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Thursday, June 12, 2014

From Book to Movie: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.

Oh my heart.

Here's the story. I first read The Fault in Our Stars (TFiOS) in March of 2012 and was kind of blown away by it. It was seriously the best book I had read that year. So, with the film adaptation of the novel hitting theatres soon, my book club decided to make it our monthly read for April. We did this because the film was about to come out, and the girls wanted to read the book prior to seeing the film. So there I was two years after the initial read, back in the world of Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters.

The Book

As many of you probably already know, TFiOS is about a girl named Hazel Grace- who has a terminal form of cancer- and a boy named Augustus Waters- who is in remission. The boy and the girl meet, and they fall in love. To me, this is what TFiOS is all about, at it's deepest roots, it's a love story. Not a cancer story.

One of the biggest questions surrounding TFiOS is whether it's a cancer book. It is a question that is featured on almost every discussion/book club guide.

At one point, Hazel says, "Cancer books suck." Is this a book about cancer? What were you expecting? Were those expectations met...or did the book alter your ideas?

It is something Green himself has addressed: His claim is that The Fault in Our Stars is a book about cancer, but it's not a cancer book (which can be difficult to wrap you head around). After my first read of TFiOS, I was amazed and grateful that the focal point in this story wasn't cancer. I really liked that the story wasn't written in a way that made you want to feel sorry for the characters in a way that made them feel like they weren't really living.

 I read a review a few weeks ago (which partially led me to write what I am writing now), where the author (of the review) thought that this book romanticises cancer and that they story didn't put enough focus on the fact that these kids were living/had lived with the disease. Honestly, I was irritated with these comments, I felt like the reader missed the whole point of the story.

Don't let cancer kill you, before it kills you. 

This is something Hazel ponders at some point in the book. She doesn't want her cancer to rule her life. I felt like this was a large theme of the novel. These kids are LIVING with their illness, the are living.

John Green is a phenomenal writer. He is truly a genius. And anyone who has read anything by him knows this. As I will mention later, his books make you  contemplate everything. He gets you thinking and keeps you thinking. The Fault in Our Stars has stayed with me, and will stay with me for a long time I think.

The Movie

I am going to admit, when I first heard they were going to make TFiOS a movie, I had my reservations. I am not quite sure what they were, but I wasn't sure. But I love movies, and I love going to the movies, I also knew there was no way in ever that I would miss this one on the big screen. I have now seen the TFiOS film twice- I went the first time on my own, and had a kind of crap experience, and then again, last night, with the book club girls. 

Overall, it was a good movie. But, there was something missing for me and I believe I know what it is. 

For the most part, the cast of the movie was great. Shailene Woodley is kind of amazing. I really liked her as Hazel. I was REALLY impressed with what she did in the Anne Frank House, I actually believed that she was struggling to breathe after all those stairs. I am a fan. I also really liked Nat Wolff as Isaac. While he may not have looked the way Isaac was described in the novel, I think his portrayal of the blind teen was spot on. I actually would have liked to have seen more of him in the movie. Another character that really stood out to me was Willem Dafoe was Peter Van Houten. He was hysterical and hateful all at once. It was great. 

What I wasn't completely sold on (and yes I am going to say it), was Ansel Elgort as Augustus. Let me preface this by saying, I really like Ansel Elgort as a person, and I think he's a fine actor, I just wasn't sure about the way the movie makers chose to develop Gus. He was to silly, and I had a hard time taking him seriously. It was almost as if everything Gus said was a joke. This was not the sense I got from Gus as I was reading the book. However, Ansel sure knows how to cry. The grand revelation in Amsterdam- when he starts crying, that was pretty epic, and I give the guy major points for crying and making me believe it. 

Here's the thing. I liked the movie, but I didn't love the movie. And I have thought about this long and hard, and wondered what wasn't sitting right with me. And I think I know what it is. The movie is lacking the beauty of John Green's prose. Yes, it's his story, and yes he created the characters, and the dialogue. But, John Green writes in a way that makes you think, and keeps you thinking long after you've finished the book. The film is very much lacking the depth of the book. 

I have no idea if I am making sense. But the book was so much more then the movie was. The movie was good, and for the most part it stayed true to the story. Like I mentioned earlier, I would have liked to have seen more of Isaac, because Nat Wolff was so great, and I to off set all of the Hazel and Augustus moments- break them up a little. 

Overall, the movie was fine, it was cute, and I grinned the whole way through when I first saw it. But it wasn't amazing. 

And there you have, my thoughts on The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I can now move on with my life. 
If you've seen the movie, tell me what you thought of it. I am actually really curious. 

~Happy Reading Everyone!

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Monday, June 9, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Books This Year (so far)

Top Ten Books I've Read So Far This Year

Love the topic this week. I love reviewing the books I've read and choosing the ones I loved the best. I have read some pretty great books this year and I am excited to share them with you.

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted over at The Broke and Bookish

In no particular order. 

1) The Girl From the Well by Rin Chupeco-Because it was beautifully scary. 

2) Plus One by Elizabeth Fama- Because I loved the characters.

3) Angelfall by Susan Ee- Because this is a book that does angels right. 

4) The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski- Because the story was SO interesting and unique.

5) Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder- Because I just liked it- it was a fun story. 

6) Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay- Because this is one of the best fairy tale retellings I've ever read!

7) The Silver Lining's Playbook by Matthew Quick- Because it's brilliant! Read it! 

8) This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales- Because it's a real story about a real girl.

9) The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak- Because... Just because.

10) Cress by Marissa Meyer- Because this series keeps getting better.

Honourable Mention: 

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green- Because... Pain demands to be felt. 

Et voila! There is my list for the week. Let me know if you've read any of these books I mentioned, and what you thought of them. 

~Happy Reading Everyone! 

Monday, June 2, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Beach Reads

I love SUMMER!!! I love the heat, and the long days, and the lack of snow, but I especially love the beach. I love sitting one the beach reading a book, getting to hot, and then jumping into the lake to cool down. I could live on the beach. So, I was pretty excited about this week's topic. 

TTT is hosted by the girls over at The Broke and Bookish.

Top Ten Books That Should Be In Your Beach Bag or Ten Books That Will Be In My Beach Bag This Summer.

This week, I've split my list into two. I hope you enjoy. I really love reading contemporary in the summer. I think it's because I love summer romances and see summer as a time to indulge. So you are definitely going to be seeing a theme here. 

Top Five Books That Should be In YOUR Beach Bag 

1) The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han- This book screams beach. It takes place on the beach, it's a cutesy romance novel. I mean come on! 

2) Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins- This is my favourite of the two Perkins books I have read.  Again, I love Lola, and I love Cricket. Such a sweet pair. If you haven't read this book, get to it. 

3) Summer Sisters by Judy Blume- This is one of Blume's few adult titles. I really like it as a beach read because it spans many summers on the beach. It's a bit heavier than some of the others I mentioned, but it is still one of my favourites. 

4) My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick- I absolutely adored this book. It was SO good. It's everything I could have wanted in a book. It's wonderfully written, the characters are great, and the story, oh the story. I think I may need to reread it this summer. 

5) The Reece Malcolm List by Amy Spalding- Another book I really really enjoyed. Although it's not a typically summery read, it's really entertaining, and there is a lot of witty banter throughout the majority of the novel. It had me laughing out loud so many times. It's light and fun.   

Honourable Mention: Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks- or anything by Nick Sparks really. 

Top Five Books That Will be In MY Beach Bag

1) What I Thought Was True By Huntley Fitzpatrick-  Yes, she's on my list twice. As you saw above. I absolutely loved her book, and I need her characters in my life again. I have been long awaiting more from Ms. Fitzpatrick, and I will read this one eagerly. 

2) An Abundance of Katherines by John Green- This is the only novel of JG's that I haven't read. I had originally planned on reading it last month, but I want to read it after TFiOS is out of my system (so after I see the movie). But I'll be bringing this one to the beach with me, that's for sure. 

3) Five Ways to Fall by KA Tucker- I am very much looking forward to this book. I have to review it, but I think I'm going to sit with it next to a lake sometime in the next couple weeks. There is something about Tucker's stories that make me happy. 

4) Open Road Summer by Emery Lord- I have heard a lot of great things about this book. I love road trip books, and I love books about friendship, and new love. SO, I think this is going to be great. 

5) Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins- Now, this one doesn't come out until August, but it's still pretty warm here in August, I am SO excited about this book. I am excited to jump back into the world Perkins has created. 

Well those are my lists for this week, I hope you enjoyed! Let me know that you'll be reading this summer, either in the park, by the pool or on the beach. I am curious. 

~Happy Reading Everyone! 
"So, please, oh please, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away, and in its place you can install, a lovely bookcase on the wall."
— Roald Dahl