Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Top Ten Best Character Names

I haven't done one of these posts in a while, but the theme of this weeks Top Ten Tuesday is top ten best character names and I love names. Partly it's because I'm a writer, so I sort of collect names, partly because I just love names in general (the etymology of names, the trend of them, etc.).

I'm probably going to cheat with some of these and have some be a book with a group of the best character names rather than have just 10 individual names.

Top 10 Best Character Names 
(or books with the best character names)

1. Harry Potter series:

  • I would have just included Hermione (which has Shakespeare and Greek Mythology literary origins too) but I think the series as a whole does quite well with names (I mean, except for Albus Severus -- poor fictional kid). The names in general just fit so well with the characters and usually gave hints about their character. Like Luna (means moon, it's such a dreamy name and so fitting), or Sirius (a star know as the "dog star"), Severus (means "stern"), Draco Malfoy (Draco meaning dragon/serpent, and the prefix -mal meaning bad/wrong). 
2. The Twilight series:
  • Not only were the names very good at creating a distinction between the immortal characters and the mortals, there were just some beautiful name choices in general: Isabella, Alice (double points for the Wonderland connotations too), Jasper, Rosalie, Esme... Renesme was the one that ruined an otherwise good list of names (totally Stephenie Meyer's Albus Severus).
3. Gwendolyn Shepherd from The Ruby Red series by Kerstin Gier. I adore the name Gwendolyn...they actually, for some inexplicable reason, changed the name to Gwyneth in the English translation (which I hate). But her original name? Lovely and balanced out really well with a simple surname.

4. Alaska Young from Looking for Alaska. Maybe the name does add to the manic pixie dream girl thing the character had going on, and maybe it's a really weird name and probably sounds quite tacky for someone who lives in or near Alaska (in the way names like London and Ireland would sound tacky and weird to me)...but it stuck with me. I also love the use of nicknames in the book, not a lot of books seem to do the nickname thing but my friend group and I used nicknames and I liked that.

5. The Mortal Instruments series.
  • This one is actually less about the first names and more about the surnames. I love the surnames from this series: Wayland, Fairchild, Morgenstern, Lewis, Fray... The first names are nice enough, but the surnames are what make the names memorable. 
6. Sarah Dessen books.
  • Sarah's books have some of my favourite character names from books: Remy, Halley, Scarlett, Dexter, Auden, Harriet, Olivia, Stella, Owen, Wes, Ruby l...
7. Karou and Akiva from Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I just really liked that name pairing. *shrug*

8. Ava Lavender from The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender. I don't like those names individually, but the name as a whole just works so well and it sounds just as whimsical as the story and character.

9. The Hunger Games.
  • I don't necessarily love these names in the way that I think they'd be good for an actual real child...but the names were very distinctive and memorable. Katniss Everdeen, Primrose Everdeen, Gale Hawthorne, Peeta Mellark, Finnick Odair, Cinna... And they all fit well together (it bugs me when an author has say, Gaelic inspired names and then randomly has an out of place name that sticks out, especially if it follows a different set of pronunciation rules).
10. Alanna from The Lionness Quartet. I haven't actually read this book yet and it's less because I love the name and more because it's my name and I pretty much never find characters with my name (funnily enough, the character is also a short redhead like me).

Honourable mention: A Thousand Splendid suns with Laila, Tariq and Mariam -- lovely names.

Second honourable mention, because why not: Shakespeare. Dude was good at names: Viola, Olivia, Helena, Lysander, Demetrius, Ariel...the list was too long to include.


Friday, 18 May 2018

From Page to Screen (10)

Well then. It's been an awffy long time since I've done one of these posts (a few years, I think?)... But, there's a bunch of book to movie/TV adaptations I'm excited for that I wanted to discuss.

Some of these may be older news, but I mostly wanted to create a list for my own reference, so I remember which ones to look out for.

So... Here goes.

Let's start with:

Trailers released

Normally I'd embed the trailers in the post, but this is quite a long post as it is so I'll just link them instead...

The Darkest Minds - Haven't read this one. It's been on my TBR for ages, but the movie looks pretty good and it's made me more excited for the book.

The Nutcracker - This one isn't a straight-up adaptation (and it's a ballet as well as a book), but I am intrigued anyway.

A Discovery of Witches - This book has been in my TBR for ages (that will probably be a running theme in this post), I really need to get around to reading it. It has been made into a TV series (or mini-series?) and will be released later this year.

In production/post-production:

Ashes in the Snow - This is the movie title for Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys. The movie is finished/post-production, as far as I know, and there have been screenings (which Ruta has mentioned on Twitter)...but I think it's being released independently, which is why it's taken a while. I'm desperately waiting for the trailer.

To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han - Movie is completed, not sure when the trailer will be released but it looks so cute.

Dumplin' by Julie Murphy - This one has a cast (including Jennifer Aniston) and is listed as being post-production on IMDb. I haven't read the book yet, but I've heard good things and it sounds like a fun book/movie.

Chaos Walking - Based on The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. Post-production and set for a 2019 release starring Daisy Ridley and Tom Holland.

Good Omens - Based on the book by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. It's been made into a TV series starring Michael Sheen and David Tennant, Not sure if the release will be later this year or early next year.

Rights sold/making progress

Looking for Alaska by John Green - This one was actually in my wish list section (see below) and has been since I read the book way back in 2007(ish), but before I had finished this post John announced that it's going to be made into a mini-series for Hulu and I am so excited for it.

His Dark Materials - there is already a movie adaptation of this but it is being adapted into a mini-series by the BBC. Dafne Keen will play Lyra and Lin-Manuel Miranda has been cast as Lee Scoresby.

There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins - This one is becoming a Netflix series. I wasn't wowed by the book. It was a good premise but it was lacking something...but I'm pretty confident that the something it was lacking could be portrayed much better on screen than on page. So...I'm really looking forward to this.

Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas - Hulu is developing this into a TV series, titled Queen of Shadows. It'll be written by Kira Snyder (lady who wrote The 100 and an episode of The Handmaid's Tale) and directed by Anna Foerster (Underworld: Blood Wars)...so lady writers and lady directors and lady lead character. I'm excited, but also really curious to see if they'll pull it off.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas - This one is being made into a movie. I'm a bit more wary with this one -- maybe because I know they need to have excellent costume and make-up and special effects to pull it off without it being too cheesy. It's the same for any fae book adaptation really, but when it's a movie, when they're bad somehow they're worse than the show ones and they flop harder.

The Perfectionists by Sara Shepherd - I didn't love this book series (though I did enjoy it), but I am quite excited  for the TV adaptation. I've found that Sara's books often work better in TV show format and even when they're quite bad (hello, later seasons of PLL) they're still addictive. So I'm looking forward to this one. The fact that Sasha and Janel from PLL will take on the roles of Alison and Mona again adds to the appeal.

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black - I read this book a couple of months ago and I loved it (had its issues, sure, but loved it still). It's another fae story though so while the premise is good, it would be so easy to make an adaptation a mess of bad special effects and cheesy make-up/costumes...but fingers crossed it'll be good.

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys - Universal have the movie rights and script writers on board. This one is actually a companion novel to Between Shades of Gray. The story has a Titanic sort of vibe because it revolves around a real maritime disaster but tells the story through the eyes of fictional characters. Like BSoG, it shows a different perspective on WW2 than we usually see.

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi - Haven't read the book yet (it's in my TBR) but I'm expecting to love it and the movie rights have already been sold.

The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider - I did not really like this book. But, it was one of those ones that, while reading, I thought I would like better as a movie. Things in the book that came across as cheesy/trying to hard wouldn't have bothered me in a movie (e.g. silent disco -- visually that can be done beautifully, but on page it had a different vibe). I think Robyn is writing the script for this one.

Wicked by Gregory Maguire - It's sort of cheating to include this one, because the movie isn't really an adaptation of the book, it's an adaptation of the stage musical adaptation of the book...still sort of counts though, right?

Wish list

The books on my adaptation wish list probably haven't changed that much since last time, and some of them do/have had some movie talk (of being optioned or scripts being written, etc) but they're in the wish list section because they seem to have stalled.

Jellicoe Road - as far as I know, Melina wrote a script for this one and there was some sort of progress behind the scenes but I'm guessing there was maybe funding issues or something because there's been no updates in quite a while. Still hoping though (very last paragraph of this article/interview from February this year mentions that Kate Woods is developing the movie so maybe there is still progress behind the scenes).

A Thousand Splendid Suns - There were talks of a movie of this one round about the time The Kite Runner movie was released and I was so excited for it, but it seems to have stalled out. It was made into a stage adaptation instead but...I'm still over here pining for a movie.

Stolen - This one could make such a stunning movie. I think there was an adaptation in the works at some point (I remember the dude who played Jason in True Blood being cast as the lead?) but it didn't happen.

Illuminae - I love this series and I'd love this one to be a TV show (maybe by Netflix, they seem to be doing pretty well at making good shows recently). This one was being developed by Brad Pitt, but there doesn't seem to have been much progress since 2015.

Code Name Verity - This one would make a stunning movie and I really hope it happens at some point. If I had to choose one book to definitely become a movie, from my wish list, this one and ATSS would be tied for first place.

Landline - I just think this would be a really fun movie and I want it to happen (another one I think Netflix could do well with).

Are there any adaptations I missed? Any you're hoping for?


Just a side note: there are many cogs in the movie/show making wheel and it just takes one to stall to stop an adaptation from happening, so even the movies/shows on the list that are making progress may not end up actually happening or could take a long time to happen (Looking for Alaska is a good example -- the rights have been sold for years and years and it has had scripts and at one point was going to be a movie instead of a show...now look, or Ashes in the Snow which has been completed for a while but there isn't even a trailer yet). 

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Love, Simon by Becky Albertalli

Love, Simon
(a.k.a. Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda)
by Becky Albertalli

Summary: Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

People have been raving about this book since it came out and I don't know why it took me so long to read it.

...Well, actually, that's a total lie. I do know why.

You know how people say you're not supposed to judge a book by its cover? I not only do that occasionally, but I do this ridiculous thing where sometimes I will judge a book by its title. A bad title can irrationally put me off reading a book for ages and when I say "bad" I don't mean objectively bad, I just mean that I personally don't like it.

It happened with one of my favourite books, Jellicoe Road, it has happened with other books and will probably happen again because I never learn my lesson.

What I'm getting at is, the title "Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda" (and the cover -- not into red covers or decapitated heads) did nothing for me. It just irrationally and inexplicably bothered me.

And I've just wasted a big chunk of my review telling you why I took so long to read the book...but what I'm getting at is: I was wrong. The book was just as good as everyone says it is and it was a delight to read.

I loved the characters, I loved the relationships. Was it perfect? No. But I really loved it. I loved that it wasn't an angsty issue book (which many books that revolve around sexually seem to be, and those have their place but it's good to show the whole spectrum of coming out stories), I loved that it was a relatively positive coming out story.

When I was reading, I alternated between the audio and the ebook (audio is excellent, would definitely recommend the narration), but when I finished I immediately ordered a physical copy (movie cover because I'm ridiculous and the new cover and movie title are still more appealing to me). If I feel the need to have a physical copy on my overflowing shelves when I already own other formats, you know a book did something right.

I'd rate it 4 stars out of 5.



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