Series Wrap-Up: Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children

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I just wrapped up my series read of the Miss Peregrine books by Ransom Riggs. What a fun and frightful journey it’s been!

I first read Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children when it was published in 2011. Such a unique book! The plot itself is created to incorporate a treasure trove of vintage photos, each one weird and trippy — invisible children, one girl with two reflections, mysterious shadows, you name it. The creepy, odd pictures are strewn throughout the book, each one relating to the plot in same way.

The plot? The plot centers around an ordinary teen-aged boy named Jacob Portman growing up in a pretty standard suburb in Florida. His family is rich, and he’s bored and fairly friendless. Jacob has a strong bond with his grandfather Abraham, but as Jacob has gotten older, he’s stopped having patience for Abraham’s fantastic tales of monsters and strange beings — the tales that he believed whole-heartedly as a small child. When Abraham is murdered, Jacob’s family believes that he’s had a mental breakdown, insisting on having seen a grotesque three-tongued monster and sure that his dying grandfather gave him cryptic instructions for some sort of quest.

Finally, in an attempt to free Jacob from his delusions, Jacob’s father takes him for a visit to Cairnholm Island off the coast of Wales, where Abraham spent his youth during World War II as a refugee from Poland. On the island, Jacob stumbles across a secret portal to another time — literally. He enters a time loop, where it’s always 1940, and meets the peculiar children under the care of Miss Peregrine, a motley assortment of kids who all have bizarre gifts — the ability to fly, create fire, and control bees, among others.

But there are monsters as well, and Jacob eventually must choose between returning to the dull life he had before or staying and fighting alongside this group of new friends who’ve started to feel like a second family to Jacob.

The second book Hollow City, and the third, Library of Souls, continue Jacob’s saga, with non-stop action as Jacob and the peculiar children must rescue their mentor, fight truly disgusting horror-show bad guys, and yes, try to save the world. As with the original, all three books include generous helpings of vintage photos that illustrate the weird and indescribable other world of the peculiars.

As I mentioned, I read the first Peregrine story back in 2011, and always meant to finish the series. I faithfully bought books 2 and 3 when they were released, but by then, a few years had gone by and I didn’t remember much at all. So finally, I decided that this would be the year! I revisited book 1 by listening to the audiobook, then continued onward with the hard copy versions of books 2 and 3.

Overall, I enjoyed the books very much… although I have to admit that the conceit wears a bit thin by the third book.

The first book is full of quirky charm and delight. It’s a brand new world, and the author does a marvelous job of building that world, establishing the odd array of characters and the mysteries of the time loops. It’s weird and fantastical, but pretty terrific all at the same time. And even though there’s plenty of horror and conflict, it definitely has the tone of a plucky band of outsiders coming together to confront the forces of evil. Go, weird kids!

Perhaps the problem for me was reading all three books in a row, but somewhere along the way the specialness wore off and the series became just another adventure story. A good adventure story, but not quite as special. The 2nd and 3rd books lack the quirk and delight of the new, strange universe introduced in book 1. The middle and end volumes are good fun reads, but the peril and chase scenes become a bit tiring after a while. Even the use of vintage photos starts to feel old by the end, shoe-horned into the story as a necessity rather than being an extra and unexpected ingredient.

My inclination lately has been to binge-read series, but I do believe that wasn’t the right approach with the Peregrine books. Yes, I enjoyed them as a whole, but I might have enjoyed them more individually if I’d taken breathers in between.

Still, I’m mightily impressed with the world Ransom Riggs has created and the peculiar people who live in it. I recommend this series for readers from advanced middle grade level up to adults. Anyone who enjoys fantasy worlds and timey-wimey set-ups will have fun with Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children.

And a nice bonus for me is getting to look forward to the movie version, coming in the fall of 2016! I do hope the adaptation manages to capture the quirky flavor of the books.

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Have you read the Miss Peregrine books? Will you see the movie?

 

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Top ten book-to-movie adaptations that I can’t wait to see

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Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is the top ten movie (or TV) adaptations of books which we really want to see. My list is a bit of a mix: Some here are movie/TV adaptations that I’ve finally seen, some are movies that are already out that I just haven’t gotten to, and a few are movies/TV adaptations that are coming up in the next year that I’m really looking forward to.

Recently seen:

1) The Martian by Andy Weir: Finally saw it this past weekend! I loved the book, and I was really wondering whether the movie would do it justice… but I thought it was terrific! Hint: See it while it’s still in theaters — this is a movie that needs the big screen/3D experience!

2) North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell: Even though the BBC mini-series is from 2004, I’d never seen it before this week. I loved the book, and thought the TV version was beautifully done. And also: Richard Armitage. Need I say more?

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Need to see:

3) Room by Emma Donoghue: The book was powerful and painful, and so even though the movie version looks like it’s really well done, I’m a little hesitant about sitting through it.

4) Still Alice by Lisa Genova: Another tough subject, which is probably why I’ve held off on seeing the movie, even though I’ve heard such good things about it.

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Still to come:

5) Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them by J. K. Rowling: It’ll be interesting to see how a Hogwarts textbook gets turned into a full-length movie! The early photos certainly make it seem intriguing.

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6) Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith: Jane Austen and zombies, oh my! I think the trailer looks awesome.

7) 11/22/63 by Stephen King: I loved, loved, loved this book. The TV series airs in February 2016 on Hulu, starring James Franco, and I just hope it sticks to the book!

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8) Me Before You by Jojo Moyes: The movie version is due out in March 2016, starring Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin.

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9) Into the Forest by Jean Hegland: I had no idea there was going to be a movie version until I started researching this post! I loved the book, so this is super exciting. The movie premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in September, but so far, I haven’t found a US release date. Let’s go with 2016, shall we?

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And finally…

Why haven’t I ever seen this at any point in my life?

10) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: I don’t know what was wrong with my upbringing, but clearly something was deficient, because I never, ever saw the movie version of To Kill a Mockingbird, and that’s just not okay. Adult me needs to fix this.

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What movie adaptations are you most excited about? Let me know in the comments, and don’t forget to share your link!

If you enjoyed this post, please consider following Bookshelf Fantasies! And don’t forget to check out my regular weekly features, Shelf Control and Thursday Quotables. Happy reading!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I’d Love To See As Movies or TV Shows

fireworks2Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, featuring a different top 10 theme each week.

This week’s theme is Top Ten Books I’d Love To See As a Movie or TV Show (set in a perfect world… in which movies don’t butcher the books we love). It seems that every book gets gobbled up by Hollywood these days, so it’s a challenge to come up with ten that aren’t movies and most likely never will be movies… but heck yeah, I’d love to see a really wonderful and faithful movie adaptation of each one! Of course, as one of the pins I keep seeing on Pinterest says, in order to please me, the movie version would have to be 17 hours long and not leave out a single detail.

My top 10 choices for books that I’d love to see made into movies (but it’ll probably never happen) are:

1) The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell: This book makes just about every one of my top 10 lists for one reason or another — and that’s because I love it so. I know it’s been optioned for film many a time (including a pick-up by Brad Pitt years ago), but it’s just never worked out. I think the author has now regained the movie rights and has worked on a screenplay, but it does seem unlikely that this beautiful book will ever make it to the big screen.

2) The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan: The writing in this gory, violent book is intense and highly literate, and the entire book is at once a bloodfest and a cerebral, existential examination of life. I can’t imagine all of that translating well into a 2-hour movie and retaining any of its truly unique flavor.

3) Beauty Queens by Libba Bray. This book just cracked me up, and I think it would make an awesome movie! Teen beauty queens stranded on a desert island and having to figure out how to survive — while keeping their talent sharp just in case? Fantastic.

4) Codex Alera by Jim Butcher. The Codex Alera series is high fantasy with big splashes of humor, political infighting, and even some good love stories. I think it would make an epic TV series à la Games of Thrones.

5) A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. I’m not sure that a movie could truly capture the significance of the ancient documents and secret alchemical manuscripts — but I am sure that with the right casting, Matthew’s hotness would at least be true to the books.

6) The Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger. Wouldn’t you just love to see the dirigibles, the lethal parasols, and the hats? I think this series would be amazing as either a series of movies or as an ongoing TV show. The costumes alone would make it spectacular!

7) The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley. This young adult masterpiece feels so cinematic to me, with dramatic sand dunes, horse chases, sword fights, and plenty of swoony love scenes as well. Please?

8) The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman. Hoffman’s retelling of the Masada story focuses on the women, and I could see it as a stunning showcase for four strong, talented actresses. Plus, beautiful scenery and tons of action sequences!

9) Breathers by S. G. Browne. Yes, I know zombies are everywhere these days, but this book manages to make zombies funny, sympathetic, and touching. I could see it working as a movie, provided that audiences aren’t completely burned out on the subject by now.

10) The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman. Okay, technically speaking, this one shouldn’t count, as there’s already been a movie. But what I want is a GOOD version of this book, one that really captures all the dynamics and nuances, not just a surface-level treatment that tries too hard to be accessible to children. Perhaps a six-part BBC mini-series that includes all three books? One can only hope.

Of course, if I really get going with books that need BETTER movie versions, there’d be no stopping me. And I suppose that would make its own great top 10 topic: the top 10 books that already have movie versions — but which deserve better!

What’s on your list this week?

If you enjoyed this post, please consider following Bookshelf Fantasies! And don’t forget to check out our regular weekly features, Thursday Quotables and Flashback Friday. Happy reading!

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Do you host a blog hop or book blog meme? Do you participate in a meme that you really, really love? I’m building a Book Blog Meme Directory, and need your help! If you know of a great meme to include — or if you host one yourself — please drop me a note on my Contact page and I’ll be sure to add your info!

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Best/Worst Movies Adapted From Books

Public domain image from www.public-domain-image.comTop Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, featuring a different top 10 theme each week.

This week’s theme is Top Ten Best/Worst Movie Adaptations. Back in December, I did a top 10 list featuring the top 10 movie versions of classic books — so in the interest of not repeating myself, I am not including any of those movies here. After all, I am not Clueless, and I do have some Pride (and Prejudice). I wouldn’t want my blog readers to be Gone With The Wind due to my Vanity (Fair).  (Click on the link above if you want to see all of my classic choices!)

Best:

1) Much Ado About Nothing: The new black-and-white film directed by Joss Whedon is modern, funny, snappy, and a pure delight.

2) The Hunger Games: I don’t know about you, but I was very pleasantly surprised by how great this movie turned out to be. Maybe it helped that I hadn’t read the book in a couple of years, so I couldn’t indulge in my usual post-movie nitpickiness. In any case, I thought The Hunger Games managed to pull off the very hard combination of being faithful to the tone and overall content of the book while still managing to be cinematic and a great piece of entertainment on its own merit.

3) Lord of the Rings trilogy: These movies are all just so, so beautiful and inspiring. Visually stunning, gorgeously acted, all put together so perfectly.

4) Coraline: I loved this animated adaptation of the Neil Gaiman book. The Other Mother was appropriately creepy, and watching the movie really felt like stepping inside the book.

5) Carrie: Sure, this is going back a ways, but there’s something so iconic about the shot of Sissy Spacek covered in blood. The movie captured the horror of Stephen King’s novel so effectively, and managed to be super-scary and surprising even for people who’d read the book.

Worst:

1) The Other Boleyn Girl: Does it count as a bad adaptation if the source material wasn’t great to begin with? I have a circular relationship with this movie and book. I saw a trailer for the movie, thought it looked good so I decided to read the book, wasn’t crazy about the book, and then found the movie disappointing as well. Eric Bana was so miscast as Henry, and Natalie Portman just wasn’t Anne Boleyn. Plus, the plot of the movie veered off in strange ways from the plot of the book, which already took a lot of liberties with the story. Just not good, all the way around.

2) The Hobbit: Sorry, Peter Jackson, but one wonderful book does not need to be three movies. The Hobbit movie was not boring to watch, just overstuffed. J. R. R. Tolkien wrote a terrific, compact piece of fiction. Other than making more money, why split it into a trilogy?

3) The Time Traveler’s Wife: Terrible casting, especially Eric Bana as Henry. (Hmm, maybe I just have a problem with Eric Bana playing characters named Henry?). The Time Traveler’s Wife is one of my very favorite books, but I found the movie bland and watered-down, without the book’s tragic arc and sense of doomed romance.

4) The Stepford Wives: Maybe it’s dated, but the book by Ira Levin was definitely a suspenseful thriller in its day. The 2004 movie version starring Nicole Kidman tried to be a comedy and failed miserably. Just painful to sit through.

Mixed bag:

The Harry Potter movies! Look, I’m a huge fan of the books, and I like — sometimes even love — the movies, but the books and the movies feel like totally different animals. The first two Harry Potter movies were not good works cinematically. They were so faithful to the books that they didn’t stand on their own as movies (if that makes sense), and had more of a juvenile sentiment to them than was necessary. I liked the Prisoner of Azkaban very much as a movie, if I overlooked the sometimes glaring departures from the book. Still, it had a sense of style that was its own, thanks to director Alfonso Cuarón, and was both fun and suspenseful to watch. In some ways, I consider Goblet of Fire to be the best movie. I loved the Triwizard competition set-pieces, including the dragon chases, the underwater scenes, and the hedge maze. Yes, there’s the problematic portrayal of Dumbledore in this one, which I know upset a lot of HP fans (myself included) — but as a movie, it was quite spectacular. The Half-Blood Prince movie didn’t feel quite right to me, perhaps because of the omitted background scenes and the changes to the climax which made the events make less sense on screen than they did in the book. And the Deathly Hallows movies? Amazing, in some ways — visually stunning, with some very satisfying emotional pay-offs (Snape!), and I loved the illustrations used for the tale of the three brothers… but also long and with some strange choices in terms of what was included and what was cut. Kudos to the Deathly Hallows movie, thought, for explaining the whole Elder Wand mumbo-jumbo much more concisely than the book ever did.

So what books-into-movies make your top 10 this week? Any you especially love or hate?

If you enjoyed this post, please consider following Bookshelf Fantasies! And don’t forget to check out our regular weekly features, Thursday Quotables and Flashback Friday. Happy reading!

 

Was my high school reading list really this exciting?

Have you seen the trailers for the new version of The Great Gatsby?

I know it’s been a lot of years, but I really don’t remember the book version of The Great Gatsby being nearly this eye-popping-ly exciting. The music, the cars, the mansions, the parties — this looks big and glamorous, candy-coated and full of adrenaline. I’m pretty much dying to see this now, and I can’t get the music out of my head.

On the other hand, I barely remember the plot details from the book, so I can’t tell at all if this is a faithful adaptation.

So, should I re-read the book? Or just wait and enjoy the glitz of the movie?

News for bookslovers: Oddities and goodies

All sorts of good book news came our way this past week. In case you were snoozing and missed something, consider this your friend public service announcement from the land of book obsessives:

In book-to-TV news:

  • The BBC announced that it will be producing a TV adaptation of Susannah Clark’s wonderful Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. So far, it sounds like this will be a six-episode mini-series airing in the UK sometime in 2013… let’s hope it crosses the pond to the US soon thereafter. You can read more about this delightful news here.
  • Coming next summer on CBS: Stephen King’s Under The Dome! This was one of my favorite books read in 2011 — big, creepy, and scary in an all-too-human sort of way. I can’t wait to see how this translates to TV. Read about it here.

In sheer insanity news:

  • Because apparently it’s not enough to have read and loved the Harry Potter series… Amazon is selling a $1,000 gift set about the Harry Potter movies. Sure, why not milk this cow for all it’s worth? If you’re thinking, “So worth it! Where do I get one?”, click here to read more. As of today, Amazon is offering this item at a 40% discount… so for just $600, all this can be yours:

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Author updates:

  • Herman Wouk has published a new novel — at age 97! The Lawgiver, an epistolary novel about screenwriters working on a movie about Moses, is Wouk’s 18th book, and, he says, not his last. According to this article in the New York Times, he’s already begun his next writing project.
  • In early November, Philip Roth announced his retirement from writing. His last book, Nemesis, was published in 2010.

And in other bookish news:

  • British author Nick Hornby will be writing the screenplay for the movie adaption of Cheryl Strayed’s memoir Wild. I haven’t read the book yet, and I always enjoy Nick Hornby, so… wait for the movie version?
  • Remember the Janie series from your distant or not-too-distant teen days? Starting with The Face On The Milk Carton, published 20 years ago, Caroline B. Cooney’s engrossingly addictive series focuses on a teen girl named Janie, leading a happy suburban life, who accidentally discovers that she may in fact have been kidnapped as a child. If you walked away from the final book in the series wishing for more, your wishes are about to come true! Janie Face To Face will be published in January, and promises to reveal (according to the Amazon blurb) “if Janie and Reeve’s love has endured, and whether or not the person who brought Janie and her family so much emotional pain and suffering is brought to justice.”
  • Did y’all see this awesome creation from EpicReads? It’s a YA fiction map to the US, with a book for each of the fifty states. Pretty amazing — check it out. You may even want to hang up a copy, or use it as a checklist, or — just thinking here — put it up on the wall and throw darts at it in order to pick your next book. I’ve read 10 out of 50, and can definitely see a bunch more that I’d like to add to my TBR list. Fun!
  • And finally, on a hopeful note, NPR Books reports that this is looking to be a good holiday season for independent bookstores. Which reminds me, I have more shopping to do…

Cheers, all! If you have any other interesting tidbits from the world of books, please share in the comments!