of the films.

8. The DaVinci Code – I love Tom Hanks. However, this was completely the wrong role for him. There were so many other great choices but nope. Tom Hanks gets the main character role. I knew it was doomed when they made that announcement. When I found out that Ron Howard was directing, I cringed and decided that I would wait until it hit on DVD. I was glad that I didn’t pay money to see this one.

9. A Wrinkle in Time – Someone please make a good movie version of this book because the book is amazing. The movie is so bad. It could be this amazing creepy dark masterpiece with an amazing redemption type ending. Instead it’s cheesy and not worth watching. Read the book guys, avoid the movie.

10. The Hobbit – I saved this one for last and the main reason is that while this could have been amazing, turning this into three movies is just painful. I can understand two but three? Really?? I fell asleep in the middle of the  first installment and I can’t see myself paying to go see the rest. I’ll wait for the DVD and probably until they are all done so I can get through the whole story at once.

I know this post is crazy long but what would you add (or delete) from my lists?

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Filed under Book Worm's Obssessive lists, Top Ten Tuesdays

The last Twilight film….

Anyone else who thought this scene was hilarious?

Okay, so anyone who had read this blog for any length of time knows that I have a very large soft spot for the Twilight series. I know that many people out there can’t stand this series for one reason or another. For me, I think what caught my attention was the fact that it was such a refreshing change at the time from everything I was reading. I had never read much teen or young adult fiction when I was a kid. I went straight from kid books to heavy hitters like War and Peace (which I read for the first time at the age of twelve). While I love serious literature, sometimes you just need something light and fluffy. A good read that you can just enjoy without having to work your brain to death over it. (Don’t get me wrong, I love that stuff too, I just need a balanced diet). I found that most adult material written that way was either so filled with ‘adult material’ or so boring and formula that it wasn’t really worth my time.

Jake and Nessie

When I discovered YA fiction through Twilight, it was like I was reading something tailor-made for me at the time. No sex, fun stories and simple reads. As a teacher by the time I got home, I wasn’t really up to reading something difficult. I really found myself gravitating towards this genre simply because it allowed me an escape that I had time for. Nothing since the Harry Potter series had really captured my imagination without being overly serious.

The end of the Twilight series movies meant that I would no longer get anything new from this first trip into YA fiction. I was so excited to go see the movie. So much so that we bought tickets for the marathon. My best friend and my husband spent the whole day with me watching all of the movies in order. It was nice to get a refresher on the series and it was a great build up to that final movie.

For me, the love of these movies is seeing everything I’ve read play out in front of me. I’m not a big fan of the actors for the most part and I have a great imagination. I also love comparing the original books to the movie. Everything was going great for the most part until the big confrontation with the Volturi. (If you haven’t seen it yet, stop reading here… spoilers ahead). I was bummed that they didn’t do more with Bella and Jenks. I found the whole encounter one that really highlighted how much Bella had changed from that timid girl in the first book. I was all ready from this big conversation that turned into basically nothing except A very frustrated Aro. I was shocked when I saw Carlisle’s head in Aro’s hand. Then I couldn’t believe when more people were picked off one by one. I was literally halfway out of my seat ready to walk in anger from the theater. Then the big reveal happened and I was clapping with the rest of the audience. Yep, the film maker got everyone in the audience in one of the most well done ‘got ya!’ moments I’ve ever seen. By the end credits, besides the major flaw in Alice seeing Nessie and Jacob’s future I was completely satisfied and felt like it was complete.

Now I’m looking for a new book or series to capture me in a similar way and am eagerly awaiting the arrival of The Host in theaters.

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Filed under Book Worm Rant, Review

Book Review: The Casual Vacancy

Click image to purchase

Book: The Casual Vacancy

Author: J.K. Rowling (yes, that one) 😉

Recommend: The writing was great, the plot however… not so much.

I’ve been dying to read this simply because I had to know what an adult by her would be like. If you’ve followed my blog for any time at all you’ll know that I’m a big fan of Harry Potter. I put this book on request at the library though because I didn’t want to put money into something that was just awful. I was slightly concerned that this book would just not have the magic (pun only somewhat intended) of the YA series.

Within the first five pages you knew we weren’t in a magical England anymore. These characters were as mundane (dare I say muggle) as they come. The whole book centers around the death of the head of their town council which creates a shift in the balance of power in their small town. Everyone is dying to get their foot in the door but soon the long-buried secrets of those running for office are being exposed for the whole town to see and it puts the whole town in an uproar.

Let me start with the positives. I wasn’t sure she would be able to write believable, honest characters that were fleshed out enough for adult readers. I was so very wrong. The characters, major and minor flaws proudly on display are complex and have quite a bit of depth. Rowling is the master of character creation and that was the only thing that kept me going.

The plot however, was just disappointing. First of all, this is small town England politics. My immediate thought was who cares and continued along those lines for the entirety of the work. Second, there is nothing truly exciting in the plot. Most of it is just dull and sad. Honestly it was a bit too real for me. If I wanted to hear about people with horrible home lives I would just go to work. Seriously, as a teacher this is a whole lot of what I hear all the time. I found the whole thing petty and just not deserving material to write a book about.

Now, the truly sad. Honestly there is quite a bit of language and some adult material in this book. It is mild in comparison to some things I’ve read but honestly it is almost completely unnecessary. We know you aren’t writing for kids here. You don’t need swearing, sex and drug use to convince us.

All in all, the characters were well-formed but I wished they had been doing almost anything else. Really glad I didn’t purchase this one. I hope her next book is for kids or at least about something more interesting.

Final Rating:

Get it free

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Filed under general fiction, mature themes and subject matter, mystery, Review

Book Review: City of Lost Souls

Book: City of Lost Souls

Author: Cassandra Clare

Recommend: Worth reading if you’re a fan of the series. I swear this author just loved to torture her two main characters.

The latest book in the Mortal Instruments, a YA series,I’ve been wanting to get my hands on this one since it came out. A friend loaned it to me and as soon as I got through a couple of books that were pressing on my pile, I dived in. I had been waiting over a year to find out what happened to the male lead and how they were going to save him and so I couldn’t wait to get started.

Jace is being controlled by Clary’s brother. She does everything she can to try to find him. When they can’t, will she do the unthinkable and join her brother just to be with him again or will she fight, knowing it could be the end of the person she loves?

This was a great read. I still think that the last two books just don’t have the power of the first three. They are still a great read, but something is missing. I love how prolific this author is though. With two series going simultaneously, it seems we get a new book in each every year. I really can’t imagine waiting two years for this one!

Also, for more conservative readers, this author does include characters that are homosexual and are seen in a positive light. The author also chooses to allow her teen characters to be sexually active. While these scenes are not like reading an adult romance novel, they are rather suggestive. While this might not pose a problem for adult readers, some parents may not find this material appropriate for their teens.

This week the first images from the upcoming movie based on the first book of the series were made available. While I don’t know if this series will reach the level of Twilight, The Hunger Games or Harry Potter, I think it will draw a very large fan base. I personally can’t wait to see it!

This is the 5th book in the Mortal Instrument series, which starts with City of Bones. You can read my reviews of the previous books in the Mortal Instruments series here.

Final Rating:

Get it new!

Buy it new 🙂

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Filed under 2012, Review, Sci-Fi/ Fantasy, Summer book challenge, Teen Book review

Book Review: The Tales of Beedle the Bard

The British cover (the version I own)

Book: The Tales of Beedle the Bard

Author: J.K. Rowling

Recommend: To anyone who has read the Harry Potter books.

I have been wanting to read this for quite some time but when I found a British copy on the shelves of my used bookstore for 3 bucks, I finally picked it up.

American Cover

While it was a very short and simple read, I felt like I was reading the works of the Grimm brothers with a magical twist. Even more so than the tales, I found the ‘commentary’ by Dumbledore even more entertaining. For those who have read the last book of the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the commentary on the story of “The Tale of the Three Brothers” is particularly entertaining simply because he holds back from telling the whole truth, even though the readers already know it. It creates this sense of reality that the simple truth never would have.

The version I wish I had

The only negative I found with buying this book second-hand was that the money from the resale doesn’t go to the foundation that got a part of the proceeds from the original sale. I might have to go make a donation since I’m getting all the enjoyment without the foundation getting any benefit.

I definitely recommend this one to any Harry Potter fan. It was a great diversion. It makes me want to go back and read the series again.

Final Rating:

Get it new!

Buy it new 🙂

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Filed under 2012, Children's book review, Review, Sci-Fi/ Fantasy, Summer book challenge