Book to Movie Confessions

July 7, 2014 at 6:24 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , )

As a book lover, it’s inevitable that two movies would have been on my viewing roster for 2013 – The Great Gatsby and The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones.

As a literary snob, it’s inevitable that I’ll tell you The Great Gatsby is marvelous and rich and The Mortal Instruments are teen franchise fluff.  (Teen franchise fluff that I read and re-read.)

As someone who has worked on indie film crews with family in the not-so-indie industry, I’ll tell you that The Great Gatsby was the more phenomenal film.  Baz Luhrmann is incredible.

But here is my confession:

When the house is too quiet… when I need something on the television to pass the time between books… when I’m ruminating on the world at large – it’s not The Great Gatsby that I play on repeat.

I gave a review of the film when I first saw it. I was late to the party, I don’t rush to the theatres anymore. The crowds overwhelm me. I can muster up the energy to exist in a crowd, but I pick and choose those moments carefully. I need to be moving (like on a bike) or listening to an amazing band. Opening night at a theatre has to be for something really special and I’d prefer advance notice. I’ve aged into a curmudgeon, I suppose.

I’m not changing my initial review.  That would be unfair.  I don’t like editing much – I had those thoughts – they existed.  I still agree with them even.  But I’m not sure “fell flat” is how I would currently describe the movie.  Not after a month of having it be my go to television time.  I read 14 books in June, but when I wasn’t reading, I was watching a heck of a lot of The Mortal Instruments.

I clean my house to it.  I sort through closets with it on.  I have to take breaks from it to go teach ABCs and plan history lessons.  But still, it’s there when I come back and I find it comforting.

I think it’s because it is a story I can half be involved in while I’m doing something else… a story that is easy to relate to not because of the angels and demons and typical boy-girl romance, but because there are some things you never grow out of.  There are both beautiful and awkward memories that stay with you.  There are moments I can see so clearly in my head from my own life when I hear someone say a line a certain way.

Teen franchises are so popular because – well, we’ve all been teens before.

More than the romance, the camaraderie of a group of people so devoted to their cause is what draws me to adventure stories like this one.

And yes, I like to joke a bit and say that it’s because I can’t get enough of Jamie Campbell Bower’s face.  But obviously, when he’s there on screen, it’s Jace’s face.  And ultimately, it takes a lot more than a face to get me to watch a movie a dozen or so times – it takes talent and a true tribute to a work of art and I think they did their best.  Even if it didn’t quite live up to my lofty expectations, I think everyone involved honored Clare’s work better than anyone else could have.

I may just go to the theatre when City of Ashes comes out.

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Wrapping up Clare, Clary, and Clockworks

June 18, 2014 at 1:26 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

City of Heavenly FireTitles: City of Heavenly Fire and Clockwork Princess

Author: Cassandra Clare

Genre: Fantasy/ Teen

*SPOILERS*

So I was finally able to wrap up two series, The Mortal Instruments and the prequel series Infernal Devices.  It was kind of refreshing to finish something and know that I know as much of the story that is available to know at the moment.

City of Heavenly Fire was exactly what I expected.  Great closing to it all, not a lot of surprises.  The only thing that did surprise me were the number of new characters that were introduced, seemingly to kick start another set of books.  But Clary and Jace are finally basking in their glorious together-ness, the readers got a wedding (Clary’s mother and Luke of course), and the teen couple finally sealed the deal which was expected, gratifying for the masses, but also disappointing for me – the girl who waited.

clockwork princessClockwork Princess was not nearly as satisfying.  It went as expected (the ending sort of spoiled by having already read City of Heavenly Fire), but also disappointed me in the sense that sometimes a girl should actually have to do a little more choosing.  No one gets everything they ever wanted that thoroughly, and Tessa being allowed to love both boys so completely thrusts you outside of the book’s reality and back into your own by the sheer fact that no one should be allowed such a fairy tale.  Even in happily ever afters, a girl has to pick a prince.  You didn’t see Clary marrying Jace and running into the ever after with Simon or vice versa.  It was sweet and wonderful, but too sweet and too wonderful, and therefore fell flat to me.

I’m glad I read them the way I did though, I am.  Even if things were a little anti-climactic, I understand stories and the fact that the characters simply have to live their lives and sometimes those lives are anti-climactic.  I’m just also a little relieved that both series have ended.

I still adore Cassandra Clare, I still look forward to reading more of her writing in the future.  But for now, I think I may have burned myself out.  Or maybe Clare burned herself out.  I’m not sure and it’s probably not fair for me to decide right now.

 

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The Mortal Instruments to Film

May 16, 2014 at 2:47 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , )

JaceI finally watched City of Bones, the movie.  I’ve been debating writing a review for it since I first watched it and have since watched it two more times.

I’m trying to figure it out – why it seems to just fall flat.

(For the record, despite my use of the marketing, I am still opposed to book and movie covers/posters featuring shirtless men.  It seems so unnecessary and ridiculous.  I see it and all I can think is ‘I’m too sexy for my shirt’ in the most absurd voice that makes the song even more ironic than intended.)

Lily Collins did a great job.  I have a crush on Jamie Campbell Bower, have since I heard him sing – then watching him in Camelot just set it in stone.  He’s amazing, not just pretty.  I’ve been giggling at Robert Sheehan since Misfits.  Lena Heady is my hero.  When have I not loved Jonathan Rhys Meyers? – I’m 30, so pretty much never.  (The movie August Rush makes me swoon to no end.) So it’s not the cast.

The action sequences are brilliant.  Even my Kung Fu self loves them.  My I- Read-The-Book self loves them.  They are grand and epic enough.  The weapons are fantastic.

The graphics are great, the demons exciting and true to descriptions.

But something just didn’t quite work.

Then, I realized what it was:

The ending was all a muck.  We gloss over Simon becoming a rat, we skip through Valentine’s castle.  Jace is awake the whole time.  The writers just gave up halfway through and quit trying to stay true to the book.  They tried to wrap up 485 pages into a short teen flick of generic proportions when it should have been the introduction to something as grand as Harry Potter.

jace and swordIt fell flat.  It brings forth the reminder: “Don’t judge a book by its movie.”

The movie isn’t bad per se, it just makes me sad.  It could have been epic and instead it was a ‘pretty good date movie.’

Of course, Jamie Campbell Bower is still ever so pretty and makes it all worth it anyway.  He also manages to radiate that he read the book and knows who Jace is supposed to be.  Of course, I have no way of knowing if he read the books or not, but it makes me feel better thinking someone on set did.  And if he didn’t, his performance is even more impressive.

The movie is a B+

I wanted it to be so much more.

Jace with Book

 

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Best Book Boyfriends of 2012

December 30, 2012 at 12:32 am (The Whim) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

love-books-hearts-600x337

I avidly read The Lit Bitch and a recent post included a top 12 book boyfriends list: http://thelitbitch.com/2012/12/29/top-12-in-2012-book-boyfriends/.

Cute concept, fun blog idea, but as I scrolled through my 74 books of the year, I realized that I didn’t read a lot of books in which there were boyfriends to pick from.

I started out with How to Buy a Love of Reading, and I think Hunter set me into a mood that I just couldn’t get past.  There are other boyfriends I read through the year, but I barely remember them.

I don’t recall the characters in The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton.  Regardless of what I thought of the book when I read it, no one in it made a lasting impact on me.  I actually had to refer to my own review to remember Seldon’s name.

The Great Gatsby is a fantastic novel, one of my favorites, but Jay Gatsby is not someone I’d put on my list of literary love interests.

jace_wayland_by_sallysalander-d4wi4bgI did read The Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices series and there are plenty of boyfriends to be had in those books, and they are lovely, and romantic, and intense; but none of them lived up to Hunter.

I did read Inhale, the first of a series called Just Breathe, which is an urban fantasy erotica piece, but the characters there are what the genre calls for: super sexy, the end.  Don’t get me wrong, sexy is nice, I think my husband is one of the sexiest, but I need more out of a character I’d want to put on a boyfriend of the year list.

RoryRory Williams, for instance, the man who waited, the Roman centurion, one-half of a couple known as The Ponds on Doctor Who… he could go on a boyfriend of the year list.  He’s just heavenly, and wonderful.  But this is about books, not TV shows.

I read a lot of Agatha Christie this year, and she’s all mystery and not a whole lot of romance.  Although a love story emerges here and there, it’s rarely more than a motive or plot device, therefore how can anyone in her books make the list?

On the other hand, I read cozy mysteries too.  I like Cleo Coyle and her coffeehouse series.  Cozy mysteries almost always have a boyfriend, but with there always being a boyfriend, I don’t often get the chance to delight in any of them.  They are there to make the protagonist feel good or bad, have a romantic scene of some sort, and then on to the next guy.  In real life, I’m morally opposed to most of the relationships that pop up in cozy mysteries.  But, I figure it comes with the territory when reading about murderers and investigators.

Scrolling down my list of books read this year, I come to Karleen Koen’s Through a Glass Darkly.  Sorry girls, I can’t recommend Montgeoffrey to anyone.  He is the basis of all Babara’s pain… a ladies man, a cheater, and ultimately also gay.  How many strikes can you add to a relationship before I’m just really tired of the guy?  It makes the heroine incredibly interesting, but I can’t let Montgeoffrey anywhere near my book-boyfriend list.

So it comes down to the fellows in A.S. Byatt’s Possession, the cutie-patootie Sam in Michael Grant’s Gone, and Hunter of HTBALOR.

Byatt’s romances in Possession are powerful and intriguing, Sam Temple in Gone is a cute kid with the potential to be an incredible man when he’s all grown up, but I have to hand it to Hunter – he captured my heart.

Hunter is intelligent, sweet, broody, keeps a journal, and sadly is also an addict.  Reading the conclusions of my own blog post, I find myself in disbelief… what does this say about my taste in men that I want to pick the suicidal one as book-boyfriend of the year?  And that Marius of Les Miserables didn’t even make the short list of final contestants?

Who is on your list?

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Now Time to Detox

July 11, 2012 at 9:00 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , )

The other night I finished City of Glass by Cassandra Clare, the 3rd part to The Mortal Instruments series.  Of course it was delicious.

Sigh.  I feel as though I can rest and breathe now.  The series isn’t over, but the ending of City of Glass serves for a solid intermission.  Well done, Cassandra Clare, well done.  If you have been following my blog this last week, there is not much more I can share regarding my feelings about this series.  Pure cotton candy for the intelligent teen, it is lovely and exciting.  However, I need a little detox after all that sugar before I dive back in with books 4, 5 and the 2nd of The Infernal Devices: Clockwork Prince.

So, my intentional break until the weekend (when I plan to whole-heartedly go on another bender) is a steady diet of meat.  I’ve been leisurely reading through Merchant Kings: When Companies Ruled The World by Stephen R. Brown, which is fascinating and makes me want to grow a nutmeg tree (Myristica), sail the seas, visit new countries, and basically be a well paid legal pirate.  Of course, today while waiting for kids to come to Half Price Books story time (which they didn’t because there was a pretty intense rain storm going on), I discovered something even more fascinating and seasonally relevant…

The Naked Olympics by Tony Perrottet is just what I need right now.  I’ve been working on getting back to my old shape.  I used to be pretty intense about my workouts and my body, and that has taken a back burner in my life for quite sometime now.  Ironically, the less you do, the more it seems to become a huge issue and chore.  Back when I worked out all the time and trained 5 hours a day, there was no thought in my head about working out and the agony of it all.  I actually enjoy martial arts and running and a whole host of physical activities, but stretching my mind has overtaken the part of my life when I used to stretch my body.  I want to get back to a healthy balance.  Just in time, too, because there are a few life-long hopes, dreams, and plans currently working their way into being.  Also, the summer olympics are upon us…. London 2012! has been the talk for so long its wild that its finally here.  I have scheduled Olympic date-nights with my bestie (because my husband doesn’t care to watch them), and everything just feels as though its falling into place… my love for studying ancient history, my goals to get back to my old training routines, picking up a new Kung Fu student, and teaching my daughter how to live well and have fun, the list goes on.

Who else is down for a mind and body detox? Grab a good book, mix yourself some vitamin water (http://www.food.com/recipe/homemade-vitamin-water-479989) and don’t shower until you’ve done 50 jumping jacks, 30 crunches, 20 pushups, all your stances for at least 30 seconds each (if you’re in martial arts), and had a good long stretch!
Here’s another earn your shower workout routine, and may I note that its been a good long while since I looked anything like this lady – man, she’s awesome. http://www.bodyrock.tv/2010/02/12/earn-your-shower-workout/

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Indulging My Latest Addiction

July 8, 2012 at 8:48 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , )

*Spoilers!*

Title: City of Ashes

Author: Cassandra Clare

Publisher: McElderry Books

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal

Length: 453 pages

My obsession for these books goes against every fiber of my being, but I love them.  I blew through City of Ashes in just a few hours and am pausing to write this review against the deep urge to blow it off and just start the next book.  But the kiddo is napping and my blog is being neglected, so I have no excuse, and will sit and spout off a few thoughts before I move onto City of Glass.

First of all, the Jace and Clary business hasn’t been resolved yet and my impatient self likes to get past the angst and the romance and on with the war.  It’s that deep inner girly desire to lunge head on into adventure *with* the love of my life, rather than struggling with all the defining the relationship business.  I was never good at that, I married my best friend and soul mate after years of waiting for him.  The angsty waiting should be reserved for books like Persuasion, for me, not warrior demon-slaying sagas.  That’s probably what hooks me with Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander Series, Jamie and Clare are married.  I get why that’s not applicable for a young adult series though.

Second, and mostly notable because its fresh on my mind (being in the epilogue), I love the Harry Potter reference.  It is fantastic.  Although, the subject matter puts this series in the sub-genre of Meyer’s Twilight Series, I find it more comparable to Harry Potter or the wonderful works of Robin McKinley.  There’s a fine line, but it makes a huge difference.  For those who read McKinley’s Sunshine as an adult, and perhaps read the Hero and the Crown, these books will suck you in.

Third… well, actually, I’m done here, I have more reading to do!

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And She Went There – A City of Bones Review

July 8, 2012 at 2:46 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , )

*Spoilers!*

Title: City of Bones

Author: Cassandra Clare

Publisher: McElderry Books (http://imprints.simonandschuster.biz/margaret-k-mcelderry-books)

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal

Length: 485 pages

Oh my… geeze Louise.  What the heck! I totally saw the insinuation of the plot developing, and I completely anticipate that this particular plot development will prove to be false… But Clare totally STAR WARSed us!  Except with Luke and Leah there was relief that came with the knowledge of their familial ties (after the ewww moment), because at least then we felt ok about hoping that whiny Luke didn’t get the girl and that Leah and Han Solo were meant for each other.  Clary and Jace! Really? Did Cassandra Clare have to go there?  Yes, yes, I fear she did.  Although I’m not buying the story line, it worked hook, line, and sinker and I’m itching to find out what happens next.

Of course, now, perfectly livid and irritated at my fascination for this series, I’m both addicted and torn.

What am I torn about? And why am I still addicted?

1. I was not a Twilight fan.  Meyer captured her target audience, and it was a fun little fairy tale – so in that aspect I can respect it.  But Bella is useless and I pretty much hate her character, Edward is ridiculous and I pretty much hate his character, and their whole relationship, I think, is absurd and sends the wrong message.  Cassandra Clare’s work definitely goes in the same genre, so in that sense I don’t want to like these books.  Still, Clare is just so much better with her character development, her story telling, and her writing.  Granted, I could do without all the teenage melodrama romance, but the adventure and the world she has created is wonderfully fascinating. (Read my Twilight review here: https://anakalianwhims.wordpress.com/tag/flaubert/)

2. These books are complete fluff.  In general, I am particular about my fluff.  I am very judgy, and frankly, a bit of a book snob.  Apparently, though, I’m in the mood for some complete and utter fluff, and a girl needs a healthy dose of dessert in her life in order to truly enjoy the non-dessert.    Clare makes up for the feeling of reading a crap ton of mind numbing cotton candy equivalent books with a healthy dose of literature references, so instead of cotton candy, I feel as though I’m reading a lemon meringue pie (with extra cool whip).

3. I absolutely protest having half naked boys on the front cover.  It’s a huge turn off when it comes to my book buying tendencies.  I was duped by Infernal Devices and the gentleman in the top hat.  Happily duped.

4. Then, which to read next? City of Ashes? (Book 2 of Mortal Instruments) or Clockwork Prince? (Book 2 of Infernal Devices).  Infernal Devices is the better series so far in my book, mostly because its Victorian and steampunk and all that delicious goodness, but I’m in a little more distress over the Mortal Instruments story line in this moment.  Does Clare pull a few more twists and rectify this ridiculous love story into the something morally acceptable I feel she is alluding to – or am I going to writhe my way through an incestuous romance?  And if this situation is resolved as I suspect (and hope) it will be, how does she do it?

Side note: Contrary to recent and probably most frequent posts, this is not a blog dedicated to childrens or young adult titles.  I read them a lot, therefore review them a lot, mostly because I have a child and partly because I enjoy reading what has been published since I was a child myself.  In the coming month(s), my readers/ followers can (fingers crossed) expect to find reviews and commentary for Book 3 of Les Miserables, Coming of Age in the Milky Way by Ferris, Merchant Kings by Brown, a surprise title sent to me to review by an author, and the latest discoveries in my Astrology research project.

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The Part Where I Admit I’m a Sucker…

July 4, 2012 at 2:04 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , )

…for any book cover featuring a gentleman in a top hat.

Title: Clockwork Angel

Author: Cassandra Clare

Publisher: McElderry Books

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Steampunk

Length: 478 pages

I am very skeptical when it comes to current popular young adult titles.  Anything published in the aftermath of the Twilight Saga makes me pretty inclined to doubt that the story will be anything but unequivocal crap.  In fact, when I first saw the covers of Cassandra Clare’s original series The Mortal Instruments (City of Ashes, City of Bones, etc.), I had no interest whatsoever in the nearly naked teens displayed on the front cover in all their thin, muscled perfection.  Clockwork Angel, on the other hand, the first in the prequel series The Infernal Devices taunted me for months.  This front cover is still shimmery and radiates young adult paranormal pop culture crap, but the teen isn’t naked, he’s in full on Victorian era attire, coat, top hat, the whole shebang.  I was torn.  How did they know they would suck me in like this?  How did Cassandra Clare know that this book was basically screaming at me: YOU, You pompous, self-righteous, book snob, YOU, try to NOT read THIS one!

I rebelled.  I refused.  It continuously called my name.  And if it hadn’t been for 1) S. Smith renewing my faith in *new* young adult fiction with Seed Savers and 2) Felix J. Palma enchanting me with a love hate relationship with The Map of Time (that a. ended in love and b. also featured a somewhat shiny top hatted man on the front cover), my rebellion would have won out and in turn I would have lost out.

Cassandra Clare, if you are reading this, I loved Clockwork Angel.  I didn’t want to, because I’m a book snob, but you won me over, with – of all things – book love.

Clockwork Angel is a little bit paranormal, a little bit steam punk, a whole lot of adventure, and even more book worship.  Clare’s characters are well read in all my Victorian and pre-Victorian favorites.  No matter how predictable or typical they behave, they win me over every time with their references to Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, A Tale of Two Cities, countless poets, and more.  The feelings are that of typical teens without over exaggerating the melodrama.  And the adventure and fight scenes are just down right fun.  How do you pass up automatons, vampires, warlocks, and gadgets?  You can’t, especially when its been so long since the vampires have actually been bad guys, not sparkling, cheesy love interests.  Thank you Clare, for putting those vamps in their place.  In Clockwork Angel we know they are bad guys, dangerous, but they don’t over run the story… it’s not entirely about them, they’re just part of the landscape… Thank God.

Now, of course, I have the entire Mortal Instruments series sitting on my end table to be read, despite their front covers.  I’m suckered, I’m hooked, I have to know the whole story.

End Note: I’d put Clare’s writing at about a 6th-7th grade level, content probably for a 14+ but I’d have no problem letting anyone younger read it because there’s nothing inappropriate or anything, it just might take a slightly older child to catch all the literature references.

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