A Library Book for Bear by Bonny Becker

Published: July 22nd 2014Goodreads badge
Publisher: 
Candlewick Press
Illustrator: Kady MacDonald Denton
Pages: 40
Format: Paperback Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Bear does not want to go to the library. He is quite sure he already has all the books he will ever need. Yet the relentlessly cheery Mouse, small and grey and bright-eyed, thinks different. When Bear reluctantly agrees to go with his friend to the big library, neither rocket ships nor wooden canoes are enough for Bear’s picky tastes. How will Mouse ever find the perfect book for Bear?

“The librarian smiled, but a mother squirrel squished an angry finger against her lips, and an old raccoon said sternly, ‘Quiet in the library.’” Oh that sounds familiar. It’s never the librarian shushing anyone.

I love this book, Becker’s narrative is hilarious and I love Bear’s logic that he doesn’t need any more books because he has seven already. It’s not a nonsense book, but it is a bit silly in a serious way. Bear’s obstinate and Mouse is patient and despite Bear’s grumblings he goes along with Mouse to the library because he had agreed to go. A great case of ‘don’t knock it till you try it’, Bear’s experience of the library is wonderful, and showcases all the wonderful books a library has to offer.

Denton’s illustrations are beautiful accompaniments. She puts a lot of expression into Bear and Mouse, capturing the stubbornness and exasperation. I love the small details like Bear’s roller skates and his grumpy expressions, even when the wind is blowing majestically through his fur.

There is a great use of text and formatting to help tell the story, with different size fonts to convey tone and style. The story is simple with short amounts of words on each page, Denton’s illustrations taking up most of the page, but Becker’s story still says a lot and tells a full story that is engaging, enlightening, and entertaining.

You can purchase A Library Book for Bear via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository | Dymocks

Angus and Robinson | Wordery

Fishpond | Amazon

Long Lost Review: Me Before You (#1) by JoJo Moyes

Long Lost Reviews is a monthly meme created by Ally over at Ally’s Appraisals which is posted on the second Thursday of every month. The aim is to start tackling your review backlog. Whether it’s an in-depth analysis of how it affected your life, one sentence stating that you only remember the ending, or that you have no recollection of reading the book at all. 

Published: 1st April 2012Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Penguin Books, Limited
Pages: 502
Format: Paperback
Genre: Romance
★   ★   ★   ★   ★ – 5 Stars

Louisa Clark is an ordinary young woman living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has never been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex-Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair-bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.

Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.

A love story for this generation, Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?

I heard about this book when the movie was to come out and managed to read it before I saw the film. Always a good practice because you pick up a lot more story that way. I remember some parts quite well, and others not so much. I recall loving their relationship. The love/hate thing they had going on: his bitterness, her desire to please. The outsiders play their own roles and stitch everything together but while they are developed characters in themselves there is a lot of focus on Louisa and her own journey and how that journey is reflected on and impacted by Will.

This is a romance, but it also about friendship and compassion; understanding someone else and truly loving who they are. The emotional connection is always more fulfilling than the physical and Moyes mixes both in this together without making it all about the romance. It comes naturally, comes slowly, but it also shares the pages with a wonderful story about people being people and real life unfairness.

This is a really important novel because of the themes it covers: choice, quality of life, the right to die with dignity. Moyes doesn’t throw the issue in our faces, but she does take us through both sides in a way, telling us why each side has a valid point through a natural story progression and character interaction. I am glad she went with the ending she did. I think it was important not only as a message, but to the story and it was respectful to the characters.

Louisa is strong but also lost at times. I like that she got to discover who she was through Will, not that she became someone because of Will. He helped her stand on her feet and she helped him soften around the edges and see the colour of life again. I went from disliking Louisa to enjoying her character and in a small way the same is said for Will. His brashness comes from his circumstance, his first impressions are from a long and weary life and I enjoyed his growth as well as Louisa’s.

Moyes is a vivid writer, I could picture the walk to the castle, Lou’s quaint little life and her family situation. Her own suffering and suffocation is evident and I think Moyes created unique characters that all still mash together as family is want to do. On top of one another but with love as well.

I enjoyed this more than I thought I would and I liked seeing not only the different kind of story than I was used to reading, but that Moyes gives Lou such wonderful uniqueness and quirkiness unabashedly and with pride without making her the butt of jokes or less because of it.

Best Book-to-Movie Adaptations

There is a fine line between a good book adaptation and a poor one. The smallest thing can tip the scales: changing the ending, removing a character, inventing a character, or changing the character roles which alter their onscreen personality (looking at your Ron Weasley, you deserved better).

Booklovers crave and desire to see their favourite books come to the big screen, but at the same time there is a deep trepidation that there will be a great injustice and disservice to the characters and the overall story. I could write page after page of bad book to film adaptations and while that is tempting, it is negative and a bit mean so instead I want to focus on the few I have found which were truly wonderful movies that stay true to the original story.

If a book becomes a movie and I see a runtime of 2.5 hours I have a good feeling because so often it means a great adaptation with a lot true to the book. Not always the case, there will always be exceptions, but it gives me hope.

The Lord of The Rings Series (Extended editions) – Anyone who is out there thinking that 3 hours is enough time to swoon over Aragorn and his wonderful hair is greatly mistaken. I sat through the extended editions of all three films because if I was going to watch them I was going to do it right. No doubt unimportant plot points were included in those extra 30 minutes but it was a great representation of the books. All the little moments and extended scenes, the minor things that became big. The only issue is Merry and Pippin don’t get the serious portrayal they deserve, there’s cheeky but then there’s foolish which Jackson did a bit too much.

The Martian – I was curious how the greatest book of all time was going to be portrayed in film but I had nothing to worry about. There is so much to love about this movie and every minute was a delight. The only downside is the best part of the book was not included re: Aquaman and whales. Other than that, it was a marvellous film from start to finish and felt like a true depiction of the book, minor addition to the end aside.

Gone Girl – For all the hate I had for the book, the movie is actually an accurate representation of the story. I was curious how they would show the flashbacks and the ‘diary’ component but David Fincher has done a great job. It might have been a better movie to see without reading the book because I didn’t hate Nick quite as much in the movie.

Paper Towns – This one I was surprised by my own reaction to. There are changes to the story, a few character moments tweaked and swapped, but the overall theme and feeling of the book has been translated to the screen really well. It felt the same as the book, even though there were a few changes it didn’t matter. It stayed true to the message even with the required movie changes and I was impressed.

The Hunger Games – One of the best adaptations I have seen of a book. It had everything that made the books amazing and it felt as strong and powerful watching it as when I was reading it. I felt the books were playing out in front of me and I loved every minute of it.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – I remember this being the first movie adaptation of a book I’d really paid attention to. I have a vivid memory as it began thinking it was word for word of the book and I loved everything about it. Sure Peeves is missing, but there’s so much else true to that first book that brought that magical experience to life.

Honourable mentions

The Book Thief – I missed a few of the nuances and scenes from the book but it was still an emotional kick in the guts. Not quite as powerful as the book, but still excellent nonetheless.

The Princess Bride – I actually fell in love with the movie before I read the book many years later and I was surprised at their similarities. It’s not an unlikeable movie, quite wonderful in fact, but there are a few changes but the spirit remains and what was left in was delightful.

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I also hated Girl on the Train, and was yes, was surprised I hated the movie as well. Funny that…

These are only the adaptations I have seen, if there are some excellent movie adaptations out there of books please let me know so I can check them out.

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

Published: 18th September 2018 (print)/18th September 2018 (audio) Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Pan Macmillan Australia/Bolinda Publishing
Pages: 464/19 hrs and 9 mins
Narrator: Caroline Lee
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Fiction
★ – 1 Stars

Could ten days at a health resort really change you forever? Nine perfect strangers are about to find out…

Nine people gather at a remote health resort. Some are here to lose weight, some are here to get a reboot on life, some are here for reasons they can’t even admit to themselves. Amidst all of the luxury and pampering, the mindfulness and meditation, they know these ten days might involve some real work. But none of them could imagine just how challenging the next ten days are going to be.

Frances Welty, the formerly best-selling romantic novelist, arrives at Tranquillum House nursing a bad back, a broken heart, and an exquisitely painful paper cut. She’s immediately intrigued by her fellow guests. Most of them don’t look to be in need of a health resort at all. But the person that intrigues her most is the strange and charismatic owner/director of Tranquillum House. Could this person really have the answers Frances didn’t even know she was seeking? Should Frances put aside her doubts and immerse herself in everything Tranquillum House has to offer – or should she run while she still can?

It’s not long before every guest at Tranquillum House is asking exactly the same question.

The LONGEST, most TEDIOUS 19 hours of MY LIFE. I swear somewhere around chapter thirty it never progressed no matter how many hours I listened to it. It felt like I was trapped in the thirties forever and with a book of eighty chapters this was a nightmare scenario. I am quite convinced time stopped because I listened to it almost every day and I never seemed to get anywhere. Just when I thought I think I’d listened to it for another 3 or 4 hours I was only one of two chapters ahead. In the end, I had to bring it in from the car and put it on the computer so I could get it to play at double speed. Even then it dragged on. It’s an amazing feat that a book this long could have nothing happen in it.

I am not convinced it was only the fault of the audio either. I have generally enjoyed Lee’s narration, she has done every single other Moriarty book I have listened to. But from the initial chapters I knew this one felt different. It was slower, much slower than her other ones, and I couldn’t understand her decision with some of the voices she chose for the characters. Francis is one of the main characters who gets most of the perspective and I could not stand her from the very beginning. I did not like her portrayal but retrospectively I appreciate her character. She was bubbly and naïve, she was idealistic and at least she felt like a real person. It’s just that from the start I was on the wrong foot with the narration and these characters and unfortunately it never managed to recover. For having a dozen key characters I felt that maybe only a few were really fleshed out. Even if some got fewer chapters for us to get to know them, I was still able to grasp who they were as people. Some of the others who had multiple chapters gave me so little I have no real idea who they are.

But I also didn’t care enough to care.

I did not care about their personal journeys and while Moriarty deserves credit for the variety of characters she has included, the execution was lacking.

I am trying not to just dump on this book, but after hour upon hour of waiting for something to happen I feel let down as a reader and I am disappointed because this isn’t the writing I have come to expect from Moriarty. With no plot except listening to these people and their boring lives I was desperate to grasp onto any real story at all. Where was the Moriarty’s Reveal™ that she is renowned for? Where was the intrigue and the suspense? How can such a diverse range of characters hold so little intrigue?

There is a moment that Moriarty breaks the fourth wall later in the book through Francis and not only does it read like she is venting her own frustrations at her career and the writing process, it jars the flow of the narrative and it took me out of the story because it doesn’t sit right. And to be honest, by that point I was using all my effort to keep myself in the narrative.

The ending was stranger and even more ridiculous than the rest of the book. I had heard the ending was amazing and while it might be the only time it got actually close to something happening, it still failed to hit the low bar I had placed on it after listening to the other 18 hours.

I understand from talking to other people that this is a book that divides people. They either love it or they thought it was boring and terrible. I know people in both categories and with my history of Moriarty books I went in with an open mind. It seems though that this book is yet another of Moriarty’s that didn’t quite hit the mark with me. There aren’t enjoyable moments, there are simply moments that aren’t terrible.

You can purchase Nine Perfect Strangers via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust | Audible

Archie and the Bear by Zanni Louise

Published: 1st May 2017Goodreads badge
Publisher: 
Little Hare, Hardie Grant Egmont
Illustrator: David Mackintosh
Pages: 40
Format: Paperback Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

No one listens to Archie when he says he is a bear so he leaves home and goes into the woods where he makes friends with a bear. A very small boy in a bear suit and a very large bear share the fun of pretending, adventuring in the woods, and a honey sandwich next to a warm fire on a cold day. Which is really the boy, and which is the bear? It doesn’t matter—you are who you say you are. 

I am discovering that books where big things are friends with small things are my jam and I love that so many picture books incorporate this. Louise tells the story of Archie, the bear who people keep mistaking for a boy. When Archie is sick of people calling him a boy, he goes into the woods and finds a real bear, a bear who thinks he’s a boy.

This is a wholesome story that is told beautifully. There is heart and friendship and Mackintosh’s illustrations add gravity and a touch of magic. I felt the story slow down as I looked at these beautiful illustrations and though nothing is said of time or place, it felt like it was in an older time, somewhere in some small eastern European village and while that sounds obscure, it’s where my mind went and I loved it.

Mackintosh’s illustrations offer fantastic scale in regards to Archie’s size in relation to the world and to the bear. He uses a mixture of watercolour and rough pencils and masters capturing scale and magnitude about the expansiveness of a forest as well as the confines of it. I couldn’t help but admire the skill he had in perfectly executing so many different styles and techniques and marrying them to Louise’s words.

The story explores the two new friends as they discover each other’s worlds and teach each other their skills. I wasn’t sure how this would end but Louise finds a sweet ending to a sweet story and one that makes you feel warm and fuzzy on the inside.

You can purchase Archie and the Bear via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository | Dymocks

Angus and Robinson | Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

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