Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Beginnings and Endings!

In which Sam rants about the English language, raves about Hemingway (as usual) and rambles on absolutely forever

For this week's TTT, we've been asked to share the best book beginnings & endings. I took this rather literally and sought out the words that most shook me up when I read them first (rather than "I'm so glad that X person got a dragon in the end" because, well, I am nearly always glad to rave about the presence/rant about the absence of dragons.)

Also, this TTT is super long. You've been warned. 

And as always, credit to The Broke and the Bookish for this fabulous feature!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Review of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, or, How a 14 Hour Car Drive Can Influence Your Reading Choices

I’ll be candid- I wasn’t going to finish this book.  It’s a difficult read; there are some shockingly violent passages: (character burned to death: check; character shot in the face: check; character killed by a drunk driver: check; etc. etc.).  If it weren’t for the fact that it was the only book I brought with me on a 14 hour car drive, I probably would have set it down & never finished it.  But circumstances being what they were, I did finish, and although it unsettled me, I found it profoundly moving and refreshing.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Snips & Specs & New Projects!

Well hello, ladies and gents! Let's crank up that rumor mill, 'cause we've got lots of speculatin' to do, plus we'd like to allude to some future features you are sure to enjoy! Here's a fast five for today's Friday Snip & Spec!

It's still a concept image - the release is 4 years away!
For all of you Austen fans, this is pretty cool news! She'll be on the 10-pound note. Link in the title to the Jezebel article where we first saw the story, and check out the video from the Bank of England!


Okay, on a scale of 1 to Total Speculation, this is really out there, but if you are a huge Star Wars nerd and reader and YA fan, you might be curious if (1) They're really going to base the rumored sequel on Heir to the Empire and (2) OMG REALLY CAST RYAN GOSLING AND ZAC EFRON! Okay, okay, this rumor came from self-proclaimed gossip hound Perez Hilton, but ... we want to believe!

Hey girl.
....That's right.

***Update*** It looks like the Ryan Gosling thing really was a rumor...there's still hope for a Cosmic HSM, though! And may we make a replacement suggestion ....

You're welcome.

Have you spotted the new EPIC cover to House of Hades yet, out October 2014? We're pretty pumped about it - thanks YA Book Crush for tuning us in to its release! - and it distracts us from what is sure to be another disappointing film adaptation.


When you're a star rays of light shoot out of your chest!
Speaking of movies, we are very excited to announce a new REGULAR FEATURE where we review BOOKS & THEIR FILM ADAPTATIONS! This magical recurring journey of joy will commence with the premiere of The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. We're planning to attend the film together and co-author our first TRIPLE REVIEW! Could this list item feature MORE CAPITALIZATION?

"If she does it again...I'll kill her."

"Do I feel ... like taking a monthly personality quiz based on my favorite YA books?!!?"

Well...DO YA!?!?

Clint Eastwood. Casual.
We've got plots and plans in the works for a quiz feature. Please let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Thanks for stopping by, guys! We appreciate the views, the love, the comments, and your input!


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Top Ten Words That Will Make You NOT Pick Up a Book or, Some of the Strangest Titles Out There

I can’t really say that there are single words that turn me off from a book (vampire: let's indulge!, clockwork: absolutely!, dragon: Sam has stolen it from my hands) but there certainly are combinations of words (some people call it a title- I really think that's going to catch on) that simply perplex me.  

Here are some of those titles.  **Please note I have not actually read any of these books, so I give in to that inexpiable sin of judging a book by its cover and title.

The Best Dad Is a Good Lover by Charlie W. Shedd
Hands off, dude. 


George Bush, Dark Prince of Love by Lydia Millet
The Goodreads summary tells me this book is “written with razor-sharp satiric wit and packed with wry observations of our times.”  I find that hard to believe.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Review of Katie Sise's The Boyfriend App, or Meg has Mixed Feelings

Happy Monday, fellow mad ones! Thought you all might like a little YA to get you through your day. Up this week: The Boyfriend App by Katie Sise.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Psychology of Abandonment a Study Conducted by Goodreads

Goodreads is one of our favorite book sites here at Mad But Magic.  I was therefore understandably excited when my sister emailed me a study conducted by Goodreads, exploring the top most abandoned books (seeing Ulysses on the classics list was no surprise to me, but that Catch 22 was on there broke my heart!  Seriously, it’s worth the read!).  

When Goodreads looked at WHY people put down books, they  top reason was “Slow, boring” with a whopping 46% of answers.  Though I have to wonder, what does  “Slow, boring” mean?  For me, there are 4 criteria for a good book:
  1. Engaging writing
  2. Inventive plot
  3. Believable character development
  4. Credibility (either a classic, unique perspective, or generally a title that is received with respect)
A book must have at least 2 of these criteria to be worth my reading. 
(Unless, of course, I was going through a little phase and needed some mind candy... no judgments, right?)

Goodreads also discovered that many readers will always finish a book to the bitter end.  I’ve certainly been in this category before, forcing myself to keep turning the pages, rewarding myself for each chapter finished- but this only usually happens when I need to read a book for school or feel it’s going to teach me something worth the time and effort.

Generally, though, I’m a believer that life is too short to waste on a book I don’t enjoy.  
Life's too short to be read by boring people
What about you, readers? What makes you abandon a book (if you ever close ‘em without finishing ‘em)?  Did you abandon any of the “most abandoned books” listed by Goodreads? Clearly you are not alone.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday - Top 10 Poets Who Deserve More Recognition

This week I decided to devote some page space to some of the most undervalued writers out there: poets! Here are 10 of my favorites who I think deserve more recognition, along with some beautiful lines they’ve written. (As always, Top Ten Tuesday is a feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.)

1.  Edna St. Vincent Millay, from Sonnet II:
Time does not bring relief; you all have lied
Who told me time would ease me of my pain!
I miss him in the weeping of the rain;
I want him at the shrinking of the tide

Monday, July 15, 2013

Review: World War Z, the Book and the Movie

In which Sam rants about World War Z (the movie), raves about World War Z (the book), and speculates on a zombie film built entirely around Simon & Garfunkel songs.


Friday, July 12, 2013

Snips & Specs: Manic Pixie Dream Girl Edition

Hi friends!

This week I wanted to share with you all an AWESOME (seriously, take the time to read it) article by one of my current feminist idols, writer Laurie Penny.

In her piece I Was a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, she breaks down the modern indie female archetype as exemplified by familiar characters LIKE:

Sam from Garden State, Ramona from Scott Pilgrim, Summer from 500 Days of Summer, and Clementine from Eternal Sunshine
This article was hard for me, because the MPDG is a bewitching notion. And for those of us women who are smart and maybe a little, or a lot, quirky, it may feel like the only shoe that fits. But Penny points out that the MPDG exists only as "a submissive, exploitable, transcendent ideal of the other," created by sad lonely nerd boys who need rescuing.

She says, "Men grow up expecting to be the hero of their own story. Women grow up expecting to be the supporting actress in somebody else's." And she's right.

Why do away with the Manic Pixie Dream Girl? So that, in Penny's words, we can allow for "the creation of new narratives, the opening of space in the collective imagination for women who have not been permitted such space before, for women who don’t exist to please, to delight, to attract men, for women who have more on our minds."

In conclusion, everything will be fucking awesome forever:

Image courtesy of Moonfruit Comics.


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Best & Worst Film Adaptations

In which Sam rants and raves about five of the worst and five of the best film adaptations of YA/NA novels, including (1) a quick synopsis, (2) whether the book is worth the read, and (3) whether the movie is worth the watch!

Without further ado, we here at Mad But Magic are very excited to share our Top Ten Tuesday list of Best & Worst Movie Adaptations – original feature, as always, courtesy of The Broke and Bookish :)


#5 S.E. Hinton’s novel The Outsiders and the 1983 film adaptation, The Outsiders

Synopsis: Young men on the edge – of sanity, of society, of adulthood – stalk the night streets in leather jackets and linger on in your heart.

Is the book worth the read? YES! One hundred times, yes. The Outsiders was written by a woman who wandered the streets getting to know young men just like her protagonists – who, by the way, have some of the best names you’ll ever encounter in fiction – Ponyboy and Sodapop are my favorites. True to publishing industry fashion when it comes to female authors like J.K. Rowling, S.E. Hinton is really Susan Eloise Hinton – and she wrote the book while still in high school!

Is the movie worth the watch? Absolutely – it’s old but it’s fun, and it’s a bit of a tearjerker, too. Also, it’s a delight to look for today’s well-known stars in some early roles, like Diane Lane, Matt Dillon, Emilio Estevez, Patrick Swayze, Ralph Maccio, Rob Lowe, and Tom Cruise!

In sum: Do it forJohnny.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Review of Graceling by Kristen Cashore as Told From My Soapbox

I’ve read a few critical reviews of this novel.  I’ll agree with some reviewers that you don't need to hate dresses and long hair and marriage to be a strong woman or a feminist. There is some danger in that of Female Chauvinist Pig-ism; that idealizes all things man and puts down women who enjoy "girly" things.  

HOWEVER I don't think that this is what Kristin Cashore is doing at all. Cashore is telling one woman’s story, and in this story, Katsa doesn't like all the gender expectations ascribed to her, and she’s no less of a woman, or more of a feminist, for it.  Based on Cashore’s other novels, it’s clear that she is not flouting Katsa as the only right way to be a woman, simply a way to be a woman.  You can have long hair or short. Like dressing up or not. Enjoy wrestling or sewing. Gender is a flexible social construct and I’m a big fan of defining yourself and respecting how others self express.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Snips & Specs & the Multiplex

In which Sam rants about single books being split into two movies, raves about Divergent, and throws in some photos of the new Divergent movie for your viewing pleasure :)

Inspired by next week's Top Ten Tuesday feature on YA film adaptations (check out the original feature here), let's talk about an upcoming film adaptation I'm pretty excited about: Veronica Roth's Divergent. Starring Shailene Woodley of The Secret Life of the American Teenager, this should be a fast-paced thriller, following protagonist Tris as she navigates her dystopian world, comes of age, and joins the Dauntless faction, known for their bravery and fighting prowess.

... vaguely familiar.
Something looks ...

It was a quick, exciting read, and I devoured it overnight. My dad and I both read it, actually, and like everyone else, compared it to Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games trilogy. (We both have a soft spot for dystopian fiction, like The Giver - although can a preference for reading about those hard, unforgiving worlds really be called 'soft'?!?)

Probably not.
Though in Divergent there aren't "games," per se, Tris does face several "trials" in her quest to become Dauntless - one such trial left my dad wincing and me skipping the page and trying not to faint, so it will be interesting to see how some of those violent scenes translate on-screen. 

"I'll just punch this punching bag instead"
It's been interesting to watch mega-violent YA novels attempt to become PG-13 friendly movies, since the standards seem quite different. I've always felt books can get away with more than movies, which is why I thought The Mortal Instruments, with its central romance taking a turn toward the taboo in the second novel (though it all turns out not-taboo in the end?), would never make it to screen. (Obviously, I was wrong.)

But movies also get away with splitting books into two (yeah...as if The Hobbit wasn't bad enough, did you hear they're splitting up Mockingjay into two films?) I have a lot of feelings about this. Perhaps I will reserve them for Tuesday.

For now, I will leave you with this: Shailene Woodley will also apparently be starring in the film adaptation of The Fault in Our Stars. Because every YA movie in the next five years will star Shailene Woodley. And also be in two parts.

What film adaptations are you excited about? Will you go see Divergent? What about both Mockingjays?


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Top 10 Tuesday- Intimidating Reads aka Kate Reads Classics

(original feature of The Broke and the Bookish)

There are a number of reasons we’re afraid to approach certain books.
  • The movie was so awesome, will the book hold up (Book lover rule #1- the book is always better).  
  • My friend loved it there’s no way it’s as good as he says and then I'll have to uncomfortably pretend I love it as well in order to spare his delicate feelings
  • The title literally translates to “Miserable People.”  
  • 1500 pages?? So this is what people did before Netflix... 
Of course, intimidating books have their benefits
  • You look smart reading it in public
  • You build up your arm muscles toting around those heavy tomes
  • These are classics for a reason; they are enduring stories of humanity
  • In more cases than not, it’s not intimidating once you get reading

Here are some of my favorite books that I was once too intimidated to read: 

Uncle Tom’s Cabin- The Book that Sparked a War
My first intimidating read- put on the list when I was 12.  I finally got around to it 10 years later and was surprised at how accessible it was.  Although rife with condescension and backhanded racism, the little glimpses into minor characters’ lives were the parts that really hit me hard (I’m looking at you, Hagar and Emmeline).

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