Warning: Characters in film may appear different than promised

Visualization is not one of my strengths. Book characters normally take on more of a presence than a concrete physical form in my mind. Thankfully, I am unaware of this process unless I utilize my $75,000 critical thinking skills (#thankyoucollege).

Please don’t cry for me, Argentina (or anyone else). I don’t think it hampers my reading experience. Plus, I am still aware of what the characters are supposed to look like, which is why it is so jarring when a movie falls short from even my meager expectations.

Is the character tall? Well then find an actor who is at least 6’1″ or a 5’8″ actress. Is the character pale? dark? tan? freckled? Then cast accordingly. Does the character have a distinct physical feature like messy hair, a set of piercing green eyes, or a lightning bolt scar? Then at least find contacts and a wig.

John Green recently caused a little hullabaloo when he announced the actress selected to play Margo Roth Spiegelman from “Paper Towns” is none other than British super model Cara Delevingne. The casting decision has since grown on me, but initially I was one of the protesters (just, you know, internally and to Moose).

Green does not focus too much on Margo’s individual features. Instead, he continually reiterates how her physical features take a backseat to her personality, presence, and aura of mystery. Casting Delevingne strikes me as funny as she is foremost known for her body and face.

Main character Q made random comments on Margo’s physical features throughout the book:

  • “It wasn’t even that she was so pretty. She was just so awesome, and in the literal sense.” (p. 14)
  • “You can’t divorce Margo the person from Margo the body. You can’t see one without seeing the other. You looked at margo’s eyes and you saw both their blueness and their Margo-ness. In the end, you could not say that Margo Roth Spiegelman was fat, or that she was skinny, any more than you can say that the Eiffel Tower is or is not lonely.” (p. 50)

When I read the book, I pictured a girl who looked more like Mary Elizabeth Winstead (think Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World) or Brie Larson. To be fair, Delevingne is the only one out of the three who has blue eyes like Margo. Also, Delevingne is known for her larger-than-life personality, much the same as Margo.

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Some movies make me question whether the casting director paid attention to the book’s description. For example, Shailene Woodley plays Tris in the film adaptation of the “Divergent” series. Woodley is a 5’8″ natural beauty, whereas Tris is described as  a short, bird-like girl with a long, thin nose almost too big for her face.

Unknown (Shailene Woodley as Tris)

Maybe Hollywood can’t handle having a striking— not beautiful or attractive— actress helm a young adult franchise. #toomuchtoosoon #overit

If I watch a movie before reading a book, the author has to make it really clear the blue eyed, dark haired chick is actually a brown-eyed blondie. For example, Anne Hathaway will always be Princess Mia Thermopolis in my head. I don’t think Mia is supposed to be as lovely as Hathaway is, but so it shall remain!

My favorite by far is when readers are wrong about what a character looks like— GASP! I know we Bookworms are supposed to be the experts in the movie theater, but even we get it wrong from time to time. Remember the ridiculous outrage some people expressed over Rue being played by a young black actress?

Rue_tribute_portrait (Amandla Stenberg as Rue)

“Hunger Games” author Suzanne Collins makes it clear Rue is not the white kid many readers somehow pictured on page 45, “And most hauntingly, a twelve-year-old girl from District 11. She has dark brown skin and eyes…” I’m not sure how so many people misconstrued this one.

I’m sure there have been many a casting sin, but I am still broadening my genre consumption. This blog post has made me wonder what LOTR, The Walking Dead (comic-verse), and Game of Thrones fans think of the casting decisions for their beloved books, etc. #theworldmayneverknow

(I’m just kidding, just Google that shizniz, we Bookworms are a loquacious bunch.)

The Great(ly overrated) and Mighty(*ily exaggerated) Bookworm

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“Have you seen the latest Hunger Games movie,” my friend Lorton the Laughing Machine (name changed for my personal amusement) asked as she scrolled through Netflix.

“No,” I answered, my eyes glued to my phone. “I’ve read the books though.”

*Silence*

I looked over at Lorton. Her face settled into a scowl. My eyebrows lowered back at her.

“What,” I asked.

She let out a put-upon sigh before responding, “How do you always know about a series before it is popular or a book before it is a movie?”

A chuckle escaped from my mouth as I answered, “I just like to read books.”  (Bookworms, #hollabackatyourgirl.)

This apparently was not a satisfactory explanation. And yet, isn’t this normally the case? As an avid reader, I excitedly seek out what appeals to me. If a book catches my attention, I read it. Sometimes the book is later adapted for film. (Seriously, Lorton gives me more credit than I deserve.)

A quick list of books I read before they hit the silver screen: “Ella Enchanted,” “Hunger Games,” “Twilight,” “Divergent,” “Blood and Chocolate,” “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants,” “Vampire Academy,” “The Host,” and “Ring of Endless Light.”

On the flip side, the number of books-turned-movies I have either never heard of or had any interest in reading is much higher.

There is no #methodtothemadness when I select a book. My only criteria is it has to pique my interest. I sincerely wish I could look at a book and determine its pop culture value. I feel like such a skill would be marketable— maybe at a publishing house?

I have read hundreds of books; many of these reads will never find their way to the local Regal Cinema theater. If anything, the reason I know about certain books before they become movies is simple statistics (#helpmehighschoolmath #fakeittilyoumakeit).

Ahem. If I take a handful of pebbles and throw them into a crowd, some of them are bound to hit people, right?  So if I read hundreds of books, some are bound to appeal to a couple Hollywood Big Wigs. See? Simple math, or whatever.

Several of today’s popular series were on my bookshelf before every tween, teen, and 20-something lost their minds over them. And yet, there are way more fan clubs I never joined: John Green, Immortal Instruments, Percy Jackson, Ender’s Game/etc., Confessions of Georgia Nicholson, Maze Runner, The Inheritance Cycle….do I need to continue?

Maybe it only appears to Lorton I have the inside scoop, because I spend more hours reading than she does. I imagine, if she were on the same page as Moose or I, then she would also be in the know. (My brain is beyond tired at this point, but this makes sense, right?)

Ps. Since I tend to be #harrietthespy curious, I like to know what is coming up. I’ve found a few great lists on Buzzfeed. This is primarily where I drew upon for my “books being turned into movies” section on my 2015 Reading List.

#RL2015 update: reading “Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel. (<– looks nothing like I pictured)

Same old Song and Dance

Home wasn’t a set house, or a single town on a map. It was wherever the people who loved you were, whenever you were together. Not a place, but a moment, and then another, building on each other like bricks to create a solid shelter that you take with you for your entire life, wherever you may go.” – Sarah Dessen “What Happened to Goodbye”

I decided early Tuesday morning to take an impromptu trip home. I packed my bags, let my roommate’s dog outside to do his business (and #tobehonest check the bushes for sketchy men), and hit the road at 4 a.m. The likes of Bryan Adams, Train, Disney, Hunter Hayes, and Salt N’ Pepa kept me company. When tunes did not do the job, I alternated with Cecelia Ahern’s “If you Could See Me Now” book on cd*.

Eight and a half hours later found me sneaking into my parents’ home in an effort to surprise my mother. She obliged with the much-anticipated joyful shriek and tears. We hugged, chatted, and seamlessly fell back into our usual routine. This naturally included me breaking out a book:  “Size 12 is Not Fat” by Meg Cabot #RL2015.

I started reading the book several years ago, but could not work up the necessary interest to see it through to the end. My tastes have since broadened (hello, John Green), so it was different this time around. (Either way, I was determined to #justdoit.) Tuesday night found me curled up on the guest bed under the lamp. My bleary eyes sluggishly moved from one word to the next until someone knocked on my door.

After some noise of welcome left my mouth, my mother’s head popped in with its own set of half-closed eyes. She quickly spotted the book in my hands.

“Oh no,” she groaned. “You are going to go to sleep so late.”

My tired face stretched into a dumbfounded expression. I looked down at the book and then back at my mom. I mean…does she know me but at all?

“There is less than a hundred pages here, mom,” I replied. I had actually just completed the math on how long it would take me to finish the book. It was 10:10 p.m. I figured I could have the book finished well before midnight.

A sigh escaped her lips. I pictured her working through the urge to order her 20-something-year-old daughter to sleep. She walked the few feet to the bed, leaned down, and kissed my cheek before bidding me goodnight.

This scene has played out countless times since I discovered a love for reading. The books, homes, states, countries, and our ages have changed, but the same old song and dance remains. The interaction feels like home for this #ArmyBrat. I will tell you what: I don’t mind driving 8 and a half hours to play this particular tune on repeat.

***(Side note: Ahern wrote “P.S. I Love You.” It took some time, but I eventually forgave Ahern for making me turn into a human water fountain during the movie. It turns out the book is quite different from the movie. I am holding out high hopes for “Love, Rosie.”)

PS. Shout out to fellow WordPress blogger Phoebe for reminding me how important it is to occasionally cut loose from day-to-day life. Check out her “Little Grey Box” blog!

Hurts so good— wait. What?

Are you a self-respecting human being?

If you answered yes, do yourself a favor and stay far away from Kristen Britain’s Green Rider series. If Kindle had not been so dang insistent, I too would have remained at a safe distance (#ignoranceisbliss).

Unfortunately, the Kindle app on my phone recognized a pattern in my reading choices. The miniature “Green Rider” book cover began popping up under the recommended books section. I could not help but take note of the gray and green cover with the large brown horse and panicked rider.

(Sidenote: The reason I could not overlook the cover is two-fold. First, there are only like 20 recommendations and as I do not often buy books through Kindle— #paperbackkeepsthehatersback— they do not often change. Second, and this is the embarrassing one, I have been known to read a romantic Kindle Single or two, so a lot of the covers look like this or this. Naturally, the cover of a fantasy book stood out a bit.)

Kindle proved to be more stubborn than I. The book failed to impress me the first time I read the free sample. However, reviews from 405 readers averaged 4.5 stars out of 5. The book kept popping up, so eventually I gave in a second time— and had a blast following Karigan G’ladheon on her journey across Sacoridia on the back of strong-willed Condor.

I tore through the book and immediately plunged into a #bookhangover (you know what I am talking about). Amazon assured me the book was not a standalone. There were five in the series.

“This is wonderful,” I thought to myself. “All of the books are out!”

Ok, so that one was my fault. I get that. I should not have been so presumptuous, because you know what they say about assuming. I launched into the second book, devoured the third, and spent Christmas dollars on the fourth and fifth. And here is where reality exploded in my face.

The fifth is not the last book (and it departs from the style/storyline of the first four books). Further research brought the publication date of each novel to light:

Unknown Unknown-1 Unknown-2 Unknown-3 Unknown-4 IMAG2001

(1998)          (2003)         (2007)          (2011)           (2014)         (#didthemath)

Four to five years separated each of first four books. I know the last one came out three years after the first, but arguments could be made the fifth book could have used more time in the editor’s lounge. I know that sounds catty, and that is not usually my game, but she threw a curveball. (If you read the Bridget Jones post, then you know how well I handle those curveballs.)

What can I say? I have been spoiled by the prompt turn-around times of Meg Cabot, Rachel Caine, and Patricia Briggs. Heck, the millennials reacted like B.F. Skinner’s rats to the every-other-year release dates of the Harry Potter (<– #justforfun) books. We lined up like well-trained pups every other summer for the newest installment.

So this is what I face: either another three to four years before the next installment, or a book that holds little resemblance to the first four. It is like being told you can go to Disney Land— in three years. Or, your favorite singer comes to town, but the head-banging rocker is suddenly picking his way through a bluegrass tune on a banjo.

If you have the patience of a saint and enjoy fantasy books, I recommend you check out the series. If you are anything like me, set a Google Alert and don’t look into the series for another 20 years. By then there will be at least seven books (#sorrynotsorry).

Bookworm Blasphemy

How about we all just sit in a circle, put on some chill tunes, and take turns with the Feeling Stick?

Never fear, if you are not a New Girl aficionado! The rules of the aptly (yet unfortunately) named Feeling Stick are simple: whoever is holding the Feeling Stick can say whatever they feel, without being judged. Did you hear me fellow Bookworms? Without. Being. Judged.

So now that I have the #feelingstick firmly in my possession: today I saw a movie I liked more than the book.

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*cue gasps of horror*

Yes, this is Bookworm Blasphemy. We pride ourselves on standing firmly beside the author’s work in face of the movie adaptations— no matter how fantastic or deplorable. It is almost better when I do not know a movie is based on a book. Then I won’t spend the entire movie checking off the differences between the two story lines ( cue a #battletothedeath in which only one can rise victorious).

I chose to read the book after seeing the trailer for the movie. It seemed spunky, light-hearted, funny, and packed with underdog goodness (and yes, a very cute male lead). The movie put a She’s All That spin on the original storyline. In contrast, the book focuses on Bianca’s issues (absent mother, father in denial, an overwhelming amount of stress) and how this leads her to seek physical relief from Wesley Rush.

Bianca spends the majority of the book running from said issues, avoiding her friends, and engaging in much of the Doing it with Wesley. I enjoyed Kody Keplinger’s humorous style well enough, but it could not distract me from wanting to shake some sense into Bianca. She stressed me out. Plus, the #hopelesslyhopefulromantic in me does not handle casual sex well in Story Land.

The movie made a couple cuts and numerous additions to improve the plot. Usually this would drive me up the wall, but this time it made the entire experience more enjoyable for me. And you know what? The best part of the book survived the script rewrites: Bianca and Wesley’s sometimes sweet and often sarcastic relationship.

About 45 percent of the time I enjoy the film adaptations almost as much as the original book. I try to look at the new piece as a remix of sorts— provided the changes in the storyline do not fill me with an intense desire to throttle everyone involved in the making of said movie. Some of these adaptations include: Bridget Jones’ Diary, A Walk to Remember, The Princess Bride, The Help, One for the Money. (<– This list makes me realize how much #RL2015 will help me branch out as a reader.)

Have you ever seen a movie you enjoyed more than the book? Please, feel free to #kickupyourfeet and consider the question. In the meantime, here is a list of 10 books-turned-movies that crashed and burned (you know, to restore balance in the Bookworm World):

  1. Blood and Chocolate
  2. The Maze Runner
  3. Ella Enchanted
  4. Jane Eyre (unless we are talking about the 2006 BBC version)
  5. The Black Cauldron
  6. The Princess Diaries sequel
  7. The Scarlet Letter
  8. Cat in the Hat
  9. Watchmen
  10. Eragon (I’m listing this one for my brother).

*RL2015 update: still reading “Paper Towns.” Everyone but Radar is currently annoying me.

Cozy Reader, Hidden Danger

The bags under my eyes have returned. I did not invite them. However, I did stay up rather late reading the end of “The Scorch Trials”. This is akin to throwing crumbs on the front lawn and being upset when the neighborhood birds show up for the feast.

So my face is slightly puffy, a headache is brewing between my temples, and my entire body feels achey (#flawless). And you know what? As much as my body feels out of sorts, it is nothing compared to what those characters have gone through in the “Maze Runner” series. (spoiler-free zone).

The extreme polarity between our situations struck me as I read the remaining chapters over the last two days. I’m no Van Gogh, Monet, or Kinkade, but let me paint you a picture:

My eyes frantically jumped from word to word as they raced to the bottom of the page. My toes curled tighter into my feet. My jaw clenched. My entire body became invested in the reading process.

My mind filled with questions. What would happen next? How would I cope if misfortune struck? What—

“Hey, Sis,” my Aunt greeted as she walked into the guest room. “Just wanted to say goodnight.”

That is right, people. As the characters in the book frantically fought for life, I was tucked away in bed. Adrenaline kept me company, but danger remained far away from me and my Hillbilly heating pads (dry beans in cloth bags #hatersgonnahate). After all, this is the way of the Bookworm.

Right?

Bookworms delve into every genre and hang tight for the wild, sweet, otherworldly, tragic, hilarious, and harrowing rides. We mourn, we laugh, we freak the #fudgetarts out, and we lecture the characters (I’m looking at you Ron Weasley). All of this takes place from the relative safety outside of the book.

(I mean, yeah, we often find ourselves in the most uncomfortable positions while reading, but it is rarely life threatening.)

The craziest part is how real it all feels. I made the mistake of reading the last book in a popular dystopian society trilogy prior to work once. It was horrible. On the outside, I probably looked like a train wreck because on the inside I was curled up in the fetal position in the #depthsofdespair. My thoughts alternated between trying to make sense of it all and planning a verbal and/or physical attack on the author.

Falling under the spell of a sweet, thrilling, or mind-boggling story is one of my favorite feelings in this world. A talented spell master transports the reader right into the heart of the action. The reader remains unscathed on the outside, but is in constant flux internally. So while it may seem I’m not doing my part as I cuddle down with blankets and Hillbilly heating pads, I’m really with the characters in spirit.

And honestly, without me the poor guys would be stuck in limbo twiddling their thumbs on page one.

(RL2015 update: I’m at the beginning of John Green’s “Paper Towns”. Moose warned me I will want to throw the book down in frustration at the end. Let’s find out!)

Mission Improbable: Reading List 2015

“Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow more light.” – Vera Nazarian

I will not lie to you. I had no idea who Ms. Nazarian was until about 30 seconds ago when I googled, “quotes about reading and love.” (FYI: she is a Russian-American author of fantasy, science fiction, and Mythpunk books #themoreyouknow.)

However, the until-recently-unknown authoress has provided the perfect reason for why I need to diversify this year’s reading list. Somewhere in this world a whole lot of light is being shined— kind of like a supernova to the retina— and it is all my fault. I’ve spent the majority of my life reading books similar in nature (fantasy, science fiction, the occasional classic, contemporary young adult, dystopian), and not to brag, but I must have opened hundreds of doors.

The problem is these doors might be in close proximity to each other, as I do not often read outside of my immediate interests. (Can you imagine the headache that kind of light would induce? #notgonnadontwanna.) So the goal is to put some space between these figurative doors by challenging myself to read like a bride: something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue.

Ok. That was a joke. I just mean I am going to add some new genres to my reading list.

Also, I should probably admit I’ve primarily read only female authors. I had a weird bias against male authors as a youth and it took the combined powers of Isaac Marion, James Dashner, and John Green to set me straight. While I am going all Usher on you guys with #myconfessions, I might as well add I tend to lose interest with a book if it does not have some type of love subplot.

Please refrain from throwing stones and/or rotten tomatoes.

***Quick Aside: I will not be adding horror to the list as my mind does a perfectly exceptional job freaking me out all on its own.***

Books (being) turned into movies: Paper Towns, Wild, In the Heart of the Sea, The Longest Ride, The Best of Me, Far From the Maddening Crowd, The Martian, The Queen of Tearling, and Love Letters to the Dead.

Books I want to read: Never Have I Ever: My Life so Far, The Scorch Trials, The Death Cure, Isla and the Happily Ever After, Water for Elephants, Yes Please, It Happened at the Fair, Size 12 is not Fat, and Sheepfarmer’s Daughter.

Books outside my norm: The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Ender quintet, 2 a.m. at the Cat’s Pajamas, A Room with a View, The Fifth Wave, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, The Count of Monte Cristo, A Time to Kill, High Fidelity, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, and On the Road.

Oldies but goodies: Anne of Green Gables (1-3), Harry Potter (4-7), Mixed Signals, To Kill a Mockingbird (especially before this summer), and Kissing Adrien.

Christian and nonfiction: the Bible, the Case for Christ, the Case for Faith, Unplugged, Don’t Miss Your Moment, Effective Communication, 100 Words Everyone Mixes up or Mangles, Jab/Jab/Jab/Right Hook, Writing for Magazines, Wide Awake, Cries of the Heart, and The Grammar Devotional.

Now the question remains: will this list make like a New Year’s resolution and slowly slip to the wayside, or struggle through the distractions of life to rise victorious?

Stay tuned, folks.