Month: September 2013

Sep 10

Make Me A Movie! (Top Ten Tuesday)

Top Ten Tuesday 58

Aloha Bookworms!

It’s Tuesday and you know how I love a list. Let’s make one, shall we? The ladies of The Broke and The Bookish have posed an interesting and surprisingly difficult question this week. We’re challenged to name the top ten books we’d like to see made into movies or TV shows (assuming they wouldn’t be butchered, obviously.) Why is this difficult? Hollywood seems to have forgotten the concept of the “original screenplay” and a TON of books I love have already been made into movies or TV series.

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Here’s a list of the books that are already in the process of being made into movies or TV shows that I’m eagerly anticipating!

1. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. Casting decisions have been made for the upcoming Starz produced series, and I’m excited. Lots of actors with authentic Scottish accents have been cast. I’m also nervous, because I love these books with a freakish intensity, but I’m cautiously optimistic for the show.

2. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Casting decisions have been made and they’re in production. Shailene Woodley has been cast as Hazel and Ansel Elgort will be playing Augustus. This pairing would be slightly less creepy to me if the two hadn’t been cast as brother and sister in…

3. Divergent by Veronica Roth. Which I’m also stoked about because I’ve embraced my inner YA fangirl and I’m all about seeing a dystopian Chicago on screen. Shailene Woodley is really too gorgeous to play Tris and the Hottie McHotstuff they’ve cast to play Four certainly doesn’t have a hooked nose. Sigh. Hollywood. I’ll watch it anyway.

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4. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. The movie trailer was released for this and I’ve got a lot of faith that it’s going to be amazing. My greatest hope is that they still somehow manage to make Death the narrator, because that’s a big part of what made this book so awesome.

5. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. This is coming out in November, and I love me some Hunger Games goodness. I thought the first movie was very good, in spite of its imperfections… I really like Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss, so I’m looking forward to it.

Books That Aren’t Yet Movies (as far as I know) That I’d Like to See

1. The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls. I loved this book. I’m not sure how well it would translate to film, but if they got the right actors I can see Oscars all over the place. Lots of opportunity for poignant dramatic scenes!

2. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. Who doesn’t love this book? Some might argue that a movie would ruin it, but we’re supposed to be operating under the assumption that Hollywood wouldn’t be a complete jerk face and stay true to the text and whatnot. In my magical version of Hollywood, they’d stay true to the script and make good things happen.

3. Where’d You Go Bernadette? by Maria Semple. I think given the proper treatment it could be SERIOUSLY funny on screen. And, obviously. PENGUINS. Yes.

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4. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. True, this might take some doing to translate to the screen, but I could see it being pretty cool. I’d watch it, anyway.

5. Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt. Again, the potential for good actors kicking butt in a movie adaptation of this book? I smell Oscars!

What about you, Bookworms? Is there a book out there you’d love to see as a movie? Are you annoyed with Hollywood buthering all the good books? Got any bookish movies on the horizon you’re looking forward to? Tell me about it!

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Sep 09

Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Coming of Age, Dystopian, Young Adult Fiction 28

Greetings, Bookworms!

Last week I talked about how much I enjoyed Divergent by Veronica Roth, and in true Katie fashion, I began the second book IMMEDIATELY after finishing the first. I’ve been completely sucked into this world, so Insurgent and I got along juuuuuust fine.

insurgentI said the other day that the second book in a trilogy is often sacrificed as the Jan Brady of books. (Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!) There were quite a few of you Bookworms who mentioned that Insurgent was a disappointment to you, but I didn’t have any problems with it. Since it’s downright impossible to discuss the second book in the triology without spoiling the first, I’m going to go ahead and issue a big fat SPOILER ALERT!

When we left Chicago, the wicked Jeanine, leader of Erudite, had turned Dauntless into a faction of zombie mind controlled soldiers. She had them attack Abnegation and murder a bunch of important government leaders. Because Tris is Divergent, she wasn’t susceptible to the computer chip implant and… Neither was her new boyfriend Four! A little convenient perhaps, but I love their little romance so I’m cool with the dual Divergence.

After a whole lot of heartbreak, the deaths of Tris’s parents, and the reappearance of Tobias’s (AKA Four) abusive jerkface father, Marcus, our small band of refugees hops a train out of town to Amity’s compound. Amity! We haven’t heard much from them yet, so getting to see their compound and some of the questionable tactics they employ to keep the peace was pretty sweet. Eventually they head out of Amity to discover that once the Dauntless army came out of their trance, they split in half: one half bunking with the Candor crew and the other sticking with their Erudite brain masters. Families are torn apart. And in between all of this? Tris keeps taking stupid risks and putting herself in danger, which TOTALLY pisses off Tobias. Trouble in paradise, but at least, thank HEAVEN, NO LOVE TRIANGLE!

So there’s a big fat WAR going on. A war of the factions, a war in the city. The freaking FACTIONLESS threaten to rise from the ashes! People return from the dead. I mean, all bets are off. It’s insanity. We’re left with a ginormous cliffhanger at the end of this book. And I’m all…

Needless to say, I have SUPER high expectations for Allegiant which is due out October 22. I wish I’d waited a bit longer to start the series so I didn’t have to SUFFER in ANTICIPATION like this! Gah! Anybody out there in this boat with me?!

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Sep 06

Confession Friday: I am a Sweaty Beast

Confession Friday 38

What’s Shaking, Bookworms?

I feel like sharing embarrassing truths with you today. TO THE CONFESSIONAL!

I sweat like a 70 year old man running a marathon in a bear costume. I’m going to go ahead and blame Dad for this genetic foible (along with the prematurely graying hair…) It’s weird because I’m not one of those people who are always warm. Most of the time, I’m Little Miss Cardigan catching a chill from the air conditioning.

The thing is though, when I do get warm, or do, say 3 minutes of cardio, get out the umbrellas, because it’s raining Katie sweat. I seriously gross myself out. It’s not just normal person workout sweat. I take a pilates class and I am consistently the only one who is dripping sweat by the end of it. It’s not even a class full of perfectly fit 22 year old girls… There are other women my age, middle aged women, and even a couple of older dudes. I out-sweat a 70 year old man on the regular. Because, you know, that’s totally something to brag about.

Sweaty Award

I have probably mentioned at some point that when I dream, they’re almost exclusively anxiety dreams (we can blame Mom for that little gift from the gene pool.) One of my most frequent dreams is that the powers that be have somehow nullified my high school diploma and I have to go back to school (because having a bachelor’s degree is just not good enough to prove my knowledge of high school things?) The class I have to take over and over again is Phys Ed. Of course.  I’m pretty sure it’s out of vogue, but the ONLY thing I LIKED about my high school gym classes was the fact that they were segregated. Girls in one class, boys in the other. It’s bad enough to be forced to run laps around a gym for 20 minutes at a time, it’s a special form of torture to have to do it, in all your sweat raining glory, in front of boys. Thank God for small favors, amiright?!

Does anybody else want to admit to being gross and stinky so I don’t feel all alone as I wring buckets o’ sweat out of my t-shirts?

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Sep 05

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Coming of Age, Dystopian, Fantasy, Frightening, Young Adult Fiction 61

Hey There Bookworms,

I have been putting off reading Veronica Roth’s Divergent for quite a while now. I really enjoy a good YA dystopia, but the market has been rather saturated with them lately. After reading and not loving Ally Condie’s Matched series, I was skeptical to try again… It’s a darn good thing I did, because right now the Divergent series only ranks below The Hunger Games in my personal ranking of YA dystopias. I KNOW!

Divergent hc c(2)

Alright. We begin in what I can only assume is a post apocalyptic Chicago. Lake Michigan has dried into marshland, and a mere sliver of the city is inhabited. The rest is in ruins. (I enjoyed this book all the more because I’m familiar with the major landmarks and buildings in the Windy City. I grew up in the Chicago burbs, and while I won’t call myself a native,I know Navy Pier from Millenium Park and the Sears Tower from the Hancock building. “Willis” Tower my foot.)

Anyway. The new civilization inhabiting Chicago is split into five major factions. The factions are sort of like fraternities and sororities on steroids. They each value a different virtue above all else. I imagine that Roth named her factions specifically to expand teenage vocabularies (for which I salute her!) Erudite values knowledge, Candor values truth, Abnegation values selflessness, Amity values kindness, and Dauntless values bravery.

Beatrice Prior has just turned 16. She was raised in Abnegation, the, uh Amish equivalent in this society. Not really Amish, I guess, but they’re very modest and focus on the needs of others before themselves. They’re big on feeding the poor and service. A very nice faction, on the whole, but they are discouraged from looking in mirrors and their lives are really regimented. Beatrice, like all the the 16 year olds in the community, is on the precipice of a huge decision. She is about to choose her faction. Being born in Abnegation doesn’t mean she has to stay there. Each student is given an aptitude test to determine where they are best suited, but they have the option to choose a different faction.

The students get to choose where they will go, but they’re not guaranteed acceptance. They have to go through a training and initiation phase, and not everyone makes it. Those who don’t are cast out to live among the “factionless.” The factionless work menial jobs and live in poverty, so it behooves the students to do their best to choose wisely. The problem Beatrice is facing is that her aptitude test was inconclusive. She has to embrace ONE faction, but her test results indicate that she’s got an aptitude for THREE. She’s considered “Divergent” as a result and that is a dangerous thing to be. DUN DUN DUN!

I don’t want to talk too much about this book, because it’s hard to discuss without getting super spoiler happy. I like this book too much to spoil it! Roth does some awesome world building in this novel. Her dystopian Chicago is well drawn and disturbingly lifelike. I love the implications of the faction system. I think it offers some good lessons on the gray areas of life and the importance of seeing things from other people’s perspectives.

After having read this book, I couldn’t help but imagine myself in a faction! Much in the way I dubbed myself a Ravenclaw after reading Harry Potter, I’ve done a lot of thinking about what faction I’d have landed in. I’m so confused! They’re all so flawed, but they’ve all got good qualities too. So far, the only two I’ve been able to rule out are Dauntless (because I’m a giant chicken) and Candor (because even though I suck at lying, I think living in an environment of CONSTANT brutal honesty would be REALLY bad for my overly sensitive self.) This leaves me with Erudite, but I don’t know if I could even go there because despite my inherent bookwormy nerdiness, they’re SUPER science-y folk, and that’s never been my academic forte. I think I’d flunk at Abnegation, because I rather like mirrors and though I’d like to be selfless, I know I’m not that perfect. I suppose I’d chill in Amity, because they grow stuff (I like to garden) and they’re all about being nice to each other… Then again… Maybe I’m Divergent between Erudite, Amity, and Abnegation. I’m all kinds of complicated.

What faction do you think YOU would land in, Bookworms? Where do you see yourself fitting in?

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Sep 04

Take Me Down, Six Underground (Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman)

Fantasy, Mythology, Supernatural, Travel 53

Well Hello Bookworms,

I am not much of a world traveler, so it may surprise you to know I have, in fact, left the good old USA on occasion. When I was in college, I took a mini-mester in London. It was a two week trip where our instructors traveled with us. We took three hours of class a day and spent the rest of the time sight seeing and rambling around trying not to be overly obnoxious. Not sure that we succeeded. In any case, we were supplied with two week pass to the London underground. Thus, I became entranced with “The Tube.”

The London subway system is a massive network of underground tunnels, like any subway. However, having never used a subway system in any other major city, I found it weirdly romantic and exciting. This is likely because I was commuting to tourist destinations instead of work… I imagine the mystique would fade quite quickly if it were part of your day-to-day routine…

That’s the case for Richard Mayhew, the protagonist in Neil Gaiman’s NeverwhereRichard moves to London from Scotland. After a few years of commuting on the Tube, it’s lost its intrigue. He is concerned primarily with his job and his (rather pushy and unpleasant) fiance Jessica. All is well until one night as they head off to dinner.

Richard and Jessica unexpectedly encounter a young woman on the sidewalk… Bleeding profusely. Richard feels compelled to help while Jessica threatens to break off their engagement if Richard doesn’t continue on to their dinner. (Yeah, Jessica kind of sucks, though she DOES suggest calling an ambulance as they continue on their way, so I guess she’s only medium evil.) Richard, acting on instinct, takes the mysterious girl in his arms and back to his apartment after she implores him not to contact the authorities. Richard finds this a bit suspicious, but after a disturbing run-in with a pair of rather unsavory characters, Richard surmises the girl has good reason to keep a low profile. Richard then accompanies the girl on a strange adventure into another world known as London Below. neverwhere

This IS Neil Gaiman after all, you’ve got to expect some magic. London Below is situated in the space between subway platforms. It’s in the abandoned stations, the basements, and sewers of the city. It’s where the “people who fall through the cracks” end up. An odd mixture of characters make their homes in London Below. The underworld seems to be disconnected from time as we experience it, so you run into medieval monks as easily as Victorian castaways, the odd witch, and occasional bounty hunter. London Below is also extremely dangerous. Mythical beasts walk around unchecked. Rats converse with humans. Doors appear out of nowhere. Assassins run wild. But for all its strangeness, it’s also fascinating.

Neil Gaiman is a master of the creepy. He blends magic, mythology, and spooky ambiance seamlessly. I love that he chose the London Underground as his setting for this book! I always get excited when books are set in places I’ve been. I mean, it’s certainly cool to visit places you’ve never been in your reading, but there’s something about having a personal connection with a place. Anyway, I believe Neverwhere is my favorite Gaiman to date. Perfect reading for the transition into fall. I recommend it to anyone in the mood for a little bit of an eerie adventure.

Have any of you Bookworms out there enjoyed Neil Gaiman’s work? Have you read Neverwhere? What did you think? Have you ever imagined a mysterious underground civilization hanging out in your city? (It’s okay if your imaginary underground city includes the Ninja Turtles. I know mine does.)

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Sep 03

Classic and Contemporary: School Stuff (Top Ten Tuesday)

Classics, Coming of Age, Contemporary Fiction 34

Hola, Bookworms!

It’s Tuesday, but since yesterday was a holiday (at least in the US) it’s basically a Monday. To combat the blues, we’re gonna get a little listy. The ladies of The Broke and the Bookish have come up with a fantastic topic for today. We could take this two ways: pair contemporary books with classics OR list out 10 books that we think should be required reading in school. I’m going to take it half and half. Ready?

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Classic and Contemporary: The Perfect Pairings

1. The Odyssey by Homer with The Penelopiad by Margaret AtwoodThe Odyssey by Homer (or at the very least, excerpts of it) is required reading for tons of high school students. Everybody heard about Odysseus and his epic journey, but what about poor Penelope who is stuck on the homefront fighting off suitors? Margaret Atwood tackled the story from her perspective, and it’s very cool to see the retelling of a classic in such a way.

2. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath with Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen. Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar is a largely autobiographical novel about a young woman who despite her youth, talent, and beauty is suffering from a mental breakdown. Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen is a memoir of a woman who spent time in a mental institution following her own suicide attempt and crippling depression. Two tales of mental illness with a very personal bent, one classic, one more contemporary. Both powerful.

bell jar

3. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson with World War Z by Max Brooks. You like monsters and end of the world scenarios? Try either of these! I am Legend deals with a vampire takeover, and World War Z is about the zombie apocalypse. Both are awesome and will probably give you nightmares (if you’re like me.)

4. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen with Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding. This pairing is a lot of fun. Bridget Jones is a not so subtle homage to Jane Austen’s classic. It’s full of witty little asides and silly tributes. It’s also about finding love with people who initially annoy the crap out of you. Good times all around.

5. The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank with The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. The non-fiction classic account of a Jewish girl and her family living in hiding from the Nazis during World War II pairs well with Markus Zusak’s fictionalized version of life for dissenting German citizens under the Nazi regime. Both heart wrenching and fantastic.

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Why Didnt’t They Assign Me This High School?

1. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. This is one of my all time favorite dystopias, and so enthralling I couldn’t put it down. It’s full of important lessons and stuff, I don’t see why spending a thousand pages on Moby Dick was so critical…

2. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. They may teach this in school, but they didn’t teach it in my school. Actually, I’m lying a little bit. The scene with the Christmas tree was in several of my English textbooks, but never the whole thing. And the whole thing rules!

3. The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls. This book was awesome, for starters. I think it would be good for kids to read for a couple of reasons. First, all the cranky for no good reason kids (like myself) might realize that their lives totally DON’T suck. Second, if the abuse that is presented in this book is discussed in the classroom, perhaps kids who are suffering would be encouraged to ask for help. At least, I’d hope for that.

glass castle

4. The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford. This is a great book, and it discusses the difficulties of people of Asian decent living in the US during World War II. It focused on the Japanese internment camps, but ALL people of Asian decent suffered as a result. The Japanese internment camps have been swept under the rug, and it’s an important lesson for kids to learn that their government sometimes does stupid things. Maybe they’ll pay more attention to what goes on around them?

5. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. I’m of the opinion that if a kid ends up actually enjoying assigned reading, they might decide to read more in their spare time. What better way to get kids to dig a book than dishing up some teen angst? Teen angst that, while at this point in time is still out of touch, is more accessible than The Catcher in the Rye. Even better, read them both!

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