The Book Thief & Paper Towns Movie Reviews

Here are two quickie reviews of two movie adaptations of two books that I read recently. Since I read the books, I figured I better finally watch the films. I never really enjoy a movie much after reading the book and, in the case of one of these, I pretty much hated the book so I wasn’t hoping for much from the movie. Here we go!

Paper Towns (2015)

Directed by Jake Schreier

Based on Paper Towns by John Green

Starring: Nat Wolff, Cara Delevingne, Halston Sage, Austin Abrams, Justice Smith, Jaz Sinclair

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
After an all night adventure, Quentin’s life-long crush, Margo, disappears, leaving behind clues that Quentin and his friends follow on the journey of a lifetime.

My Opinion:

I did a very short review of the Paper Towns book HERE (I rated it 2.5/5). Full of hateful characters, I didn’t enjoy the book very much. The main boy (played by Nat Wolff in the movie) was okay but a bit bland. The girl he loves (Margo, played by Cara Delevingne) & his best friend (who is a sexist little shit & calls all girls “honey bunnies”) are annoying as hell. Seriously, Margo isn’t interesting & mysterious – she’s a bitch. But I liked the story, which involves Margo’s friends trying to track her down through a series of bizarre clues she’s left behind.

Once I’ve read a book, I always try to watch the movie adaptation but it’s never that exciting to me since I already know the story & get a bit bored. This one is a pretty straightforward & faithful adaptation. If you like the book, you should like the movie. I think this is a rare occasion where the film is better & I’d say it’s mainly down to them making Margo seem a little more human & less hateful. I also thought Nat Wolff did a good job as Quentin & made the character less dull than in the book. If you’re interested in the story, I’d actually recommend watching the movie & skipping the book as the book doesn’t really flesh out the characters any more than the film does and the movie doesn’t leave out anything important (from what I can remember).

Even though I’m WAY past “Young Adult” age, I still really enjoy reading/watching YA stuff as I can still relate to most of it. Trust me – when you get old like me, it’s very likely that it’ll still feel like you only just finished high school yesterday. It’s a traumatic time in life & I remember more from that time than I do from when I was a twentysomething. However, Paper Towns was one I couldn’t relate to at all. Maybe I’m finally out of touch? Or maybe John Green just doesn’t quite capture what teens are really like? The characters didn’t feel real to me, unlike the ones in things like The Perks Of Being A Wallflower (fantastic film & book!). But that one was set in my own era of high school with an awesome soundtrack while Paper Towns is set now & the characters refer to things from their own youth that mean nothing to me (like singing what I assume is the Pokémon TV show theme tune). No, I think the characters are weak and are the real reason I can’t connect with Paper Towns. At least the movie improves on the book slightly so I can’t give it a low rating as it’s a good adaptation and I think plenty of teens/twentysomethings probably really like it. But I’d recommend other YA stuff to people my own age before I’d recommend this one.

My Rating: 6/10

The Book Thief (2013)

Directed by Brian Percival

Based on The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Starring: Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, Sophie Nélisse, Nico Liersch, Ben Schnetzer, Heike Makatsch, Barbara Auer, Roger Allam

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film is about a young girl living with her adoptive German family during the Nazi era. Taught to read by her kind-hearted foster father, the girl begins “borrowing” books and sharing them with the Jewish refugee being sheltered by her foster parents in their home.

My Opinion:

I reviewed The Book Thief novel HERE (along with all 14 books I read last year – I ranked this one my 8th favorite out of 14 & rated it 3.5/5). Unlike Paper Towns, this book had strong characters & I really cared what would happen to them. The book was actually let down slightly by its unnecessary gimmick (it’s narrated by Death aka The Grim Reaper) and did feel overlong. I really liked the book but didn’t love it like I was hoping, despite loving the characters. Still, I’m glad it got the characters right as that’s really important to me.


In this case, I’d definitely recommend reading the book before watching the film. It’s a good adaptation with fine performances but they’ve had to leave things out (as to be expected with a long book). The characters are just so richly developed in the book, which rarely gets captured as well in a film. They did come close, however – both Sophie Nélisse (Liesel – the main character) & Geoffrey Rush (Hans, her foster father) are fantastic & exactly as I pictured. Emily Watson (Rosa, her foster mother) & Nico Liersch (Rudy, her best friend) are also very good but have far less time spent on them than in the book. Rosa is a complex character so it will have been hard to capture this but I was most upset with how little we got to know Rudy in the film as I absolutely loved him & his beautiful friendship with Liesel in the book. Ben Schnetzer (as Max, the Jewish refugee they’re hiding) was also very good & as I had pictured but, again, he sadly doesn’t get enough time devoted to him in the film.

Luckily, the movie leaves out quite a lot of the Grim Reaper’s narrative. It’s done well & not distracting, whereas it kind of threw me out of the story every time they came back to it in the book. But don’t let that criticism talk you out of reading the book as I’d definitely recommend it if the story interests you. I’m not sure how to rate this movie… I thought it was quite good but, knowing the novel is better, I couldn’t help but be just a little let down despite great performances & some perfect casting. If you’re someone who really doesn’t like to read, then by all means watch the movie instead & probably add an extra point to my below rating. It’s a good film & they’ve done the best they possibly could with a somewhat difficult novel to adapt but, ultimately, the film doesn’t deliver the same emotional punch as you don’t get to know some of the characters as well as you do in the book.

My Rating: 6.5/10

**Okay, I admit to knowing the Pokémon song very well now since my kid has become addicted to the show….

And here are some of the best Pokémon we’ve caught (I love annoying people with this!) 😉

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My Top (Seven) Books Read In 2014 (and mini-reviews!)

Happy New Year everyone!!! 🙂

I’ve been doing my end-of-the-year top ten lists (My Top Ten Movies Of 2014 & My Top Ten Movies Watched At Home In 2014). I can’t do a top ten here as I only managed seven so here are My Top (Seven) Books Read In 2014. I’ve never been great at writing book reviews and, of these, I only managed to review The Giver. As I probably won’t ever get around to doing full reviews of most of these, I’ll do a brief mini-review of each of them now.

7. The Woman Who Went To Bed For A Year by Sue Townsend

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I mainly read things like Stephen King, a tiny bit of sci-fi, and Young Adult fiction. This book isn’t very “me” but I thought it would be good to read the type of book that women my age are MEANT to read. Well, this is why I don’t fit in amongst women of my age, I guess… 😉 I’m sure most middle-aged women absolutely adored this book and I do think Townsend wrote some truly funny & witty bits. However, the characters are SO hateful, including the “heroine” at times. You’re meant to feel for her & you do at first but, by the end, you just think “Get out of bed & the HELL away from your horrible family full of assholes!” It’s well-written and I assume Townsend probably has better books with better characters? As always, it’s hard to enjoy a book if you don’t like at least ONE person in it but it does have its funny moments (although it’s a very British sense of humor).

My Rating: 2.5/5

6. Paper Towns by John Green

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I know John Green is a very big YA author and I did really like The Fault In Our Stars book (which I reviewed HERE). I’m also kind of a sucker for a decent-looking book cover and Green’s books always look so good sitting on the shelves in book stores (shallow, I know). Unfortunately, I found Paper Towns quite disappointing. Like The Woman Who Went To Bed For A Year, this was full of characters I didn’t really like. The main boy was fine, at least, but the object of his affection (and obsession) is extremely selfish and it’s very hard to understand why he would feel so strongly about her. I also didn’t like how it ended – it just sort of fizzled out. However, I’ll still give more Green books a shot as I know Zoe of The Sporadic Chronicles Of A Beginner Blogger is a fan but she also didn’t like this one so much. She’s done a good full review of the book, which you can read HERE. Yep, we agree on this one, Zoe!

My Rating: 2.5/5

5. The Night Rainbow by Claire King

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This is another one that’s not exactly “me” but I thought it was fairly good. However, it’s totally heartbreaking. I don’t really want a book that’s going to make me cry and leave me horribly depressed by the end of it. For some reason, I wasn’t expecting this to be as sad as it was after reading the description on the back and, when something quite obvious finally hit me toward the end of the book, I felt stupid for not realizing sooner and also incredibly sad about the situation as I think it’s probably a somewhat common thing. I know that was incredibly vague but I always try to stay spoiler-free. It’s very much another “middle-aged woman” book but, if you’re of that age and especially if you’re a mother and you like bittersweet dramas that may make you weep (a lot of women seem to like that sort of thing – I’m not sure why!), this book may be worth a read for you.

My Rating: 3/5

4. The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

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Yeah… 2014 really was a year of me reading books that aren’t very “me”. This is another one. 😉 I just can’t get into these “older lady books”! I was also once again taken by the cover of the book plus I liked the sound of the “fairytale” aspect of the story. It’s inspired by a Russian fairytale of an old childless couple who build a daughter made of snow who comes to life. It’s no Stephen King so was never going to be my favorite book in the world but I thought it was actually very good and I can see a lot of people (okay, women) loving it. It would make a great movie. It’s also a little heartbreaking, although it didn’t leave me nearly as sad as The Night Rainbow did. If it sounds at all like the type of story you’d like, I do recommend this one.

My Rating: 3.5/5

3. The Giver by Lois Lowry

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I won’t go into this one much as I’ve already done a full review HERE. “Young Adult dystopian future” book! Much more my type of thing. Plus this is one that came along years before the current trend of copycats. It’s aimed at a younger age than things like The Hunger Games (probably about age 11) and is a book I’d happily give to a kid of that age to read before they read the more current books in the genre. Anyway – I really liked The Giver and highly recommend it over the movie, which changes quite a lot of the story.

My Rating: 4/5

2. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

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I’m actually not sure what to say about this one other than: Can you believe I’d never read it until now?! I know it’s such a HUGE teen classic for people of my age and the generation before mine. I’m not sure if it’s as popular with teens these days as well but it does deserve its status as a classic. I LOVE that Hinton was only 16 when she wrote this and I wish that teenagers still had this same sort of ambition and creativity these days. I don’t know… Maybe some of them do? Anyway, I’m not sure why I never explored Hinton’s stuff plus I’ve also never seen Francis Ford Coppola’s adaptation of this. This is shocking as, even though it’s not had the best reviews, it’s from 1983 and full of so many famous actors from my generation. Okay, I’ve actually managed to not say a thing about this book. I plan to watch the movie sometime this year so I’ll try to do a full review of the book at the same time too.

My Rating: 4/5

1. Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

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Of course this was going to be my favorite… No, it’s not as good as The Shining but I think it’s a decent enough sequel. I liked re-visiting characters from The Shining and liked the main girl, Abra, and her relationship with Danny plus I thought the “villains” (The True Knot) were very effective, especially their leader Rose the Hat. This was the first book I read in 2014 so I finished it quite a while ago. I of course thoroughly enjoyed it while reading it but it’s already fading from my memory a bit as it just didn’t grab me in the way other King books have. I’m not sure why… It’s good but I think King has written better books in recent years. I think 11/22/63 is a better book overall plus I possibly enjoyed Duma Key and even Cell slightly more than Doctor Sleep, although I’m sure I’m very much in the minority there. (I also had a lot of fun with Joyland, the only King book I’ve ever reviewed so I suppose I should mention it). Doctor Sleep is certainly one of King’s better books overall but it’s probably not QUITE up there with my very favorites although I was hoping it would be. By the way, Brian, I’ve given it some thought and The Dead Zone is possibly my favorite King book although I also love Salem’s Lot, The Long Walk, The Shining, The Green Mile, and I love his short story collections almost more than his full novels sometimes. It would be possibly be a big favorite except for ONE bit I really don’t like in it. Night Shift was the first thing of his that I read and that’s what got me hooked. I’m sure you all wanted to know my Stephen King history, right?? 🙂

My Rating: 4/5

I got a load of books for Christmas & they’re much more “me” than most the stuff I read in 2014. I can’t wait to read them and, so far, I have to say that I’m LOVING Ready Player One. Has anyone read any of these?

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