2 things the Hunger Games film reminds us about the book industry

March 23, 2012 § 9 Comments

It’s not a big secret that I’m pretty conflicted about books that are made into movies, even (and sometimes especially) if the movies turn out good. That said, it’s been incredibly encouraging to see all the hubbub created by the release of the first Hunger Games movie. I’ve talked to dozens of people who would never have heard of the book if it weren’t for the movie, many of them who were reading it to see what the commotion is all about. Even better–“something better than getting people reading?!” you ask–yes, even better is that it’s getting people talking about the themes of the book, like privileged people taking what they have for granted and turning a blind eye to the suffering of others, and being used by non-profits as an opportunity to raise awareness about world hunger.

And I have to admit that it would be dishonest of me to say that I haven’t been stoked to see it.

So rather than get down about the fact that many times more people are going to see the movie than will ever read the book, I’m looking at the positive. « Read the rest of this entry »

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Book trailers from a video professional’s perspective

January 13, 2012 § 8 Comments

I’ve been meaning to talk about book trailers for a while, but it was an overwhelming subject to tackle. Then, during the Tuesday night episode of Jersey Shore (I didn’t watch. I just heard. Don’t hate me) there was a book trailer for The Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare, which precipitated this post. (Note: for anyone not up to speed on book advertising, book trailers are basically a video hook to try and entice readers to buy your book, much like a movie trailer.)

I have something of a unique perspective on book trailers because, in addition to spending my free time writing and reading, I work full time as video producer and editor « Read the rest of this entry »

…and we’re back. With presents.

January 2, 2012 § 1 Comment

I just got back from two glorious weeks away with family and friends for the holidays, hence my silence on the blog front. My house is currently a minefield of partially-unpacked luggage and despite the fact that it’s only 6:30 in the evening, I feel ready for bed because I spent last night (and the wee hours of this morning) having way too much fun with college friends I hadn’t seen in way too long. All that to say that this will be short, sweet, and unrevised but I wanted to get back on the proverbial blogging horse. So here are my belated Christmas gifts to you, dear reader: « Read the rest of this entry »

Book Review: Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

October 21, 2011 § 3 Comments

The world is teetering on the brink of World War 1, but in this alternate history it’s a showdown between the German and Austro-Hungarian “Clankers” with their steam-powered metal war machines and the British “Darwinists” with their fabricated animals.  Aleksander Ferdinand is a prince of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but when his parents are killed he finds himself on the run and he’s not sure from who. Deryn Sharp is a British girl who has disguised herself as a boy in order to sign up for the British Air Service.  As the world plunges into war, their paths lead the two unlikely allies together.

When I read the teaser for Leviathan, I was all about the Clankers and their mechanical steam-powered monstrosities and I was more than a little skeptical about the fabricated animals of the Darwinists, but I was very pleasantly surprised to find myself loving Westerfeld’s descriptions of the various animals that the Darwinists have created, from Krakens that support their navy to the whale-like airship Leviathan.  Westerfeld’s creations are brought to life by brilliant illustrations throughout the book that really add to the story. I enjoyed both Alek and Deryn, not to mention the supporting cast and the world that Westerfeld creates.  My one complaint (and it’s more personal preference than anything) is that it really felt like this was the first act in a larger story and didn’t leave me really satisfied at the end.  That said, I have the sequel sitting on my desk right now and can’t wait to read it.

Leviathan is hands down the best young adult steampunk novel I’ve come across and it serves as a great introduction to the genre for anyone.  I think there’s a lot to love here for girls (there are two strong and engaging female characters), but I would especially recommend this to boys, even if they’re not big readers already.  A good read for sure.

Book Review: Stardust by Neil Gaiman

October 17, 2011 § 8 Comments

Stardust tells the story of Tristran Thorn, from the small village of Wall who ventures over border into the land of Faerie in search of a fallen star with which he hopes to win the love of the most beautiful girl for miles around.  Things don’t go quite according to plan as Tristran learns that in the land of Faerie, fallen stars aren’t lumps of metal, but people–in this case a young woman–and she’s not too keen on being rushed off as the some boy’s trophy.  To complicate things further, Tristran isn’t the only person seeking the fallen star and his competition is rather deadly.

Before getting too far into this I have to say that while Stardust is marketed as a Young Adult fantasy novel, there’s a pretty explicit sex scene in the first chapter and a choice four letter world a little further on.  It makes my otherwise enthusiastic recommendation a bit reserved, especially for kids who are more “young” than “adult.”

Gaiman weaves another spectacular tale with Stardust, mixing a sense of wonder with the excitement of adventure and a great sense of humor reminiscent of The Princess Bride.  It’s got magic and love and unicorns and talking trees and airships.  There is a lot to love here, though the action seemed to peak a little beyond the halfway point, and while I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the book it was more of a pleasant stroll than a rollercoaster ride.

Stardust is a good read and fairly easy.  I’d especially recommend it to adults who enjoy reading Young Adult, though as I mentioned before, I hesitate to recommend it to kids.

Book Review: Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

September 12, 2011 § Leave a comment

To say that J. D Salinger focuses on character rather than plot in The Catcher in the Rye would be an understatement.  The book follows troubled teen Holden Caulfield through three days of his life.  By some estimations a lot happens in these days, but by others, nothing happens at all.  The book paints a fascinating and compelling portrayal of the life of one teenage boy, and is an amazing lesson in characterization.  Interesting side note: the phrase “screwed up” originated with this book.

Book Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

September 9, 2011 § Leave a comment

Loved this book!  A great read.  I read this back in January, but I still can’t say enough about it. Set in a future where the world has been ravaged by nuclear war and North America has been divided into twelve districts all ruled by the elitist capital, each year two children are chosen from each district to fight to the death in the Hunger Games. Loved the setting, loved the characters, loved the tension. I checked it out at noon and didn’t sleep that night until I finished it. It’s a great example of a young adult book that appeals to all ages. The sequels don’t quite capture the magic of the first, but it’s a book you don’t want to miss. Here’s hoping the movie doesn’t ruin it.

For other Young Adult books you shouldn’t miss, check out the reading recommendations.

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