Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Top Ten Unique Book Titles

The topic of this weeks Top Ten Tuesday is pretty self-explanatory really, so let's just jump right in.

I love book titles. I have been swayed into buying a book or even put off buying a book, purely based on the title before. I write too, so I know how difficult it can be to find something that is unique and something that fits the story, and how good it feels when you come up with the one that is just right.

I'm not sure if all of these are necessarily unique book titles, but they do stand out to me as distinctive and memorable. I've noticed (many people have probably noticed really) the book title trend in YA over the past few years...they all tend to follow the same kind of pattern, and it's made titles that used to seem unique and beautiful all kind of blend together and become easy to mix up.

But these ones, I think, are still holding their own (though not all YA and not all recent). In no particular order:

1. Like Water for Chocolate - I'm pretty sure this is an expression that makes more sense untranslated (or at least when you understand the origin of it), but I still love it as a title even if I don't really fully understand it. 

2. The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night - This one is just so satisfying to say, almost tongue twister-y and poetic. It's like two unrelated sentences have been smooshed together and it leaves me wanted to pick up the book to find out why, why that title, what's the context. And even if it turned out to be just a pretty, quirky title, with little or no relevance to the book I'd like it still...for being a pretty, quirky title.

3. Exit, Pursued by a Bear - This one is perfect. It puts a more sinister twist on the famous Shakespeare stage direction, when you have the context of the story. 

4. Strange the Dreamer - Strange the title. I don't know why I love this one, but I really love it. It stuck in my head like a catchy song I can't stop singing. Laini's titles are awesome in general, Daughter of Smoke and Bone would've made the list but that kind of title is trendy now.

5. Eyes Like Stars/Perchance to Dream/So Silver Bright - I love the titles in this series. I love titles that are taken from quotes and these ones are catchy, memorable, and fitting with the story.

6. Turtles All the Way Down - John Green's titles in general are all pretty worthy of being on the list. They're all pretty memorable and distinctive and the titles usually tie in really well with the content of the book (although in this case, probably not literally). I've never heard a title like this one, it's odd and kind of beautiful in it's oddness. 

7. They Both Die at the End - I haven't read the book yet, so I don't know if it follows through on delivering the spoiler promised in the title, but it's a damn good title. Spoiling the end in the title? I love it. Especially given the context (how hurtful the Bury Your Gays Trope is), I don't know if Adam was deliberately confronting that trope with the title, but even if he wasn't, it still does it wonderfully.

8. There's Someone Inside Your House - This one. I don't like it as a title really, but I also kind of love it? It's odd. I think I love it because it reminds me of a scene from one of the only horrors to genuinely freak me out (if you're curious: When a Stranger Calls). It's wonderfully creepy and not the usual title style of horror novels.

9. Moxie and Illuminae - I'm lumping these two in together, because my reasoning for both is the same. In case it wasn't obvious from my list so far, one word titles aren't my thing. I like long titles. But these two, they've used words that fit their books, that are distinctive and not commonly used, and they're also ones that just...satisfying to say? 

10. You Can't Touch My Hair by Phoebe Robinson - This is the lone memoir on my list, but it's definitely one of my favourite memoir titles ever. I love that even if someone doesn't choose to read her book, she still manages to confront an aspect of racial ignorance with the title alone. 

Do you prefer long titles or short?

Later.

Monday, 23 October 2017

The Princess Bride: Book vs. Movie

I don't remember when I first saw The Princess Bride movie, but I remember loving it and it feels like I've loved it forever. I actually didn't realise it was a book until years after I'd first seen it, and it's one of those ones I've been meaning to read for such a long time but I kept putting it off because I was afraid it would be a disappointment in comparison to the movie.

When I was contact about doing a post for the 30th anniversary of the movie, I figured now was the time to finally read it and stop putting it off.

If you don't know what The Princess is about, here's a  summary:
What happens when the most beautiful girl in the world marries the handsomest prince of all time and he turns out to be...well...a lot less than the man of her dreams?

As a boy, William Goldman claims, he loved to hear his father read the S. Morgenstern classic, The Princess Bride. But as a grown-up he discovered that the boring parts were left out of good old Dad's recitation, and only the "good parts" reached his ears.

Now Goldman does Dad one better. He's reconstructed the "Good Parts Version" to delight wise kids and wide-eyed grownups everywhere.

What's it about? Fencing. Fighting. True Love. Strong Hate. Harsh Revenge. A Few Giants. Lots of Bad Men. Lots of Good Men. Five or Six Beautiful Women. Beasties Monstrous and Gentle. Some Swell Escapes and Captures. Death, Lies, Truth, Miracles, and a Little Sex.

In short, it's about everything.

Or, you could just watch the trailer:


So... Let's start with the easy part, shall we? The movie:

I don't have adequate words to fully describe my love for this movie. It's one of those movies that just makes me smile so much. The cast is fantastic, and it manages to simultaneously mock and celebrate fairytale tropes, getting the balance of each just right.


It's funny, it's fun, it's sweet. It's a love story, a fairytale, an adventure story, a pirate story, a revenge story -- basically, it's ALL OF THE THINGS. And it works as each thing individually but also as a perfect combination of all of them.


And the side characters? I adore the side characters so much. Few side characters win me over quite so thoroughly as Inigo and Fezzik did.


I think what I like most is that it doesn't take itself too seriously, and I loved that. You can accuse it of being ridiculous or cheesy or unrealistic, but it's supposed to be, it is all of those things and it's knowingly so. For some reason that makes it easy to not only forgive, but enjoy, things that would annoy me in other movies.



And it's timeless. Even the technical side of it...the special effects are comically dated now, but that actually really works in the movies favour rather than against it (see: the trailer for R.O.U.S's scene). And I think that's enough gushing specifically about the movie now.


The 30th anniversary edition DVD? It includes a bunch of extras that I really enjoyed. I particularly loved the behind the scenes documentary that went over their casting decisions and things (all of the Andre stuff made my heart hurt).

Now... The book:

(Answer: Yes. Yes it is. But that's not all it is.)


My thoughts on the book are a little bit more complex than my adoration of the movie. I will start off by saying this though: I did love it.

What I didn't like, at times, was the narration. 

Basically, in the book, the author has written a fictionalised version of himself into the story...and The Princess Bride is supposed to be a book by S. Morgenstern that he loved as a child and wrote an abridgement of. Of course, in reality, S. Morgenstern doesn't exist and Goldman is the author of the entire thing, and the version of himself in the book isn't the real version.

It's an interesting narrative style for sure, but where it went wrong for me was that Fictional-Goldman was really, really hard to like. 

The Fictional-Goldman is cynical and bitter. He would frequently body shame fat people (including his fictional son -- although in reality, he has daughters) and there's a couple of racist remarks, homophobia and a load of misogyny on his part. Fictional-Goldman seemed like a crappy human, is what I'm getting at (I'm sure Real-Goldman is a lovely dude though, because it seemed like he was deliberately writing his fictional self as unlikeable).

So. Having to read through his perspective and having him chime in on the story from time to time irritated me (his mid-story commentary wasn't all bad though, I'll admit, but some of it wasn't necessary).

But the actual Princess Bride bit? I still loved that part. Really, really loved that. And I went into it not expecting to gain much more from the book than I got from the movie, but I was proven wrong. 

We get more backstory on how Buttercup ended up engaged to Prince Humperdink, more info on Humperdink himself and the country. And we get more of Inigo and Fezzik too, more backstory, more scenes and I loved all of that.

So. Book vs. Movie: which is better?

Well...


I genuinely loved both. I think the execution of the narrative style worked better in the movie than the book, but the book also added a bit more depth to the story and characters that the movie couldn't manage to do given time and budget constraints.

I think that the movie is still my favourite, if for no other reason than I loved it first and it was so perfectly cast.

Also, as a side note on the book: personally, I adore the cover of this edition, but if you're going to buy a copy I'd recommend getting this one instead because it includes about 80 pages of extra content (sort of an epilogue/snippets of a would-be sequel called Buttercup's Baby).

Ratings:
Movie: 5/5 stars
Book: 4/5 stars (it really did just lose points due to my intense dislike of the narrator in the beginning of the story)

Later.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins


There's Someone Inside Your House

by Stephanie Perkins
Summary: Scream meets YA in this hotly-anticipated new novel from the bestselling author of Anna and the French Kiss.

One-by-one, the students of Osborne High are dying in a series of gruesome murders, each with increasing and grotesque flair. As the terror grows closer and the hunt intensifies for the killer, the dark secrets among them must finally be confronted.
I've been looking forward to this book for years, ever since Stephenie Perkins first announced she was writing a YA slasher story...and I really liked it, it just didn't live up to the expectations I had for it.

I loved the cast of characters (particularly the fact that the main character is mixed race and one of her best friends is trans* -- though I can't judge how good the representation is), but I also feel like that's what held it back from being a 5 star book for me. So much effort and page-time was put into character development and character back story, that it didn't totally deliver on the Scream-like slasher plot.

Like Makani's secret -- great for adding depth to the character, but it was more drawn out than the murder plot and didn't feel necessary for the story. And her relationship with Ollie, while I loved it, it definitely made it feel like this was primarily a romance story most of the time with a slasher subplot rather than the other way around.

Generally, well developed characters are a good thing, but with this genre, I read for the plot, not the characters.

The plot wasn't bad, far from it. It did keep me hooked, but part of the entertainment of these types of stories is trying to guess who the killer is and all of the red herrings that try to lead you down the wrong path, and the build up to the final reveal, but there was none of that in this. You don't even get a hint at who the killer might be until quite far into the book, the identity is revealed way too soon, and the ending is rushed and abrupt (this is one of those books that could've really benefited from having and epilogue) and the motive fell a bit flat.

Again...that's not to say it was bad, it just wasn't really what it was hyped up to be. There were some slasher vibes to it, but it still felt lacking in that area.

Overall, it is a really good book. It kept me hooked right from the start, I was never bored while reading it...I just wouldn't recommend going into it expecting a novel version of a good 90's slasher movie, because for the majority of the book that takes a backseat to the relationships between the characters.

I'd rate it 3.5 out of 5.

Later.

*In the ARC version of the book, there is a passage with harmful trans representation (dead naming), but it was brought to the author attention and she apologized and promised it would be fixed for the final printing.

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