Archive | August 2015

A Paper Town for a Paper Girl: Paper Towns Book/Movie Review

NOT SPOILER FREE. 

The hotly anticipated follow up to The Fault in Our Stars (though in no way a sequel, the only relation is their authors, producers and screenwriters, but nevertheless, it is a follow up) was a film that I was pretty much desperate to see. It checked off all my top requirements:

  • A John Green novel that I adored (probably my second favourite after TFIOS, though Will Grayson, Will Grayson is close behind)
  • Nat Wolff
  • Amazing soundtrack
  • Screenwriters that I trusted to faithfully adapt a book
  • Nat Wolff

Though this adaptation strayed slightly more from the novel than TFIOS (with some scenes left out and new concepts brought it) it nonetheless pretty much stuck to the plot and featured key moments and quotes that book lovers will adore.

What I like about Paper Towns is that it’s not the cliched happy ending so many ‘teen’ movies give us these days. If you hadn’t read the book, how many of you were expecting Q and Margo to run off into the sunset together? Raise your hands. I’d say a solid 70% of people were expecting that ending. But it’s not realistic. That doesn’t always happen in real life.

So many people talk about the manic pixie dream girl trope when discussing this book/movie. Let me break it down for you: the manic pixie dream girl is a character (usually female) that has no discernible talent or motive of her own and serves only to make the male protagonist realise something about himself. To an extent this is true for Paper Towns; Q does walk away from Margo with a better sense of who he is and who he wants to be. But he also realises that Margo is not the manic pixie dream girl he has built her up to be: she is not his miracle.

The beauty is in the details, that sometimes imperfection is more perfect than perfection itself. This is precisely why I’m glad Cara Delevingne was chosen as Margo. Cara is not a model because she’s flawlessly Halston Sage beautiful; she’s a model because she’s got a unique, striking beauty. Through no fault of her own, except her undeniably good genes, Halston Sage is far too beautiful to be Margo – she had to be Lacey, the character who is all the perfection that Margo is not.

Margo’s true beauty is her mystery, her personality, her magic air. That’s what Cara embodies, whilst Halston reflects the opposite kind of beauty: surface beauty. Though I’m sure Lacey Pemberton had a lot more to her than flawless hair, her surface beauty serves to show that if you put Lacey next to Margo, they’re totally different people and what makes Margo stand out and be so attractive to her peers is her mystery and her complexities. Which completely draws her away from being a manic pixie dream girl.

As Lacey and Q say, Becca has become the New Margo… only no-one could ever be the New Margo.

Though I’m a little sad the backstory between Q and Margo was left hanging and we never got to see her crosshatching stories of Little Q and Margo, the Crimefighters, the goodbye was the essential farewell. Accepting the truth and finding the consequences.

I love this story because it was so realistic and so true about first loves. We often build people up to be so much more than they are, and this way, you get a glimpse at what happens when happy ever after doesn’t quite last ever after. We pick ourselves up and we move on. There are so many people that come into our lives and have significance, but don’t make our whole lives. That’s Margo and Q. Margo will have taught Q so much he didn’t even realise, about himself, about her, about life, and in a way, through her, John Green teaches us that also.

I’m glad it didn’t end with happily ever after, though I still felt so uplifted at the end (kind of the same way I felt after TFIOS). Happily ever after isn’t realistic and these stories are.

The additional lines and concepts put in by the screenwriters do not detract from the story in any way, they only add to it and give definition and embellishment to an already perfect story.

So I thought the film was great, it had real depth and meaning and was a wholly enjoyable tale. It was a Margo, not a Becca (surface and pointless).  Austin Abrams as ‘Bloody Ben’ is a total scene stealer. Pokemon was necessary. And Ansel Elgort’s cameo was fab.

For eagle-eyed listeners (not viewers), you may have heard (not spotted) the man himself, Mr John Green, making a cameo that was not cut like his TFIOS one. I guess the director learnt from the previous film that John Green cannot act and should in fact stick to vlogging. But when you watch his vlogs as much as dedicated fans do, you can’t miss that distinctive yell.

Because we all have him to thank. Without John, there would be no story, no Q or Margo, no strings or vehicle. So thanks to John Green, Nat Wolff, Cara Delevingne, the whole cast and crew. You brought the page to life and life to the page.

I would recommend this film to anyone, for an enjoyable watch with a little bit more depth. I’m glad we’ve started putting realistic stories out there. No offence to all the comic book heroes, of course.

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A to Z Bookish Survey

I saw this on Paint and Butterflies Books’ page, the first blog I’ve actually got around to following, and couldn’t resist filling it in. Anyone who knows me knows I love a quiz or a survey or putting my two cents in. As I read it on her page, I couldn’t help answering it in my head, so I thought I’d give it a go. As I’m fairly new to the creative/book blogging world, this is my first tag, so be gentle and don’t be shy in the comments.

 

A: Author you’ve read the most books from- 

Probably John Green if I’m being honest. Discounting series like Harry Potter, which is obviously seven books by one author, the most different books I’ve read by one author is probably John Green.

B: Best sequel ever

Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins. Better than the first, I thought.


C: Currently reading

The Good Liar by Nicholas Searle. (Shh, it’s not actually out yet, but so far I can tell it’s going to be one of the best books of 2016)

D: Drink of choice while reading

I’m not really a big drinker or eater whilst reading – I don’t like anything interrupting me!

E: E-reader or physical book

Ahh the endless debate. Of course we all prefer the physical book, to smell it and to feel it, and also to admire the cover (designers do some seriously good work), but I love how easy it is to have a whole library in my bag at any one time. Especially on the train/tube, having my Kindle is so perfect.

F: Fictional character you probably would’ve dated in high school

I don’t know to be honest. I’m trying to compare my high school boyfriend with any fictional characters and I just can’t. I know who I’d like to have dated: Etienne St Clair, from Anna and The French Kiss.

G: Glad you gave this book a chance

The Storyteller – Jodi Picoult. I don’t usually like Holocaust books, but this story was just so captivating. It made me stay up way past my bedtime.

H: A hidden gem book

I think maybe Hopeless by Colleen Hoover. I’m not sure actually how many people have read this or how popular it is, but I barely hear about it. It was just a really deep, thoughtful, beautifully written romance with a realistically dark undertone.

I: Important moment in your reading life

I remember being maybe seven years old and being an avid and hungry reader, but refusing to read Harry Potter. My mum got me the audio tapes and I remember sitting on the floor of my bedroom listening to Stephen Fry tell me the most wonderful story. I kept my tapes in a long red box and not soon after devoured as many Harry Potter books as were publishing at that time.

J: Just finished

We Need to Talk About Kevin – Lionel Shriver (Review to come).

K: Kinds of books you won’t read

I generally don’t read non-fiction, and I don’t like anything too ‘out-there’ or scary. I also tend to avoid vampires.

L: Longest book you’ve ever read

I have the Riverside Chaucer, which contains almost everything Chaucer ever wrote… I’m not sure if that counts? Otherwise probably Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. The Count of Monte Cristo is giving me a dirty look from my bookshelf because I just can’t bring myself to get into it.

M: Major book hangover because of

I don’t know really, I’m trying to think. We Need to Talk About Kevin certainly made me stop and think and I felt shaken by its ending… but it didn’t stop me from starting a new book the next day.

N: Number of bookcases you own

bookshelf

This mishmashed collection is meant to be my bookshelves, but when it was put in, I started using the shelves for lots of other things and now my books have resorted to spilling out everywhere at the bottom. No shame.

O: One book you’ve read multiple times

Just one?? The Harry Potter series (I actually still listen to the audio tapes whilst I sleep) and The Fault in Our Stars are probably the most re-read books. And Where Rainbows End by Cecelia Ahern.

P: Preferred place to read

Trains and Planes.

Q: Quote that inspires you or gives you all the feels

 

“You like someone who can’t like you back because unrequited love can be survived in a way that once-requited love cannot.”

― John Green, Will Grayson, Will Grayson
R: Reading regret

Not spending more time reading instead of re-watching American TV shows. I can’t help it, they’re my guilty pleasure.

S: Series that you’ve started and need to finish

 

The Regeneration Trilogy – Pat Barker. I really really want to get around to finishing The Eye in the Door and The Ghost Road.
T: Three of your all time favorite books

This is painful. It’s like choosing a child.

  1. Starter for Ten – David Nicholls
  2. The Fault in our Stars – John Green
  3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – JK Rowling

 

U: Unapologetic fan girl for

John Green. As an author. I think people are so dismissive because he writes YA fiction and they’re technically ‘easy’ reads. But his books and his writing are so deep and so important. No word is written by chance.

See? He gets us.

V: Very excited for this release

The Good Liar, because I’m reading it and I want everyone else to.

W: Worst bookish habit

Leaving books in various rooms in my house and forgetting about them. Also forgetting to read books I’ve bought excitedly when I get a new book that I’ve bought excitedly.

X: X marks the spot pick the 27 book on your shelf

The Boy that Never Was – Karen Perry.

Y: Your latest book purchase

Well I just amassed a whole haul of books from my two weeks at Penguin, so those are all my ‘To Read’ books. But the last one I actually bought was We Need to Talk About Kevin.

Z: ZZZ-snatcher book (last book that kept you up WAY late)

Also We Need to Talk About Kevin. We need to talk about how I always stay up late reading.

 

 

So there you have it. An insight into my reading life, and my first tag. Comment as you will.

My Long Long List of Books

Here you can see the long list of books I want to (and intend to) read, and possibly review:

I’m going to attempt to get a degree along the way.

Currently Reading: The Good Liar – Nicholas Searle

  • We Need to Talk About Kevin – Lionel Shriver
  • The Good Liar – Nicholas Searle
  • The Shock of the Fall – Nathan Filer
  • Elizabeth is Missing – Emma Healey
  • My Name is Leon – Kit de Waal
  • Funny Girl – Nick Hornby
  • Life Class/Toby’s Room/Noonday – Pat Barker
  • Find Me – Laura van den Berg
  • The Boy that Never Was – Karen Perry
  • When We Were Friends – Tina Seskis
  • The Queen of the Tearling – Erika Johansen
  • Dangerous Creatures – Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
  • The Tutor – Andrea Chapin
  • Butterly – Sonya Hartnett
  • Dream a little Dream – Giovanna Fletcher
  • Fresh Hell – Rachel Johnson
  • The Boy Who Could See Death – Salley Vickers
  • The Mark and the Void – Paul Murray
  • These Days Are Ours – Michelle Haimoff
  • The Martian – Andy Weir
  • My Sunshine Away – M.O. Walsh
  • The Summer I Turned Pretty – Jenny Han
  • Noughties – Ben Masters
  • Memoirs of a Dipper – Neil Leyshon
  • The Forty Rules of Love – Elif Shafak

Note to Self: Don’t buy any more books.

My Week(s) With Penguin

I was fortunate enough to spend two weeks doing work experience (or an unpaid internship, as I like to call it on my CV) with the publicity and marketing team in Penguin General. For anyone who doesn’t know the full history of Penguin Random House and all its divisions, there are three main adult divisions of Penguin: Penguin Press, Michael Joseph and Penguin General.

Penguin General is mainly responsible for literary fiction and non-fiction, with imprints Hamish Hamilton, Fig Tree and Viking, publishing authors such as Zadie Smith, Nick Hornby, Ali Smith and just this year breaking one of the most popular debut novelists Emma Healey (Elizabeth is Missing).

I knew I wanted to work in publishing the moment I stepped into the building at my unpaid internship at Hodder & Stoughton last year and I was surrounded by books, and more importantly, people who loved books as much as I did. Working with Penguin General allowed me to soak up even more information and resources and gain even more experience and skills about the industry I want to be part of and the career I intend to have.

Not only did I walk away with enough books to start my own independent bookstore – although I don’t really want to share any of them, especially not my signed Paul Murray – but I walked away knowing more than ever that I belong in a world of publishing and creativity and idea sharing.

The skills I already had and the skills that I’ve developed amalgamate perfectly for a career in publicity and marketing, where not only do you get to read excellent books, but it’s actually your job to share with the world how amazing your authors and their works are.

The team in Penguin General are some of the friendliest, liveliest and warmest people I’ve ever met, or had the pleasure to work with, and each of them have that personable nature and creative interest that I know is necessary for this specific job. I have to thank everyone in the team for welcoming me so openly, not being afraid to give me lots to do – even if I did come on the week of million mailings – and for answering any questions I had.

For the two weeks I was there, I never felt like the ‘work experience girl’, I always felt like part of the team and that the jobs I was doing really contributed to their work and helping them.

Publishing is a growing industry: growing in size, growing in popularity and growing in the realms of possibilities of just what it can do. I only want to grow and develop alongside it, growing and developing my skills, my passion and my abilities.

So thank you mainly to Steph for setting me up with these amazing two weeks, to Daisy for looking out for me throughout and to everyone at Penguin for only being supportive of my part in your team and my future in publishing. I believe this has been the most important step so far on my ladder towards the career I truly want… I can’t wait to keep climbing.

The Book of Mormon (Prince of Wales Theatre)

Nearly a month ago (gosh time goes quickly) a dear friend of mine took me to the theatre as a belated birthday present and we were lucky enough to see The Book of Mormon, and have amazing seats as well! We decided on Book of Mormon because (as a very very privileged young lady) I often go to the theatre with my mum, and I knew this would be the one show I would not be able to attend with her.

However, as the lights came up at the interval, I immediately had my phone out telling her to book tickets to go and see the show. It’s as incredible as everyone: reviewers, awards-givers, humble theatre-goers says and I can fully see why it won so many Tonys, especially for the off-stage action like Book and Music and Lyrics.

The creators of South Park, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, together with the musical creator and lyricist of Avenue Q, Robert Lopez, have conceived a musical that is full of heart, humour and hypnotic songs. I actually thought it would be a lot more offensive than it actually was; in fact the crudeness doesn’t detract in any way from the magic of the story.

The songs are incredible, with that infectious beat and lyrics that a true musical boasts, songs that you’ll have in your head for weeks to come. And if Robert Lopez’s name sounds familiar, that’s because he won an Oscar last year for writing the music and lyrics of the biggest animated movie of all time, Frozen. (That makes him the youngest ever EGOT holder!)

So when you take it in to account that the same guy who wrote Hasa Diga Eebowai also wrote Do You Wanna Build A Snowman, you kind of have to have a giggle to yourself. But when you look at the actually music and musical rhythms themselves, it’s easy to see why both songs come from the same genius. The songs in Book of Mormon are so catchy and so uplifting, it’s kind of like a Disney movie in itself… only the most corrupted Disney movie ever.

It’s obvious that this musical was created by people who love musicals: there are nods to musical classics of the past, including Sound of Music and the Lion King, and there are nods to the musical tropes in themselves, like the big brassy musical number Spooky Mormon Hell Dream. Though it’s not the ‘typical’ musical from its themes and subjects matters (though really, what is… I mean, does anyone actually know what the point of Cats is?) it embraces the idea of the musical with repeated riffs and the huge closing number to the first act.

The storyline is simple and easy to follow, which allows the characters, the music and the dialogue to really shine. It goes without saying that after the first couple of numbers, I had a huge grin on my face and was thinking ‘Now that’s an incredible musical’.

I’m of the opinion that a musical should make you feel something and you should know what it’s trying to make you feel. Whether it’s miserable in Les Miserables or happy in Jersey Boys, for me, a good musical leaves me feeling something at the end, and a great musical makes you want to go out and buy tickets for a repeat viewing.

After Book of Mormon, I came out of the theatre grinning from ear to ear, and I haven’t stopped listening to the soundtrack since.

So if you can take the mockery of Mormons, and the gabbing about genitalia, grab your tickets whilst you can… you really don’t want to miss this one.