From Page to Screen: Divergent

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Author/Director: Veronica Roth/Neil Burger

Publisher/Producer: Katherine Tegan Books/ Summit Entertainment

Review: I think I’ll start of this review with a confession; I was never the biggest Divergent fan. I don’t know what it was but I never quite connected with the books. I read the first two but I never felt the need to read the third so I always put it down as a series I wasn’t going to finish. So, when the film came out I wasn’t exactly lining up to go see it but then my friend wanted to see it so I went along with her and I really liked it! Now, don’t get me wrong this film was far from perfect but I still found it to be enjoyable.

I thought the casting was really well done for the most part. I thought Shailene Woodley and Theo James were very good as Tris and Four but there were times when the age difference between them made the relationship seem a bit creepy but I do think they have great chemistry and they did really sell the relationship between Tris and Four. I thought Jai Courtney as Eric was very well done, though I do wish they had done something different with his look. Zoe Kravitz was also a good choice for Christina. I’m still not sure about Miles Teller as Peter. I think he gave a good performance – from what we saw of him but I’m not sure he was the best choice for the role.

I don’t think the film did a great job of introducing it’s characters. For the most part I was able to recognise the important ones; Tris, Christina, Four, etc but I had completely forgotten about Will and Al and I didn’t have a clue who Miles Teller was supposed to be. He’s on screen in the first five minutes but it’s about forty-fifty minutes in before his name is even mentioned. I think that could have been handled better.

I think they stuck as close to the book as possible – from what I remember anyway – although a lot of stuff was cut out – especially between Tris and Four – but for the most part I think the plot reflected the novel very well.

Another thing I really liked about the film was the soundtrack. I think Ellie Goulding was an odd choice to head the soundtrack but the songs fit really well and I actually downloaded both of them. So, well done music people.

Overall, I thought this movie was somewhat flawed but it was pretty fun and I think fans of the book and others will like it. It has definitely made me want to pick up Allegiant and I am looking forward to the sequel.

3/5

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Top Five: Series

I love series. There is nothing I enjoy more then reading a good book and then discovering that there is a sequel and then that it’s a trilogy and in some cases that there are more than ten! So here are my Top Five Series!

1) The Women’s Murder Club Series

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Author: James Patterson with Maxine Paetro

Publisher: Little, Brown

Summary: Set in San Francisco the books follow a group of women from different professions relating to investigating crime as they work together to solve murders.

Review: I love mystery/crime books and James Patterson was my first introduction to this genre. 1st to Die was my first ever crime book and ever since picking it up in a second hand store I’ve been obsessed! I love the characters, I love the murders. I just love it all. WMC is my favourite series from Patterson (though it’s a debatable how much of it he actually wrote) I read about half way through Alex Cross but I sort of lost interest but anytime I see a new WMC novel I instantly snap it up.

I do think that this series has kind of lost some of it’s edge. I do think it’s becoming slightly predictable in ways but I will always love this series because it’s still entertaining and because nostalgia!

2) Vampire Academy

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Author: Richelle Mead

Publisher: Razorbill

Summary: St. Vladimir’s Academy isn’t just any boarding school—it’s a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess.  They’ve been on the run, but now they’re being dragged back to St. Vladimir’s—the very place where they’re most in danger. . .
Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy’s ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi—the world’s fiercest and most dangerous vampires—make Lissa one of them forever.

Review: I devoured these books. I had Vampire Academy on my shelf for months before I picked it up, read it in one sitting and then immediately bought the E-books for the remaining five books. I had the series finished in about four days. I loved it!

Rose Hathaway is definitely one of my favourite protagonists. I did like her a lot more than Lissa. She was fun, snarky and the biggest BAMF and Romitri, oh Romitri, I need so much more of the two of you! One of my favourite literary couples. Now, I’m not blinds to the faults of the series. It’s not perfect but it’s so much fun and it lead to the creation of Dimitri Belikov so any other argument is invalid.

3) The Mortal Instruments

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Author: Cassandra Clare

Publisher: Margret K. McElderry / Walker Books (UK)

Summary: When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder — much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It’s hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing―not even a smear of blood―to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It’s also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know… (Book 1)

Review: Why did the movie have to be so bad? The TMI series is one of my favourite collection of books of all time. I love the romances, the plot line, the action and all of Jace Wayland/Herondale/Lightwoods wonderful snark. I think it’s a fun, engaging series and even when the main plot line was incest I thought it was incredible and very few people can write incest and make thirty-three million people ship it. So, hat’s off to Cassie Clare on that one!

Sadly, the final book of this series is to be released next month and I’m pretty sure everyone I love will die… Yay!

4) The Infernal Devices

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Author: Cassandra Clare

Publisher: Simon & Schuester

Summary: In a time when Shadowhunters are barely winning the fight against the forces of darkness, one battle will change the course of history forever. Welcome to the Infernal Devices trilogy, a stunning and dangerous prequel to the New York Times bestselling Mortal Instruments series.

The year is 1878. Tessa Gray descends into London’s dark supernatural underworld in search of her missing brother. She soon discovers that her only allies are the demon-slaying Shadowhunters—including Will and Jem, the mysterious boys she is attracted to. Soon they find themselves up against the Pandemonium Club, a secret organization of vampires, demons, warlocks, and humans. Equipped with a magical army of unstoppable clockwork creatures, the Club is out to rule the British Empire, and only Tessa and her allies can stop them….

Review: Let me take a minute to just sigh over Will Heron dale…sigh.

So Cassandra Clare makes the list for a second time. Now I admit, I liked this series but what really made me adore it was the relationship between Will Herondale, Jem Carstairs and Tessa Grey – no matter what you shipped it was just perfect in every way. Wonderful romance, wonderful friendship. Also, I have a soft spot for Herondale men! 😉 But I think everyone does.

The final book in this series also has another distinction being one of the only books to ever make me cry! Just beautifully written.

And last but certainly not least…

5) Harry Potter

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Author: J.K. Rowling

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Summary: Harry Potter has never played a sport while flying on a broomstick. He’s never worn a Cloak of Invisibility, befriended a giant, or helped hatch a dragon. All Harry knows is a miserable life with the Dursleys, his horrible aunt and uncle, and their abominable son, Dudley. Harry’s room is a tiny cupboard under the stairs, and he hasn’t had a birthday party in ten years.

But all that is about to change when a mysterious letter arrives by owl messenger: a letter with an invitation to a wonderful place he never dreamed existed. There he finds not only friends, aerial sports, and magic around every corner, but a great destiny that’s been waiting for him… if Harry can survive the encounter.

Review: Does this even need explaining?

The best series of all time.

The Night Circus: Review

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Author: Erin Morgenstern

Publisher: Vintage

Summary: The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.The black sign, painted in white letters that hangs upon the gates, reads:

Opens at Nightfalll

Closes at Dawn

As the sun disappears beyond the horizon, all over the tents small lights begin to flicker, as though the entirety of the circus is covered in particularly bright fireflies. When the tents are all aglow, sparkling against the night sky, the sign appears.

Le Cirque des R�ves

The Circus of Dreams.

Now the circus is open.

Now you may enter.

Review: This book is a spectacle. A marvellous, delightful spectacle. It is possibly the most beautifully written book I’ve ever had the privilege of reading. That being said the book is not without it’s flaws. 

There is nothing particularly original about the plot, in the most basic sense it’s very much Romeo and Juliet set in a magical circus except Romeo and Juliet are in a challenge that will end when one of them dies. So…slightly different but not all that new.

The characters for me are a bit of a mixed bag. The main characters are Celia Bowen and Marco Alisdair and I had some mixed feelings for them. I adored Celia. If the entire book had been about her dealing with her father and learning how to master her powers I would have gladly read it. She is an incredibly strong, wonderful character and I almost wish the focus had been entirely on her. Marco, did not interest me in the way Celia did. When he was alone I found his plot line a bit dull but I was completely in love when he interacted in Celia. Together, they were superb.  Morgenstern wrote their love story in such a way that even though they are very rarely together you very much know that they are deeply in love with each other. A talent not all writers could pull off. 

Morgenstern also gave the supporting characters a lot of page time, I guess you could call it, and it was lovely to see how they interacted with each other and how they fared with the challenge that they were involved-yet-not-quiet-involved in. I would actually read spin off or prequels about all of them but especially about Widget and Poppet and Hector Bowen and Alexander. 

As for the writing itself, there is a lot of description which is usually not my cup of tea. I like some detail but I find that in most cases superfluous detail can slow the book down. Sometimes that does occur here but I couldn’t care less because the descriptions in this book, especially when describing the circus and the costumes is perfect. Decadent, enchanting, sublime. Just incredible and worth every additional second of reading. 

One thing that sort of made the book a bit difficult for me is that it occurs out of chronological order. There are times when it’s confusing because you’re not sure what’s happening or what’s already happened, however in the last few chapters it becomes clear that the book had to be written this way and then you appreciate it a lot more.

Aesthetically, the cover of this book is without a doubt the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. It’s enchanting and perfect and people should nearly buy it just for the cover. 

This book has also ruined the circus for me because I know no circus will ever live up to Le Cirque de Reves. I do kind of want to see this book as a film because the cinematography would be breathtaking but I fear it could never it justice. 

Overall, this book was dazzling. It’s is enchanting, remarkable and just divine. Well worth a read.

4/5