World Cup Inspired: France

If you weren’t aware, the FIFA World Cup is in full swing, sparking good-natured national rivalry across the globe. I decided it would be fun to pick a country, and find books that I’ve read that offer a representation of said country, whether that be historically, culturally or linguistically. Today (or at least, as I write this) France plays Germany! I’ve chosen to pick books based on France not necessarily because I support them but because the books I’ve read about Germany tend to be focused around the World Wars, which I didn’t feel was a fair representation of the country.

  • Revolution – Jennifer Donnelly This YA historical fiction is grossly under-appreciated. Two girls from different centuries find that their paths collide in Paris, only to discover that they are not alone in their struggles. It’s been a long time since I read this, but I will say this: no plot summary can do justice to the brilliant work that is this book. Five stars from me!
  • The Red Necklace – Sally Gardner Don’t worry – this is the last one related to the French revolution! Sally Gardner is one of my favourite authors both for YA and Adult literature, and this was the book that introduced me to her. This historical fiction blends magic realism, fantasy and romance to make one of my all-time favourite novels. Another five stars!
  • Waiting for Anya – Michael Morpurgo I think, being a Michael Morpurgo book, we can all assume that this is going to be a heart-warming and tenderly told read. Set in the Second World War, the story follows an endeavour to rescue Jewish children from the Nazi regime. A really touching children’s book that receives 4 stars from me.
  • The Invention of Hugo Cabret – Brian Selznick Recently adapted into a movie, this beautiful YA/children’s book blends illustration and prose to create a completely original steam-punk-esque depiction of 1930’s Paris. Definitely recommended for all ages; you’ll fall in love with orphaned Hugo as he searches for answers. 4 stars!
  • Chocolat – Joanne Harris This one’s a movie, too! When slightly eccentric mother and daughter move to a little French village, they create a stir. The unheard-of blasphemy of opening a chocolaterie during Lent means that tension is manifest. Beautifully written and sensitively told, Chocolat is a really fantastic novel that I gave 4 stars.
  • La Parure – Guy de Maupassant To my shame, this is the only book on my list that was originally written in French. It’s a short story published in English as “The Necklace.” A comment on consumerism and an exploration of human nature, this is well worth a read. (As it’s such a short work, I’m hesitant to attempt a plot summary for fear of diminishing the reading experience!) That’s 3 stars from me.

If you’ve read any of these books, I’d love to know what you thought of them! Also, who are you supporting this World Cup? Are there any books about France that you’d recommend? Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!  

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Stories to Songs: It’s Time – Jamie McDell

It’s Time by Jamie McDell

based on The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Jamie McDell is one of my favourite YouTube singer/songwriters, so I wanted to share this gorgeous song, despite it making two out of four ‘Stories to Songs’ posts based on John Green’s ‘The Fault in Our Stars’.

This video in particular is really beautifully put together with clips from the movie trailer, and even tastefully inserted audio.

I think Jamie’s voice suits this song perfectly, and I love that it complimented the book without wrestling lots of direct quotes into the lyrics.

She’s also written songs based on other YA books, so her channel is worth checking out.

Are there any other songs based on books that you would recommend?

On a side note, I went to see the film adaptation last night. I honestly thought it was done perfectly – I loved the casting choices! What were your thoughts on the movie? Did you think it did the book justice? I actually thought the movie was on par with the novel!

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

~Dani

My Top 5 Favourite Book to Movie Adaptations

A lot of film adaptations of books can be acutely disappointing (don’t even talk to me about Eragon), but it’s summer, so I wanted to take a more positive approach. Here are my top five favourite movies based on books:

  1. Everything is Illuminated (Jonathan Safran Foer) This movie had to make the top of my list because – strangely – I preferred the film to the book. I think it was a story better told with music and colours and actors than in the words of Foer. Don’t get me wrong: he’s a great writer, but I felt like the story needed more.
  2. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (J R R Tolkein) I haven’t met many book lovers who didn’t also have a deep respect for these movies. Of course they aren’t flawless, but I’d say the fact that they are made by and for LoTR enthusiasts make them special.
  3. The Help (Kathryn Stockett) I love this film (and book) so much. I loved the acting choices in spite of minor aesthetic inaccuracies, and the sensitive balance of humour and heart-break is beyond perfection.
  4. The Prince Of Egypt (story of Moses – the Bible) I wasn’t sure if I could count this as a ‘book-to-film adaptation’, which explains the reason for such a fantastic film being so low on this list. The mind-shatteringly awesome grandeur of the animation, story-telling and scripting brings the ancient story to life (and that’s without mentioning the beautiful Hans Zimmer/Stephen Schwarz soundtrack)
  5. Catching Fire (Suzanne Collins) I think most of us can agree that this film surpassed ‘The Hunger Games’ by far – a really satisfying adaptation that was faithful to – and yet not limited by – the book.

What are your favourite book/movie adaptations?

If you’ve seen any of the films mentioned, let me know what you thought of them!

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day.

~Dani

Everything is Illuminated (in quotes)

I read ‘Everything is Illuminated’ by Jonathan Safran Foer! I had such high expectations for this book after loving the movie adaptation (starring Elijah Wood, and featuring some fantastic music by Paul Cantelon). While it didn’t quite live up to what I’d hoped it would be, it was a good book packed with some really beautiful/interesting/profound quotes. I chose a few of my favourites to share today (that’s not to say I necessarily agree with all of them; I like that they make you think). Enjoy!

  • “The only thing worse than being sad is for others to know you are sad.” (p47)
  • “Humourous is the only truthful way to tell a sad story.” (p53)
  • “Love me, because love doesn’t exist, and I’ve tried everything that does.” (p82)
  • “This is love, isn’t it? When you notice someone’s absence and hate that absence more than anything? More, even, than you love his presence?” (p121)
  • “They had never known the deepest intimacy, that closeness attainable only with distance.” (p134)
  • “This […] would remind her of […] the hole she was learning is not the exception in life, but the rule. The hole is no void; the void exists around it.” (p139)
  • “The more you love someone, the harder it is to tell them.” (p234)
  • “Every love is carved from loss […] but we learn to live in that love.” (p266)
  • “The beginning of the world often comes.” (p267)

If you’ve read this, I’d love to know what you thought. How did you think it compared to the movie? Have I missed any of your favourite quotes?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

~Dani

My Top 5 Up-coming Books-to-Movies

These are exciting times for book-y people with book-to-movie adaptations popping up left, right and center. Here’s my top 5, in no particular order:

  1. The City of Bones – Cassandra Clare. This series is incredibly popular – and for good reason. The movie (apart from one or two questionable casting choices) looks perfect and I can’t wait to see the Shadowhunter world brought to life. Starring Lily Collins and Jamie Campbell-Bower, here’s the official trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHlwRsl2uFk
  2. The Fault in Our Stars – John Green. I, along with pretty much everyone who has read this book, am completely in love with this story. Warning: this film will be weepy. Although there’s no trailer out to date, we do know that it will star Shailene Woodley as Hazel Grace and Ansel Elgort as Augustus Waters.
  3. Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins. The second instalment of the Hunger Games trilogy looks to be as good – if not better than – the first, and words cannot describe my excitement. Here’s the teaser trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jyPnQw_Lqds
  4. How to Train Your Dragon 2 (based on the books by Cressida Cowell). I admit to not having read these books (I plan to, though!), but the first movie was incredible – I can’t wait for the next!
  5. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (based on the novel by J R R Tolkein) Okay, which Lord of the Rings fan is not stupidly excited about this? Watch the teaser trailer and I will say no more. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fnaojlfdUbs

Which movie adaptations are you most looking forward to?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

~Dani