Posts filed under ‘Review’
Awesome Adaptations is a weekly bookish meme, hosted at Alisa Selene’s books blog, Picturemereading. Each week she writes about an adaptation of a book that she think is worth seeing and has challenged herself to come up with suggestions to match a category. Any format (television series, film, web series, etc.) is acceptable as long as it is based in some form on a book. Today I’m participating in An Awesomely Stylized Adaptation.
Recently I reviewed Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman which I listened to as an audiobook and it was read by Gaiman himself. I really enjoyed the story. I thought his commentary on the people who fall through the cracks in society was timely, engaging, and I really like that he took it to a fantastical level instead of a breaking, on-the-nose type of literary commentary. I liked the tone of the story, how it was quirky and dark at the same time. I also felt like I gained a lot of insight from how Gaiman read the book.
Right after I finished the audiobook the BBC announced they were doing a dramatization of the book with several well known actors playing the main parts. Gaiman scored a voice over part or two himself. It is a six part adaption the novel adapted by Dirk Maggs. James McAvoy plays Richard and the voice over cast also includes Natalie Dormer, David Harewood, Sophie Okonedo, Benedict Cumberbatch, Christopher Lee, and Anthony Head. I enjoyed this dramatization of Neverwhere. I thought it carried over the same dark and fantastical themes as the original source material. It was quirky and thought provoking. There were some exposition points by the actors that did not flow as well as the original prose by Gaiman and at times McAvoy over acted his voice acting. Overall I thought it was a wonderful adaptation that stayed fairly true to the original writing and exhibited the same dark world that Gaiman created, but I would recommend also reading or listening to the book and not just relying on this stylized adaptation to give you the story Gaiman unleashed to the world. (I found the mp3 files here if you weren’t able to listen to them when they made it on to BBC4 Radio iPlayer.) Richard and Door in cartoon style.
I found some lovely fan art doing my review and writing up this post. Including Marc Brownlow’s illustration of Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar. A character study of the main characters in the book. Pencil(?) illustration of Lady Door. Even some cosplay of Lady Door.
I’ve had my palm read twice. The first time was an elderly black woman Willie Jean, a self proclaimed psychic. She lived in a huge store front where she gave readings and lived in a built in loft in the back. Her house was full of stuff. Mostly yellowing newspapers and garbage. One summer she was hospitalized for a time and a group from the neighborhood went through her house and cleaned it up so that when she got back she wouldn’t get some kind of infection. I still have paint splatter on a pair of my jeans that are from helping paint the kitchen walls yellow and Willie Jean’s.
I was visiting my Mom in Chicago, before I moved out here, and we went over to visit with her and bring her food. I was sitting next to her on the couch and she kept eyeing me with interest. Without warning she snatched up my hand and pressed her fingers into my palm. I was a tad startled and my mother just explained that Willie Jean read people by the …vibratations?… feeling their palms. I just wondered if I was supposed to pay for a reading I didn’t really want.
What did she tell me? “You have a sweet soul, but you have a lot of learning about life to do.” I was 21 at the time, and none of this came as a surprise.
The second time I had my palm read, it was also against my wishes. I must send out some kind of energy that entrances people who like to read palms, I really don’t know. I was working with this . . . quirky guy Danny (honestly, quirky is the nicest way to talk about him. I have other Danny stories that are far more ridiculous than this) a scrawny white guy who wore shirts that were two sizes too big and was trying to make it in the acting business. He asked to read my palm. I told him, No thank you. Several weeks later he grabbed my hand and told me that my “creative line” was really strong and curved sharply. That I should watch out because I had an overactive imagination. Again, not much of a surprise to me.
Danny also once tried to rearrange my aura. He literally was pulling at the air around my head until I told him to stop. I said I wanted my aura the way it was. That I was contemplating something and that just because he wanted my aura to be brighter and happier didn’t mean I did and he should leave it alone. (Ask me some other time about the birthday sex conversation I had with him.) Oh Danny.
I guess Richard Mayhew never had these experiences with quirky people when he was younger because when an old woman reads his palm one day and tells him that his life will begin with Door, he is slightly freaked out and fails to listen to her.
When Richard Mayhew stops one day to help a girl he finds bleeding on a London pavement, his life is forever altered, for he finds himself propelled into an alternative reality that exists in a subterranean labyrinth of sewer canals and abandoned subway stations. He has fallen through the cracks of reality and has landed somewhere different, somewhere that is Neverwhere. Blurb from GoodReads
I checked out Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman via my library’s helpful audiobook selection and got the unabridged, author’s preferred text edition, that is read by the author himself. Why preferred text? What does this mean? Well, I found an explanation about previous publisher going under and Gaiman having to get a second publisher for his story. I’m really glad I got the audio book, it is a story that renders itself well to being heard and experienced as a listener to an accomplished storyteller. Gaiman has an excellent speaking voice, is a good voice actor, and hearing the story from the author was one of the best parts of this audiobook. I’m slowly becoming one of Neil Gaiman’s most devoted fans. I say slowly because my TBR pile is huge and it is taking me a while to get to some of his books that I’ve been meaning to read for years. I read The Graveyard Book as an introduction to his work and was eager to get my hands onto more of his stories. (I’m also a huge fan of his wife! They are an awesome couple!) The minute I started listening to Neverwhere I was entranced.
Richard Mayhew is kind of an Everyman. He life takes a sharp turn toward the weird and he falls down the rabbit hole. At the bottom of that hole is a deep well of water and it takes him a while, but eventually Richard learns to swim among the treacherous waters. I like Richard’s transformation across the story, it is subtle, but by the end Richard has been changed by his adventures. All he wants is to get back to his normal life, but in the end he discovers he isn’t so normal himself. The girl he meets is in all kinds of trouble and drags Richard along with her. Door is strong, smart, and cunning. She also uses people to get what she wants. But in a straightforward kind of way, that I must applaud her forthright attitude and actions. She gets stuff done, she makes the moves on the chessboard she needs to, and she fights for what she wants. The side characters in this book are just as delightful, and every single person serves a purpose to move the story in a unique direction. Gaiman’s prose and storytelling are masterful.
I also like how Gaiman writes stories that discuss greater human themes in subtle and engaging ways. Neverwhere is about the people who fall through the cracks of society and gives them their own world and universe. Humanizing the homeless man sitting on the street corner and showing us how we fail to see all of humanity as we pass by it. He does this without preaching, he does it with out pointing it out, he just makes his comments about society fall at the right moment from the right person onto the page of his story.
Guess what! I’m a guest over on Picture Me Reading today, where I join Alisa and Aidan during their Book Club Extra audio discussion. I’m a huge fan of both Alisa’s Picture Me Reading blog where she illustrates her book reviews and Aidan’s Chair With A Panda blog where he reviews Doctor Who television episodes, movies, and tie-in books. [Edit: I forgot that I had this set to publish at 8 this morning and I needed to go in and add a couple of things. Sorry about that! All if fixed, enjoy!]
Today we discuss books that deal with death. One of my picks even has Death as a character, Neil Gaiman is discussed more than once, and one of my favorite shows Dead Like Me about a girl who works as a Reaper. You can listen to our discussion by clicking this link.
Below are our picks and links to reviews, other audio discussions, and even a post about a book signing of one of the authors! A lot of links, a lot of fun, you can now waste your whole morning here.
Alisa: Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, Death- The High Cost of Living (Sandman Series) by Neil Gaiman (Alisa is planning to reread these and review them!), and Everbound by Brodi Ashton (Alisa went to a book signing where the author was on a panel)
Aidan: Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens, The Pardoner’s Tale by Chaucer (Canterbury Tales), and Mort by Terry Pratchett (Aidan is a fan of Pratchett and discusses Hogfather’s adaption with such delight I put it in my Netflix queue).
After hearing a lot about Divergent by Veronica Roth when it first came out and then again when Insurgent hit the shelves, I decided to track down a copy. My lovely friend Wendy let me borrow hers and I found it to be a fun YA dystopian novel with some interesting world building.
In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.
During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves… or it might destroy her. (Synopsis from Veronica Roth’s website)
I absolutely adored that this was set in Chicago. I also really liked that she set it in the future so she could mess with the landscape as she felt she needed to, but keeping some of the major places, like Navy Pier and the giant Ferris Wheel, as landmarks. I thought the different Factions were interesting. The brain washing that went on was pretty intense and really messed with the kids’ heads. I’ve seen that kind of fanaticism at work and it is real and it can be scary. I understand why people have a problem with the fact that there seems to be no real separation of the factions, and it seems that there is no point to them really. But coming from a fanaticism perspective, from my religious upbringing, I can totally see how people are taught to be in the world but not of the world. Where they are taught that you can walk side by side people and despise them and refuse to interact with them.
I also really liked Tris as a main character. Her dilemma seems a little strange to me. Which faction to choose? . . . But, everyone has a choice no matter what their tests are, so why wait until the last second to make a decision you’ve known all your life is coming? Sure, she gets thrown for a loop with the the whole secret thing she learns after getting tested, but that doesn’t actually play into any of her decision making, at all. It doesn’t seem to influence her choosing which faction nor how she interacts with her new family. I mean, if you know maybe you are smarter or better at something than you should be, why wouldn’t you dumb yourself down to not get noticed? Tris is strong and smart, but incredibly naive. Perhaps her prerogative, being someone half my age (gah!). But I learned at a fairly early age that in order to interact with society I had to set aside some of who I am to fit in. Perhaps, in a perfect world, I shouldn’t have to, but I do not live in a perfect world. (Except on the internets, where I’ve built my own world and community.) And neither does Tris. Perhaps this is her biggest fault, believing everything she has been taught, the good and the bad. It takes her a really long time to realize that perhaps she should question some of those teachings and hold back some from the people she is supposed to be able to trust, but maybe shouldn’t.
I was quite taken with all of the tattoos. In fact, I plan on getting a span of flying birds across my back. One bird for each of my siblings and I. When I can afford to do this, I don’t know. But I definitely want to. I think it will go well with the moon goddess on my right shoulder. The start of a night sky on my back!
I really like Four, I liked him better than Tris. He was less naive, but still hopeful. He understood how to interact with his society and what it meant to have a secret. He also was subversive in his tactics and getting away with what he could get away with. I love sneaky characters in books. Mayhaps that is because I can be a rather subversive person myself. I definitely related to his character far more than I related to Tris. I liked their subtle romance which was built on interactions and conversations and wasn’t solely based in INSTALOVE.
One additional problem I had with the book is that it definitely felt like a first book in a series. I understand the author knew she would be able to explain more in further books, but some of the back history of Tris’ family came out of the middle of nowhere and then went nowhere. It was very abrupt and I feel like, if the author had to explain that in this book and not rely on a second narrative, some of the story lines in Divergent would have been tighter and a bit cleaner.
In a nutshell, Divergent is the story of a girl who leaves the comfort of all that she is known to face scary people, a physically demanding lifestyle, and some problems Tris never new existed with her perfect society. She must find the answers to her questions before her secret is discovered.
A while ago, Scott from Bad Guy Films contacted to tell me about a new webseries he created, Hitman 101. Basically he just wanted to let me know it existed if I wanted to check it out. It took overly long for me to do so, and for that I do apologize, to Scott and you all, because it is an engaging, excellent webseries about the life of a Hitman that I do think some of my readers will quite enjoy.
I like the main actor a lot. Georgie Daburas plays the Hitman. He is really good and I like that he doesn’t overplay his role or tap into stereotypes of “Bad Guys.” When he meets a girl at a coffee shop and starts to like her, his face softens and goes all cute and vulnerable. A very sweet and entrancing moment to watch. It doesn’t hurt that he’s quite a cutie. The rest of the characters are also well written, though some of the other actors do seem to play the stereotype rather than the “real” person. Perhaps that is the direction the show was going for, and it works OK as he plays the “Straight Man” Hitman to their caricature of people from that world. I thought the production value was fairly decent, though some of the night shooting turned kind of green from the lights near where they were filming. I really liked that there were a lot of different locations, that doesn’t happen very often with webseries.
I’ve seen four episodes so far and enjoyed them all. The first two are basic set up for the series and character, but the third one is when the action really starts. Including some fighting. I liked the different fighting styles that were portrayed and the different moves executed. However, pretty sure in a real fight they would all have ganged up on him at once and not taken him on one-by-one. But that tends to happen a lot of in visual story telling. Still, a really cool scene.
I also enjoyed the simplicity of the plot. Hitman 101. It’s all in the title. The life of a Hitman, and what he goes through when things do not go as planned. Of course there has to be drama, of course things go wrong, but he’s a smart and engaging character and it is definitely a fun series. Do check it out.
After reading the Downside Ghosts series and really falling in love with the universe that Stacia Kane created I decided to see if I would like her Megan Chase series about a psychologist who sees people’s personal demons, for realzies. I actually read the second book first because it took me a while to track down a copy of Personal Demons. But believing I may have missed something important I went back and read the first book. While I do like this series, it didn’t quite capture my attention like the Chess Putnam books which I tracked down like a person searching for crack cocaine. Also, unlike the Chess Putnam series, reading it out of order didn’t really matter. I actually figured out the first book from reading the second book, it was sort of like watching a rerun and catching a few new things I hadn’t seen before. Actually, the first book got a little hokey and I think the second book was a better story.
Megan promises listeners to her new radio call-in show that she’ll “slay their personal demons,” and they believe her. So do the personal demons… although she doesn’t know it, Megan is the only human without a demon on her shoulder! Megan and her allies – a demon lover who both protects and seduces her with devilish intensity, a witch with poor social skills, and three cockney guard demons – have to deal not only with the personal demons, but a soul-sucker, ghosts of Megan’s past, and a reporter who threatens to destroy Megan’s career! Synopsis from GoodReads.
I like Megan, she is completely different from Chess and perhaps a bit easier to relate to on some level because she works a regular job, until she picks up a radio career, she has relationship troubles, is trying to find balance with her work and life, and really doesn’t want to believe that demons exist and that she has a connection to the supernatural world. What gets a little frustrating is that she doesn’t want deal with her responsibilities and she puts herself and other people in danger. I mean if there was suddenly a supernatural aspect to my life, I would know how to deal with it. I could chop up zombies, salt ghosts, punish demi-demons, what have you. While Megan admits to being a psychic and uses her ability when helping patients, she still wants to stick her head in the sand when it comes to her responsibilities to the demon world.
I did like the steamy sexy male lead, Dante. I think because of her erotica background, Stacia Kane writes some of the best sexy times I’ve read in the UF genre. She writes connections (and not just the physical kind) between the characters, so that even though the male characters are not always the most educated or the best with saying their feelings, by the way Kane writes their physicality and the couples connection it’s hard not to fall in love with the male lead as you read. Dante has The Brothers (of some monster background) guard Megan, and honestly they were my favorite part of the book. Their interactions with Megan verses how they interact with the world were such a juxtaposition that it was kind funny to see it all play out.
A fun sexy demon book, Personal Demons is more than just a romance it is also about one woman’s journey of self discovery of her powers and abilities. Will she be able to master them in time to deal with all the crazy in her life?
I got Lament from the library because I was on a definite Maggie Stiefvater kick earlier this year and having finished her other books decided to go back to some of her earlier work and read her faerie series. The book had some definite Stiefvater elements with the fun characters, interesting relationship problems, and a bit of magic to pull it all together.
Sixteen-year-old Deirdre Monaghan is a painfully shy but prodigiously gifted musician. She’s about to find out she’s also a cloverhand – one who can see faeries. Deirdre finds herself infatuated with a mysterious boy who enters her ordinary suburban life, seemingly out of thin air. Trouble is, the enigmatic and gorgeous Luke turns out to be a gallowglass – a soulless faerie assassin. An equally hunky – and equally dangerous – dark faerie soldier named Aodhan is also stalking Deirdre. Sworn enemies, Luke and Aodhan each have a deadly assignment from the Faerie Queen. Namely, kill Deirdre before her music captures the attention of the Fae and threatens the Queen’s sovereignty. (Synopsis from GoodReads)
I like how Stiefvater’s background in the arts really plays into her characters. They always say, Write what you know, and while I don’t know that Stiefvater has ever seen a faerie, it is clear she has a passion and a gift for the arts because her artistic characters are always really grounded in that reality no matter what crazy supernatural stuff is happening around them. I also really liked the different faerie creatures that Deirdre sees, they were interesting and had unique personalities and came into the story with defined back stories which you could tell just from the way they interacted with the world. I also found Deirdre’s family’s past information extremely interesting. The relationship she has with her aunt and her aunt’s relationship to her mother where all really well played out in a way that was different, as it too is based on supernatural stuff, and grounded in the reality of sibling relationships and family dynamics.
My only concern is that this is again with the Insta Love. But that just seems to be a hallmark of Stiefvater’s writing, so I probably should quit complaining since I’m in love with her work otherwise. I did think it interesting that there were also the element of the main character befriending someone she didn’t think she would befriend, similar to Grace and Isabelle’s relationship in the Wolves of Mercy Falls series. While there are similar elements between the series, the characters have different personas and unique challenges and the stories are very different from one another.
Lament is a great opening to a series about family dynamics, relationship problems, and one girl’s discovery that she can see the things that crawl through the night.
Guess what! I’m a guest over on Picture Me Reading today, where I join Alisa and Aidan during their Book Club Extra audio discussion. I’m a huge fan of both Alisa’s Picture Me Reading blog where she illustrates her book reviews and Aidan’s Chair With A Panda blog where he reviews Doctor Who television episodes, movies, and tie-in books.
This week we discuss Stories from Multiple Perspectives (click the link to listen to the audio discussion) talking about three books where this plotting device is used and how it affects the story telling. Does scene jumping work? Is retelling from different points of view interesting or does it get dull? Is this just a trend? Does it work? I have not always been a fan of multiple perspectives, but there have been series where I think this type of storytelling works.
Below are our picks and links to reviews, other audio discussions, and even a review of a tie-in game to one of the books! A lot of links, a lot of fun, you can now waste your whole morning here.
Alisa’s Picks: Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry (Alisa looks forward to reading and reviewing this book), Flat Out Matt by Jessica Park (Alisa rated it 4 stars!), and The Farm by Emily McKay (illustrated review and audio discussion).
Aidan’s Picks: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (Aidan has talked about this book before in his discussion of adaptions of the book), Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin (check out Alisa and Aidan’s review of the Book to Game aspect of this series, poor Aidan lost (I do like his sad face. ), and The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner by James Hogg.
My Picks: Chaos Walking Series by Patrick Ness (I’ve reviewed The Knife of Never Letting Go, The Ask and the Answer, and Monsters of Men), Crossed by Ally Condie, and Black London Series by Caitlin Kittridge (A review of the first three books).
I went on a Briggs Binge after reading Wolf Cry and downloaded Moon Called by Patricia Briggs and read by Lorelei King from my library. In Briggs’ alternate universe Vampires, Werewolves, and all manner of Fae exist. In her universe Werewolves are ranked by dominance, but a dominant male are not necessarily an alpha of a pack. Submissives also play a role, they are the ones with no expectations of rising in the ranks, and instead rely on the alphas to take care of them. In the Mercy Thompson series, the Fae play a bigger part in the over arching story line and Mercy Thompson owns a garage she bought from her gremlin former boss where she works on German cars. Mercy is a Walker, a trait passed down through her Native American heritage, and she can take the shape of a coyote whenever she wants. She is under the protection of the local werewolf pack.
In Moon Called, Mercy is working in her garage when a young boy shows up obviously in trouble, but not looking for anything other than a job. Oh, and he’s a werewolf. Mercy decides to give him a job and to introduce him to Adam, the local pack’s Alpha. But a larger conspiracy is afoot and Mercy must face her past when she goes back to her home town and asks the Marrock for help. Along the way Mercy also gets the vampires involved, and her friendship with all the supernatural creatures requires a lot of negotiation skills and all her coyote whiles.
I really like Mercy as a female character. She is strong and cunning, both characteristics drawn from her coyote side. What is amazing about Briggs characters is her ability to really play the animal behaviors into the person’s personality. Mercy who is a coyote is really different from Anna who is an Omega werewolf. I also enjoyed all the plots twists. Briggs stories about Mercy are an exciting and dangerous ride. Adam definitely plays the typical alpha male, even though he is not in a relationship with Mercy, but he also has intelligence and thoughtfulness that give nuances the typical alpha character in an UF series.
Lorelei King is my favorite voice over actor/ narrator of books. She can do different voices, she can do accents, and before she reads the name of the character I knew who was talking. She is amazing! Frankly, she’s my hero. Her pacing is excellent and her characterization of the story superb. I was really disappointed when I finished the eaudio books on my library’s site and realized I would actually have to start reading them for myself.
However, as I mentioned before, I have a two issues with both of Briggs’ series overall. The first issue I have is that, while her books have strong female characters, there is a lot of abuse, verbally, emotionally, and sexually that happens to them. What I did like about the Mercy Thompson series verses the Alpha Omega series was that men in this part of the universe also have been abuse. Not that I want to read about people, or werewolves for that matter, being abused; but I felt Briggs used these different types of past issues to give depth to characters and not just because abuse happens to women to make them vulnerable. I still would like to see Briggs characters undergo therapy as part of the recovery process. Just saying.
The other issue I have which is more prevalent in the Mercy Thompson series, were the definite Christian themes. There were some Mercy Thompson books where I was surprised it’s not filed in the Christian Fiction section. Mercy says repeatedly that she believes in God because of all the monsters that she knows. Honestly, I don’t see the causation there. But perhaps that is just me. I also feel that in the Christian culture a lot of abuse is not properly dealt with because people are like, well I believe in God so everything will be OK. Aaaand, you also should get professional help. I guess I wish I had known that was the bent of Briggs’ work because it explains more of the nuances of the tone of her stories, especially how her female characters think. Though this was a slight distraction for me, it did not detract from the overall excellent story telling in this series.
As a Walker, Mercy has the luxury of being able to approach both the werewolves, Fae, and vampires as an outsider, but it is a lonely existence. This all changes when a boy steps into her shop one afternoon and Mercy becomes involved in intrigue and conspiracies. Determined to help if she can, Mercy uses her intelligence and coyote whiles to place the players where she thinks they should be, even if that means dealing with Alpha Adam who sits on a large plot of land in a huge house behind her trailer. She gets back at him through by ruining his view with junky old cars broken into pieces and parts. The Mercy Thompson series is a fun read with characters who bring a lot to the table, exhibiting characteristics of the animals they become, Briggs characters have a lot to offer the UF genre.
The other day on Alisa’s twitter feed I discovered a new webseries called Jane Eyre, which is a modern take on the classic story by Charlotte Bronte. Jane Eyre is in nursing school, but has decided she is going to get a job being a nanny and answers a Craigslist ad. I’ve seen both episodes that have been posted, and what I’ve seen is really good.
I like that it is a video blog so that production value doesn’t need to be so excellent. The story is funny and modern but with the same feel as the original story. I like the actress, she does an excellent job. She is cute in her nervousness and she is funny in an understated way, which I like. The second episode had be really nervous, I had to stop it half way through and go do something else to calm down. I know it isn’t real, but damn, it felt like it. I’m hooked.
If you enjoy remakes, Jane Eyre, or clever webseries, you should check this one out.