Friday, March 31, 2017

Book to Movie Adaptations on Netflix (No Spoilers)

Nothing to Disclose, I am a paying member of Netflix


I'm not someone who rushes to the cinema when I see a book to movie adaptation - actually, I'm not someone who rushes to the cinema at all (one visit in the last 13 years) - but I do like to catch the movie versions of books I've read on TV or Netflix at some stage.

With that in mind, I thought I'd go through some of the adaptations on Netflix at the moment and compare them to the books - just in time for the weekend so you can choose one or two to watch.

Me Before You


Released in 2012, Me Before You is a novel about Louisa Clarke, a young woman who lives with family who are financially dependent on her. She takes a job as a carer in order to bring in more money, and finds herself looking after Will Traynor - a man who was paralysed from the neck down after an accident. Will is bitter, angry, and rude - but Louisa's having none of it, she was sent to do a job and that's exactly what she's going to do. This looks like a light, fluffy book - it's really not, it deals with some huge issues and some darker themes. 

The film version arrived in 2016, starring Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin as the lead characters. It stays fairly true to the book, so if you've read the book first then the film won't bring any huge surprises. It's an enjoyable film, the cast are good and the dialogue is sharp and witty. There are a couple of darker elements in the book that aren't present here, but the movie works well as it is. 



Divergent by Veronica Roth was released in 2011, the first of a trilogy. It's dystopian fiction, and focuses on teenager Beatrice Prior. In this post-apocalyptic version of Chicago, teenagers must choose a faction when they come of age. There are five to choose from - Amity, Dauntless, Abnegation, Erudite and Kandor. There are different qualities associated with each faction (selflessness, bravery, etc). Someone who doesn't fit in is known as "Divergent" and immediately in danger. 

The movie was released in 2014 and stars Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Ashley Judd, Zoe Kravitz and Kate Winslet. There are some differences between the book and movie - the book is actually a lot more graphic and violent, this is toned down for the movie. I thought the cast were well chosen, and the story was exciting to watch. The second film in the trilogy, Insurgent, is also on Netflix, and that was enjoyable enough too. Avoid the third film - they split the last book Allegiant into two parts, released one part (awful), then never made part 2. As a standalone movie, Divergent works well. 

Safe Haven


Safe Haven is a 2010 novel by Nicholas Sparks about a woman named Katie, who comes to a small coastal town to escape something in her past. There, she meets single father Alex, a widowed shop owner. As Katie begins to let her guard down, her past starts to catch up with her, putting her new life and Alex at risk.

The film version of this was released in 2013 and I have seen it six times. It's pure cheese - it really plays on your emotions (as is Nicholas Sparks' speciality) - but I LOVED it. It stars Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel in the lead roles, and they are perfect. There are some niggly changes from the book (and there's a really ridiculous part that features heavily in both) but overall I enjoyed the movie much more than the book, so I think fans of this kind of film will like it. It's perfect for when you just want something easy to concentrate on.

The Duff 


The DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) is a teen novel written by Kody Keplinger when she was 17, and released in 2010. It's about teenager Bianca Piper, who is horrified when "man-whore" (her words) Wesley dubbs her "The DUFF" (designated ugly fat friend) of her group. She's even more horrified when she begins to fall for Wesley...
I didn't really enjoy this book - the plot was all over the place and Bianca was confused and scattered. Her mother was a horrible character and some of Bianca's actions felt like they were plot devices rather than natural responses.

However. I LOVE the movie . It stars Mae Whitman (who is one of my favourite actresses), Robbie Amell, and - klaxon - ALLISON JANNEY. It was Allison's involvement that prompted me to watch the movie - and it's almost unrecognisable from the book. In the movie, there's no sex, there's no using people as "distractions", it's updated for a social media obsessed generation and it gives a much better message about being yourself. Plus, it's funny.

P.S. I Love You


P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern was originally released in book form in 2004. It focuses on Holly, a young widow who is unable to move on with her life after her husband Gerry dies. When letters from Gerry begin to mysteriously arrive with directions for Holly to follow, she begins to love life again. I read this when it was released, I was 21 at the time (the same age Cecelia was when she wrote it) and I enjoyed it, I thought it was a great idea for a story.

The movie version was released in 2007 and stars Gerard Butler, Hilary Swank, Lisa Kudrow and James Marsters (yep, Spike). Gerard Butler's accent is inexplicable (he calls Holly "Hallie") and there are some major plot holes (posting something to Ireland without putting the county on it - yep, that'll get there...). This is one of those movies I watch when I want to switch my brain off and just relax for an hour and a half - perfect hangover viewing.

The Woman in Black


A novella released in 1983, The Woman in Black is a great gothic ghost story by Susan Hill. It's set in a small English town, with a mysterious ghostly woman supposedly foreshadowing the death of children. It's told by Arthur Kipps, a young solicitor who was sent to the town for work. It's creepy and atmospheric.

The 2012 film version stars Daniel Radcliffe and has many changes from the book. In the film, Arthur is still sent to the town for work, but the events leading up to that are different, as are the events in the town. It's still a great story, and I enjoyed it, I found it suitably spooky and thought it played out well. The sequel (The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death) is also on Netflix but I haven't seen it.

There are loads more movies that I haven't seen yet - Pride, Prejudice and Zombies is there, plus Brooklyn, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Wild and many more.

I'd love to know what your favourite book-to-movie adaptation is, for me it has to be Stephen King's Misery - I think it was spot on, the acting was perfect and the story was brilliant.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Owlcrate March 2017: Sailors, Ships and Seas

Nothing to disclose


The theme for March's Owlcrate was "Sailors, Ships and Seas" - I've never been hugely into that kind of thing, but I wanted to read something out of my comfort zone so I didn't skip this one (if the theme isn't to your liking and you're a subscriber, you have the option to skip a month).

I was going for a kinda "waves" look with the background here but it's very possible that it just comes off as "iron? what's an iron?".

I had heard from a few people online that this was a disappointing box - I found it the opposite, I really liked most of the contents and I thought they included a great variety of objects.

Firstly - the book. It's Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller. We got a hardback copy, plus a letter from the author, signed bookplate and tattoo. There was also the usual card explaining where the items came from and a preview card for Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser, a YA adventure set on the seas due in June 2017.

Daughter of the Pirate King is a sea-based romp about a seventeen year old pirate captain named Alosa, described as "a lady Jack Sparrow", who allows herself to be captured by her enemies in order to infiltrate their ship and find an ancient hidden map, the key to finding a legendary treasure trove.

The merchandise this month was cute - Owlcrate always include items from small sellers or crafters, I like that they don't go down the mass production route. The background here is a big hand printed tea towel from Kitch Studios. There was a notepad from Boygirlparty available in two exclusive designs (I received the very cute octopus). There was also a compass necklace from The Geeky Cauldron designed by Owlcrate exclusively for this box. There was a roll of mermaid scales washi tape by Simply Guilded, and the final item was a little owlcrate badge, there's one in every box to suit the theme. Some people also received a little enamel pin, they were limited and included as an extra in a number of boxes.

The theme reveal card for April was also included:

The April theme will be Head over Heels and will contain an item from Storiarts (really hoping for a scarf!).

If you're interested in subscribing to Owlcrate, you can use the code WELCOME15 for 15% off your first order. That's not an affiliate code, I gain nothing from it. If you would like to help me earn a free box, this is my referral link - otherwise go directly to and sign up there.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Five Star Friday: The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

Nothing to Disclose


I was going to post about this month's Owlcrate, but I've bumped that to Monday in favour of another Five Star Friday read. These are books that I've rated five stars on Goodreads, the highest available rating.

You can see past Friday picks on my Books 2017 page, click the covers to go to the blog post.

This week, I've picked The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman.

Published | April 26th 2012
Page Count | 464
Genre(s) | Drama | Relationships | Historical Fiction

Set in Australia in 1926, Tom and Isabel live on a remote island 100 miles off the coast, where Tom is a lighthouse keeper. They long for a baby of their own - but Isabel can not carry a child to term. When a dinghy washes up ashore, the man inside is dead - but the baby in his arms is very much alive. Could this be their salvation....or is it the ruination of the couple and all they hold dear? 

This made me ugly cry. I got so invested in it that I ended up reading in the dark - I hadn't noticed that the evening had crept in. It's engaging, it's sad - it really made me think about the difference between the right thing to do and the best thing to do (they're not always necessarily the same thing). I ended up torn between two characters and wanting a positive outcome for both, which was impossible. It's really beautiful and heartfelt, with powerful writing and stunning descriptions of the island. It's not perfect, but it's a solid debut novel and I'd recommend it to anyone (parts of it could be very upsetting for someone who has experienced the loss of a child). 

(Click the cover for more information)


Thursday, March 2, 2017

February 2017 Reads & World Book Day Books 2017

Not Sponsored or Paid | ARCs clearly defined as per disclosure policy


How is February over already?! January felt like an entire year, while February whizzed by. I managed to finish 10 books in total. I'm going through one of those weird reading phases where I'm midway through 4 books at the same time, so hopefully I'll have those finished this week and I can add them to the March total.

As with every month, you can go to my Books 2017 page to find a clickable cover for every book I read - that'll take you directly to my full Goodreads review.

The Rick O'Shea Book Club

One of my reading resolutions was to read (or try to read) every choice this year, because it pushes me out of my comfort zone and introduces me to books I'd never have considered. I've found some amazing books through it (The Thing About December, Station Eleven) so I'd really recommend it if you're looking for inspiration. This month, I read both choices.


Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough
A psychological thriller about a woman named Louise, who meets a man at a bar. Unfortunately for Louise, the man turns out to be married - and her new boss. When his wife befriends Louise, she's caught between the two - but there's something really strange happening, and someone knows much more than they should...
I liked this, I really did. I thought it was sharp, clever, and it hooked me from the beginning. Much fuss has been made of the ending (even on the cover) - it has its own hashtag on twitter (#WTFthatending). I'd avoid the hashtag, and reviews, until you've read the book, then come back to me and tell me what you think. Personally - it didn't work for me - I HATED the ending, but I liked the rest of the book.

Moonglow by Michael Chabon
I had never read anything by Michael Chabon before. I enjoyed his writing, his use of language is gorgeous. This is a story about his Grandparents, formed from tales Michael's Grandfather told him in the final ten days of his life. It's not certain whether or not the story is fact or fiction - the author says he embellished or changed facts where necessary - but I'd love to think it's true. His Grandmother was a wonderfully interesting character, her story alone is worth reading the book for.


I've been going through a bit of a true crime phase, so four of my choices this month were non-fiction.


Madeleine: The Truth is Out There by Peter Scharrenberg
The truth may be out there, but it's not in this book. The facts are presented as we know them: Madeleine McCann went missing while on holiday in Portugal aged 3. After that, it's pretty much speculation. While this book may be of interest to people who are completely unfamilar with the case, there isn't much here for those who have been following from day one.

Shannon: Betrayed From Birth by Rose Martin
After the recent BBC documentary "The Moorside" (available on YouTube for those who missed it) I decided to read this book, one of the only ones available on the case. It's the story of Karen Matthews and her involvement in the kidnap of her daughter Shannon in 1998. The book reads like a Daily Mail article - there's a lot of stereotyping and  "Shannon must have felt" or "Shannon would have assumed" - but if you look past that it's an interesting, if very sad, case.


Maddie: The Truth of the Lie by Gonçalo Amaral
This is the book that the McCanns went to court to have banned. The ruling has since been overturned, but the book is still fairly hard to find. It has been made available freely online - I read it here: It's easy to see why the McCanns don't want people to read it - it doesn't make them look good - but at the same time, it's not speculation or hearsay, it's facts taken from evidence and statements. A really interesting and worthwhile read. 

Who Killed Jonbenet Ramsey? by Dr. Cyril Wecht & Charles Bosworth, Jr.
Jonbenet Ramsey was a six year old pageant queen who was found dead in her home at Christmas over 20 years ago in Colorado. Nobody has ever been caught for her murder, and camps are fairly evenly split between "it was an intruder" and "it was someone inside the house". This is a good fact-led book that pretty much blows the intruder theory out of the water. For those who have been following this case for a long time, or those who have seen all the documentaries, there probably won't be anything new in here - but for those new to the case, this would be a good starting point. 

Young Adult


Who Runs The World? by Virginia Bergin * ARC from Netgalley, Published June 1 2017
Having read both of Virginia Bergin's other YA books (The Rain and The Storm) and enjoyed them, I requested this via Netgalley. It's due for publication in June, and it's set in a world 60 years into the future where women rule the world and men are all but extinct due to a virus. When 14 year old River finds an injured boy in the woods, what will this mean for society? This was an interesting read, I did enjoy it, but I felt it needed work. Some of the subject matter seemed a little mature given the age of the main characters, but overall I think it could work well to help prompt discussions of a matriarchal vs patriarchal society, feminism and gender with teenagers.

Caraval by Stephanie Garber
I received this in my February Owlcrate (reviewed in full here), I picked it up to scan the first few lines and ended up reading it in two sittings. It's a fantasy novel about two sisters, Tella and Scarlett, who flee their small island in favour of Caraval, a world of performance, bravery, riddles, mystery, terror and lies. I really, really liked this a lot - I got sucked in and I'd definitely read more if this were turned into a series.

Other Fiction


The Wrong Girl by Laura Wilson
I've had this on my Kindle for a long time, and it just jumped out at me one morning. It's a thriller about a little girl named Molly who believes she is actually Phoebe Piper, a girl who has been missing for years - is she right? Meanwhile, there's a historical mystery going on when the little girl's Uncle passes away and her Grandmother comes to stay. There's a bit too much going on here - one plot would have been sufficient, but there are a host of subplots happening and I found it confusing.

A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart
This is one of the Richard & Judy Book Club picks for Spring 2017. It's the story of a man in a strained marriage who is trying to build a relationship with his young son, who is on the autism spectrum. Through the game of Minecraft, they begin to understand each other. I did enjoy this to a degree, I found it very similar to Us by David Nicholls. Others have compared it to About a Boy by Nick Hornby and that's not an unfair comparison either. I think I'm too cynical for stuff like this - but it was sweet.

World Book Day Books 2017

Every year for World Book Day, 15 million book tokens are issued to give children a chance to own a book of their own. This is hugely important - books can be expensive, so the chance to give a child a free book is wonderful. The tokens are handed out in school, and can be used to get a free book from the ten specially released editions below. In Ireland we have an eleventh choice. Or, if none of those appeal, the token can be used to get €1.50 off a full price book. Most book sellers honour book tokens - just check with your local one before bringing your child to avoid embarrassment and to make sure the books are in stock (larger retailers like Eason are a fairly safe bet). The tokens are vaild until Sunday 26th March. You can also purchase most of the books on Amazon, some are even available for Kindle. 

Here are the choices this year:

And the extra Irish one courtesy of Judi Curtin and The O'Brien Press:

It's a great way to encourage children to read and to get excited about books. I know people give out about costume day in school (myself included - 24 hours notice means you'll be wearing your mother's shirt as a Death Eater robe, my son) but anything that can get a child to want to read is amazing. Reading and a love of books is a gift you can give your children at any age - but if you give it when they're young, they'll benefit from it even more.

So - have you read any of my February Reads? Or what are you reading at the minute? Read anything lately you really loved? Or wanted to fling at the wall?