Thursday, 22 August 2013

CITY OF BONES

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

If you haven't read the books that this film is based on, I can't imagine it will be of much interest to you, so I won't bother giving a synopsis, I'll just assume you know what I'm talking about.

Overall, I actually thought this film was pretty good. Now, that may be because I had such very low expectations of it - anything that's referred to as 'the next Twilight' causes my blood to run slightly cold and the source material isn't exactly great literature - but I did enjoy watching this.

It doesn't hurt that I've been slightly in love with Jamie Campbell Bower since I met him a couple of months ago at a publicity event for the film (or the book, I still don't fully understand what the event was all about, mostly because I couldn't hear a word that was being said, but I met Jamie Campbell Bower so it didn't really matter).

There are some spectacularly naff moments. The greenhouse scene springs to mind - why are there magical glowing flowers? No, seriously, why? It's very confusing. The film was ticking along nicely, I was wrapped up in it and just enjoying it, and then something hideous would happen - magical flowers in the greenhouse, the portal, a werewolf transformation - and I'd be dragged out of the movie and snorting with laughter at what I was seeing. And I wasn't the only one laughing. It is deliberately funny in places, though, there are some great lines and I particularly enjoyed the interactions between Simon and Jace. I never really cared for Simon in the books, but Robert Sheehan has done a great job of bringing him to life here - he leaps right off the screen and his dialogue with Jace is cracking.

The female characters are under-used though, I thought, which is odd given that the main character, Clary, is female. (As a side-note, it would have been really nice if someone could have just decided how we're supposed to pronounce her stupid name. A friend and I - the awesome Imogen - have discussed this at length over the past couple of months and are none the wiser, we were hoping the film would settle the matter. Every single character pronounces it differently.) But my point is that Clary doesn't really do anything, she's just along for the ride and I do think that's an issue with the film rather than the book. I could be wrong, it's been over a year since I read it, but I don't remember her being quite so dull and passive. I'm sure she did stuff. The same goes for Isabelle, who doesn't have very much to do or say either. She gets to wield a flamethrower, sure, but that's pretty much it.

I should start wrapping up now because this is getting quite long and I don't want it to turn into a crazy rant. I thought it was odd that they'd cast so many British actors - not bad, just odd - but I found it quite distracting listening to the Americans put on British accents. Because everyone in this film seems to be trying to sound British, which is just plain weird. It's set in Brooklyn. Why is everyone British? The only other thing I feel I ought to say is that if you're expecting a very faithful adaptation, you will be disappointed. The last third is very different - different enough that I noticed it and was puzzled, and like I said, I haven't read the books in over a year now - but I don't necessarily think it's a bad thing. It was confusing and a little off-putting, but I think the changes make sense. I think they improve the movie overall. Except for a throwaway remark that Hodge makes to Valentine, which I personally consider to be a massive spoiler for later plot developments and utterly pointless. Seriously, he makes this comment and it spoils a revelation that I believe comes in book three. Now, most viewers will have read the books or at least be aware of this big plot point, so why make the comment at all? I can only assume it's because the film studios didn't want to be seen as condoning incest, but it didn't sit right in the film. I was so busy thinking what the hell did he say that for? that I missed the next part of the film.

Despite the fact that I seem to have done nothing but critcise the film in this review, I actually did enjoy it. It's not a high-brow or challenging watch, and if you didn't enjoy the books I can't see you enjoying the film any better, but I did find it entertaining. Entertaining enough that I'd watch it again. Not several times over in the cinema like with a Harry Potter film, but I'll watch it again.

That light bit in the circle? That's Jamie's forehead/hair. We weren't allowed to take pictures with him, we had to be sneaky and do them from a distance. This is literally the best shot we got.



Wednesday, 21 August 2013

BROOKLYN GIRLS

Brooklyn Girls by Gemma Burgess

Jobless. Clueless. Topless on Facebook. (Not necessarily in that order) Welcome to New York City.

Pia Keller is not living the dream. Unemployed, unemployable and broke, post-Uni life in a Brooklyn townhouse with her four best friends suddenly isn't so easy. And that's before heartbreaks, hispters, all-nighters, one-nighters, food trucks, screw-ups, loan sharks and jail-time make things a whole lot more complicated...

It's actually quite hard to put into words how dreadful I thought this book was, but I'll give it a go. The words cheesy and patrionising are the first that come to mind. The dialogue made me actually wince and my God, does anybody in the world actually think that going to a loan shark is a good idea?

There are a couple of things I picked out while reading, which I thought I'd share with you:

1. "God, I hate it when my friends get mistreated."
     Um, don't we all hate that?

2. "Ladybitch."
    I'm pretty sure bitch implies a female anyway, so this clarification makes zero sense to me. Plus, it sounds awful and they say it a LOT.

3. "It makes sense. And his rates are lower than a bank.
    LOAN SHARKS ARE BAD. YOU'RE WELCOME.

And that's even before I start thinking about the characters. Which I can't. Because I'm already getting angry about this book again and I read it weeks ago. There were moments, I suppose, when I didn't want to throw something at the main character, but these moments were few and far between.

Brooklyn Girls was my first foray in New Adult, and honestly, I don't think I'll be setting foot there again. This was just dire. It made me realise how mature everyone I know actually is. And I will never again give any of my friends a death-glare for saying "Fail!" because it could be worse. They could be saying things like "oopsh," "cockmonkey," "bodacious" and "ladybitch."



Tuesday, 20 August 2013

WOOL

Wool by Hugh Howey

What would you do if the world outside was deadly, and the air you breathed could kill? And you lived in a place where every birth required a death, and the choices you made could save lives - or destroy them. This is Jules' story. The is the world of WOOL.

I'm going to start this review by saying that several people recommended this book to me, all of them saying how brilliant it was. One of them, a good friend whose taste in books I trust utterly, told me it was the best thing she'd read all year. So I had high expectations starting this book.

They were not met.

I do think my incredibly high expectations played a part in me not enjoying this book, I really was anticipating something quite spectacular, but honestly, I'm not sure I would have been all that interested in it anyway. I liked the start of it, I was enjoying learning about the world and the interactions between the characters were interesting and there was clearly something sinister simmering away in the background, just waiting to burst forth, but then I got bored. I don't remember at what point it happened, or even if there was a particular point, but I lost interest and never got it back.

I don't want to spoil it for anyone planning to read it, so I'll keep this fairly vague. I found it difficult to connect to any of the characters, particularly Jules, who ends up being the main character, and I couldn't understand what the point of a lot of it was. I understood why the characters were where they were and why that had to be secret, but I don't understand what anyone was actually hoping to achieve. It didn't make sense to me and it didn't interest me. There wasn't even a particular strand - because it splits into at least three main narratives (I think) - that bored me and spoilt my enjoyment of the rest, I just found it an exhausting read and didn't get anything from it. It's a shame and I blame my friends entirely, but I just didn't like this one.



Monday, 19 August 2013

DIE FOR ME

Die for Me by Amy Plum

When Kate Mercier's parents die in a tragic car accident, she leaves her life - and memories - behind to live with her grandparents in Paris. For Kate, the only way to survive her pain is escaping into the world of books and Parisian art. Until she meets Vincent.

Mysterious, charming, and devastatingly handsome, Vincent threatens to melt the ice around Kate's guarded heart with just his smile. As she begins to fall in love with Vincent, Kate discovers that he's a revenant--an undead being whose fate forces him to sacrifice himself over and over again to save the lives of others. Vincent and those like him are bound in a centuries-old war against a group of evil revenants who exist only to murder and betray. Kate soon realizes that if she follows her heart, she may never be safe again.

Yeah, I really didn't like this book. At all. I know it's been a few weeks since I read it (I've gotten kind of behind on reviewing books because I've been working on a new manuscript and it's been quite the time-suck) but I can't think of a single thing I liked about this book. Other than the cover, of course. I think the cover's beautiful.

Essentially, this book is about angels in Paris. I don't like angels or Paris. Really, this is my own fault and nothing to do with the book. If I had done even the minimal amount of research - such as read the synopsis I posted above instead of a different one - I would have realised this book involved angels and Paris and just passed by it. But I didn't. I bought it and made myself persevere beyond the first page, which is when it became clear to me that this was a book about angels in Paris. Also, how good would a song called Angels in Paris be? Sorry, the phrase is going round and round in my head.

Other than the whole angels in Paris issue, I found the book quite unoriginal, it's one of those books that draws an inevitable comparison to Twilight. Now, I actually liked Twilight, but if I wanted to read it again, I would. I don't need to read a book that is incredibly similar in story and tone. The writing was quite plain as well, I thought, so coupled with the story that I found uninteresting, there really just wasn't anything to hold my attention.

Also, angels in Paris.

But the cover's really nice, so there's that.



Saturday, 10 August 2013

A to Z Survey

So, on Friday, Jamie from The Perpetual Page-Turner posted this survey on her blog and I thought I'd fill it out, since I've enjoyed reading lots of other people's responses and couldn't help thinking about what my own answers would be. If you decide to do it, leave me a comment and I'll check it out. (The graphic above is Jamie's, too, not mine)

Author You've Read the Most Books From
According to Goodreads, it's Jacqueline Wilson with 28 books. I don't think I could even name that many of her books, but apparently I've read them! She was one of my favourite authors as a kid, and I'd devour anything with her name on it.

Best Sequel Ever
Pretties by Scott Westerfeld - it's one of my favourite series of all time, and this second instalment is my favourite of the four of them.

Currently Reading
Brooklyn Girls by Gemma Burgess. It's my first foray into New Adult and I'm not enjoying it at all really. Although I have learned that loan sharks are BAD.

Drink of Choice while Reading
Water, I suppose. I don't often settle down to read a book, so when I do I just usually have water to hand. 

E-Reader or Physical Book?
Physical books all the way, no question. I've never technically read anything on an E-reader.

Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated in High School
I've never been much of a dater, but I do attract weirdos, so probably somebody creepy like Edward Cullen (okay, I actually liked Twilight and was Team Edward, but even I can accept that going into a girl's room while she's sleeping and has no idea is kind of creepy)

Glad You Gave This Book a Chance
Divergent by Veronica Roth. I wasn't going to read it, I wasn't that interested and almost gave up on it early on, but I finished it and liked it enough to read the second book.

Hidden Gem Book
Why nobody in the world seems to have read North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell is totally beyond me. It's glorious. Do yourself a favour and read it now.

Important Moment in Your Reading Life
I guess the moment I decided to stop ignoring the two Harry Potter books on my shelf because they had a train and a car on the front and were quite clearly boy books and deign to read them. I was a stubborn seven-year-old, but come on, the first book had a train on the cover.

Just Finished
Wool by Hugh Howey. I wasn't overly impressed by it, I think possibly because everyone I know that's read it has raved about it. They loved it and I was disappointed.

Kinds of Books You Won't Read
Anything about war. Any kind of war. Seriously, it bores me stiff. Recently, anything with vampires or werewolves or angels, even though I used to be obsessed with vampire books. I think I've just read too many now and need a good long break. 

Longest Book You've Read
Well, according to Goodreads, it's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which is strange because Order of the Phoenix is quite a bit longer than that one, so who knows?

Major Book Hangover Because Of
I've never really been one for book hangovers, so I guess I'll be boring and pick Harry Potter again. It was a huge part of my life - and continues to be - and so reaching the end of the last book was pretty devastating.

Number of Bookcases You Own
Two. There are more in the house, but I have two of my own. Along with numerous piles of books around the room.

One Book You Have Read Multiple Times
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. (If you're too lazy to read the book, which I'm sure you're not, the TV adaptation with Tom Hardy was excellent. Side note - I read the book first)

Preferred Place to Read
My bed.

Quote That Inspires You/Gives You All the Feels
Again, I'm not really one for remembering quotes. I guess I could go with 'All was well.'

Reading Regret
That I can't leave books unfinished. I spend a lot of time reading books I'm not enjoying instead of stopping and moving onto something I might enjoy more.

Series You Started and Need to Finish (All Books are Out)
Immortal Beloved by Cate Tiernan. I loved this book and it's sequel, but I haven't got the third one yet because I was waiting for the paperback. The other two are hardback, but they stopped making the covers that match my ones, and I refuse to spend hardback money on a book that won't match the set. I go back and forth on this decision, but the paperback is finally released this month and I am so excited. I've had it pre-ordered for months now.

Three of Your All-Time Favourite Books
Beauty by Robin McKinley, In Sarah's Shadow by Karen McCombie, and Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (can't believe I've got this far without mentioning Neil Gaiman!)

Unapologetic Fangirl For
Leigh Bardugo. I adore Shadow and Bone and love Siege and Storm almost as much (it needs more Darkling). None of the people I've recommended this book to have actually read it yet, so I'm planning to buy several copies and force it on them at Christmas. I'm sure they'll thank me once they've read it.

Very Excited for This Release More than All the Others
I'm gonna have to say Eternally Yours by Cate Tiernan again because it is so close and I have waited so long. So long that I may have technically forgotten what happened at the end of the last book, maybe it's time for a re-read.

Worst Bookish Habit
It's not exactly a habit, but matching book covers are a huge deal to me. I won't rant about it here, but why do publishers change the book covers part-way through a series? I even want unrelated books by the same author to match (I have a lovely set of Neil Gaiman books that match, and three that don't, although two of those were children's books so I could cope with it. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is just very distressing in terms of how it looks on the shelf). And while I'm on the subject of covers - when UK publishers take a lovely US cover and redesign it so it's hideous. Like Speechless by Hannah Harrington. That bright blue and the cut-out magazine letters? Ew.

X Marks the Spot - 27th Book on Your Bookshelf
City of Bones by Cassandra Clare. Another book that's probably due for a re-read, since several of my friends are reading the series for the first time in anticipation of the film being released and half the time I've got no idea what they're talking about because my memory sucks!

Your Latest Book Purchase
I actually just bought the first Game of Thrones book by George R.R. Martin, whatever it's called. It was 99p on Kindle and so I decided to finally give in and buy it because I've enjoyed the series. I'll have to borrow a family member's Kindle to read it, but maybe that'll bring me around to the idea of E-books.

Zzz-Snatcher Book (last book that kept you up WAY late)
Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers. I really enjoyed this book and read it within 24 hours I think, because I kept thinking "just one more chapter, just one more chapter." At work the next day, I was counting down the minutes to my break so I could finish it off, and was then a wee bit of a mess when I couldn't get it finished in the time I had!