Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Judging Books By Their Covers: Part 2

In this edition of "Judging Books By Their Covers," I am entering the world of non-contemporary teen fiction.

*dramatic music swells*

Without looking at the summaries, I tried to find books that looked otherworldly and guess what they're about.

Let's hope I don't fail as miserably as I did last time.

Avalon by Mindee Arnett


The cover is black with futuristic silver letters, so I'm guessing this is fantasy/sci-fi. Also, there's a weird silvery, twisty thing on the cover that's pointing down at an adolescent male (wearing futuristic clothes,) so I'm guessing this isn't set in your average high school. To hazard an official guess, I'm going to say it's about a future/otherworldly teenage boy who has to fight a weird substance/race from destroying his planet.

Actual plot: A ragtag group of teenage mercenaries who crew the spaceship Avalon stumble upon a conspiracy that could threaten the entire galaxy in this fascinating and fast-paced sci-fi adventure from author Mindee Arnett.

Was I close?: I was close about the future/otherworldly aspect, along with the main character being a boy that has to fight something. But he's fighting his controlling government. I'll give myself 60%.

Plus One by Elizabeth Fama


The cover has two kissing people, so it's probably a romance. One person is made up of sunset clouds while the other is made up of nighttime stars, so I'm going to say it's probably a paranormal romance. I could take this cover literally, and say it's a re-imagined Greek myth about the God of the Sun and the Goddess of the Night falling in love and dealing with the fact they're fundamentally opposites or a Romeo and Juliet thing because they're star-crossed lovers. (Get it? Hahahaha) Or it could be metaphorical and they're just opposites in a weird paranormal setting.

Actual plot: Sol Le Coeur is a Smudge—a night dweller in an America rigidly divided between people who wake, live, and work during the hours of darkness and those known as Rays who live and work during daylight. Impulsive, passionate, and brave, Sol deliberately injures herself in order to gain admission to a hospital, where she plans to kidnap her newborn niece—a Ray—in order to bring the baby to visit her dying grandfather. By violating the day-night curfew, Sol is committing a serious crime, and when the kidnap attempt goes awry it starts a chain of events that will put Sol in mortal danger, uncover a government conspiracy to manipulate the Smudge population, and throw her together with D'Arcy BenoĆ®t, the Ray medical apprentice who first treats her, then helps her outrun the authorities—and with whom she is fated to fall impossibly and irrevocably in love.

Was I close?: I was pretty close. I didn't get the book's universe that correct, but I grasped the basic plot of opposite day/night people falling in love when they shouldn't have so I'm giving myself 83.2%.

Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolf


The title makes me think of a book about a girl with body image issues coming to terms with herself, but the black and white cover throws me. There's a soaking wet girl emerging from a body of water with yellow crime scene tape crossing the book with the tagline "silence is meant to be broken." I'm doing two separate guesses. First guess, a Lonely Bones-like tale where a girl who's drowned comes back (paranormally?) to solve her own murder. Second guess, a weird ocean-dwelling science-created creature breaks out of her science lab prison to challenge human-set body stereotypes. (That one's me being flippant, but still a valid guess.)

Actual plot: Allie lost everything the night her boyfriend, Trip, died in a horrible car accident-including her memory of the event. She doesn't remember driving on the cliff road. She doesn't recall jumping from the truck just before Trip lost control. As their small town mourns his death, Allie is afraid to remember because doing so means delving into what she's kept hidden for so long, the horrible reality of their abusive relationship. When the police reopen the investigation, it quickly turns on Allie and her best friend, Blake, especially as their budding romance raises eyebrows around town. As the threats begin and the survivor's guilt takes over, Allie knows she must tell the truth. Can she reach deep enough to remember that night so she can finally break free?

Was I close?: Not at all. First off, the person who dies in the main girl's boyfriend, not the main girl. Second, it's a mystery, meaning it's not paranormal at all and I kinda failed on principle. For the first guess, I'll give myself a weak 15%. For the second guess, a weaker 1% with a margin of error plus/minus 1%.

What did these covers tell you? What do you think of my guesses? Leave your answers in the comments below!

Owyn the Intern

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Predict Casting: Paper Towns

Wow I haven't done one of these in a while! So, to welcome back this segment, I'm starting with Paper Towns by John Green!

Due to the massive success of The Fault in Our Stars, it seems like Green's books will slowly take over Hollywood, starting with Paper Towns

It's already been confirmed that Nat Wolff, who played Isaac in TFIOS, will be playing Quentin "Q" Jacobsen, but what about the others? TIME FOR ME TO GUESS.

*NOTE: These are just my opinions. Feel free to leave your own down in the comments!*

Margo Roth



Margo Roth Spiegelman- Ariel Winter. I think her kind of deadpan style is perfect for the Manic Pixie Dream Girl attitude that Margo embodies. Plus, she's my favorite on Modern Family and it'd be interesting to see her on the big screen.
Other choices: Hailee Steinfeld, Shailene Woodley (but this one would be too obvious.)

Ben





Ben Starling- Liam James (sound familiar?). I loved him in The Way, Way Back and it'd be totally cool to see him as this dorky dude who calls girls "honeybunnies" but ends up with the hot blonde girl. I think he'd bring the band geek awkwardness to the role, which is a necessity.
Other choices: Josh Hutcherson, Johnny Simmons. 


"Radar"- Nadji Jeter. Radar always seemed like the comic relief to me ("IT'S NOT MY FAULT THAT MY PARENTS OWN THE WORLD'S LARGEST COLLECTION OF BLACK SANTAS") so Jeter's comedy background (Grown Ups) would be very helpful in taking on this role.
Other choices: Christopher Massey, Chris O'Neal. 

Lacey




Lacey Pemberton: Chloe Grace Moretz. She seems to be in a lot of book-to-movie adaptations, so I might as well call it now. Moretz usually plays the more badass, sarcastic types (or the telekinetic, murderous type like in Carrie,) so I think it'd be interesting for her to play the more popular, almost-ditzy character of Lacey.
Other choices: Jennifer Stone, Bella Thorne. 

Add your casting choices in the comments!

Owyn the Intern

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Judging Books By Their Covers: Part 1

You've probably been told at least once in your life "never judge a book by its cover" and you probably learned a great lesson in friendship.

But... what if you could judge a book by its cover? What if I possess the ability to guess the summary of a book just by looking at the cover?

Or I could horrendously fail and we could all have a laugh.

So, every week, I'm going to take 4 books from the recommended shelves that I do not know the plots of and guess what they could be about based on their covers.

Daughters of Mars by Thomas Keneally


If I take this title literally, this book could be about female martians. But with there being water and murky skies on the cover, I'm going to guess it's figurative and it's set on Earth. Perhaps these women are in a secret society of badasses like the Daughters of the American Revolution except with a focus on science and space.

Actually about: In 1915, two spirited Australian sisters join the war effort as nurses, escaping the confines of their father’s farm and carrying a guilty secret with them. Used to tending the sick as they are, nothing could have prepared them for what they confront, first near Gallipoli, then on the Western Front.

Was I close? Nope. Not really at all. I'll give myself 10% to be kind.

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith


There's a man silhouetted in a red alleyway, and I'm guessing this means that this is a murder story because red means danger and blood. But is a silkworm being murdered? Is a silkworm symbolic of a clothes-maker or designer? Is the silhouette man this "Cormoran Strike?" (By the way, not a fan of this name. Too obvious.) Or is it the silkworm man? Officially, I'd say it's about a detective solving the mystery of the murder of a prominent clothes designer.

Actually about: When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, Mrs. Quine just thinks her husband has gone off by himself for a few days--as he has done before--and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home. But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine's disappearance than his wife realizes. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were to be published, it would ruin lives--meaning that there are a lot of people who might want him silenced. When Quine is found brutally murdered under bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any Strike has encountered before.

Was I close? I'd say 50% because I guessed it was a murder mystery, but the silkworm title threw me off and it's actually about a writer going missing then getting murdered. I think this Galbraith fellow threw me off on purpose ;)

The Circle by Dave Eggers



I'd assume this book, with its minimalist cover with a weird logo on it with swirlies inside the circle is about a secret society (I'm a fan of those, give me a break) revolving around this magnificent circle. I can't tell if it's a murder mystery and the people in this society are getting murdered and it's up to an ex-member gone rogue to solve it or if it's a tale of brotherhood and the feeling of belonging somewhere and some poor mid-life crisis guy is trying to get his life back together with his bros.

Actually about: When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users’ personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency. As Mae tours the open-plan office spaces, the cozy dorms for those who spend nights at work, she is thrilled with the company’s modernity and activity. There are parties that last through the night, there are famous musicians playing on the lawn, and even an aquarium of rare fish retrieved from the Marianas Trench by the CEO. Mae can’t believe her luck, her great fortune to work for the most influential company in America—even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public.

Was I close? Not really. If you replace "secret society" with "bizarre internet company" and "dude in mid-life crisis/rogue member" with "ambitious lady" then I kinda hit the nail on the head. But it is neither of the general ideas I had, it's more about business mystery rather than murder. I'll say 45%, because I'm off but close.

Girlchild by Tupelo Hassman


Just by the cover and title, I'd guess it's about a girl who lives in a trailer park. Letting my imagination run wild, I'd add that she has an alcoholic authority figure. If the girl is less than 15, I'd say she finds a new caring figure for herself somewhere like the library or school all while helping understand her identity. If the girl is older than 15, I'd guess she'd be smart and get good grades to try to escape her situation by getting a scholarship but she meets a cute/hot rich boy and everything changes.

Actually about: Rory Hendrix is the least likely of Girl Scouts. She hasn’t got a troop or even a badge to call her own.  But she’s checked the Handbook out from the elementary school library so many times that her name fills all the lines on the card, and she pores over its surreal advice in the Reno trailer park where she lives with her mother, Jo, the sweet-faced, hard-luck bartender at the Truck Stop. Rory’s been told she is “third generation in a line of apparent imbeciles, feeble-minded bastards surely on the road to whoredom.” But she’s determined to prove the County and her own family wrong. Brash, sassy, vulnerable, wise, and terrified, she struggles with her mother’s habit of trusting the wrong men, and the mixed blessing of being too smart for her own good.

Was I close? I'd actually say yes. I was right about a girl in a trailer park, with a bad influence mother (the mom apparently dates around, not drinks, but she's a bartender so it works) and she spends a lot of time at the library! I'm going to give myself a 79%.

I shouldn't quit my day job. What did you guys think of my judgments? Tell me in the comments below!

Sincerely,

Owyn the Intern

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Book vs. Movie: The Fault in Our Stars

NOTE: I bet you guys have been waiting for this one, huh?

The Fault in Our Star's movie adaptation came out a couple of weeks ago, and I think you guys have had plenty of time to read the book and see the movie. So *SPOILERS AHEAD*

vs  

I really liked TFIOS. I think it's a heartbreaking, hilarious romance with valid points on love, life and relationships. 

Looking at the movie as a separate entity from the book, I think it's a pretty good movie. The actors were great with their characters (much better than I'd thought they'd be to be completely honest) and it was also a great mix of tears and laughter.

Differences:

- Hazel's friend Kaitlyn is not in the movie
- Hazel and Augustus have different ages than in the book
- Hazel's mom isn't obsessed about the minute holidays (which angered me because I found that really endearing)
- The last line of the book isn't the last line of the movie in one of the most ridiculous and infuriating moves I've ever seen. The whole "okay? okay." thing isn't THAT special and it's borderline cliche now. 
- A lot of scenes and aspects are cut from the book
  • Isaac and Hazel playing that voice-controlled game and ordering the character to "Hump the moist cave wall" which is the best scene in the book
  • Hazel letting a little girl try her oxygen tank at the airport
  • Caroline Mathers (Augustus's ex-girlfriend) is not really mentioned in the movie
  • Augustus's parents aren't really in the movie, and they don't have the dinner scene between the Waters and the Lancasters.
Personal things that irked me:

- I thought Van Houten was going to be more slobbish. Not just irritating and bitter.
- Isaac is relegated to the role of comic relief which pisses me off because his character is more than that. 
- Back to Caroline Mathers' role in the story: I think that adding in something more to add more depth to Gus's character would've been nice. I think his (admittedly terrible) relationship with her gave him more of a character back story than just "pretentious love interest that slowly reveals himself to be a sweetheart with cancer" because their story was interest. That being said, I'm glad that they didn't linger with Hazel's obsessive feelings over it, like Facebook-stalking Caroline after her death. 

Gus's Cancer: A Rant
Another thing that angers me is the fact that they cut out a lot of things with Gus's cancer, like the bed wetting and more moments of weakness like the vomiting and the general terribleness. And if they did mention it, it was verbally, not visually. It seemed like Josh Boone (the director) wanted to make this movie as friendly as possible in order for it to do better in the box office because Hazel's dramatic-but-not-gross cancer was heavily featured but Gus's "gross" cancer was hardly touched on. It just irritates me because John Green and the press and the people involved in the movie kept saying how true they kept it true to the book was just not that true. 

Which was better?

The book. Obviously. But, even though I have my complaints, it was probably one of the truer movie adaptations of a book I've seen. They just cut out things for time: not change things around like people have done before in other adaptations I've seen (1995 Scarlet Letter and My Sister's Keeper come to mind.) Overall, the movie is pretty true to the book. Plus, they added some great dialogue to the car-egging scene, which has my seal of approval because it was the perfect place for comedy. 

What are your thoughts? Leave them in the comments down below!

Owyn the Intern

P.S. I got to see a special screening of TFIOS and I tell the awesome story here!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Plot Wars: Guitar Notes vs. Hung Up

NOTE: I'm back! And this is a comparison between two YA books with similar plots.

The books I am comparing are Kristen Tracey's Hung Up and Mary Amato's Guitar Notes.

The Set-Up:
  • Guitar Notes is the tale of Tripp (a loner guitarist) and Lyla (a fancy cellist) who leave notes for each other in a practice room and form an easy (yet forbidden because they don't run in the same circles) friendship.
  • Hung Up is told only through the phone calls and messages between Lucy and James after Lucy calls James' number. It details how they get closer and closer, but for some reason, Lucy is reluctant to meet. (A/N: it's NOT because he's like a stranger on the phone or anything.)
*SPOILERS AHEAD YE BE WARNED*

Similarities: 

  • They both detail people talking and developing a friendship without meeting in person
  • They both have epistolary elements
  • The main characters are a male and female duo.
  • They both have some pretty good dialogue
  • This is mean but true: They both have plots that involve nothing but fluff for the first 3/4ths of the book and then in the last 30 or so pages BAM drama appears out of nowhere that has bare minimum to do with anything other than to give the book a semblance of plot.
Differences:

  • Their methods of communicating are different. GN had notes, HU had phone calls.
  • Guitar Notes wasn't limited to epistolary
  • Hung Up was exclusively done in phone call format.
  • Hung Up's cover angers me
Look at those people. Look at their blatant faces. Be angry
  • The catalysts were different (HU was Lucy's big secret and GN was Lyla gets in a car accident)
WHO WINS????

To be honest, it's all a matter of opinion. While both endings came out of left field, Guitar Notes' didn't piss me off as much as Hung Up's did. Lucy ended up being a liar and her back story was so completely ridiculous that when I got to that part, I almost threw my book at the wall. While GN's was kind of random and just added in to give it a plot, it was an overall better book. Read that one instead.

Sincerely,

Owyn the Intern

P.S: Check out my blog for more of my reviews!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Book Expectations

NOTE: This may or may not be a rant, the intern hasn't decided yet. But there are slight spoilers. ** I am not suggesting that every book has a formula. I'm just saying that I want a happy ending.

So picture this:

You read the back/inside flap of a book, and you either intentionally or unintentionally develop this idea of how the book should go.

When you read a romance, the main girl ends up with the guy that either makes the most sense or the guy that makes the least sense in the best way.

Or when you read a mystery, the murderer/criminal gets caught and the detective/cop gets the satisfaction of catching him/her.

Then there are those books that don't do that. And it's just like:


I respect an author's decision to do what they want but at the same time there is a formula (or a similar word) that you must follow.

For example, don't have a huge cliffhanger at the end of a book if you're not planning a sequel. And, yes this is a fictional reference but Augustus Waters will understand, but An Imperial Affliction. Anyone who has read The Fault in Our Stars gets that reference.

And this is probably just one of those "things that only I think are a thing" but I really hate it when, in some of the YA lit that I've read, the main girl decides to "find herself and learn to love herself as a person yadda yadda" instead of being in a relationship with the boy.

This is totally fine in real life. In fact, I highly suggest it. But I'm talking about enjoyable, light fiction. I did not read your romantic teen lit for you to go on a journey of self-discovery. If I did, I would've read a different book that told me this up front. And I definitely don't appreciate it when a book gives me this whole idea about how it's supposed to go and then it doesn't go that way and goes in a totally bad way.

And I'm not talking about plot twists. I'm talking about when books just completely veer off the point. Maybe I interpreted the first 30 pages differently or incorrectly, but I thought this was a teen book not a philosophical pondering.

One of my popular examples of this are two books by Robin Palmer: Geek Charming and Wicked Jealous. In Geek Charming, the geek boy and the popular girl do not get together. She dates a random college guy and he dates some girl from his childhood. I found that really disappointing because I really liked the idea of Dylan and Josh being a couple but then NO.

But in Wicked Jealous, the main girl Simone spends the book pining for this popular jock who's a Belieber but she ends up getting close to this adorkable, shy puppeteer and then SHE GOES OUT WITH THE PUPPETEER, I WAS FILLED WITH SO MUCH ENJOYMENT.

My point with this (all the way down here) is that there's a certain agreement writers have with readers. They want to see the couple get together. They want to see the bad guy get caught. They want to see the hero go on a huge adventure and live. Give us that please.

Leave your opinions down in the comments! I'd love to read them!

Sincerely,

Owyn the BBS Page

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Books versus Movies In General

NOTE: Since I've said in multiple blog posts on here that I actually do enjoy some movies more than the books, let me just explain this is because most of the time I read the books second for those instances. But I will get to this.

So, since Hollywood seems to have an issue with developing some original ideas, people are seeing more and more book-to-movie adaptations in theaters. Especially with the success of such franchises like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games and Twilight (say what you will about the series, it still did really well in both book sales and at the box office).

And there are some pros to this! More and more people can discover the book after seeing the movie trailers and all that kind of buzz. And, if you're an avid reader like me, you have this hope that the

Unfortunately, the movie is almost never as good as the book.

But that's not necessarily the movie's fault.

HOW DARE I SAY SUCH A THING?
Let me explain.

I mean,  typically, when I hear people complain about books' movies they say stuff like "Well it's not how I imagined it..." "When I envisioned this scene..." "If I directed the movie..."

I mean, in the end it's how someone else interprets the words and puts them on screen. It's not like they can enter everyone's imaginations and then see how the book should be done with all of those preferences. That would be tiresome and unlikely.

So, that's why the movies are never better than the books: because it's someone else's imagination projected onto yours and it will always disappoint you.

On the other hand, it could also be the movie's fault.

Sometimes, books aren't meant to be adapted for screen: they don't have that kind of caliber, they're better in the imagination, etc. Which is okay, but it's kind of annoying that the big-wig movie producers out there in Hollywood-land want to squeeze EVERY SINGLE DOLLAR out of the franchise. Which is not okay.

Or they're just adapted poorly. The person who directed it was terrible at it, the person who wrote the adaptation didn't know what they were doing or one of the lead actors had never read the books and are doing it for the money. And that kind of stuff makes me sad because when you are graced with the opportunity to adapt a book into film form THEN YOU SHOULD DO A GOOD JOB BECAUSE A GOOD BOOK DESERVES TO BE A GOOD MOVIE.

Especially since it seems the movies are geared towards those who have not read the book because they want to get a wider audience. You shouldn't do it for the audience you don't have, you should do it for the audience you do.

Those are my thoughts. You can comment down below with yours!

Hasta la vista!

Owyn the Intern