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Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Top Five Wednesday: Top Actor/Actress Portrayals of Characters

Seeing your favourite book characters on screen (whether TV or cinema) is a funny thing. You build up a specific picture in your head of what that person is like, what they look like etc, and if the actor chosen to play that character doesn't quite fit, it can really throw you out of the story you're watching. That's why I think good casting is very important!

I actually don't think what the actor looks like is too important, in my opinion it all rests on the performance, so as it stands, my top five page to screen portrayals are:

1. Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter series

This was a beautiful performance. I hated Umbridge so much in the books I had to put the book down at times and take a few deep breaths! Staunton manages to play her in a way that translates that hatred right onto the screen and I love her for it.

Speaking of villains...

2. Louise Fletcher as Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

This is another performance that makes me want to throw something at the screen. She's just so vile and yet so fabulous to watch!

3. Wallace Shawn as Vizzini in The Princess Bride

I tend to enjoy Wallace Shawn in any of his performances (He's also the second DS9 actor on this list!) and I just think he's brilliant in this film. Inconceivable!

4. Ian McKellen as Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films

Do I need to expand on this one? Just glorious.

5. Benedict Cumberbatch AND Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes in various adaptions

Ok, I am incapable of cheating on these lists, but I CANNOT choose between the two! Rathbone was always Holmes in my head when I read the books and he is certainly my Victorian Holmes, but Cumberbatch is just brilliant in that part and made me believe that you could make a decent modern day adaptation of Holmes, so he has to go on this list too.

Join the Top Five Wednesday group! It's fun!

Monday, 5 May 2014

April Book Haul

First of all, I must apologise for not updating the blog for a few weeks. I have been extremely busy at work and I have hardly had any time for reading, let alone writing a blog post!

However, my busy month did not stop me from buying more books, so here is my April book haul!

So, from the bottom up, I bought:

1. The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North

This is about a man who keeps re-living his life. He dies as an old man, then goes back to the start of his life; retaining all of his memories of all the previous lives he has lived. I've only just started reading this so that's about the only synopsis I can give you right now, but I'm really enjoying it so far. The premise is just so interesting! 

2. The Book of You by Claire Kendal

When I was in Waterstone's paying for Harry August the woman behind the counter said to me "Oh I've just finished reading that, it's brilliant! You should read The Book of You as well, it's really good!" Well, seeing as I am a sucker for a recommendation and the book was sitting right next to Harry August, I picked it up in there and then. It's about stalking. That's all I know. 

3. If I Stay by Gayle Forman

This is another one with a really interesting premise. The main character is in a car crash and is given the choice to go to heaven or to go back down to Earth. I think there's a film being made of this one at some point too. 

4. The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel

This is a factual book about the wives of the Apollo space mission astronauts. I sounds really interesting and I found it in The Works for under £3 so I thought it was worth a go! 

5. Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

I have heard so many people talking about this one and it sounds fantastic. I ordered this one from Amazon US as I couldn't find a UK release date and I am impatient. It's about a girl who has to go to Oz and kill Dorothy, who has become a tyrant. 

6. Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins

This is another one YouTube made me buy. It sounds like it has a bit of a Buffy The Vampire Slayer vibe about it so I think it'll be fun. 

7. Paris Revealed by Stephen Clarke

I am desperate to go to Paris this summer so I bought this to get in the mood. It seems to be an anecdote type book talking about the city and its inhabitants. 

8. Thirteen by Tom Hoyle

This is another "I like the premise so I'll pick it up" buy. It's about a boy who was born on the stroke of the new millennium and is the target of a cult that believes boys born on that date should die before their end of their thirteenth year.

and finally:

9. Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

A love story told from the point of view of a zombie. I'll be honest, I picked this one up because it took the price of my Amazon order up to £10, and I'd much rather spend money on books over shipping costs. I've not seen the film but it sounds like a fun read. 

What about you? Did you get any good books in April?

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Book Review: A Million Ways To Die In The West

Synopsis from Goodreads:

From the creator of "Family Guy" and director of "Ted" comes a hilarious first novel that reinvents the Western. 
Mild-mannered sheep farmer Albert Stark is fed up with the harsh life of the American frontier, where it seems everything and anything can kill you: Duels at high noon. Barroom brawls. Poisonous snakes. Cholera-infected drinking water. Tumbleweed abrasion. Something called "toe-foot." Even a trip to the outhouse. Yes, there are a million ways to die in the wild, wild West, and Albert plans to avoid them all. Some people think that makes him a coward. Albert calls it common sense. But when his girlfriend dumps him for the most insufferable guy in town, Albert decides to fight back--even though he can't shoot, ride, or throw a punch. Fortunately, he teams up with a beautiful gunslinger who's tough enough for the both of them. "Un"fortunately, she's married to the biggest, meanest, most jealous badass on the frontier. Turns out Albert has just discovered a million "and one" ways to die in the West.

I ended up enjoying this book more than I thought I was going to, actually. If you're expecting Family Guy set in the Wild West you'll be disappointed, but this is a funny book and it is actually quite sweet in places. I found the characters to be likable and the situations did make me laugh out loud at times, although there were one or two jokes that I suspect will translate better onto the cinema screen than they did onto the page.

I really enjoyed the characters of Edward and Ruth. Ruth is a prostitute in the saloon bar but her and Edward are in love and are "saving themselves" for each other and for marriage. They are a very sweet couple and while a lot of their humour comes from the fact Ruth's job is not exactly the most innocent of careers I found myself really rooting for them and their relationship. I also enjoyed the main character, Albert, who spends most of his time being thoroughly grumpy about the fact he is living in the frontier with all of its dangers. He is a coward without being an over the top comedy "chicken" type character, and you can't really help thinking sometimes that if you were in his place, you would make the same choices he does.

This is a book by Seth MacFarlane, so expect there to be some off-colour jokes and this is certainly not a book for children or the easily offended, but if you're in the mood for something silly, you might want to give this one a try.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Top Five: Book Quotes

The topic for this week’s top five Wednesday is top five book quotes. I love this topic but it was so hard to narrow it down to just five! I went with the top five that came to my head, otherwise I’d be thinking about it forever and never write it down!

Here’s my list:

1. “Life’s great happiness to be convinced that we are loved”
Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

2. “Of course it’s happening inside your head, Harry, but why on Earth should that mean it’s not real?”
J. K Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

3. "In the beginning, the universe was created. This made a lot of people very angry, and has been widely regarded as a bad idea."
Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

4. “Imagining the future is a kind of nostalgia. (...) You spend your whole life stuck in the labyrinth, thinking about how you'll escape it one day, and how awesome it will be, and imagining that future keeps you going, but you never do it. You just use the future to escape the present.”
John Green, Looking for Alaska

5. “In that part of the book of my memory before which little can be read, there is a heading, which says: ‘Incipit vita nova: Here begins the new life’.”
Dante Alighieri, La Vita Nuova

And a bonus quote that I thought was appropriate:

“Maybe our favorite quotations say more about us than about the stories and people we're quoting.”
― John Green

Top Five Wednesday

Monday, 7 April 2014

Book Review: Requiem


Requiem by Lauren Oliver is the third book in the Delirium series.

I usually don't like books that are told from more than one perspective when written in the first person, but I did actually enjoy it here. Requiem is told from the perspective of Lena who is living outside of Portland with the resistance and then from the point of view of Hana who has been given her cure and is living in Portland preparing to get married. It was interesting to see what it like to be someone who had been cured, although Hana did seem to have worries about whether or not she had actually been cured properly or not.

I also thought that love triangle between Lena and Julian and Alex would annoy me; I'm not the biggest fan of love triangles, but this one I actually feel added to the story. I found myself changing my mind several times over who I thought Lena was best suited to, and I liked that Lena did not just suddenly start treating Julian like dirt just because Alex was back on the scene. I also liked that Coral did not instantly become "The Enemy". 

I am still not sure how I feel about the book's ending. I just felt like there was so much left to be resolved that I was beginning to wonder if the series was actually going to be in four parts! Now I do realise that sometimes an ambivalent or an open ended climax to a story can be a good thing, I just felt like the ending to Requiem was rushed and a little unsatisfying.

Having said that, I do think the series as a whole was enjoyable, and well worth a read. I just think the ending was a little disappointing.

If you've read Requiem, what did you think? Did you think the ending was well done or not? Why?

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Top Five Wednesday - GENRES

This week's top five topic over at Top Five Wednesday on Goodreads was your top five genres, so in no particular order, my favourite genres to read are:

1. Dystopia

I suppose dystopian fiction is more of a sub-genre than a genre, but I love reading them so much that I had to to include it here.

2. Fantasy/magical realism

I'm not a fan of the high fantasy genre, really. There are exceptions, like I enjoyed the Lord of the Rings but for the most part, I prefer fantasy that takes part in a recognisable world, like Harry Potter, or the Rivers of London series (have I talked about those books enough yet?!)

3. Science Fiction

I am certainly a fan of sci-fi in television; I grew up in a family of Trekkies!

4. Comedy

Sometimes you just want to read something light hearted that will make you laugh – especially after all those dystopian books I like to read! And speaking of comedy that leads us onto number five...

5. Discworld

Yes, yes, I know the Discworld series is not a genre. But it should be. Those books are wonderful; funny and creative and always extremely enjoyable.    

Who knows, maybe one day I'll be able to do a list like this without cheating! 

What about you? What are your favourite genres?

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten "Gateway" books

This week's topic for "Top Ten Tuesday" over at The Broke and the Bookish was "Gateway Books", so books that helped you along your reading journey, in whatever form that is.

Here's my list:

1. The Harry Potter Series by J. K Rowling

These are the books that really got me into discussing books with other people online. I remember when we first got the internet installed in my house and the first thing I asked my dad was “Are there Harry Potter websites?” There actually weren't that many at the time (giving away my age now) but there soon were lots and lots and waiting for each book in the series to be released and talking for hours with my friends about what we thought was going to happen was amazing. Goblet of Fire is also the first book I ever pre-ordered!

2. The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13¾ by Sue Townsend

I have mentioned this book before and I'm sure I will mention it again, but it is a very important series to me! This is the first book I ever had to repurchase in hardback because I read it so many times it literally fell apart!

3. The Princess Bride by William Goldman

This is the first book I read where I actually preferred the film adaptation. Only slightly, but I do think the film is a little more fun than the book!

4. V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd

This is the first graphic novel I ever bought. I went to see the movie with some friends having no idea what the film was about and loved it so much I went straight out and bought the graphic novel!

5. Les Misérables by Victor Hugo

The first book that made me cry. I love this so very much.

6. Automated Alice by Jeff Noon

The first book I ever bought just because I liked the cover. It was very cheap and I'm a sucker for anything Alice in Wonderland and bought this without even reading the blurb! It's been years since I read it but I remember enjoying it very much.

7. The Last Unicorn by Peter Beagle

The first book I bought online because I could not find a copy in store for love nor money.

8. Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

Seriously, why does this series not have a fandom?! This was the first book that my friends and I found ourselves discussing almost as much as we had with the Harry Potter series. I am so excited for the next book coming out in July!

9. Looking for Alaska by John Green

This is the book that got me back into reading contemporary after so many years. I had stopped reading anything that didn't have some sort of fantastical element or science fiction or something like that, but then I started watching the Vlogbrothers back when they were doing their Brotherhood 2.0 project and I had to pick up John Green's books to see what his writing was like! I loved this and it made me forgive contemporary and realise that just because it doesn't have a dystopia, doesn't mean it's boring!

10. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (no picture because I don't actually own a copy!)

This was the first classic that I really enjoyed and couldn't put down. I love Jane and her sensible attitude to what happens to her. I love the myustery of the attic and the writing style is just beautiful.

What sort of books would be on your list?