A Wild Read

Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Wild by Cheryl Strayed

I’ve read a lot of books lately but none that made me want to blog a review. There were books that were mildly entertaining and books that were a real struggle to get through. That’s until I picked up Wild by Cheryl Strayed. This book was thrust into my hands by a colleague with the command, “You must read this!” When the colleague is your boss that’s even more of an incentive to read something.

Then I heard that Wild has been made into a film starring Reese Witherspoon – out early next year. There’s nothing I love more than reading a book before seeing the movie!

So I started this on a Friday night and finished it on a Sunday. It was the kind of book you start and don’t want to stop reading until the very end. Continue reading

Warm Bodies: A Review

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion (kindle version, 258 pages, pub April 2011)
Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion (kindle edition, 258 pages, pub April 2011)

Ah, romances between paranormal creatures and young women. There have sure been a lot of books falling into this genre over the years. Vampire romances, witch romances, werewolf romances, alien romances … and now zombie romances. I read Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion because I wanted to go and see the movie (which I still haven’t seen yet) and because I was curious about how a zombie (a rotting, brain-eating, moaning corpse) could be made to be desirable. I’m not sure too many people would fantasise about this particular creature.

I was expecting some sort of angst-ridden, Twilight-style romance but instead got something that had a bit more substance. Warm Bodies tells the tale of a zombie called ‘R’. Like all zombies, he has no memory of who he was when he was alive or what his name was. All he recalls is the letter ‘R’. R is more articulate than most zombies in that he can string together a few words at a time. Most of his kind just stand around moaning at each other. He lives in an abandoned airport on the edge of a post-apocalyptic city. The airport houses a big nest of zombies and R calls a 747 his home. On the outside he likes hunting for humans and eating their brains, but on the inside he is capable of deep thought about his situation.

One day R goes on a raid in the city and eats the brain of a young man. In doing so, he finds himself seeing the young man’s memories and hearing his thoughts. Then he does something extraordinary – he saves a young woman from being eaten by the other raiding zombies. The woman, Julie, is the ex-girlfriend of the man whose brain he just ate. He takes her back to the airport and an unlikely relationship develops between them.

Julie is a tough cookie and hates zombies but she can see that R is different. As they begin an unlikely friendship, the world around them begins to alter. For if R is capable of suppressing his zombie-like tendencies, is it possible that other zombies will follow? And can they convince the humans barricaded behind the walls of the stadium that there is still hope for the world?

Warm Bodies is imaginative, funny and touching in equal parts. I can’t say I’ve ever had an interest in zombies as a subject matter, but I really liked this book. Now I have to see the movie.

What comes first for you? The book or the movie?

What comes first for you – the book or the movie?

Does a book get on your reading radar when a new movie based on it is coming out? Do you then rush out to read it before seeing the movie? Or do you go and see a movie based on having read the book? For me, probably like most of you, it is a mixture of both. I read all The Hunger Games books before going to see the first movie. Likewise, I went to see the film version of Life of Pi because I loved the book so much (the movie was fantastic too!).

“The book is so much better than the movie”

Do you find yourself saying that? I do. Even though I love movies almost as much as I love books, I inevitably always think the book is better. I guess it’s because they can squeeze so much into the novel that they can’t into the movie. Plus, I’m a purist. I’m one of those annoying people who will drive you crazy during a movie by saying, “that didn’t happen in the book!” There are only two exceptions that I can think of: The Lord of the Rings movies were much more entertaining than the book and I loved Gone With The Wind both in book and film version.

Right now I seem to be going through a film tie-in reading phase

I just read:

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion
Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

I can’t wait to see the movie!

I’m now reading:

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

I was going to get the DVD and then bought the book at a sale. So I have to read the book first!

See the film. Read the book?

What I don’t usually do is see a movie and then go and read the book. I saw the film Silver Linings Playbook but see no need to read the book. I loved The Hobbit movie but probably won’t ever get around to reading the book. I confess to seeing more than a few Nicholas Sparks movies but have never picked up the corresponding book. And while I loved the film The Help, I never did read the book version – even when it was given to me by my mum. I just don’t go from the film to the book.

 

Is anyone else like this? How do films influence your reading habits?

Are Sequels Always a Good Idea?

The Devil Wears Prada (film)
The Devil Wears Prada (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I recently read online that Lauren Weisberger is going to write a sequel to The Devil Wears Prada. Andy, Emily and Miranda will all be reappearing in a book entitled – Revenge Wears Prada: The Devil Returns. Can’t you just see the movie version already? Who wouldn’t want to see Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway and Emily Blunt reprise their iconic roles?

But is a sequel really necessary? Wasn’t everything said in The Devil Wears Prada? Miranda was a horrible boss. Andy went along with it and then she quit. The End. It was a worldwide smash hit, as was the movie. What more is there to say?

Some stories are just meant to be stand-alone. I wonder if TDWP is one of them. How many times have you seen a great movie and then the sequel just doesn’t do it any favours? (Sex and the City is a perfect example). The same can be said with books.

Writing a sequel can be dangerous.

Pros
-I see another Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, Emily Blunt pairing-up in the movie sequel. Didn’t we all just love Meryl Streep as an uber-b*tch?
-Publishers will be seeing dollar signs. Bring out the book, then a year or two later bring out the film tie-in version and listen to the cash registers chiming around the world.
-It might be an entertaining read. I hope so. I know I’ll probably buy it.

Cons
-It’s a risky business. If it’s a stinker that is what you will be remembered for – not your original book. It can tarnish your author brand.
-The high expectations of fans of the original book will make it easy to disappoint them.
-Hasn’t Lauren already written enough about her former boss, Editor of Vogue, Anna Wintour? What’s left to say that we don’t already know?

If the story calls for it then by all means go for a sequel. But it’s a fine line between writing a sequel because the story needs to be told or writing it for the sake of needing to produce another bestseller.

You’re never too old for fairy tales

Snow White and the Huntsman movie poster

I went to the movies and saw Snow White and the Huntsman the other day. It was the perfect combination of fantastical special effects and very scary acting from Charlize Theron. It seems like re-worked fairy tales are all the rage at the moment. From the other Snow White movie to the TV series Once Upon A Time to books like Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth (a retelling of Rapunzel). There’s even going to be a Sleeping Beauty movie told from the perspective of the evil Queen, played by Angelina Jolie (Maleficent). As well as a reworking of Hansel and Gretel as witch hunters (coming out in 2013 starring Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton).

Perhaps fairy tales never go out of style. They are always there waiting to be retold. In our shaky economic times, it’s nice to escape into worlds of pure fantasy.

When it comes to my favourite fairy tales, growing up I always liked the original tellings that were a little on the dark side. The one that still breaks my heart is The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen. I always thought it was tragic that the Little Mermaid gave up the sea and her voice for a pair of legs so she could be near the prince she loved. And every step she took felt like stabbing knives. Then the Prince ends up marrying someone else. Her only chance of becoming a mermaid again is if she uses the sea witch’s knife to kill the prince. But she can’t and tosses herself into the sea instead. No wonder Disney dramatically changed the animated version …

There were also many fairy tale movies that I loved when I was growing up. In fact, I still love them:

Labyrinth – A very young Jennifer Connelly wishes that her annoying baby brother would be taken away by the Goblin King, played by a very creepy, big-haired David Bowie. It is just a comment made in the heat of the moment, but the Goblin King hears her and takes her brother away. To get her brother back she must set off into the treacherous Labyrinth that surrounds the Goblin King’s castle before time runs out. Along the way she meets lots of colourful characters from Jim Henson’s puppet workshop. I’m not ashamed to admit that I still know all the words to all the songs.
The Princess Bride –This film is based on the book written by William Goldman. It has all the fairy tale elements you could hope for: a princess called Buttercup, an evil prince, a giant, a swash-buckling pirate hero, sword-play, romance, magic and lots of classic one-liners from the likes of Billy Crystal.
Ever After – Drew Barrymore stars in this retelling of the Cinderella story. I put this DVD on from time to time when I want to watch a light, non-taxing film.
Ladyhawke – A classic film starring Michelle Pfeiffer. Two lovers have been cursed by a powerful Bishop. The man is a wolf by night while his love is in human form. And she is a hawk by day while he is a man. They seem doomed until a young thief played by Matthew Broderick agrees to help them lift the curse.
Enchanted – I thought this was a clever reworking. Amy Adams plays Princess Giselle who is transported from her cartoon fairy tale world into the harsh streets of real world New York. Hilarity ensues – especially the scene where she gets rats and pigeons to help her clean her rescuer’s apartment.

To wrap up this homage to fairy tales, go and visit the blog of Emeline Morin. I stumbled upon her blog this week. It is devoted to fairy tales and their reworkings. I particularly like the beautiful artwork in this post.

What’s your favourite fairy tale?