Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Top Ten Tuesday | Stories & Songs

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week you compile a list of ten books which coincide with that week's theme. You can find everything you need to know about joining in here!

This week's theme is all about music and books, and I just happen to have a feature on my blog called Stories & Songs where I pair a book with a song. Today I've made a new list; there are a couple of books I've done before that I think fit particularly well, but most of them are brand new. I'm quite pleased with this list! As always book titles will take you to Goodreads, and song titles will take you to the song on YouTube.

Frenchman's Creek by Daphne du Maurier + Wildest Dreams by Taylor Swift: Say you'll remember me, standing in a nice dress, staring at the sunset, babe. Red lips and rosy cheeks, say you'll see me again even if it's just in your wildest dreams.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen + Girls & Boys by Good Charlotte: Educated, with money. He's well-dressed, not funny. And not much to say in most conversations, but he'll foot the bill in all situations, 'cause he pays for everything.

Signal to Noise by Silvia Moreno-Garcia + A Whiter Shade of Pale by Procol Harum: And so it was that later, as the miller told his tale, that her face, at first just ghostly, turned a whiter shade of pale.

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins + Glory and Gore by Lorde: You could try and take us, but we're the gladiators. Everyone a rager, but secretly they're saviours. Glory and gore go hand in hand, that's why we're making headlines. You could try and take us, but victory's contagious.

Lolita by Vladimir Nobokov + Missed Me by The Dresden Dolls: Missed me, missed me, now you've gone and done it; hope you're happy in the county penitentiary. It serves you right for kissing little girls, but I will visit. If you miss me.

If I Stay by Gayle Forman + Halo by Ane Brun feat. Linnea Olsson: Remember those walls I built? Well baby they're tumbling down; they didn't even put up a fight, they didn't even make a sound.

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman + Black Magic by Little Mix: Take a sip of my secret potion, I'll make you fall in love. For a spell that can't be broken, one drop should be enough. Boy you belong to me, I got the recipe, and it's called black magic.

Feed by Mira Grant + O Children by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds: Pass me that lovely little gun, my dear, my darling one. The cleaners are coming, one by one, you don't even wanna let them start. They are knocking now upon your door, they measure the room, they know the score. They're mopping up the butcher's floor of your broken little hearts.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng + I'm Still Here by Goo Goo Dolls: I am a question to the world, not an answer to be heard or a moment that's held in your arms. And what do you think you'd ever say? I won't listen anyway. You don't know me, and I'll never be who you want me to be.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli + It's Time by Imagine Dragons: It's time to begin, isn't it? I get a little bit bigger but then, I'll admit, I'm just the same as I was. Now don't you understand that I'm never changing who I am.

What did you talk about this week?

Monday, 15 February 2016

Book vs. Adaptation | If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Today I'm back with yet another Book vs. Adaptation post - woohoo!

If I Stay was published in 2009 and adapted for the big screen in 2014 by R. J. Cutler who, as one of the directors of Nashville, is no stranger to a bit of music-centred drama. I read If I Stay in 2014, and if you'd like to see my thoughts on the book you can check out my review here!

If I Stay is around 106 minutes long and stars Chloë Grace Moretz and Jamie Blackley as our romantic leads, Mia and Adam. Watching this was the first time I'd seen Blackley in anything, though he has one of those faces that makes me think I've seen him somewhere before, but at this point Moretz is something of an adaptation veteran. She's been in Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Let Me In, Hugo and Carrie, and has since returned to our screens as Cassie in J Blakeson's adaptation of The 5th Wave. She was even considered for the part of Katniss in The Hunger Games franchise.

I've mentioned before how little I tend to stray into YA contemporary, but how much I enjoy it when I do. If I Stay is most definitely one of my favourite YA contemporaries; I flew through it in one sitting, so I was pretty excited to watch the adaptation. I'm sure other readers and film buffs would disagree, but I've always found that books that don't fall into the speculative fiction category at all are much easier to adapt than those that do. You can't get the world wrong or the magic system wrong because there is no magic system and the world's our own, but the adaptation could still quickly go south if it isn't done well.

Thankfully, this one is. 

Much like Coraline, I think this may be one of those rare instances when I enjoy the film more than the book. Don't get me wrong, the book's great, but the film made me a little teary-eyed where the book didn't, and I just love watching it; I've watched it so many times since it was released on DVD, it's the kind of film I like to put on if I have a few hours to myself and I want something on in the background while I tinker away at whatever it is I'm doing. That might not sound like much praise, but it's only films that I really, really enjoy that I use as 'background music'.

I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about Moretz; before this the only films I'd watched that she was in were Hugo and Dark Shadows, and I didn't enjoy either of them that much. That's not her fault, by any means, but it did mean she got slightly tainted by association. Now, though, I think she's a brilliant young actress; she captures Mia beautifully.

In fact I thought everyone was cast well. Blackley is a very charming Adam, Liana Liberato makes for a very fun Kim, and Mireille Enos and Joshua Leanord are wonderful as Kat and Denny. Nobody felt miscast or unnatural, which is always a plus.

It's definitely a very close adaptation - there are the odd tweaks here and there, mainly just tiny sections of the book that they missed out, but I didn't really notice them not being there, and I think I actually preferred the story without them. Everything flowed nicely from one section to the next, despite the back and forth narrative to the story.

One of my favourite things about this film, though, is the soundtrack. Or one song in particular on the soundtrack. Norwegian songwriter Ane Brun did an absolutely beautiful cover of Beyonce's 'Halo', accompanied by cellist Linnea Olsson, and it's so lovely - I think I prefer it to the original!

Basically If I Stay is one of those lucky books that's managed to land itself a very good adaptation. If you're a lover of the book and you've been wary about watching this, you needn't worry - I think you'll love it!

Sunday, 14 February 2016

My Favourite Romantic Quotes from Fiction

Happy Valentine's Day!

I'm a bit of a grump when it comes to Valentine's Day - I've always thought that if you love your significant other you should tell them every day of the year - but I can understand why it's a lovely day for a lot of couples, whether they've been together for years or they're going on their first date.

I'm ill, so I'll be spending today feeling sorry for myself and eating raspberry ripple ice cream out of the tub, but I figured I couldn't let Valentine's Day pass by without sharing with you some of my favourite declarations of love/quotes about love from fiction. There are only a few here, but they all fill me with the warm fuzzies.

I'm not the biggest fan of Wuthering Heights, mainly because I think Heathcliff is romanticised a ridiculous amount for someone who's actually a terrible human being. That being said Cathy isn't exactly a paragon of goodness herself. Regardless of how unhealthy their relationship is though, there's no denying that it's passionate, and there are some gorgeous passages throughout.

Some books don't deserve all the hype, but The Miniaturist most certainly does. It's one of the most beautifully written books I've ever read, and the above quote is one of many stunners.

I think we've all come to terms with the fact that I'll mention Signal to Noise whenever I can. This book means a lot to me, and so does this quote.

Ah, Saba and Jack. I love these two. Blood Red Road is so much fun to read, I still need to read the rest of the books in the trilogy, though; I've heard that the second and third books aren't quite as good as this one, which is why I've been putting them off.

There's a special place in my heart for Sabriel, and for Garth Nix who was the first fantasy author I came across in my late childhood/early teens who showed me female-led fantasy didn't have to revolve around romance. While there is romance in Sabriel it's a very minor part of the overall story, and it's lovely.

What are some of your favourite love related quotes from fiction?

Friday, 12 February 2016

2016 Releases I've Pre-Ordered

So I went on a bit of a pre-ordering spree in the last couple of months of 2015 and January. I want to try and buy less books this year (hahaha) but now that I'm working I don't see why I shouldn't pre-order the books I really want to get my hands on! I know amazon is kind of evil in the bookworm, if I could afford to I wish I could buy all of my books from bookshops, but I do really like to pre-order stuff from amazon. Why? Because they don't charge you until they dispatch your order, so rather than spend a ridiculous amount all at once, my book buying is just as staggered throughout the year as it usually would be.

Anyway, here are the ten books I've pre-ordered this year. I also pre-ordered Stars Above, which has already arrived, and there are a few others I want to pre-order but haven't been able to yet, so these aren't the only books I'll be pre-ordering. It's most of them, though!

So Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Seanan McGuire (also known as Mira Grant) are releasing new books this year, and considering Signal to Noise and Feed are two of my favourite novels of all time, it's to be expected that I've already pre-ordered these two. Certain Dark Things is about vampires and drug lords in Mexico City, and it just sounds brilliant, while Every Heart a Doorway sounds like a darker and better version of Narnia.

I want to continue to read more non-fiction this year, and these two sound great. Firstly, the cover of The Geek Feminist Revolution is fantastic, and it sounds like a book that's going to be right up my alley; this is probably my most anticipated non-fiction book of this year! The View from the Cheap Seats is a collection of Neil Gaiman's essays, and considering Neil Gaiman is one of my favourite writers I'm looking forward to reading some of his non-fiction - other than Make Good Art, I haven't read any.

Unicorn Tracks is Julia Ember's debut novel that involves LGBT+ characters and unicorns. Naturally I've been ancticipating it for a while, and I can't wait to get my hands on my copy of it! Paper Girls is the first volume of a new series written by Brian K. Vaughan, the writer behind Saga, and illustrators Cliff Chiang and Matthew Wilson. It's been described as Stand By Me meets The War of the Worlds, so I'm there!

An anthology of female-led historical fiction is what awaits me in A Tyranny of Petticoats, featuring authors such as Marissa Meyer, Robin Talley and Elizabeth Wein. Needless to say, I'm excited. The last anthology I read was My True Love Gave to Me, and because I enjoyed it so much I decided I might as well go ahead and pre-order Summer Days & Summer Nights - I'm hoping there'll be a UK edition that matches my edition of My True Love Gave to Me.

Robin Talley's As I Descended and Anne Tyler's Vinegar Girl are both Shakespeare retellings, and as 2016 commemorates 400 years since Shakespeare's death I imagine we're going to see a lot of those. I really, really enjoyed Talley's debut Lies We Tell Ourselves, so I'm really looking forward to her modern day lesbian retelling of Macbeth, and while I haven't read any Anne Tyler before I think her retelling of The Taming of the Shrew sounds wonderful.

Have you pre-ordered any 2016 releases?

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Top Ten Tuesday | The Warm Fuzzies

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week you compile a list of ten books which coincide with that week's theme. You can find everything you need to know about joining in here!

This week's theme is a Valentine's freebie, and today I've decided to talk about some of my OTPs. I'm not usually a book boyfriend kind of person, I'd much rather see two people get together than imagine one half of that couple getting together with me. Over the years I've accumulated quite a few OTPs, so today I thought I'd share my top ten eleven with you; these are all from films and TV shows, because I've noticed I tend to 'collect' OTPs from visual media much more than I do books. Don't know why!

Evy Carnahan & Rick O'Connell from The Mummy and The Mummy Returns

Third movie? What third movie? Hahaha, there was never a third movie! If I keep saying it, it means it's true. I have to be honest: if someone said to me my life depended on choosing a fictional boyfriend, I'd probably go with Rick O'Connell. He's cute, he's funny, he's cheeky and he's very people smart, plus he can kick butt. What I love about Rick, though, is how he's never intimidated by Evy's intelligence. The Mummy's set in the 1920s, Evy's from a fairly wealthy family and is struggling to muscle her way into academia because of our arch-nemesis, sexism. Rick ends up owing his life to her, but he doesn't let her saving his ass make him feel bitter or emasculated, and on top of that he never mocks her for her enthusiasm. When Evy has something exciting to tell him - even if exciting for her means 'oh look at these cool scarab beetles I found, they totally ate people ALIVE' - he listens. Like, actually listens. I just think these two are a wonderful pair, and to this day The Mummy is still one of my favourite movies of all time.

Tohru Honda & Kyo Sohma from Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya

Compared to some of my friends I haven't watched much anime at all, but Fruits Basket and Inuyasha are tied for my favourite anime. Fruits Basket is the first 'proper anime' I watched, and I've loved it since I first watched it. Tohru and Kyo are such an adorable couple, in the anime and the manga, and it was definitely through them I realised one of my 'types'; I've always loved couples where one half is a ray of sunshine and the other's a complete grump, and these two represent that perfectly. If you've never watched the anime or read the manga, I recommend doing both - it's a great story!

Eowyn & Faramir from The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

I've only seen the movies (I know, I know, I should read the books) but I love Eowyn and Faramir. I like the two of them separately and together, as is the case for pretty much all the couples on this list, because I think that's when you really care about their relationship. What I really like about these two, though, is that they were challenging gender stereotypes long before Katniss and Peeta were; Eowyn's a shieldmaiden, a warrior princess who dresses as a man to join the battle and achieve glory, while Faramir's an unloved second son who can never meet up to his cold father's standards. Faramir's quiet, bookish and gentle, all the things we might associate with traditional female characters, whereas Eowyn is angry, passionate and impatiently awaiting her chance to do something. They work wonderfully together, and separately they're fascinating.

Monica Geller & Chandler Bing from Friends

I love Friends, but the older I get the more I dislike Ross. You watch the show now and he's so jealous and possessive and just a bit of a prick. In recent years I've realised that Rachel should have stayed on the plane, gone to Paris and had that amazing career while Ross wallowed in self-pity. Monica and Chandler, on the other hand, I adore. They work so well together as a couple; Monica helps Chandler to grow up, and Chandler helps Monica to let her hair down a little.

Vanessa Ives & Ethan Chandler from Penny Dreadful by John Logan

I LOVE THESE DORKS. If you like Gothic literature and you haven't tried watching Penny Dreadful yet, you're missing out. I was very sceptical when I first learned a show was being made that threw classic Gothic characters, from Dorian Gray to The Wolfman to Frankenstein, together into one story, but I think it's done really well. I love Vanessa and Ethan's relationship because while it's clear they love each other in a romantic sense, they also love each other in every other way, too; they're friends first, and they genuinely care about what happens to one another. Also I think there's something vaguely Evy and Rick-ish about their relationship, which might be why I'm so fond of it...

Rae Earl & Finn Nelson from My Mad Fat Diary

My Mad Fat Diary is a fantastic British show. The way it deals with issues like self-harm, mental illness and eating disorders is brilliant. These two are just... ugh, my heart. Finn is the sweetest guy on the face of the earth, and Rae is the kind of heroine I wish had been on TV when I was a teenager. I highly recommend watching this show!

Amy Santiago & Jake Peralta from Brooklyn Nine-Nine

More dorks. I think there's something vaguely Evy and Rick-ish about these two, too; what I love about Brooklyn Nine-Nine is you think the characters are going to fall into certain stereotypes, and then they completely surprise you. Jake initially seems like a bit of a douche, and he can sometimes be a douche because, hey, he's human, but for the most part he's actually a really decent guy. And then there's Amy who's this hard-working, adorable cinnamon roll. I love this show - it's one of the few funny shows I've seen that genuinely makes me laugh.

Leia Organa & Han Solo from Star Wars

Who doesn't love these two? I don't give a damn about Luke Skywalker, I watch the original Star Wars films purely for these two; Leia's a brilliant heroine, and Han's a cutie patootie.

Belle & the Beast from Beauty and the Beast

There seems to be a consensus among fans that the Beast's name is Adam, but Disney has never actually confirmed that. You would think Belle would have asked him for his name at some point, though... Oh well, this is still my favourite film of all time. These two just give me a lot of feelings. I know a lot of people think their relationship is Stockholm Syndrome-y, but I vehemently disagree: when the Beast lets Belle go, she leaves. Gaston throws her book in the mud, the Beast gives her a library and listens when she reads to him. I just love this film.

Inuyasha & Kagome from Inuyasha by Rumiko Takahashi

I mentioned Inuyasha earlier, so I had to mention these two. I fell in love with Inuyasha when I was around 15/16, and it's just so much fun to watch. I love these two dorks.

Gambit & Rogue from X-Men

I looooved the X-Men animated series as a child, and I especially loved these two. I just think there's something heartbreakingly romantic about someone being hopelessly in love with a person they can't touch. They're so much fun - I love them!

What did you talk about this week?

Monday, 8 February 2016

Review | Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

by Gillian Flynn

My Rating: 

Libby Day was just seven years old when her evidence put her fifteen-year-old brother behind bars.

Since then, she has been drifting. But when she is contacted by a group who are convinced of Ben's innocence, Libby starts to ask questions she never dared to before. Was the voice she heard her brother's? Ben was a misfit in their small town, but was he capable of murder? Are there secrets to uncover at the family farm or is Libby deluding herself because she wants her brother back?

She begins to realise that everyone in her family had something to hide that day... especially Ben. Now, twenty-four years later, the truth is going to be even harder to find.

Who did massacre the Day family?

I did it. I finally read a Gillian Flynn novel. I don't tend to read crime/thriller books that often, but whenever I do I always enjoy the process of reading them; there's something interactive about a thriller because you can come up with your own theories while you read, or, if you're like me, think of what you might do if you were in such a dire situation.

I'd been meaning to read something of Gillian Flynn's for a while, though in all honesty Gone Girl is the one novel of hers I'm the least interested in reading. I'll probably pick it up eventually, but Dark Places and Sharp Objects appeal to me more. Then I happened to find a brand new copy of Dark Places for only £1.99, so which of her novels I was going to read first was settled.

And? Well, I have very mixed feelings about this book, so much so that I'm still not sure about my rating.

Firstly, it's no secret that Flynn likes to write about unlikable people, and I don't have a problem with that; if an unlikable character is written well then I'll still care about what happens to them, and boy is Dark Places brimming with unlikable characters. But they're also very real characters for the most part. I know some people really didn't like Libby, but I loved her; she's written so well and I could understand how she is the person she is. In fact that's something Flynn does very well; Dark Places is full of characters whose lives were changed by one little thing, a simple lie at the wrong time and shit hits the fan, as it so often does in life.

I liked how we got to see from several points of view throughout the novel. We follow Libby, and then every other chapter we follow Ben, her brother, or Patty, her mother, through the day leading up to the murders. What I loved about this was how cleverly Flynn weaved everything together, so every now and then something would happen that I realised would lead to something terrible later on and I'd find myself saying 'oh no, don't do that!' If a book can make me react like that, then it's written very well.

I really can't fault Flynn's writing. She certainly isn't afraid to explore the darker, grittier, twisted side of human nature, and she does it very well.

Unfortunately, I just wasn't a fan of the big reveal at the end. When we finally find out what happened to Libby's family, and we do find out, I thought it was just too much, bordering on the unbelievable. It's very difficult to talk about without spoiling anything, and I know a lot of people love this book so I'm probably in the minority here, but let's just say I wasn't that impressed with the outcome. For me the ending was disappointing because I felt as though it came out of the blue; a few characters made decisions that made no sense to me whatsoever, but I know some readers will love that. Ultimately it's all subjective!

I'd quite like to check out the film adaptation, especially as it has the brilliant Charlize Theron in the starring role, and I'm definitely interested in checking out more of Flynn's work; I'm still not that interested in Gone Girl, but I'd like to read Sharp Objects at some point because I've heard it described as having elements of the Southern Gothic to it, and I love me a bit of Southern Gothic. Plus Flynn will be writing a retelling of Hamlet for the Hogarth Shakespeare series which should be a lot of fun.

I didn't love Dark Places, but I did enjoy reading it and I would recommend it. If you have a strong stomach.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Monthly Wrap-Up | January 2016

by Neil Gaiman

by John Logan

by Ayisha Malik

by Annabel Lyon

by Celeste Ng

by Stef Penney

by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona

by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis and Brooke Allen

by Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook

by Neil Gaiman

by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

by Anne Sexton

Well 2016 got off to a very good reading start - somehow I managed to read 12 books! The hightlight of January for me was definitely Celeste Ng's debut Everything I Never Told You, which may very well end up being one of the best things I read this year.

With the deaths of David Bowie and Alan Rickman - I'm so sad - January was a bit of a crappy month. I know David Bowie was one of the music industry's greats, but to me he's always been the Goblin King; I always remember Labyrinth as a film that my entire family, my parents, my sisters and I, all sat and watched together, and even though it's so '80s and so cheesy, I still love it. Naturally, I had to watch it when I heard the news about Bowie.

I haven't been able to watch an Alan Rickman film yet. I'm still too sad.

by Noelle Stevenson

by Agatha Christie

by Celeste Ng

by Stef Penney

by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

I started a new job in January! (I almost typed jew nob, which I'm pretty sure is something else entirely...) I'm now a Sales and Marketing Assistant at the University of Wales Press, which are an academic publisher. After working in for a traditional publisher I'm pleased to experience a different strand of the publishing industry, and so far it's really interesting! I've been working on building up their Twitter following, and I'm currently in charge of their social media, including Twitter and Instagram - you should definitely follow us! *hintedyhinthint*

I'm getting up earlier and getting in later than I did for my previous job, so by the time Friday arrives I'm pretty tired - if I don't reply to any comments you leave on any of my posts I promise I'm not being rude, and I do read them, it just takes me a little longer to reply at the moment because all I want to do is sleep. I will reply eventually, though, I promise!

My parents and I also went to the ballet in January to see a production of The Snow Queen. I love going to the ballet, and this was such a charming production; the costumes were beautiful, and they had this really cool trick of making the room feel freezing whenever the Snow Queen came on stage. It was a really fun evening!

Beth @ The Quiet People talked about Why LGBTQ Themes in YA Sometimes Make Her Uncomfortable (read her post before you jump to conclusions!)

What did you get up to in January?