Thursday Movie Picks: Book Adaptations

It’s Thursday and I’m back with a new Thursday Movie Picks feature post. This series is hosted by Wandering through the Shelves and offers you a weekly prompt to post some movie recommendations/talking points according to the theme. Usually, you are supposed to post about 3-5 examples, which I find a very manageable amount.

Today we shall talk about Book Adaptations, which most of you will know, is a topic I’ve talked about on numerous occasions here. Seen as this blog is dedicated to books, TV shows, movies and really anything I can think about, it does tend to be a repeat subject.


Here are some examples of previous posts regarding adaptations:


I’m going to try my very best to not to repeat myself too much from previous posts (and to stick to movies and not TV shows). There’s not really a theme here, other than that I have actually read all the books for the movies as well as watched them. (Because there’s still some books I haven’t watched and some films I haven’t read … if that makes sense.)

Stardust

Stardust is one of my absolute favorite comfort movies and I can watch it pretty much any day, whenever it is on. There’s no such thing as too much Stardust. I also have to say that I enjoy the movie more than the book, because I didn’t actually connect to Neil Gaiman’s writing at all. I know he is brilliant and a much beloved author, but this book wasn’t really it for me. The movie is where it’s really at!

Charlie St. Cloud

I read this book after watching the trailer, while I was doing my internship in the French countryside. Something about this story was just magical and although I think the movie didn’t capture that as well as the book, I still enjoyed both.

The Spectacular Now

The Spectacular Now is one of those cases where I thought I would really enjoy both, the movie and the book, but ended up feeling very confused about both. It’s not a fluffy teen romance at all, it has a deceptively amount of depth. It’s even quite sad …

Dumplin’

I cried watching and reading Dumplin’. It’s a really beautiful story, but it was interesting to see on what different aspects the two variations focused on. I remember the book featuring more of Bo (who I adore as a love interest), while the movie had a clear focus on the mother-daughter-relationship. Then again, how could you not utilize having Jennifer Aniston in your movie …

This Is Where I Leave You

I have a thing for grief explorations and complex family dynamics, so I was immediately drawn to This Is Where I Leave You. The book obviously has the room to go much more into depth on some of the relationships, which I missed in certain scenes, but generally, it was a well done movie. Some things were even improved (thank the lord we didn’t have to hear Judd’s horny thoughts all day long).


What are some of book to movie adaptations you like? Let’s talk about those!

TMP – TV Edition: Books I Want to See Adapted Into a TV Series

It’s Thursday and I’m back with a new Thursday Movie Picks feature post. This series is hosted by Wandering through the Shelves and offers you a weekly prompt to post some movie recommendations/talking points according to the theme. Usually, you are supposed to post about 3-5 examples, which I find a very manageable amount.

As it so happens, we change it up once per month and talk about TV shows instead of movies and today gives me the great opportunity to talk about books I would like to see adapted into a TV series. There’s many, many I would like to see, but not all of them are suitable for the TV format. Many are better for movies, but I still have plenty of ideas. I’m going to try my very best not to go overboard. Emphasis on try. But to make it easier for myself, I’m going to stay in the SciFi and Fantasy realm.

Red Rising Saga by Pierce Brown

Those of you who have followed me for a while, know how much I adore this series. It grabs me every time and makes me feel emotions I usually don’t feel access that much. From what I know, it has been in the talk to be adapted for a movie, before Pierce Brown shut that down, because they would have changed the essence of the story too much. After that, I heard rumors of it being developed for TV, but news have been scarce on that front since.

Either way, I want a show and I hope they won’t make an animated one, because I want a live action one more. I especially hope they will ignore the height difference between the different colors and will cast Richard Harmon as my favorite Sevro. I’ve been championing for this for years!

My Red Rising reviews:

Monsters of Verity by Victoria Schwab

August Flynn is one of my all time favorite characters. I just want to adopt and coddle him, but I also genuinely think that the Monsters of Verity series would lend itself well for TV. There is a lot of freedom of what could be explored beyond the two books and a rich world full of intriguing monsters and heroes. I’d sure love to see it come to life on the screen.

My Monsters of Verity reviews:

Wolf by Wolf duology by Ryan Graudin

I think we’ve seen that alternate reality shows about WWII work quite well, just look at The Man from the High Castle. This is obviously targeted at a younger audience, but would raise great talking points. While the book had several issues with the German language, that’s not anything that wouldn’t be easy to remedy in a show. The characters were great for sure!

My reviews for the duology:

Jackaby Series by William Ritter

Jackaby is like Sherlock meets Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency? Two shows I absolutely adored and would therefore love to watch something in a similar realm. The books are definitely not that well known, but they are so much fun!

Jackaby (Jackaby, #1) by William Ritter Beastly Bones: A Jackaby Novel 02 : Ritter, William: Amazon.de: Bücher Ghostly Echoes (Jackaby Series #3) by William Ritter, Paperback | Barnes &  Noble® The Dire King ( Jackaby Series #4) by William Ritter, Hardcover | Barnes &  Noble®

My Jackaby (mini-)reviews:

The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

While I definitely don’t agree with everything Maggie Stiefvater says on the internet and elsewhere, I think a show could do great things with her books as a guideline (but not sticking to it entirely faithfully if you ask me). Somehow, I just picture them on a small network like syfy with a fresh new cast of faces. I’d really like to see someone appreciate my ghost boy.

My Raven Cycle reviews:

Lore Olympus by Rachel Smythe

Alright, so this is me cheating a little bit, because Netflix IS releasing Lore Olympus as an animated series soon. For those who don’t know, it’s a web comic that you can read for free here. It’s a modern retelling of the tale of Hades and Persephone and I have fallen utterly in love with it. However, I’m a sucker for live action adaptations, so I’ve started to cast the characters in my head already.

So, aside from Geraldine Viswanathan as Persephone and Oliver Jackson-Cohen as Hades, I’d like to put forward Sam Claflin as Zeus and Paul Mescal as Poseidon. Thanks for coming to my TED Talk.


What are some books you would like to see as TV shows? Let’s talk in the comments!

What I’ve Been (Binge-)Watching #60

Before the end of the month, I definitely wanted to do another of these posts to showcase what I had been watching. As I’ve gotten back into network television and I don’t tend to mention these shows on here (but feel free to always assume that I am up to date with most of the weekly releases), this post won’t be super long. Enjoy!

Panic (Season 1)

Panic is an Amazon Original show based on the YA novel of the same name by Lauren Oliver. I actually read this book years ago (I think all the way back in 2014???), but I honestly can’t remember much about it and I know that to be true, because I was genuinely shocked by some of the twists on the show.

Where the book was written from a dual POV (Heather and Dodge), the show focuses on even more key players of the game Panic with a clear bias towards Heather and her perspective though. Having so many characters the audience is supposed to care about can be tricky and I don’t think it fully managed to make us invested in all of them. I found a couple performances really intriguing and even liked minor side characters, but definitely not all of the mains. The relationship between Heather and Ray was something that kept me interested. I have a soft spot for the boy who is always presumed to be the worst, but who actually really cares.

As for the premise in general, I find it hard to judge these teens for playing a game as stupid as Panic. First of all, this wouldn’t be the first time a really upsetting tradition was created in a small-knit and poor community, no matter how reckless participating is, and secondly, I truly believe that these characters thought taking part was the only way out for them. Of course, the thrill-seekers of the bunch are morons for playing a potentially lethal game, but if you had nothing to your name and all you wanted was to escape a place and your circumstances … maybe you would consider it too?

All in all, I really enjoyed the show. I binged it in one go and liked the thrill that came with some of the challenges. The acting was wooden in part, which didn’t help me connect to the characters, but as I said above, there were a couple performances I really enjoyed. The game in itself is something you just have to believe in no matter the plot holes for this work. A lot of the mystery is just for the mystery’s sake and the viewers know even less than the characters while watching, which can be frustrating at times. Still, I would watch another season.

Special (Season 2)

I had a great time watching Special when it first released on Netflix. I think they managed to get to do longer episodes this season (even if it was only by a little) and it helped strengthen their narrative. We weren’t stuck with last season’s plot at all, but naturally evolved with the characters. So much of it was finding out who you want to spend your time with after you’ve learned to love yourself, which isn’t an easy feat to begin with, but you might not want to compromise or settle. Kim’s love life was a highlight for me, because I adore that she just had men worshiping her. I love to see big girl love.

Army of the Dead

Not going to lie, this isn’t my genre at all. I’m not into zombie movies in general (Warm Bodies being the rare exception), but I genuinely wanted to see how Matthias Schweighöfer would fare among these other Hollywood actors. He must have made a great impression since his character is getting a prequel movie, which he will also direct and I found his character a really good comic relief.

In general, this movie was much more fun that I thought it would be. It has some weaknesses, but the zombies were different than the ones I’m used to and I felt entertained, which is the most important part anyway. I can see how this would lead to an entire cinematic zombie universe of its own, because there is definitely potential for sequels, especially some that are set outside of the US.

Doors

I don’t know why I felt to watch an anthology horror movie with extraterrestrial doors in the middle of the night, but I did. It weirdly gave me annihilation vibes and everything about the sound design and the visuals is specifically made to make you feel uncomfortable. Sometimes I was a little put off by the way writing was incorporated in the movie, but it definitely added to the unique style. I didn’t end up loving it, because it made me feel super off and wasn’t a very satisfying watch in my opinion, but I don’t regret checking it out.


I’m currently watching the second season of Ragnarok, so you can be sure that I will talk about that once the next post rolls around. What are you watching? Do you plan to view or have you already seen any of the things I mentioned?

My Thoughts on the Shadow and Bone Netflix Adaptation!

It has been no secret just how very excited I was for the Shadow and Bone series (as well as the Six of Crows duology) to be adapted by Netflix. While the streaming platform doesn’t always get it right, I was really optimistic early on and the trailers looked fantastic. Before I watched it, though, I caught up on all the books as to really know what I am talking about (only Rule of Wolves is missing for me now, but that’s irrelevant for the show at the moment) and even before going into details on my thoughts, I think they did a great job!

Obviously, the Grishaverse is huge and vast and has quite the fanbase because of the books series. But not everyone has read those and Netflix offers a platform that exposes the material to millions of people all over the world. Not everyone will be happy with everything, but I would like share my personal opinions in the following post.

*I could not do this without going into detail on some topics, so this might not be for you if you want to go into the show with as little knowledge as possible. SPOILERS ahead!!!*

THINGS/CHANGES I DIDN’T LIKE

I want to get the “bad” things out of the way, because some of it really irked me. It did not overshadow my enjoyment entirely, because I binged the show in a day, but I find it necessary to point them out regardless.

  • Casting Jessie Mei Li as Alina was a beautiful choice. Jessie is a ray of sunshine and hence amazing to watch as the sun summoner. They have great chemistry with on screen partners and I’m so very glad they got cast for this role. In the books, Alina wasn’t biracial though. This was a choice made to bring more diversity to the on screen adaptation, but where they went wrong (in my opinion) was by adding anti-Asian slurs and racism to portray the treatment of people from Shu Han. Nowhere in the books was this kind of racism ever present and we are dealing with a Fantasy world where Alina already faces enough struggles and could have dealt with a number of different circumstances that made her feel othered if that was what they wanted to portray so badly. Every time they inserted a slur such as “rice-eater” or “half-breed” it felt forced and unnecessary and I imagine hurtful to certain audiences. The problem is that they never contextualize this behavior, because they simply claim that being at war with Shu Han is enough to warrant the hostility, but that’s really not the take they thought it was.
credit: Netflix
  • Amplifiers in the books, while still kind of barbaric, are jewelry made out of bones/scales/claws/etc. and can be anything from a necklace to a bracelet or ring. Grisha can only have one amplifier in their lifetime (yeah, I know exceptions exist) and can never take it off. The Grisha who killed the animal the amplifier is from has the power over it. I think that’s all pretty cut and clear, so, why did the show change them into some kind of body horror?
    When the Darkling puts the antlers on Alina, she does not get a badass necklace, but rather the antlers fuse into her collar bone, making it an extremely uncomfortable scene to watch. I worry about this change, not just because she eventually absorbs the antlers into her body entirely and they are not visible anymore at all, but also because it makes me feel that the producers thought putting a literal collar on a person was not horrific enough and they needed another violation of Alina’s body to showcase the Darkling’s evil nature. Apparently, people wouldn’t be put off enough by his disregard for consent and need to control everyone around him.
  • Speaking of the Darkling! Due to budget constraints and everyone adoring Ben Barnes (he is a great actor), they opted to not show the Demon in the Woods short story as part of a flashback, where the Darkling would have been only 10 years old, but rather showed a grown up Darkling. In that tidbit from the past, he seemed enamored with a Grisha called Luda, who did not exist in the books, but came across as a love interest in that scene. Her death causes the creation of the Fold, making it feel like fridging (where the girlfriend/wife/love interest of the male protagonist dies in order to propel his story). In an interview with Insider, the showrunner explicitly said they weren’t trying to do that and even actively tried to avoid it, but nothing in that scene told me they weren’t romantically involved. (You can read the interview here!)
    Also, I keep calling him the Darkling, because that’s how I knew him for 7 books. Yes, his first name is Aleksander, but in the books that’s revealed very late. His name is a mystery and Alina is the only person in that world to know it, which felt special, but here he just throws his name around like it means nothing. The show really humanised him a lot.
credit: Netflix

GENRAL STUFF I ENJOYED OR NOTICED

The following points that I will mention were neither huge mistakes nor masterful choices. I just collected some of my thoughts that I found interesting or necessary to mention to give you all a complete picture.

  • As someone who has read all the books, short stories and anthologies (Language of Thorns and Lives of Saints), I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on the Grishaverse. However, had I been someone who didn’t have that prior knowledge, I could have easily seen myself struggle with some of the concepts. They really barely explained anything to do with Grisha orders, amplifiers or something as simple but vital as the belief systems (Fjerdan god vs. Ravkan sainsts etc.). I doubt that anyone could understand some of the important components to their full extent having none of that knowledge and background info. Whereas I understand it’s difficult to include, a little more would have been appreciated from my side.
  • While waiting for the show to release, I always said that I did not care about the faithfulness of the story, but rather about the accurate representation of the characters and their personality and I still stand by that. Yes, Jesper should have been played by a dark-skinned actor, but Kit Younger has his personality DOWN. And not just him, EVERYONE either behaved exactly like I imagined they would (even if they didn’t all look like they had in my head) or even improved on the characters by playing them softer and with more nuance and vulnerability (e.g. Matthias Helvar). I cannot wait to see who they will bring in for the twins, Nikolai and Wylan next season.
credit: Netflix
  • The overall pacing and the amount of story they packed into this first season was well handled. From what I heard, the showrunner has a three-season-plan, which would correlate nicely with the three Shadow and Bone books. I really hope that the next season would also start implementing the Six of Crows plot, because this was a nice prequel to their characters, but I need to see the big heist happening. However, since everything is more interconnected, they might change things up further and I’d be excited to see what that looks like.

SOME IMPROVEMENTS

In some cases, I even think that the show did better than the book. Having the ability to show several points of view, whereas Shadow and Bone the book only offered Alina’s side really gave them the chance to explore the characters some more. Also, it probably helped that the producers already knew about all the later books Leigh Bardugo wrote as well. Here’s some changes I thought worked well:

  • When I first read Shadow and Bone, I hated Zoya. She literally broke Alina’s ribs and just treated her terribly, because she was jealous. Early on in the books, there are few redeeming qualities to Zoya and while she improves over time, I always felt a grudge until I got her side of things in King of Scars. While she starts out similarly in the show, I was grateful that they allowed an insight into her backstory earlier in the season than in the books. She is such an important character, but I think audiences would have struggled later on, just like I did while reading, if they hadn’t softened her up.
  • I think I am part of a small group of people who actually liked Mal in the books, but I think Archie and the writing on the show made the character so much better. They scratched unnecessary and childish jealousy scenes (which was annoying but fine in the books, because they were younger) and genuinely made his connection to Alina seem sweet and fated. I’m so happy people are now actually rooting for them.
  • Milo the goat is the real MVP.

VERDICT

I loved seeing some of my favorite characters brought to life on the screen. My expectations were high and I could have easily been disappointed but I was really pleased with how everything came together. Shadow and Bone is by no means flawless, but the effort they put into wanting to do the material justice came through. I honestly didn’t know if I would understand the involvement of the crows before watching, but it was integrated beautifully and they provided some of the best parts of the season. If you enjoyed the books, I think you will like this as well. Even if you weren’t a huge fan of the Shadow and Bone books, but only enjoyed Six of Crows, I can easily see you liking this better. 

credit: Netflix

Previous Reviews from this books series and Leigh Bardugo’s work:


Have you watched Shadow and Bone yet? Do you plan to? What were some of your favorite and least favorite moments? Let’s talk!

Book to Screen Adaptations 2021

I feel like I am often skimming on the book content for the blog, but have plenty of movies and TV shows to talk about. In an effort to combine those elements, I wanted to share with you a post about 2021 book to screen adaptations. This list is neither complete nor have I read all the books the material will be based on. However, I am known for liking my movie covers and reading books once I have seen trailers, so, I want to share some that I found interesting.

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The Aftermath by Rhidian Brooks (Book Review + Movie Trailer)

Publisher: Penguin
Page Count
: 325

I am struggling with how to even start this review. You all know how torn I am when it comes to the topic of books set during or closely after World War II. Some of my favourite reads treat that topic (check out Wolf by Wolf or The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society for some great examples) and I was ready to love and get my heart broken by The Aftermath as well. But somehow, that’s not what happened at all.

Rachael could find no solace in other people’s tales of woe. Pain was uniquely one’s own, and undiminished by a democracy of suffering.

The Aftermath certainly offers a perspective not too often shown. It deals with former enemies living in close quarters. With legitimate resentment and unwillingness to forgive and forget, while simultaneously needing to move on and let go. There is a constant push and pull as the story is mostly told from the confines of the families Morgan and Lubert, one English and one German. And that’s the whole point. These families have never done anything to each other per se, but their nationalities and what those countries have done during the war has led to loss on both sides and that in term to suffering. There are no real winners in war, so pain exists everywhere.

That is exactly what the book tried to show from as many angles as possible. There are complex moral questions to answer as you get confronted with what surely was the reality for many people. I am in no way EVER going to excuse the atrocities Germany (or Austria for that matter) has committed during the war, however, how can you judge every single person of a country for what the government did? How can you decide who has a clean slate and just did their best to survive or who willingly and eagerly participated? What about the children who were taught a certain mindset, sometimes too young to question what was going on – is their resentment towards the occupation justified?

And that is not all! The people who now want to rebuild the country and set it on a rightful path again, how much are they allowed to interfere really? If they disdain the entire populace, are they really able to help or are they making things worse? 

I’ve not met a German who has difficulty believing that they have been defeated, Wilkins. I think they have, to a man, accepted it, gladly, and with some relief. The real difference between them and us is that they have been comprehensively and categorically fucked, and they know it. It is we who are taking too long to adjust to that fact.

I don’t feel in any position to give or come up with proper answers here, but I was glad to have the book shine a light on those intricacies. I am not going to lie, some parts really hurt to read about. My grandmother was a young girl during the occupation and she had bad memories that haunted her until the end. I am not here to judge anyone’s right or wrong-doings, but I liked that the book showed that things weren’t that simple, that every side had its flaws.

However, why did I not love this book then? Everything felt very clinical and presented to me. There weren’t just the families, but also the Trümmerkinder (children living in the rubble), who basically started and finished the book and felt detached from everything else (despite providing a pivotal turning point for the story). While everyone had their part to play in showing what was going on, I had an immensely difficult time connecting to anyone in particular. While I was on board with some of the pain and resentment, some people felt manic and others had me furious at their unwillingness to adapt.

My biggest issue was probably the fact that the story just trickled along and then threw everything at you in the final 40 pages. I don’t mind introspective, slow stories. I don’t even mind it when nothing monumental happens at all and you just get a glimpse at a moment in time, but rushed endings have the tendency to ruin things for me. They never quite feel as satisfactory as the slower and intimate moments suggested it would all be thoroughly explained.

Fazit: 2.5/5 stars! An interesting view at post-war Germany that failed to fully capture me.

Now about the movie. I haven’t watched it yet, but I intend to at some point, because an actor I know has a role in it. However, I thought I would still share the trailer with you. From what I could see, it mainly focuses on the affair between the British wife of the colonel and the German man living in their requisitioned house. I love Alexander Skarsgard, so I don’t exactly mind that they didn’t use a German actor for the role (even though Alexander’s German does not sound authentic). Still, I could see almost all the characters from the book appear at one point or another. The piano music (especially in the second trailer) is also very much in tune with the book. It looks faithful enough, but I suspect that there wasn’t enough room in that one film to really explore all angles.


Have you read The Aftermath? Have you watched the movie? Let’s talk!

A Discovery of Witches: Book vs. TV Show

Every year, there is one of these book vs. TV show comparison posts among the most popular posts. I am so very glad you are enjoying them, because I so very much enjoy writing them. It’s been a while since I talked about this show, but here we go! I hope I remember everything correctly!

General Plot

It begins with absence and desire.
It begins with blood and fear.
It begins with a discovery of witches.

Diana Bishop, historian and reluctant witch, doesn’t realise that the book she just requested at the library will change her life forever. The volume has been lost in history, but for her it appears and reawakens magic she never knew she had in her. Now being sought out by the entire magical community, she finds herself enthralled with the supposed enemy, vampire genetecist Matthew Clairmont. As they slowly warm up to each other, it turns out their connection is far deeper than anyone could have foreseen.

TV Show

There was a lot of controversy when the show first aired, because how dare anyone release something in Europe months before it is coming out in the US. I, for one, didn’t think it was such a big deal, because what do you think anyone outside the US has to deal with when it comes to books, TV shows and movies 90% of the time? Anyway, my point is that there was a lot of buzz before it even aired and seen as it wasn’t on any of the traditional networks or streaming services, I feel like that was a good thing.

When I started that first episode, I was immediately enthralled with the show. The cinematography is one of the most beautiful ones out there, the pacing is slow but without making it seem like they are dragging things out and the chemistry between the main leads is just on fire. I will admit that the romance felt cheesy or like it was developing too fast and too intensely, but I just as equally have to say that I didn’t mind? There was a magical connection between them and as you go along with the show (or book for that matter), you’ll notice that Diana and Matthew were inevitable. So, yes, you do have the cliché vampire who stalks the pretty girl, but you also have a fascinating magical system behind it to back it all up. Lastly, I also really enjoyed the way they incorporated science into it all!

Another thing I really liked about the show was the fact that you didn’t just get a glimpse of the main couple and their lives, but all the minor and major characters that surrounded them. It made for a better whole picture and while there are still a lot of unanswered questions, you can see why certain characters did the things they did. Especially the daemons get a whole lot more attention on screen than they did in the books, where it mainly revolved around vampires and witches alone.

The show was renewed for season 2 and 3, which likely means they will film the trilogy as it was in the book, since they also stuck to the storyline of the first volume for the first season. This is good news, because it will mean that there will be a proper ending guaranteed.

Book

A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy, #1)Contrary to the show, the book is entirely told from Diana’s perspective. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but it left the motivation behind certain characters’ actions up to your imagination, while I prefer knowing how things come to be that way. Especially when we are talking bad guys, I like them to be more layered than just plain “I prefer the old way and that’s why you can’t do what you want to do” behaviour.

Still, overall I struggled a little bit with the book. It could stem from me not being used to long and detailed storytelling anymore (it’s a whopping 594 pages filled with different languages and historical accounts as well as architectural observations), but I also found Matthew’s and Diana’s behaviour a little more irritating. In that universe, witches are wild and stubborn, while vampires are territorial predators. It is like that in the show as well, but I feel like they managed to tone it down and made it less aggressive traits of the characters.

The beginning wasn’t adapted to the screen very faithfully, because there definitely wasn’t any vampire yoga class (which I found silly), but the second half of the book felt very accurately represented. There are still some changes that I am intrigued about, because they didn’t seem minor to me, but since the show continues, I am not worried it won’t be addressed. However, there was a certain magical ability, that I don’t want to spoil, featured on the show and I had hoped that I would find it more comprehensive once I read about it, but I still don’t understand it. Seen as they literally described it, I find it frustrating that I wasn’t able to grasp the concept fully. I still have so many questions.

Fazit: 3/5 stars! It took me about a year to finish the book, because some of the descriptions were tiresome and the characters felt a little more irritating to me, but in the end, I was just as intrigued by it all as I was with the show.

Conclusion

In general, I believe the show found a way to bring the book to life in a graceful and comprehensive way. There are a couple of plotholes here and there, but they aren’t limited to the screen adaptation in my eyes. So, I prefer to watch it all unfold beautifully, than to be confused by overly detailed descriptive text.


Have you read or watched A Discovery of Witches? Did you enjoy it? Let’s talk!

Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby (Review + Movie Trailer)

Publisher: Penguin
Page Count
: 249

It’s been so long since I have done a regular review for a book and I know because I checked (for real, I haven’t written one since the end of July). I am not exactly ecstatic that the first book after all these months is Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby now to be honest and it’s a little tough to explain the why of it all.

First, Juliet, Naked isn’t a bad book. It’s about people who feel they have wasted years of their lives, whole decades even, due to wrong decisions and a lack of action to change their less than ideal situations. Even as someone who isn’t in her 40s or 50s, I can relate to that topic. There are times I wonder what I am doing with my life and whether I have gotten into enough trouble, taken enough chances or simply whether I am on the right path for future me. This book chronicles how Annie, Duncan and Tucker have to live with their regrets and make the best of it, all packaged with a good measure of dry English humour, a deep fascination with 80s music, a spin on modern day online conversation/dating and unhealthy fandom culture.

Usually, all those aforementioned elements would draw me in immediately! Who am I kidding? The mere suggestion of them here was the reason I picked up the book and in the beginning it was all really funny. I could see myself in parts of each character, like in Duncan’s passion for something he loved (although I never was on his level of obsession for anything ever and I go deep sometimes), Tucker’s ability to share his deepest thoughts with a stranger on the internet but his inability to do so with his closest family and friends or Annie’s fear of having missed the opportunity to have a family of her own by getting comfortable in a situation because it was easy rather than the right one. I don’t mind having people be the main characters who aren’t perfect. In my eyes, it makes them more realistic and human to have various flaws and even flaws that you don’t have to forgive sometimes.  got all that and I felt that and even though it all sounds rather serious and gloomy, it also had some great humour sprinkled in.

But then there were also all these disjointed parts and characters that truly weren’t necessary. And worst of all the conclusion … it felt so open-ended and with a lack of, well, closure. I understand that not ever story needs to tie all ends together, but here it felt like we stopped a couple chapters short of where Juliet, Naked was supposed to end. I didn’t need for them to live happily ever after, but I did need a couple more infos on their fate. So, while I enjoyed the themes and characters (to some extent), the ultimate execution of the story just lacked something for me. I feel like there was a lot more in there we didn’t get to see.

Fazit: 2.5/5 stars! A rather average story that could have been more.

Now, as the title promised, I am also going to share the movie trailer here. I believe, and please don’t hold me accountable on this, the movie is currently in theaters (at least at the time of writing this post). I haven’t seen the movie yet, so no comment on that, but from what I gathered from the trailer, it looks like a faithful adaptation that expands on all the elements that were lacking or not quite right for me in the book. I am curious to see if I am right and whether they will change the end, but take a look for yourself:

Have you read or watched Juliet, Naked? Are there any other Nick Hornby books you’ve checked out? Let me know in the comments below!

#CurrentlyWatching: Rise

This week’s #CurrentlyWatching is another one I am just going to be cautiously optimistic about. As I have mentioned in previous posts, when I did this last year, a lot of the shows I actually wanted to save or draw attention to with my writing still got cancelled and I was devastated. So, I usually try to not do a whole post for it anymore before at least an entire season has aired, but I couldn’t hold off on Rise any longer.

The show airs on NBC and is a couple episodes away from its first season finale. While it may seem like a cross between Glee and Friday Night Lights, it is actually based on real life events that were chronicled in the non-fiction book Drama High by Michael Sokolove. I haven’t read it, but I checked out some reviews on Goodreads, where a couple of the former students definitively agreed to the excellence of that teacher (while the narrator’s voice and his depiction of the small town is apparently debatable). I know how valuable of an experience it is to have someone like that during your school years, so I always liked the idea for this show from the beginning.

Rise follows teacher Lou Mazzuchelli as he tries to revive the High School’s theater department and faces a lot of pushback from the community about his unconventional approach.

I remember watching the first episode of Rise and it hitting directly home where my heart is. Most of the time, I am not a huge fan of big ensemble casts, just because I like to focus on individuals which gets increasingly more difficult as the plot thickens. So, of course, there’s always episodes that focus on some characters more than on others to the point where there’s still people left to discover halfway through the season. It’s something you have to be prepared for, but I don’t think that it distracted from the overall most important story arcs.

As I mentioned above, many people have compared it to Glee, but the show strikes a much more mature tone. Due to it focusing on a musical production and not Glee club in general, there is also less singing and especially no random bursting into a song when they aren’t actually auditioning or rehearsing for the play. The problems the characters are facing seem very tailored to the characters they are playing in the chosen musical, “Spring Awakening”, so I wonder how that will go over the span of several seasons.

Overall, there’s a lot of different topics that are being treated. There’s a definite focus on the parent-child-relationships and I really loved seeing the various nuances of that so far. In addition to that, there’s conversations about transgender issues, teen pregnancy, underage drinking and alcoholism, exploring ones sexuality, the foster system and general societal pressure to fit into a certain mold. It does all that with a lot of compassion, showing the characters when they overstep or make something about themselves when it’s really not. I am not trying to say Rise does everything right, but it offers a platform for a lot of representation.

I don’t know why I keep doing this to myself, because I am terrible at picking just one person to spotlight, especially when there is such a huge cast. Everyone brings something to the table, but I guess I am a little partial to Maashous’ storyline.

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I would like to foster or adopt children in the future. From a young age on, I always had this idea of wanting to help those kids and teens once I was grown up (and able to care for someone else), but somehow I was also too chicken to pursue a career as a social worker. Anyway, before I get off track too much, Maashous is one of those kids in the foster system and I guess that’s why I was so invested in his story.

He is quiet, the kind of person you may not notice, but who is always around. He cares for his friends, seems very open-minded from what I saw so far and is willing to help whenever someone needs him. So, it broke my heart to know that he had troubles in his foster home and ended up sleeping at school. He deserves so much better! I don’t want to spoil what happens, but it gets better and I hope you might tune in to find out how exactly.

Have you watched Rise? Do you want to? Let’s talk!

Famous In Love: Book vs. TV Show

You all know that my love for books constantly has to compete with my love for TV shows, because in the end there are only so many hours in one day. That is why I love it all the more when I can combine those two passions and do a little comparison of a book and its (big or small) screen adaptation. I’ve previously done this for Still Star-Crossed and since I am still getting clicks for that, I am just going to assume you won’t mind more posts of the like! Today’s book vs. show post will feature Famous in Love!

General Plot

The story of Famous in Love follows Portland-raised Paige Townsen on her way to Hollywood fame. She soon finds out that being cast for the main role in a YA trilogy adaptation isn’t just glamorous when she struggles to unite her old and new life, succumbs to the pressure of being a new face in a harsh industry and ultimately finds herself amidst an intense love triangle.

TV Show

I am going to start with the show, because I actually watched it prior to reading the book. I usually try to read stuff before the show/movie comes out, but sometimes that just doesn’t happen and from there on it can go both ways. Anyway, Famous in Love is in its second season on Freeform. Not going to lie, Freeform and I have a strenuous relationship, because they often do very superficial adaptations and tacky content, while easily cancelling the things I actually do like (except for The Bold Type, they are doing great on that one!). I suppose that was part of the reason why I wanted to watch the show without having much knowledge about the book, since I knew they were going to change a lot. Not having any sort of allegiance the content beforehand can be really helpful in those kind of situations.

Freeform shows follow a very simple formula. Have a glossy appearance, get a mix of known and unknown actors and actresses in their early twenties and then just add drama, drama, drama at a varying degree of realism. For some formats that doesn’t work at all and for other things I quite enjoy their take. Famous in Love is definitely one of my guilty pleasures, but mostly because it takes place in the film industry and that is my soft spot.

As someone who has worked in that industry, I always like those supposed behind the scenes kind of shows. Mix it with a typical Cinderella and fish-out-of-water component and you basically have me hooked without question. I may not be the biggest Bella Thorne fan to begin with, but it’s easy to root for her character, Paige, the entire time. Who hasn’t secretly (or not so secretly) dreamed of becoming famous over night and having celebrities swoon over you?

I am a simple girl, I always favour episodes with character development and exploration of relationships over the superficial drama that comes with jealousy, affairs, fake press stories and out-of-the-blue-murder, but I guess it was to be expected with this kind of show. And even if it’s silly sometimes, in the end you just want to know what happened? So, while I do enjoy watching it as a whole, I still think that Famous in Love has a couple weaknesses. For one, the cast is quite big and keeps getting bigger, which often makes it hard to focus on anyone in particular for an extended amount of time without neglecting someone else. Also, I feel like some of the characters changed their personality quite a bit from Season 1 to Season 2 and I don’t get why exactly. None of that has stopped me from tuning in every week so far though.

One of my favourite parts about Famous in Love is the teen novel they are adapting called Locked. I want that book to be a real YA franchise so that I can dig in and read the story myself. OR I want that fake movie they are filming to be a real movie, so that I can watch the entire Locked film one day. *sigh* Those are the dreams of a TV obsessed bookworm …

Book

Now that the second season started up on Freeform, I thought it was finally time to check out the source material. Granted, I went into this with quite a few preconceived ideas of what the story would be according to the show, but I still wasn’t prepared for the amount of actual changes.

The general idea is still the same. Paige is a nobody, but gets the role in this huge franchise. But that’s about it. Whereas the show takes place in LA, the book is almost entirely set in Hawaii. Whereas Paige is in her early twenties on TV, she is only 17 and still living with her parents when the book starts. Whereas Paige’s friends are right there with her not just in life but also in the film industry in the adaptation, they have a huge fight and grow apart while also being in different locations entirely. Whereas the love triangle on the show is between Paige, her co-star Rainer and her roommate Jake, the book’s main romance catastrophe was between Paige, Rainer and ALSO her second co-star Jordan.

Look, I am all for love triangles IF they are done well. I like the idea that one’s heart is torn between two amazing love interests, but that just wasn’t the case here. While I may have understood the slow burn approach of the Paige and Rainer relationship, which was actually really cute and developed slowly, the Jordan part was completely beyond me. Paige was downright ready to sabotage him getting a job on set, just to fall head over heels into him without saying much more than “hi” to each other for weeks.

In addition to that, the version of Locked they were filming in this scenario also sounds less appealing somehow and I don’t even know why that would be different as well? Anyway, I think that I would usually allow for the possibility of me not enjoying the book as much because of having seen the show first, but I cannot imagine myself liking this book in any other situation either.

Fazit: 2.5/5 stars! (click on the cover to be redirected to Goodreads!)

Conclusion

So, in the end, I would say that the TV show is vastly superior to the book and I stand by that statement. Making the characters older and a tad more mature with that, as well as setting the scene right in the high life that is Los Angeles, was a smart move in my opinion. They also created a better love triangle (whether you like them or not) than they did in the book and I will happily continue watching the series even if I won’t read any more of the books.

Do you watch Famous in Love? Have you read it? What is your take on the subject? Let’s talk!

P.S.: Shout out to the unsung heroes of any kind of production – the PAs (Production Assistants)! Or in this particular case, Adam, a reoccurring character on the show who deserves more screen time.