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 Ten Books Read In 2015 (and mini-reviews!)

Happy New Year, everyone! Wow – I’ve read a record 14 books in 2015! (That’s a lot for me. Hey, I’m a movie blogger – not a book blogger). 🙂

I’m really bad about getting around to doing book reviews so I’ve only reviewed a few of these (I’ve included links to the full reviews I have done). For the remainder, I figured I’d just do some very short mini-reviews right here right now. And, as my regulars know, my Top Ten lists rarely contain ten things so it seemed stupid to ignore four books when I’ve only read 14.

So here are My Top Ten (14…) Books Read In 2015, counting down to my favorite:

14. The Gospel According To Drew Barrymore by Pippa Wright

I believe this is what they call “chick lit”? Which isn’t very “me” but my hubby picked this up for me based on the title since he knows I’m a fan of Drew Barrymore. I thought that was very sweet & thoughful of him! 🙂 Anyway, I really liked the concept. Through flashbacks, we watch the relationship develop between two (40ish?) best friends. They’re very different from one another but we see how they bonded over Drew Barrymore movies at various points in their lives (such as E.T. & Poison Ivy). Unfortunately, the book just isn’t very good. I didn’t like one of the women and the Drew Barrymore gimmick really did feel like nothing more than a gimmick – the references to her felt awkward & forced. It was a good idea but without that gimmick, you’re left with two characters I really didn’t give a crap about. My Rating: 2/5

13. Florence & Giles by John Harding

I grabbed this from the library as I’d been wanting to read it for a while based on The Times quote on the front cover: “Imagine The Turn Of The Screw reworked by Edgar Allan Poe”. It sounded like it would be all gothic & atmospheric but it was pretty disappointing. A young girl in the late 1800s must protect her younger brother from a sinister & otherworldly new governess after the mysterious death of the previous woman who cared for them. The girl (and narrator if I remember correctly??) isn’t allowed to read but teaches herself & reads loads of books in secret. It’s caused her to develop a strange sort of language of her own and having to read the book with all her odd words took some getting used to (and was slightly annoying). The girl also isn’t that easy to like and the book is extremely slow until finally picking up in the final half. It was a good story but not a very fun read. I actually think it could make for a great film if the right people were involved. My Rating: 2.5/5

12. The Shock Of The Fall by Nathan Filer

My favorite books to read are always horror, sci-fi or fantasy (which will be obvious when we get to the top of my list) but I do try to sometimes read bestsellers or ones that have awards slapped on their covers (like this one) which are probably bullshit half the time anyway. This is an example of a book that was pretty good and plenty of people probably liked it but, like the previous book, it just didn’t really work for me. Oh! I also judge books by their covers and this has a good one. And I was intrigued by the back cover (which I’ve grabbed here from Goodreads): “I’ll tell you what happened because it will be a good way to introduce my brother. His name’s Simon. I think you’re going to like him. I really do. But in a couple of pages he’ll be dead. And he was never the same after that.” See? Sounds interesting. This is a book where you’ll easily find out what it’s about if you read anything whatsoever about it but if you like knowing nothing other than what’s on the back cover, skip over this next part. SPOILER: This book is about mental illness (schizophrenia) and told from the viewpoint of the young adult (Matt) who is suffering from it. It’s a fairly unique book & I’d recommend it if it sounds to you like one you’d like. I have to say it’s actually a better book than my next two choices but, as always, I rank mainly by my level of enjoyment & I found myself not really wanting to pick this one up much so it took me quite a long time to finish. My Rating: 3/5

11. The Maze Runner by James Dashner

I admit to enjoying Young Adult books, especially as the current trend seems to be YA books that are dystopian and/or post-apocalyptic. I love dystopian and/or post-apocalyptic! I don’t normally do it this way around but I saw The Maze Runner movie first and I liked it so decided to read the books. Well, I’ve read the first two so far and will continue in order to see how they end but I’ve certainly read far better YA books. I also get the feeling that the story is going nowhere plus the author has a strange writing style that many people don’t seem to like. I’ve reviewed this & The Scorch Trials in full if you want to click on the links. My Rating: 2.5/5

10. The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

This & The Maze Runner are pretty interchangeable but I suppose I’ve put this higher as reading it was a bit more enjoyable since I didn’t see the movie first so didn’t know what would happen. Meh. Yeah. Again, not the greatest book… I just like the overall concept, which is why I’m continuing with the series. My Rating: 2.5/5

9. The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

Not to be all snobby as I certainly don’t read many “worthy” classics or anything but this looked like one of those supermarket books you see old ladies reading on the bus. Well, I suppose it kind of is but, screw it, I AM an old lady on a bus! The basic story is simple: Retired Harold Fry decides to make a pilgrimage by foot across most of England to visit an old work colleague & friend named Queenie, who has written him to say that she is dying. It was a slow read to start but I was fairly hooked as Harold got closer & closer to reaching his destination. As you may expect, Harold goes on a “journey of self-discovery” during his long walk and this was the best thing about the book and was handled quite well. Something becomes obvious pretty early on but it made me want to keep reading to find out exactly what happened & how. My Rating: 3/5

8. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

I’ve just finished this book and I can see why some people have told me that they really loved it. I wanted to like it a little more than I did. I’ll say that Zusak did a great job developing some rich characters that I very much cared about. Liesel, a young girl in WWII Germany, is the central character and I liked her strong will. Even better, though, were the characters Liesel loved most (her foster parents and best friend plus two other important characters I won’t mention to avoid any spoilers). Unfortunately, despite some great characters, I felt something that I can’t quite put my finger on was “missing” from this book. I think the problem was that it was narrated by Death (as in, The Grim Reaper). It’s a better “gimmick” than the Drew Barrymore thing above and I didn’t mind it at first but, in the end, I think it actually got in the way of what was a good enough story without any gimmicks. Also, the ending felt rather abrupt & rushed after this long journey that we’ve just gone on with all these characters (it’s a pretty thick book). It was a good book & I’m interested in seeing the movie now but I wish it was higher on this list. My Rating: 3.5/5

7. Tank Girl by Jamie Hewlett and Alan Martin

This is the second (of two!) graphic novels that I’ve read (the other being Watchmen). Wait – is this a graphic novel? It’s more of a collection of several comics… I think?? Is there a difference? This sort of thing is something I have NO knowledge in but I have to say that I did enjoy Tank Girl. She’s a cool character and I really appreciated the (inappropriate) humor (it took me a while to read it all as I had to keep putting it away someplace where my young daughter wouldn’t grab it). I mean, Tank Girl has sex with a kangaroo. Whaaaat? It’s pretty damn bizarre but it’s fun and I was entertained. I suppose I should watch the horrible-looking movie that doesn’t appear to resemble the comic much now? Or… Should I not?? My Rating: 3.5/5

6. NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

I read my first two Joe Hill books this year & I have to say that, so far, I may end up almost liking his work as much as his dad’s. This one seems to be a favorite but I enjoyed the other book more and found that I didn’t really care that much about the characters in this. But it’s a good & very original story. You can read my full review at the above link. My Rating: 4/5

5. Revival by Stephen King

Stephen King is and always will be my favorite author so I’m going to put a book of his fairly high on any list. I’ve not yet reviewed this one but I will try to do a full review soon as it’s a King book so I’ll keep this short. For now I’ll say that this isn’t one of his best (it probably ranks somewhere in the lower middle for me if I were to do a list of all the King books I’ve read). I find that I’m quite often a little  disappointed with how King’s books end and this one has the same problem of starting out great but then kind of fizzling out at the end. I’ll say that King once again draws a very detailed picture of small town American life which I can always relate to in his books and what makes me love his work so much. I was very much drawn into this small town where a young boy and tragic preacher reside. I just wish these two main characters had remained as interesting in the second half of the book as they grew older (the book spans many years). Well, I enjoyed it anyway – read it if you love King. I enjoyed it more than his son’s NOS4A2 but will admit that Hill’s book was probably a little better than this one. My Rating: 3.5/5

4. Horns by Joe Hill

I suppose Joe Hill’s NOS4A2 is a slightly better book than Revival and also Horns but I read this one first & actually enjoyed it the most of this father/son trio that I read this year. It’s weird, especially as it gets to the end, and not everyone would like it but it was quite refreshing to read something so totally unique & unpredictable. You can read my full double review of this and NOS4A2 at the above link. My Rating: 4/5

3. Tuf Voyaging by George R.R. Martin

This is the first and only George R.R. Martin book I’ve ever read and I loved it! I got the Game Of Thrones book last Christmas but haven’t yet had the energy to embark on that massive journey so when a woman I work with brought in a bunch of books that she was getting rid of, I was excited to see this standalone Martin book so I could see what his work was like. I can only compare this to the Game Of Thrones TV show but I’d have to say it’s quite different from that. This is sci-fi comedy! I’ve read very few books in this genre but one happens to be my all-time favorite book (The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy) so this one was perfect for me and I enjoyed it immensely. I suppose I also owe this one a full-length review at some point… I’ll just say that, although Martin’s books are clearly popular, I had no idea of what a great writer this guy really is and it has me definitely wanting to read more of his stuff. I’ll also admit this: I’m a casual reader & clearly like light & easy entertainment. My vocabulary is limited (as evidenced by my so-called “reviews” 😉 ) and I’ve never had to look up so many words for their definitions while reading a book as I did while reading this. (Not tons, maybe six or seven words). But that’s awesome – I don’t have to do that with my YA books! This guy truly has a great way with words and his characters (especially Tuf) felt so alive. And it was actually funny! After watching Game Of Thrones, full of so much tragic death, I wasn’t sure what to expect of a sci-fi comedy from the same author. Plus the story itself had me hooked. Loved it. Can anyone recommend any of his other work? My Rating: 4.5/5

2. The Martian by Andy Weir

I can’t believe I never had a chance to watch this film considering how much I loved the book! Oh well – I’ll catch it at some point. I did at least review this book in full so I can keep this short. I guess I really do love my sci-fi comedies (although this is more sci-fi than comedy but I loved the central character’s amazing sense of humor). I find very few books to be perfect (I’m almost always disappointed with the endings) but I really can’t fault this one in any way other than it ending too abruptly. But I suppose that’s because I was enjoying it so much. The Martian is easily now an all-time favorite of mine and I highly recommend it. My Rating: 5/5

1. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

I’m so disappointed in myself for not getting around to reviewing this yet even though it’s the very first book I read after receiving it for Christmas last year. Thanks to anyone who has actually read this (really long & rambling) post! I’m sorry to do this to you now at my number one but I’m not going to say much about this one. Yet. It deserves a full-length review from me as it’s my favorite book in a very long time & nothing could be more “ME“! This was written for Eighties-loving geeks like me by an Eighties-loving geek and I absolutely adored it. I had so much fun reading this one. I hope the movie does it justice! My Rating: 5/5

Teaser Tuesdays – The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm.

Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page.
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers.

Here’s my teaser from page 106 of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak:

“Perhaps that’s why on the Führer’s birthday, when the answer to the question of her mother’s suffering showed itself completely, she was able to react, despite her perplexity and rage.

Liesel Meminger was ready.”

I’ve seen these Teaser Tuesdays posts a lot & they’re always a fun read so I thought I’d finally join in. I figure it’ll be a fun thing to post on Tuesdays while I’m being too lazy to do any of my own IMDB Top 250 movie reviews. Of course, I take a good month to read a book so I guess I won’t be joining in every week… 😉 I think most everyone who’s interested has read The Book Thief by now but I’m halfway through & enjoying it so far. But I keep eyeing up Stephen King’s The Bazaar Of Bad Dreams, which is sat next to my bed…