I was lucky enough to see an advance screening of the movie adaptation of John Green’s bestselling novel The Fault in Our Stars (in theaters June 6th), and I can’t imagine a better version of this story being told on the big screen. Directed by Josh Boone (Stuck in Love), the movie manages to capture the delicate balance of sharp, witty humor and brutally raw emotion that Green so deftly depicts on the page. A large part of the film’s success is that they took a fair amount of Green’s text straight from the book. Hazel’s narration is preserved through periodic voice-overs, and much of the dialogue is fairly true to the book, if not taken directly. The other reason The Fault in Our Stars so perfectly encapsulates the spirit of the book is the cast. I never thought it could be possible to find a young actress and actor who could truly embody Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters (unless someone created a time machine and went back in time to when Jena Malone and Mike Erwin were young enough to play teenagers), but Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort have surpassed any image I may have had of what these characters should be. And I’d be remiss if I left out the incredible Nat Wolff, whose performance as Isaac is so innate that it almost feels like Green based on the character on him to begin with.
The Fault in Our Stars seems like the rare instance where everyone involved in this project actually worked together seamlessly to create the best possible film while staying true to the original work. As someone who holds the book very dear and was dubious about its journey to the big screen, I am thrilled to say they succeeded. I think fans of the book will be very pleased with how the movie has turned out, and anyone who hasn’t read the book will be equally blown away by this powerful and brilliant film. Just remember to bring tissues.
It’s no secret that Alma Katsu’s Taker trilogy is one of my favorite series. I was blown away by the first book, which introduced us to the flawed but fierce Lanore McIlvrae and her immortal compatriots. What makes this series stand out is that it’s a potent blend of supernatural thriller, historical fiction, and romance. The Taker and its sequels defy any one genre, but I guarantee any reader who loves a rich story will be swept up in Katsu’s deft prose and the dark, captivating world she has created.
As hard as it is to bid farewell to these characters, Alma Katsu delivers a truly incredible conclusion to her epic trilogy. The Descent pulls you in like a riptide, dragging you down into the depths of the Underworld as Lanny embarks on a surprising journey, with some help from Adair. If you thought nothing could shock and thrill you more than The Taker and The Reckoning, just wait for the world to be turned on its head with The Descent. The return of some familiar faces, a glimpse into Adair’s mysterious past, and a twist you won’t see coming…this book will blow your mind.
It’s been quite a year. Kimye had a baby, Miley twerked her way into pop culture history, and Sandra Bullock defied Gravity in the greatest space drama of recent history. Here’s my list of the best of 2013—including Chris Messina’s dance moves, Finnick Odair, and Robin Williams’ return to television. Keep in mind that this list consists of my personal favorites of the year. Cards on the table, I still haven’t seen Breaking Bad, so you won’t find it on this list. What you will find is a whole lot of fabulousness that you should definitely check out if you haven’t already. Here we go!
My friend is having her first child, and as soon as I heard, I started buying books for the baby. Obviously I wanted to get him or her started on Star Wars as soon as possible, but it’s hard because, as I’m sure you’re aware, babies can’t read. (Unless you believe there’s some truth behind the 1999 film Baby Geniuses, which, by the way, has a whopping 2.3-star rating on IMDb.) Despite this fact, they still make books for babies—they just have fewer words and are made of cardboard so that when kids try to eat them, the pages remain more or less intact. In my search, I found one such book called Star Wars Heroes, published by Scholastic. It introduces all the major characters of the Star Wars universe (which, unfortunately, includes a picture of Hayden Christensen as Anakin), and has a short quote for each one. It’s a great way to plant the seed of Star Wars fandom in babies’ brains as soon as they leave the womb. Plus, it’s way more fun for parents to read a book about Star Wars to their infant than one about colors or shapes or any of that nonsense. With any luck, the kid’s first words will be in Wookiee.
The second installment of Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy lives up to its name. Siege and Storm is a roiling tempest of a book, with gales and tides that thrash together so well that it seems as if they were orchestrated by the mystical Squallers that summon the power of the wind and the sky in this vivid story. (WARNING: Some mild spoilers below.)
Siege and Storm finds Alina and Mal on the run once again, trying to devise a plan to use Alina’s unique power to defeat the Darkling and destroy the Fold. They forge an uneasy alliance with the prince of Ravka, hoping to lead the kingdom’s army of Grisha in a war against the Darkling. This stunning sequel provides a deeper look into the captivating world that was introduced in Shadow and Bone. The atmosphere is so palpable, and the setting so ornate that it feels like a completely real world. The elaborate trappings and mythology of Siege and Storm are rivaled only by the richly drawn characters — all darkly complex, and many of which are downright swoon-worthy.
For those of you who are not familiar with BookExpo America, it’s the largest book trade show in the United States. Every year, thousands of booksellers, librarians, authors, and bloggers attend this literary smorgasbord where publishers give away advance copies of books and organize hundreds of author signings. It’s like a combination of Christmas and Woodstock for book lovers. Located in the Javits Center in New York City, BEA is a magical place where you can shake hands with award-winning authors, discover your next favorite book, or just enjoy the free tote bags given away at every other exhibitor booth. I’ve been a bookseller for five years, and this past weekend I attended my very first BEA. It was simultaneously the best three days of my professional life, and the most exhausting–physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Despite not getting all the books on my BEA wish list and the fact that I still can’t feel my feet, I would consider my first BookExpo America a success. Here is a list of what I learned, which is not very much, but nonetheless I felt compelled to share it with you…mostly so I can gloat about getting to meet Octavia Spencer.
The word “intense” may be overused in the English language, at least in recent years. For instance, if you’re describing a round of Yahtzee or a Katy Perry music video, “intense” is probably overselling it a bit. It’s a word that gets thrown around a lot in our culture, but if there was ever a book that adequately encapsulated the meaning of the word “intense,” it’s Rick Yancey’s new young adult novel, The 5th Wave. Much like the extraterrestrial invaders in this post-apocalyptic thriller, The 5th Wave will psychologically batter you until you inevitably succumb to it, letting go of everything you thought you knew, and relinquishing any hope of fully understanding the madness and horrors of Yancey’s alien Armageddon. The 5th Wave is an unflinching portrait of war, encompassing both the worst and the best of humanity. At times it feels like a Holocaust allegory, but then it punches you in the gut with its raw portrayal of child soldiers. The resonant themes make it a great book to consider teaching in high school English classes, but don’t be fooled by the rich literary themes: The 5th Wave is as addictive as it is thought provoking.
The post-apocalyptic setting of The 5th Wave might look familiar at first: vast wilderness, abandoned highways, the barren skeleton of a civilization. Although Yancey’s world and story are wholly their own, there are some recognizable elements and themes from pop culture staples like The Walking Dead and The Hunger Games. What distinguishes this world (or end thereof) from other post-apocalyptic tales is the root cause—extraterrestrial invasion. That being said, the real villains in The 5th Wave might not be the aliens that have taken over the planet, but the humans fighting (somewhat futilely) for survival. Sixteen-year-old Cassie is one of them, struggling to stay alive long enough to reunite with her younger brother. Part of the story is told from her perspective, with a voice that leans towards the cynical end of the spectrum (understandably). The other main character is a boy Cassie’s age who finds salvation in the child army led by a mysterious and morally ambiguous commander. His and Cassie’s paths inevitably cross, but the question is, when they do, will either of them have any humanity left to spare?
Hi there, Internet. I just wanted to give you a heads-up on my impending absence, as I will be spending the next few days devouring this wonderful (probably heartbreaking) book. Now that Harry Potter and The Hunger Games are both over, this is the only series where I really have to put my life on hold as soon as a new book comes out, and this one is the last in Cassandra Clare’s spin-off series, so it’s going to be especially epic (and did I mention soul-crushing?). Anyway, if you haven’t read any of the Mortal Instruments (the movie adaptation of which is coming out in August—get psyched!) or the Infernal Devices series, you should definitely go do that right at this moment. Actually, wait—only read this series if you’re okay with having your heart toyed with, beaten, battered, and most likely shattered into a million tiny pieces. (Which, let’s face it, most of you are Fringe fans, so you’ve pretty much been there, done that, bought that t-shirt.) So if you see a tweet from me in the next few days that looks like the phonetic equivalent of a sob being wrenched from the depths of one’s soul, this is the reason why. And don’t worry—I won’t tweet any spoilers. In the meantime, if anyone wants to come water my plants or brush my teeth for me, I probably won’t have time to do anything but read for the next few days, so that would be great. See you on the other side, folks!
Okay, I know what you’re thinking… “A book review?! What is this chicanery?” Sometimes we like to keep things interesting and mix it up a little. Yes, this site is 90% TV, 5% worshiping Meryl Streep, and 3% thorough analyses and philosophical discussion of Channing Tatum’s abs. But that leaves 2% left for books and Nutella! And I only write about the books I really, really like, so you can bet it’s worth your time. Granted, I have the literary taste of a very articulate 14-year-old, but that’s neither here nor there. The latest book I’ve deigned to grace you with the pleasure of knowing is Things I Can’t Forget by Miranda Kenneally—one of my favorite authors, and easily a front-runner for the Coolest Person in the Universe Pageant. (I’ve met her a few times, no big deal.) Full disclosure: her book is a Young Adult novel about a girl who falls for a fellow camp counselor (but it’s about way more than that), so if you stopped reading books for teens when you stopped being an actual teen (well, bully for you, you evolved creature, you), then this might not be your thing. Or maybe it is—either way, I’m not judging. But if you like smart, funny, romantic books about love, faith, and using Crisco to make campfires, then please read on…
What’s the best way to ensure that your book gets a decent big-screen adaptation? Direct the film yourself. That’s how writer/director Stephen Chbosky guaranteed that the film version of his beloved 1999 novel The Perks of Being a Wallflower would be worthy of the book. And while Chbosky did an excellent job directing the film, most of its brilliance comes from his writing. Perks is a poignant story about an awkward high school freshman who comes out of his shell when he meets two gregarious seniors. As a huge fan of the book, I was prepared to like the movie, but I was completely blown away by how much it surpassed my expectations.