Thursday, 15 September 2016

Discussion: Tuck Everlasting Book vs. Movie

So I've been thinking about Tuck Everlasting. It's one of my favourite books and one of my favourite movies, and yet the two have some big differences and I wanted to...discuss them out of my system. With myself, in a blog post, because why not?

So yes. This is going to be a discussion/compare-and-contrast of the book and movie. And it will contain spoilers for each, so beware.


The biggest difference between the two is Winnie. In the book, she is a child. In the movie, she's a teenager. And that...it vastly changes the dynamics between the main characters. They obviously aged her up to turn it into a love story, which is fine but I think it's interesting the way that changed the story.

I think I love both versions because, in spite of their differences, they both have the same overall message:

That message...it's very much at the heart of both stories and I love both for that.

They made Winnie older so that her and Jesse could be in a romantic relationship and the more I think about it, the more I think that actually works in favour of the overall message -- even more so than the way the book does it.

When you're in your teens and you're in love for the first time, it feels like this big huge feeling that your heart can't even contain – like you could burst from the brightness and intensity of it. And you're so convinced that you'll feel that way forever...and it's real, what you're feeling is real, but it doesn't factor into the equation that you're going to get older. That you're going to grow and change as a person and your feelings will probably change too and the person that you and the person you love become might not be as compatible as the people you used to be. 

Those thoughts – they don't penetrate through the haze of it all, you're thoroughly lost in love with this person that you can't imagine a day where you won't feel that way for them or when you'd want something different.

And Winnie, she's feeling that. That big first love and she's young enough to think that it'll be forever...young enough to want it to be. To not want the kind of relationship she'd have if she met someone when she was older. And that feeling of first love, it's thoroughly tangled up with the feeling of freedom too.

Winnie's life has been so sheltered and restricted and she feels so trapped by it...and then along comes Jesse and the Tucks and not only does she find love, but she is allowed to just be who she wants to be for the first time. She can be messy and loud and free, she doesn't have to worry about rules and manners and expectations. And that – it's intoxicating. She loves it, loves the Tucks -- loves them even more for introducing her to that way of being.

So the fact that she has all of that, that she knows the life she can have, and that she has love for that life and those people...and still chooses to grow old and die, it makes her choice even more significant. She wants that life with them, but she just wants to live more -- she's not blind to what she's giving up.

While book Winnie...she's a child. She loves the Tucks, she has fun while she's with them and they're these magical people in her eyes. But still, she's just a child. She's afraid to die, yes...as most people are if they think on it too much, but when she makes the choice to grow old instead of living forever it isn't the same as it is with movie Winnie. She's not giving up her first love and the future she could've had with him, because she's never experienced that.

There's suggestion that she could have that in the book... Jesse does want her to drink from the spring and he wants her to wait a few years so that she'll be the same age as him, but she isn't in love with him like movie Winnie was and Jesse wasn't in love with her either.

That's another big change: Jesse. Changing Winnie's age, and changing the dynamics of their relationship, it does change Jesse quite a bit too.

In the movie, Jesse has a thirst for life. He's been given forever and he doesn't intend to waste a second of it. Time means nothing to him, for all he knows it's infinite, but he still views it as precious. He wants to rise with the dawn and explore the world and climb mountains and swim in waterfalls and see and experience the world as it changes.

In contrast, Miles is just existing (although his book counterpart isn't quite so guarded or cold). He's perpetually grieving and he wants nothing more than for it all to be over. And Mae and Tuck? They're content, they might choose for things to be different if they could but they've accepted the hand they've been dealt and find happiness in the simple things – in just being together, it's a quiet sort of happiness.

Movie Jesse... When he asks Winnie to drink from the spring, it is about her specifically. He loves her. He wants her. He wants to spend forever with her by his side.

But book Jesse? While he hoped that maybe when Winnie is older she could be a person he could love and explore the world with, it wasn't specifically about Winnie. He cared for her, yes, he cared for her in a way that was specifically about her but it wasn't romantic. And they didn't know each other that well (I think she's only with them a few days in the book while in the movie it's a few weeks). When he pictured her drinking from the spring and them getting married someday – that was about the idea of it, of having someone, that sort of someone... it wasn't specifically about Winnie.

And that right there? That distinction. It seems like such a little change but it's actually quite a big one. Book Jesse still has that thirst for living that his family lacks, but there's a sadness to him too...he feels there's something missing from his life, something he wants but can't have and he's lonely. He can see all the wonders the world has to offer and love every second of it, but he's still alone and it's a void his family can't fill.

Even the ending...it's a very subtle change: in the book, Mae and Tuck find Winnie's headstone. In the movie, it's Jesse. Because for movie Jesse, he was in love with her...while book Jesse just loved the idea of what she could've been to him.

Changing Winnie's age changed Jesse's motivation for asking her to drink from the spring and in doing that, it removed that loneliness from him. That sadness. Movie Jesse didn't seem like he was missing anything, but after he met her, he wanted to keep her. 

I don't have a point really. There are other differences between the two, but I just wanted to discuss the impact that changing that one thing (i.e. making Winnie older) had on the characters and their motivations and the message.

Overall, I couldn't say which one I think works best. Both get the message across. They have the same destination even if the route getting there was different. I think by making Winnie older, it worked better for her character (i.e. she was giving up so much more so her choice had more impact), while having her be younger worked better for Jesse's (in showing that even he, the one who loves living, is missing something by being trapped in time like he is).


If anyone actually read this, some questions:
Do you prefer the movie or the book? Or, like me, both?
Do you agree/disagree with any of what I said? Or have anything to add?

Later.

p.s. Just to note: it's been quite a few years since I've last read the book so I may be remembering specific details, feel free to correct me.

Monday, 12 September 2016

The Light Fantastic by Sarah Combs

The Light Fantastic
by Sarah Combs

Summary: Seven tightly interwoven narratives. Three harrowing hours. One fateful day that changes everything.

Delaware, the morning of April 19. Senior Skip Day, and April Donovan’s eighteenth birthday. Four days after the Boston Marathon bombing, the country is still reeling, and April’s rare memory condition has her recounting all the tragedies that have cursed her birth month. And just what was that mysterious gathering under the bleachers about?

Meanwhile, in Nebraska, Lincoln Evans struggles to pay attention in Honors English, distracted by the enigmatic presence of Laura Echols, capturer of his heart. His teacher tries to hold her class’s interest, but she can’t keep her mind off what Adrian George told her earlier.

Over in Idaho, Phoebe is having second thoughts about the Plan mere hours before the start of a cross-country ploy led by an Internet savant known as the Mastermind. Is all her heartache worth the cost of the Assassins’ machinations?
I'm really not sure what to think of this book to be honest. You know that line from Fight Club that goes "we met at a very strange time in my life"? That's kind of how I feel about the book. I started reading it and was loving it, but then the next day a man walked into a gay bar in Orlando and killed 49 people...and later, when I went back to the book, I couldn't read it in quite the same way given the subject matter.

When I first started reading the book, I loved nearly everything about it. The writing was beautiful, and I loved the characters -- especially April and Gavin. And the plot, it hooked me and had that kind of ominous feeling where you know something bad is going to happen but you can't stop reading it.

But then, something changed. I had been writing notes as I read and this really isn't the review I thought I'd be writing, based on those, I thought this review would be a glowing one. And I genuinely can't tell if it's something in me that changed after Orlando or if the book was one of those ones that start off well then go downhill.

It seemed to drag and meander in really frustrating ways and it felt like there was so many POV's that it lacked focus. It would go off on tangents that were beautifully written, but would bore me because it wasn't what I wanted to be reading about (I needed to know what was happening to the characters in the Now of the story, to know if the characters were okay and what was happening, but there wasn't a lot of that).

It would do this thing where it would end a POV on a cliffhanger and we'd have to wait so long to get back to that, and when the story would bring it up again it would skim over it or sum it up briefly or just be disappointing -- it felt like the attention was never quite where it seemed it should have been, if that makes sense?

In the end, I felt pretty underwhelmed. It wasn't a bad book, far from it, but it felt like I'd gotten into a taxi and been taken on a bunch of detours then the car stopped before I'd gotten to the point I needed to get to. I'd still rate the book 3 stars out of 5, because it is still beautifully written but something just didn't click for me in the end and I'm not sure if I'll ever figure out if it's just issues I had with the book itself or real life events messing with my emotions and judgement.

Later.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Landline
by Rainbow Rowell


Summary: Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble; it has been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems beside the point now.

Maybe that was always beside the point.

Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn't expect him to pack up the kids and go home without her.

When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.

That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts...

Is that what she’s supposed to do? Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?
There's this feeling I get when I'm reading a really good book -- that feeling like "Yes, this. This right here - this is why I read!"... A feeling I can't quite put into words but I'm sure other readers will understand without me explaining. You know that feeling? This book gave me that feeling, and many, many other feelings.

Basically, this book made me feel all of the things but in the very best ways.

This was the only Rainbow Rowell book I hadn't read yet and I don't know why I kept putting it off -- I guess maybe I thought I wouldn't enjoy it as much as her other books because the characters were much older (i.e. an age I haven't even been yet) so I wasn't sure if I'd relate to their problems as well or that I'd click with the characters as much. Oh how wrong I was.

I lovelovelove the characters in this book -- all of them. I love that it subverts a lot of cliche things, like instead of having Georgie be a stay-at-home mum, she's the one who is out working on her career while her husband is at home with the kids. And her best friend is a guy (I love when male/female friendships are allowed just to be friendships while acknowledging how there can be this expectation there that because they're male and female it should be more). And I loved all of the stuff with her family.

Basically, I just really, really loved everything about this book. And the romantic relationship -- that in particular was done well, because it showed so well that sometimes the person who is most right for us maybe won't be what you or anyone else expected and that relationships change because people change and life changes, and it isn't always easy and sometimes it takes work...and that, in spite of that, it's worth it. We do it because it's worth it.

And the plot -- it should've been hard to suspend disbelief (as these types of stories tend to be) and it should've made it feel less realistic, but it didn't. It was done so well and I read it feeling like I'd read just a regular contemporary in spite of the magical realism element (is it magical realism? I think it is, I could be very wrong). I loved that -- that it didn't make it feel any less grounded in reality.

There isn't a Rainbow Rowell book I haven't loved but I think this one is definitely one of my favourites out of all of them (and, some characters from another favourite of hers make a cameo in this one).

I'd rate the book 5 stars out of 5.

Later.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Cancelled Shows YA Readers Should Watch

The theme for this weeks Top Ten Tuesday was TV shows (e.g. favourite shows of all time, shows we're looking forward to, shows we wish had never got cancelled, etc.)

I have so many shows I want to talk about for all of the suggested topics, but I saw the "favourite shows from the late 90's or early 2000's" one and had to go with that. So all of my choices are older/cancelled shows, but ones I think would be worth checking out if you love YA books. I'm going to go with shows that first aired between 1990 and 2005 (with maybe one or two exceptions).

All of the links will take you to the youtube trailers for the first season of each (be warned though, most of the trailers are very dated and pretty bad). And all of the gifs are from the shows.



1. Firefly (2002-03) note: the trailer sucks and doesn't do it justice

I figured this would be a good one to start with seeing as space sci-fi seems to be a thing in YA publishing right now thanks to Star Wars revival. It's basically like a space western revolving around a ragtag crew on a spaceship and it's so good -- it's such an awesome cast of characters. The show didn't air for very long but there's a movie (Serenity) too and it wraps up well. If you're into space-set SF, this is a good one to watch.


2. Roswell (1999-02)

If you liked Twilight or Jennifer Lynn Armentrouts Lux series, you should check this one out. It's about a teenage girl called Liz whose life gets flipped upside down when she nearly dies but is saved by one of her classmates who turns out to be an alien and it revolves around their relationship and this secret they're trying to keep but there's people who want to hunt him (and his sister & friend) down. It's exactly as cheesy as it sounds, but it's cute.


3. Instant Star (2004-08)

This one...I don't know why I have such a soft spot in my heart for this one, but I love it. It's about a girl called Jude who has just won a televised talent contest (very X Factor/American Idol), and it's about her career and relationships (friends/boyfriends/family) and fame and...it's just really cute, and the music is actually decent because Jude is played by Alexz Johnson who has an excellent voice. Also, in the later seasons, you'll see mini-Tatiana Maslany before she got all clone famous. If you're into YA books that revolve around music, try this.



4. Dawson's Creek (1998-03)

This one...if you like contemporary YA, it's a good one to watch. Especially if you like really cheesy, really sentimental stuff. It's basically about a bunch of teenagers and their lives and relationships from high school post-college. It's hard to condense 5 years of a show into a paragraph but it focuses a lot on romance and friendship and family, and it tackles story lines about mental illness and sexuality (one of the main characters is gay) and financial struggles and...yeah. 


4. Dark Angel (2000-02) or Dollhouse (2009)

If you like dystopian YA (or ones like Maximum Ride), this one is excellent. It's about girl named Max (I think she's 19 at the start of the series) -- she's a genetically enhanced soldier who escaped a secret government facility when she was a child, where they were trying to make an army of perfect soldiers. It's set in Seattle after an electromagnetic pulse caused chaos in the US. The story basically focuses on her as she tries to live a normal life while trying to find the kids she escaped with and trying to stay hidden from the people that made her. It's... better than I'm making it sound. Show ends on a cliffhanger but there's two sequel novels and a prequel that wrap things up. And, like Dawson's Creek, it has younger Jensen Ackles in it being adorable.


Dollhouse works for this too but has a very different feel to it. Less gritty and more focused on technology. It's about a machine that can basically copy or erase or create peoples minds (personalities, memories, phobias, skills, talents, etc.) and this company is using it to cater to rich clients desires (e.g. a grieving widow wanting another day with their husband, someone wanting to solve the murder of their relative, government agencies needing very specific skill sets). I am not explaining well at all, but it's really good.


5. Sugar Rush (2005) couldn't find a trailer, that's the imdb.

This one is about a teenage girl named Kim who falls for her best (female) friend, Sugar. The show basically revolves around Kim's obsession with Sugar and coming to terms with her sexuality, as well as dealing with her family issues too. I remember really liking this when it first aired, but I tried rewatching it recently and there were things that didn't even register with younger-me (like the fact that Kim very seriously considers getting Sugar drunk so she can make a move on her)...but aside from its issues, it's worth checking out. (Also, it has really young, pre-Hollywood fame Andrew Garfield)


6. Point Pleasant (2005) the only fully English trailer I could find had major spoilers, so that'll have to do

If you like supernatural/supernatural apocalypse type books, this is a good series to watch. It's about a girl who washes up on the beach of a small town and strange things start happening. Because she's the daughter of the devil. The show was cancelled after one series so it does end on a kind of cliffhanger but if you don't need a happily ever after type ending with lots of closure, it's still good. 

7. Charmed (1998), Switch (2012) or Hex (2004)


If you like books about witches, try one of these shows. Charmed is a more obvious ones and I don't think I have to give much explanation for it -- three sisters discover an old spell book in their attic, magic ensues (earlier seasons have a dated feel to them). 


Switch is a more fun one, it's just a regular group of friends living in London...except their witches, and there's a whole lot of spells gone awry.


Hex is slightly darker and it's set in a college and there's witches and (lesbian!) ghosts and, from what I recall, demons/angels/fallen angels. And it has Michael Fassbender which I didn't even remember until I was writing this post. 

And I'm going to get really obvious with these last three...


8. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997)

If you like vampire books or supernatural books or girls-generally-kicking-ass books... This show. The earlier seasons are very, very 90's and parts of it didn't age well, but it's all part of the charm.


9. Gilmore Girls (2000)

I think everyone and their mother has seen this, or at least heard of it, but if you haven't watched it yet then you should. If you're into contemporary YA with romantic subplots and a strong focus on female relationships (mother/daughter in particular, but also friendships), then this one...watch this one. Binge watch it before the new season airs this year on Netflix!


10. Veronica Mars (2004)

Like GG, this one is very well known...but I'mma talk about it anyway because it deserves it. If you're into Nancy Drew type stories, the ones where teenage girls are solving crimes and outsmarting all the idiots who underestimate them, you'll love this. 

Aside from the fantastic cast, really fun plot and romantic subplots that make me smile, it's one of the few examples I can think of where I really liked the way it handled a rape storyline...Veronica was changed by what happened to her, but it didn't destroy her, didn't define her and it never felt like "oh, rape is a fun plot device!" it was handled really well and it was just a thing that happened to her without it becoming her entire story (I wanted to mention that because a lot of YA books recently have been revolving around that subject too).

There were loads of other 90's-early 00's shows I loved (I was so obsessed with Sister Sister for a while and Sabrina the Teenage Witch) but these ones are less dated and definitely have YA appeal.

Have you seen any of these? Are there any you'd recommend?

Later.

Monday, 5 September 2016

A Season of Ruin by Anna Bradley

A Season of Ruin
by Anna Bradley


Summary: Lily Somerset's plan for the London season is simple: courtship, marriage to a respectable gentleman, then the comfortable existence of a proper Lady. That is, until one tiny misstep leaves Lily on the edge of social ruin, forcing her to depend on a wicked rogue to save her reputation.

Robyn Sutherland doesn't save reputations-he sullies them. He'd rather be drawn and quartered than find himself spending the season as Lily's escort. But he has no choice but to stay until her tattered standing is mended.

What begins as a ruse to deceive London soon flames into an uncontrollable passion. Robyn calls to the wild spirit that lurks beneath Lily's prim exterior, and Lily awakens the hero's heart within Robyn. But can these unlikely lovers trust themselves enough to let desire overrule reason?
I have quite mixed feelings about this book, but overall, I liked it and really enjoyed reading it.

When I'm in a reading slump, regency romance is my go-to genre of choice. It's fun (usually), it's fast-paced (most of the time) and predictable (but in the very best way)...and this one ticked all of those boxes and it was exactly what I needed to put me in a reading mood again.

My issues with the book were mostly to do with the male love interest. Robyn... I did like him as a character, but in the first maybe two thirds of the book, his romantic scenes with Lily really pushed the limits of consent (and I know, I know, it was a different time period but still) and his chapters were a bit OTT with his attraction to her (it felt like 80% of his chapters revolved around him being perpetually aroused by the thought of her).

The last bit of the book did make up for it though and he was way more respectful and intent on making sure she wanted things (and vocalised it) before doing them but the first part did have moments that were very "your mouth says no but your body says yes" which does happen a lot in the genre and plenty of people are fine reading it (or even love that, which is fine) but I'm not really into that trope.

But, in spite of that, I did speed through the book in two sittings and was pretty much hooked from the start. It's not the best of the genre that I've read (Megan McCafferty and Eloisa James are still my favourites) but I liked it enough that I'm planning to check out more of Anna Bradley's books (I think I'll need to go back and read the first in this series, I really liked the characters and I didn't realise this was the second when I requested it on netgalley, but it worked just fine as a standalone).

I'd rate the book 3.5 stars out of 5. It's definitely a series worth checking out.

Later.

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