Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Best 14 Books I Read in 2014

Hello readers! I'm quite surprised by the amount of posts I've been able to accomplish over the break considering I've basically been reading nonstop. That being said I figure I should acknowledge the end of the year and the start of a whole new year of fabulous opportunities with new books to discover. I've managed to read over 100 books in 2014, which is probably the most I've ever read since high school when I had loads of free time. While I've ranted about all of the terrible books I've read over the year, there have been some really amazing books too.

Not all of the books on this list were published in 2014, but I did read them during this year. Additionally, this list is in no particular order, meaning the last book might not be my favorite book of the year. I don't even know if I would be capable of choosing just one. These are 14 of the best books I've read in 2014.

  • Hollow City by Ransom Riggs
I really love the Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children series and thankfully the second book in the series didn't let me down. The plot was action packed and something about the weird vintage photographs makes this such a fascinating book.

  •  The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling)
When I read the first book in Rowling's attempt at writing in the adult mystery genre, I had very lukewarm feelings about it, but I took a chance with this second book in the series in the hope that it would get better. Thankfully the mystery was a lot more engaging and readers finally got some character development. I'm looking forward to seeing what other adventures Cormoran Strike will get himself into.

  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
While I was a fan of John Green as one half of the Vlogbrothers on YouTube, until 2014 I hadn't bothered to read any of his books. For a while I was under the impression that this was another one of those terrible cancer books, but I was completely mistaken. Hazel's narration is so refreshingly intelligent and sarcastic. Of the course the ending is a tearjerker and even if you've seen the movie, you have to read this book.

  • S by Doug Dorst and J.J. Abrams
I won't say too much about this book, but I did a whole review about it here on this blog. That being said the multiple narratives and random inserts in a book that looks like a library book, makes the whole reading experience a treat for bibliophiles.

  • Cress by Marissa Meyer
The entire Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer has impressed me so much over these last two years. Just when I was convinced that I would have to give up the YA genre because it was full of boring love triangle filled stories that followed the same tropes, this series came along and made me change my mind. Every one of the characters is dynamically fleshed out and the main female characters are brave and independent heroes that actually factor into the plot progression. The dystopian world the series is set in is also so ingenious. I'm having such a difficult time waiting for Fairest and Winter to come out. You really have to read this series if you haven't already.

  •  The Diviners by Libba Bray
I've always been a fan of Libba Bray since her Great and Terrible Beauty series and this start to another series didn't let me down at all. This is one of the few YA books set in the twenties that doesn't irritate me to no end. The story has its dark and dangerous moments interwoven with a bit of comedy and romance. I'm also having a bit of trouble waiting for the next book in this series to come out too.

  • The Percy Jackson Series by Rick Riordan
I know what you're saying: "Penny, this series is so old and basically everyone has read it already." Well I was one of those few people that hadn't bothered to read the series when it was popular. I was too busy reading terrible YA romance novels to pay any attention. This past summer I finally decided to sit down and read the first book in the series. I ended up marathoning the whole series in a few short days. Even though these are technically middle grade novels, the story is incredibly captivating, the characters are completely developed, and there are so many hilarious moments. Honestly, a great read for all ages.

  • Austenland by Shannon Hale
Okay, I'm going to be honest. I watched the movie first before I read the book. That being said I love both the book and the movie equally as much. I mean what Austen fan doesn't wish they had their own Darcy, Knightly, or Henry Tilney and that they could inhabit the world of Austen's heroines. I'll be honest again and say I know I have...then I remember the status of women's rights back then and my fantasy is kind of killed for the time being. I feel like any Austen fan could identify with the main character, Jane Hayes, and will appreciate all of the moments of comedy and romance that this book has to offer.

  • Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
While I normally detest contemporary ya romance novels, there is something about Lola and the Boy Next Door (and its preceding book Anna and the French Kiss) that is so well done and entertaining. Granted, I know that these books are complete mushy wish fulfillment for teenagers, but I like it anyway.  If you're interested in a light romantic read, this is the book for you. That being said, the final book is this kind of trilogy, Isla and the Happily Ever After, was such a letdown and did not make this list even though I managed to read it during 2014.

  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
This is another ya contemporary romance novel that I tried so hard to avoid this year, but ultimately gave up and read. Like the previous book on this list, this book is also complete romantic wish fulfillment for teenagers. Rainbow Rowell's writing makes the story so hard to put down and her romantic leads are fully fleshed out characters that have to struggle with more than just the usual romantically contrived problems that you find in other ya romance novels. If you're looking for another light read in the contemporary genre, this is the book for you.

  • The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor
Out of all the random remakes and expansions on Alice in Wonderland, this series is my favorite. While I still have the last book left to read in the series, I'm so completely impressed with the fantasy world Beddor has created, which makes Alyss (Alice) the champion and defender of the White Imagination and Wonderland. 

  •  Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead
I've been a huge fan of Richelle Mead ever since the first Vampire Academy book was released and I've enjoyed the spins off series, Bloodlines, just as much. This book was released after arguably the worst book in the whole series, The Fiery Heart, and it completely redeemed the series for me. Honestly, it's hard to remember how great Rose and Dimitri's story was while following Adrian and Sydney's adventures. I'm so looking forward to The Ruby Heart.

  • The Archived by Victoria Schwab
One of the booktubers that I watch on YouTube raved about this book a while back and for the longest time, I've wanted to read it. I didn't find a copy of it in my local Barnes and Nobles, so I finally gave up and grabbed a library copy this month. I ended up reading the book in less than a day. The premise of the book is that there are keepers like the main character, Mackenzie Bishop, who make sure that histories don't escape the archive. Histories are basically the collection of memories of dead people. The plot is action packed and of course, as this is a ya novel, there is a bit of romance thrown into the mix. It's one of the more inventive novels I've ever read and the sequel, The Unbound, was a pretty great read too. 

  • The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
Have you ever read one of those books that holds all of your attention completely and for some reason totally speaks to you as a reader? A book that leaves you crushed when it ends, makes you wish you could read it all over again for the first time, and gives you the worst book hangover? The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry made me feel all of these things and more. This unassuming and kind of slim novel is about a bookstore owner, A.J. Fikry, whose wife has just died. He's not quite sure what to do with the rest of his life until a Publisher sales rep walks in and he discovers an unexpected surprise left in his store. The story is so captivating and every book lover is sure to love this book just as much as I have.

These are the 14 best books that I read in 2014. I'd be interested to know if any of these were on your favorites list. Have a wonderful new year and Best Wishes.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas Book Haul 2014

Hello readers! I hope you all had fabulous holidays, I know I did. As with any voracious reader, Christmas (or whatever holiday you happen to celebrate this time of the year) is the time for new books that you don't have to worry about paying for. This year a couple of books made it onto my Christmas list, even though I've been utilizing the library again as of late. Most of these books have been on my TBR list on Goodreads for as long as I can remember and I had the strongest urge to finally get around to them.

These books won't be the usual YA fiction books that I read because the books in that genre that I'm desperate to own haven't come out yet and the ones I do want to read, I have no desire to own in case they turn out to be terrible. Surprisingly, the majority of them are nonfiction books, a genre that I've basically ignored until I got to college. I discovered that nonfiction can be a terrific genre as long as you make sure to only read books on a subject that really interests you. Not surprisingly, most of these books in some way or another have to deal with Agatha Christie, an author I've loved for the majority of my life.

Since I was a genius and left my camera in my dorm room, and because I have no desire to mess with the camera on my phone, I don't have a picture of the collective haul. You'll just have to trust that I actually have these books, which shouldn't be hard since I've already read and rated most of these on Goodreads.  Without further ado, here are the books I was given for Christmas

  • The Making of the African Queen or How I went to Africa with Bogart, Bacall and Huston and almost lost my mind by Katharine Hepburn
It's no secret that Katharine Hepburn is my favorite actress of all time. I've always loved her comedic style in her films and the fact that she is such a strong, assertive woman. This book details her experiences up to and during the filming of The African Queen, a movie I encourage all of you to go see right now. I wanted to read this book ever since I finished her memoir entitled Me and the urge only got stronger after I'd actually seen the movie. This fantastic book was under my tree this year and as soon as I got it I started reading it. It's actually a bit on the smaller side and is filled with tons of fascinating black and white photography that makes her story come to life. Reading this is a bit like sitting down and listening to a wise grandmother tell you a frank tale about a moment in her life. The writing style is so succinct and to the point. Hepburn doesn't dance around subjects, but rather tells them exactly how they happened with a bit of humor thrown in. Some may be put off by the fact that her speech isn't flowery and elegant, but I love it. My only complaint is that I wish it were  longer and referenced bits of the movie a bit more in relation to her experiences, but nevertheless I love this book just the same. I only wish Hepburn had written more books during her life.

  • The Grand Tour: Around the World with the Queen of Mystery Edited by Mathew Prichard (her grandson)
I saw this book a long while back in my local Barnes and Nobles bookstore and immediately knew I had to have it. While my experience with Agatha Christie usually revolves around her books and the mini series adaptions, reading John Curran's books about her secret notebooks convinced me that I needed to know a bit more about her actual life. The only copy that the store had in stock had a horribly damaged spine so I refused to buy a copy when I first saw it. I waited over half a year to finally get my hands on this book and I was not disappointed. The book details the trip she took with her first husband Archie Christie and a number of other government officials around the British Empire in 1922. The book is comprised of a large number of really fantastic photographs taken by Christie, some of her diary entries detailing her experiences, and letters sent home to her mother. In addition to bits of Agatha Christie's life, the book also inadvertently provides snapshots of life during the twenties that are no longer a part of our reality today. I really enjoyed this book, but I wouldn't really recommend this to anyone unless they too are a big fan of Christie's work. I imagine the book could get a bit tedious if you didn't have a genuine urge to know more about Christie's life.

  •  Agatha Christie: An Autobiography
Naturally, the next step in learning a bit more about Agatha Christie's life is to read her autobiography, so I asked for a copy this Christmas. While I haven't gotten around to finishing it yet, I'm excited to read what she has to say about her own illustrious life. I was given the newest edition of the book that comes with some great photo inserts and has an online code that lets you download some of Agatha Christie's audio recordings for free. It's through though, which kind of sucks because I really don't like audiobooks and they force you to make an account to access the recordings. Still, if you are looking to read more about her life, I would spring for the newer edition rather than grab an older used copy.

  • Absent in the Spring and other novels by Mary Westmacott (aka Agatha Christie)
As you can gather from the cover of the book, this is a collection of novels, not all of them sadly, which Agatha Christie wrote under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott. These books aren't in her typical mystery genre and I've always wanted to read these books out of sheer curiosity. I hope I'll enjoy them as much as the rest of her work.

  • Poirot and Me by David Suchet
While I was looking online for books to buy with the Barnes and Nobles gift card I got for Christmas I had the weirdest thought: I wonder if David Suchet has ever written anything about his experiences playing Hercule Poirot on tv? One quick google search later and I found this book, which I immediately bought. I enjoy watching the tv adaptions of Christie's work as much as I love reading them. For me, there is nobody else that can play Hercule Poirot as well as David Suchet. His image is so tied to the character for me that when I read any Poirot books, his portrayal is the one I imagine in my mind. I did watch the short PBS special about him playing Poirot on tv, but I hope this book will go a little bit more in depth.

That's all the books that I received for Christmas this year and if you'd like to know more about what I thought of these books, don't forget to return here later in the year or visit my Goodreads page. Best Wishes everyone.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Series I Will Not Finish

Hello again dear readers! The holidays are fast approaching and you know what that means? New books!! I thought to celebrate this forthcoming joyous occasion, I would take a moment to acknowledge all the series I've finally given up to make room in my life for newer and better books.

In middle school and high school, I was one of those people that had to finish a series, whether I liked it or not. It somehow felt wrong to abandon a story and characters I'd invested a great deal of time in. Thankfully, I've overcome that mindset and have no qualms about abandoning a series, even if I only have the last book you will soon discover. Additionally, I've found that over the years my taste in books has changed. One predominate trend in the series I've chosen to abandon is that a good number of them are ya romances with some sort of supernatural element to them. As I've mentioned in one of my other posts, I used to really enjoy that genre, but now I generally stay away from them. I find that many of them are so terribly cliche and follow the same sort of plot progression. Anyways, I think it's time you discover what series I won't be finishing.

  • The Ring and the Crown Series by Melissa de la Cruz

I've already done a rather in depth review of this book, which includes all of the reasons why I disliked it so much. Instead of rehashing all that, I'll just leave a convenient link to that review right here.

  • The Friday Night Knitting Club Series by Kate Jacobs

I picked this book up on a whim in a used bookstore and I really wish I had just left it there. This book has all the chick lit cliches with a terrible ending to round out the ordeal of reading this book. I posted a pretty scathing review of it on Goodreads if you're curious about my more detailed opinion on it. That can be found here.

  • The Mortal Instruments Series by Cassandra Clare

Some of you probably freaked out a little, right? I should expect that because this series has such a huge fan base which is hard to ignore as an avid reader. In fact I decided to stop reading this series after having read all but the last book. I just couldn't take the story any longer. I was a huge fan of the original series (the first 3 books now). I loved them so much I marathoned the whole thing and walked away satisfied. Then the series resumed and the plot got so frustratingly convoluted and I really started to hate the characters and their nonsensical actions. I even suffered through its copycat spin off series. While reading I really had to force myself to go on, which you should never have to do. Let's just say I've washed my hands of this series and anything else Clare decides to write about in the future.

  • House of Night Series by P.C Cast and Kristin Cast

This series...sigh. There is so much to say about this series and I wish I had the patience to detail it all for you. I so desperately wish I could go back in time and tell my younger self what a terrible mistake she was making even considering picking up the second book in this terrible series. I seriously ended up reading 8 of these horrible books before I finally called it quits. I just can't tell you why I got so far either. This series is a bit like finding four or five of the most vapid girls you've even known and choosing to listen to hours of their obnoxious gossip and poisonous comments about other girls. First of all the writing was terrible, as in should never have left the word document it was written in. The language is juvenile and the ridiculous words used to fill in for swear words had me wanting to smash my head against the wall. Zoey, the main character has what I and many other people like to call the "special snowflake syndrome." She is this high and mighty character who thinks she's perfect and has super special powers that make her so different from everyone. I hated her and her terrible romantic problems and the terrible plot progression of the whole series. 

  • Wings Series by Aprilynne Pike

This is another series that I chose to abandon before reading the last book. It's one of your typical ya romance novels that was released when fairies were popular in ya fiction. The plot was always secondary to the obnoxious love triangle and so was the development of the main female character. 

  • Hush, Hush Series by Becca Fitzpatrick

This is yet another ya supernatural romance that I thankfully gave up halfway through the series. Now that I look back on my experience, I wonder what I was thinking reading this. The main romantic character is this book is a fallen angel, another ya trope that has hopefully died by now. I don't remember if there was ever a love triangle in this story, but I do faintly recall that it had plenty of similarities with Twilight and that I was always a bit weirded out by the main character's relationship with the fallen angel love interest. Again I'm so thankful that my younger self had the foresight to move on from this series.

  • The Fallen Series by Lauren Kate

Oh look another ya romance series that deals with fallen angels and a questionable romantic relationship. I think I only finished three books in the series before I finally decided not to waste any more of my time. While I often point out how the plot in a bad book is usually secondary to the love interest, the plot of this whole series is the relationship. I kind of hoped this book would fade into obscurity as one of those weird ya angel books, but alas there is movie in the works for it. Such is life.

  • The Halo Series by Alexandra Adornetto
Not much to say here. Another ya romance novel where the love interest is an angel. Not much plot happens, the insta-love romance is terrible and my current feminist self ever wonders how I could have even stomached this drivel. I thankfully only read the first book.

  • The Paranormalcy Series by Kiersten White

 Can anyone tell me what this book was about besides the fact that it was a girl with super special powers that gets herself into a love triangle? Anyone? My impression from this book was that it's just one in a number of ya books that follow this same trend. I just can't read the same story rehashed over and over again.

  • The Matched Series by Ally Condie

I love a good dystopian book and I don't mind if a bit of romance gets put in the mix. At the time I read this book, I actually liked it, but my tastes back then as you've seen were pretty terrible. In fact this still has a 5 star rating on my Goodreads page, which I'm really considering downgrading (goes to do just that). For whatever reason I never got around to the sequels and now that I'm older and wiser, that was probably for the best. It was essentially a love triangle dressed up to look like a dystopian novel. It had the flavor of The Giver, with none of the actual impressive substance. I'm left to wonder if there was any plot and world building in the sequels, but I guess I'll never know.

  •  The Castor Chronicles Series (aka Beautiful Creatures) by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

This series is another one of those ya paranormal romances that I mention often here on Myriad Novelations. Strangely enough even my younger self heavily disliked this series and when the movie was released I remembered why I gave it up after finishing the second book. It has the usual ya romance tropes, only the story is told from the point of view of the male romantic interest, which was heavily unsuccessful as I recall. The other problem was these books are huge, so ridiculously huge. I can barely stand a 200 page stereotypical ya romance and these are 500 pages of romantic nonsense. If you saw the movie and liked it, please don't commit yourself to reading this if you haven't already.

  • The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice

Giving up this series was a recent decision, as many of you who look at my TBR list can tell. I originally read Interview With A Vampire in high school after watching the movie. At that time I liked the movie and felt rather lukewarm about the book. I convinced myself that I had to read the rest of the series and bought the books when I came across them in a used bookstore. For years they have been languishing in my TBR pile and I've never had much motivation to read them. At this point I've thrown in the towel and they will hopefully be donated in the near future. 

There are probably plenty of other series that I've abandoned over the years, but these were the ones that stuck out it my mind. I'd be interested to hear what series you've abandoned. Were they the same ones I've discussed here or something different? Best Wishes everyone and have a happy holiday!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

So I Don't Understand This Book...(An Online Guide to Help You With Those Literature Assignments)

Whoa was that a long title! I feel a little bit like Fall Out Boy circa From Under The Cork Tree. Anyway, for a long time now readers I've considered writing a blog post about all the helpful websites I would recommend if you are having a bit of trouble understanding a book from an English course or just a particularly challenging piece of literature that you decided to take on during your free time. While the internet can sometimes be the bane of academic assignments because it helps with procrastination, there are some really great resources to help you get through a book intelligently. Since most of my experiences revolve around literature, as an English Literature major, here are a list of resources I've come across and used during my studies. While some of these resources may help with other school subjects, I'm only discussing their capacities from a literary standpoint.

I feel like I must obviously preface this by saying that none of these websites should be substituted for actually reading the book or poem. Rather they should be used to help you better understand the more abstract or analytical parts of the work. The summaries provided can also help you track the plot progression of the book to make sure you haven't overlooked something important while reading. This list is in no particular order, but some resources, as I will point out, are better than others,

This website is an old standby and you'd have to be living under a rock to not have heard about Sparknotes. The site was founded in 1999, so it has built up quite a database over the years. Chances are if you need help with a book, they have a study guide for it. The site provides the usual summary and analysis, while also tackling prominent themes, key quotations, and character analysis. The information is very reliable and usually comprehensive. As you can expect the more comprehensive guides are usually provided for popular books studied in high school. Sadly, once your studies move beyond the predictable literary canon books, the guides do tend to be a bit sparse particularly in the themes and analysis sections. For example, I found the guide on Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence to be sorely lacking. Additionally, unless the poem you're studying is very popular, chances are you won't find an entry on Sparknotes. For those reading away from your computer, Sparknotes does have an awesome free app available that I currently have on my phone. Fair warning though, stay as far away from the Sparklife section of the site as you can while working on an assignment because that has the power to suck hours away from your day.

Cliffnotes was actually one of the first student literary guides and was primarily a print guide. Now it has a site similar to the layout that Sparknotes has. Again the best guides are usually for books studied frequently in high school and the rest usually lack in either summary or analysis. One awesome feature that CliffNotes has that Sparknotes doesn't is they often have a section of critical essays that discuss an important theme or motif in the novel.

Gradesaver, like the two previous resources provides great literary study guides that tackle summary, analysis, character breakdowns, a discussion of the prevalent themes, and usually has a section devoted to the author's background. In my own studies, Gradesaver is usually the site I turn to when Sparknotes lets me down, which is getting more frequent as of late. While they too have guides devoted to popular texts, they also cover plenty that aren't usually taught in high school and have some great articles devoted to the great poets as well. I know they were super helpful when I was trying to pick a great Yeats poem to write a 5 page paper on. I was even surprised to find they had a fully fleshed out guide on Chretien de Troyes' "Knight of the Cart" story, which was an immense help when I was writing my 10 page paper for my independent study on the tradition of Arthurian Romance. I finished all of Chretien's Arthurian Romance stories at the beginning of November and by the time the middle of December came around, it was difficult to remember where each incident took place. Gradesaver's summary was broken up into line sections, which made it easy for me to pin point the line numbers for the incidents I wanted to incorporate into my paper.

I personally had no idea LitCharts existed until Spring of last year and it's a new literature online resource created by the original editors of Sparknotes. As it a quite a new site, their library of guides is a little bit smaller than the others, but they are growing everyday. You can even take to social media and request a study guide of a book that they don't have yet, which is awesome. I know that in the near future this site might be my go to online resource because their guides are very comprehensive. They provide the usual summary, analysis, themes, and author background. The real difference (and the most important in my opinion) is the layout. Rather than just give you a list of the themes present in the novel, LitCharts has this immensely useful colored box system. In the chart, they assign certain important themes a particular colored box. Then when you go to read the in-depth summaries of each chapter, they indicate with that colored box whether or not the theme is present in that particular chapter. As a result, you can track the progression of the themes and motifs in each section. LitCharts also has an app, so you can view their charts anywhere.

Shmoop is also another underutilized source for literary guides and lately I've been using a bit more than Sparknotes. Their guides go above and beyond the usual summary, analysis, and themes. When discussing themes in the novel, they provide helpful lists of quotes from the book that demonstrate that particular theme. They even have what they call a "timeline" for each character, which tracks their presence in the story. Additionally, they have a database, which includes more than just the expected books. The one problem that I have with this site though is the writing style of the guides. I think in an effort to make the guides more approachable, the quality of the language is dumbed down, which is a shame. It almost reads like a literary guide written by your weird uncle, who tries to be cool and hip with the times, but fails miserably. For those moving beyond the typical literary guides, the site even has an incredibly useful breakdown of the various types of literary criticism.

Another underutilized source of academic help on the internet is surprisingly YouTube. While going on YouTube usually derails productivity, visiting these channels may actually help you with your literary assignments.

This YouTube series, which tackles a number of school subjects, was started by Hank and John Green who are known primarily as the Vlogbrothers on YouTube (nerdfighters, anyone?). The literature series, hosted by John Green, tackles the summary, analysis of prevalent themes, and the influence of the author's biography in each video that they do. In approximately one or two 10 minute videos, viewers are exposed to a wealth of information about a book in a way that is incredibly entertaining and in no way tedious. Since a lot of work and animation goes into the production of these videos, their selection is very limited. If you are currently in high school and studying the usual books, Crash Course will be an immense help to you.

I discovered this YouTube channel purely by accident and ever since then I've been urging everyone to go take a look at it. The premise of the channel is that Sparky Sweets, Ph.D provides a succinct summary and analysis of a book as a hilarious gangster character using all the stereotypical gangster language you can think of. All of the gimmicks aside, the channel provides some highly useful and intelligent comments related to the books they cover. My only criticism is that the summaries provided do tend to be a bit sparse compared to the other literary guides out there. Another plus side to this YouTube channel is unlike Crash Course, they have a rather expansive library of videos that address more than just the usual books. You can even request books in the comments and more than likely the creators will consider doing a video on it. 

I hope this list will be of some help to you whether it's right now or after the holidays. Until next time, Best Wishes!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Reading Habits Tag

Why hello again readers and welcome to another holiday boredom fueled blog post. As I was looking through my notebook of blog post ideas I came across my answers to this awesome tag, which of course originated on Youtube. I figured why not do something a bit light today. Time for you all to know a bit more about my reading habits.

1. Do you have a certain place at home for reading?
Not really. Since I split my time between college and home I don't have a designated reading space. When I'm at home I tend to read on the couch, which is pretty comfy. At college I usually like to read on my bed, which usually results in a lot of dangerous surprise naps. This year in particular I really have to read on my bed because my desk chair is this small, wooden abomination that is painful to sit in for longer than an hour or two.

2. Do you use a bookmark or a random piece of paper?
I usually use a bookmark or a sticky note to mark my place. If I'm ambitious enough to sort though the crap in my desk drawer I might even use those sticky flags. I never under any circumstances dog ear a page.

3. Do you stop reading at the end of a chapter or anywhere?
I stop reading wherever I am in a book, sometimes even in the middle of a page. Since I do the majority of my reading at nighttime, I often reach a point where I'm just so tired that I can't read anymore and that rarely happens at the end of a chapter. 

4. Do you eat or drink while reading?
Of course! What kind of question is this? I don't even know if it's possible for me to do a significant amount of reading without a cup of tea or coffee next to me. I'm drinking coffee right now as we speak. 

5. Can you read while listening to music or watching tv?
Ideally, I'd like to think so, but in actuality nope. If the tv is on, I will inevitably be distracted, even if it's a program I'm not in the least bit interested in. As far as music goes, I can only listen to it while reading if it's instrumental. Even then I only do so if there is a lot of noise around me. I've recently found the usefulness of a good Hans Zimmer or Lindsey Stirling track because my neighbors at college are the noisiest/worst people in existence. It's a bit hard to read Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man when your neighbors are enthusiastically singing along to every song on the top 20 list, since they have no unique music taste of their own (do I sound bitter??).

6. Do you read one book at a time or several at once?
If you look at my currently reading list on Goodreads, you can definitely tell that I love to read more than one book at once. Honestly, if you plan on being an English major or just going to college in general, it's a skill you have to have. As far as fun reading goes, sometimes I get tired of a book or I'm just not in the mood for a certain book, so I just pick up another. 

7. Do you read at home or everywhere?
Everywhere!! Some people have apps on their phone to use when they have some unexpected free time in public. I make sure to have a book with me. My one piece of advice is before you go out in public make sure you take a book you aren't afraid to talk about. There will be that one random person who is suddenly interested in what you're reading.

8. Do you read out-loud or silently in your head?
Generally, I read silently in my head, unless there is a particularly challenging poem or passage in my school work. Then, I'll read it out-loud to help work my way through the ideas and better analyze them.

9. Do you read ahead?
Nope, but if I'm at a particularly boring part in a book I will skillfully skim the section. 

10. Do you break the spine or keep it new?
What kind of sane person intentionally breaks a spine!!!! Of course you keep a book like new. What is the whole point of buying a new book, if you are just going to ruin it from the start. I remember in 9th grade our school bought a ton of brand new copies of To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. They were the hardcover library style copies, so the binding was a bit tight. One guy who sat across from me got his new copy and preceded to open the book somewhere in the middle and completely crack the spine open. I'm pretty sure I gasped in horror.

11. Do you write in books?
Only if they're college books because I need to underline, highlight, and annotate sections to prepare for essays. My other English major friends always like to borrow my books because they have helpful comments in them, but I do like leave snarky jokes and annotations in the margins too that always make them laugh.

That's all the questions I have for this tag and I hope you liked learning a bit more about my own reading habits. Don't be afraid to answer these questions yourself. Until next time, Best Wishes.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Book To Movie Adaptation Do-Overs

Hello fellow readers!  Today I got to thinking about book to movie adaptations. Here on Myriad Novelations we're no strangers to highly detailed discussions about film adaptations, but I rarely ever talk about adaptations of the non classic variety. I've decided to upset that trend in order to talk about book to film adaptations I really wish Hollywood could redo. Just wipe the slate clean and take another shot at the source material. This is by no means a comprehensive list and is of course limited by the books I've read. This list is organized starting with the least worst and ending with absolute worst offenders. Let's do this!!

#9. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

I'm going to be honest. I didn't dislike the two Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants movies that they made. When you consider them apart from the actual book series, they are still two moderately successful movies that chronicle the lives of 4 best friends. The reason this made the list was because of my own distaste for the fact that they crammed 4 really great books into two movies. Now that I'm in the present where dystopian ya fiction trilogies get 4 whole movies whether they deserve them or not, I can't help but wonder how awesome the series would have been as a whole in movie form. As much as I would also like to nitpick about how so many scenes and characters were misrepresented in the films, I've got eight other movies to rant on. Sadly, I did hear that a movie based on the book Sisterhood Everlasting is in the works. If that does happen I can honestly say I won't even consider watching it. That book ripped out my heart and then proceeded to stomp on it repeatedly. I like to pretend the series still ended with Forever in Blue.  

#8. The Princess Diaries
Yet again I didn't hate the two Princess Diaries films made based on the series by Meg Cabot. In fact I like both of them enough to actually own dvd copies, but they are really nothing like the books. What I find so hilarious is that the movies are so different from the books that Cabot has Mia comment in the books about how the movies don't resemble her life at all. The first Princess Diaries was such a sanitary, feel good movie. A fluffy movie that you watch once in a while when you're feeling down. The Mia from the books is quirky, snarky, and a little bit mental in a way that's hard not to love. Fans of the book like myself probably wonder how the Grandmere of the books who is known for her sidecars and her coldhearted nature got turned into the ever wonderful Julie Andrews character. Let's not forget that the second Princess Diaries movie basically says F.U. to the first movie and introduces a new love interest out of left field. At the end of the day this incredible series was turned into your basic romantic comedy.
#7. Beastly
I struggled with my decision to put this book to movie adaptation on the list. I mean it's hard to be disappointed over a story that's a fluffy romance that plays up Disney nostalgia, and pure teenage wish fulfillment. Still I genuinely disliked the film and I can't not talk about it. So I read Beastly by Alex Flinn in middle school and promptly fell in love with the book. I'm a sucker for modernizations of fairy tales and Beauty and the Beast was my favorite Disney movie (you know, until I realized the ever intelligent Belle had a bad case of Stockholm Syndrome) Anyway, my younger self loved the concept of the vain popular guy learning a lesson about love and the true worth of a person. While the core of the plot is maintained in the film, I felt like the book was given the basic hollywood romantic comedy treatment again. Kendra was pretty tame in the film and Vanessa Hudgens sucked as Lindy. I do have one massive bone to pick with this film though. As a modernization of Beauty and the Beast, naturally Kyle's curse is that he looks like a beast. The idea is that his transformation makes him physically unattractive. Instead it seems the creators of the film must have decided the fur was unoriginal and went with the incredibly dated opinion that "Hey, people with tattoos are ugly, freaks of nature. Let's go with that." I know I'm probably delving a little too deeply in the film, but that's the message Kyle's character sends to me and I just don't like that.  

#6. Inkheart
Oh Inkheart you had so much potential!!!! This trilogy by Cornelia Funke was and still is one of my favorite series of all time. As a young book lover, the idea of a story where the characters can read stuff out of their books just spoke to me. It had the potential to be a really epic fantasy trilogy of movies. Too bad that won't be happening. While I loved the casting choices for Dustfinger and Aunt Elinor, the movie just doesn't really reflect the book at all. The plot is completely mangled to make the story fit and wrap up in just one movie. The movie's villains are watered down, caricatures of their textual counterparts and just in general the tone of the series doesn't translate into the film. Again, in a world where The Hobbit gets 3 film adaptations, I feel a bit bitter about the fact that Inkheart didn't get the adaptation it really deserved.  

#5. Vampire Academy

I just know what I'm about to say is going to anger some people, but I really really need to talk about this mess of a movie. That's right, despite intensely loving this series I detested the movie. Every last bit of it. Get comfy because this movie is still fresh in my mind and I have a lot to rant about. The first thing that clued me in to the fact that this movie adaption was going to suck hardcore was the promotion of it. I was optimistic about the movie at first. I remember that I had to reconcile the fact that yes the first book in the Vampire Academy series was a bit average and centered mostly around school and teenage problems. I was ready to embrace the film adaption just as much as I did the series. Well, dear readers the movie poster says it all, In a post Twilight world people have begun to realize that the public isn't so receptive to vampire love stories anymore, which is a real shame considering Richelle Mead's books are so fantastic, so fantastic that I stuck around for the spin off series. To try and set their vampire story apart, the directors tried to make this a snarky Mean Girls like narrative that takes a huge departure from the book. Basically in a effort to make an interesting vampire movie, the dialogue was stuffed with obnoxious and sarcastic one-liners so full of pop culture references that the movie dates itself within a month of its release. There wasn't nearly enough world building in the movie to help those who haven't read the book to understand it, Additionally, I though the casting was really quite terrible (Rose anyone?), but I'll just chalk that up to hollywood beauty standards. I heard there was a kickstarter campaign that failed to help fund the second movie and really I'm not surprised. The movie did a pretty good job of alienating many fans of book and didn't make a enough of an impact on those unfamiliar with the series.     

#4. Blood and Chocolate

It has been a while since I've read this book and seen the so called movie adaption, so this discussion probably won't be as in depth as I would like it to be. Even so, this terrible book to movie adaptation has to be called out. Aside from a few situations and the names of the characters, nothing about this movie matches up with the book. It's as if the script writers for the film read a synopsis of the book and decided to work from there. How about you care for your source material next time.  

#3. Percy Jackson

You had to know this would be on the list, right? Right? I'm going to be honest. I read the Percy Jackson series far too late, as in the two movies had already been released and I still hadn't read them. When my younger brother, who had read the series, freaked out over how terrible the movies were, I really didn't give it much thought. Now that I've read this series and all of the Heroes of Olympus, I see what my brother was talking about. The movie takes plotlines from a number of books and then just smashes them together in a hilarious mess. That Kronos fight anyone? No just me? I also love how this myst is something that conveniently comes in a perfume bottle. The characters from the movies also don't align with those in the book. I find it so annoying that Annabeth, the freaking daughter of Athena, is a clueless twit half the time, just an obnoxious love interest really. I could rant a bit more, but I think the rest of the internet has me covered. 
#2. A Series of Unfortunate Events
This movie crushed me as a child. Never before had I felt so betrayed by the movie industry and for good reason. Who in their right mind ever thought, we need an actor to portray a menacing villain, oh lets get Jim Carrey -_- A Series of Unfortunate Events holds a special place in my heart as one of the best series of my childhood. I grew up with these books and to this day, even the mention of the series makes me want to abandon the rest of the world and all of my responsibilities so I can re-read them all. This movie attempted to cram three whole books into one feature length film, which is a shame because aside from Carrey, the film had a terrific set of cast members who could have shined with more screen time, a better script, and a lead actor that doesn't ruin every scene he's in. The great news is Netflix is actually adapting the books into a series!!!!!!!! When I found out I had a bit of a fangirl meltdown in my dorm, which is a bit terrible considering this is a children's series and I'm a senior in college, but whatever. I just might have to cave and get a Netflix subscription.  

#1. Eragon
You had to have seen this one coming too, right? Let me set the scene. I was a voracious middle school reader, who in her time between school work and Harry Potter book releases filled the time with new underrated series, at the time this was underrated, trust me. I devoured Eragon the minute I got my hands on it and as a very shy student, bolstered the courage to ask one of my classmates to borrow his copy of the second book. When this movie was advertised, I didn't give my parents a choice. I had to go see it in the theater. To say I was disappointed would be a bit of an understatement. Again this movie had a perfect cast, honestly who else could play Brom except Jeremy Irons. The problem is the movie is a huge mess, full of jump cuts and time lapses that save on runtime, but leave out a ton of important plot points. Not to mention, the creators made sure there was no way they could ever make a sequel out of this mess of a movie. I will forever wish that this fantastic series gets the movie franchise to deserves.

As I said before, this is by no means a comprehensive list. In fact, this list was first drafted in August (sorry folks) and since then there have been a number of book to movie adaptations that could have very well made this list. Just like death and taxes, it is almost a life certainty that the film industry will mess up a beloved novel or book series. Until next time, enjoy the holiday season and Best Wishes!