My Favourite Book Adaptations

When they’re done correctly, film and TV adaptations of books can be magical ✨ They bring the fictional world’s, characters and stories we fall in love with on page to life on the screen. For me, a good adaption isn’t necessarily one that follows the book exactly but one that remains true to the source material or provides a fresh, interesting and entertaining perspective. Adaptations have led me to great books or enabled me to connect with books I’ve already read in new ways. They provide opportunites for creators to reimagine stories and I love seeing the innovative ways that others present the stories of authors and the fresh insight that adaptations can bring to a book. So, in no particular order, here are my favourite book adaptations.

Harry Potter (2001-2011)

A predictable choice to start with but there’s no denying that the Harry Potter films are solid adaptations of the books. They bring Hogwarts to life and stay true to the magical world J.K Rowling created. The casting is top notch – Alan Rickman as Snape, Robbie Coltrane as Hagrid, Maggie Smith as McGonnagal and Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix are just outstanding – and the characters are (mostly) represented accurately and reflect the book characters. Although lots of details are cut, it has the important plot points and does justice to the overall story. These films are also stunning and visibly high quality productions. The sets and the cinematography is beautiful and it all comes together in a way that elevates the world beyond the books.

The Lord of the Rings (2001-2003)

Another predctable choice, but we might as well get this ones out of the way and save the surprises until later in the post 😂 The Lord of the Rings films are, in my opinion, THE BEST book adaptations I’ve ever seen. They’re very different from the books but they bring Middle Earth to life in such a vivid way. Tolkien was a master at world-building so it was a huge task to do his world justice, but these films do an inredible job. The setting is breathtaking, the attention to detail is staggering and Middle Earth feels other-worldly despite being filmed in real locations. Casting choices are fantastic – Ian McKellen IS Gandalf – and despite plot changes, the films convey the core of the story brillantly. They cut out the slower parts of the books and expand on the more interesting parts. The films also make appreciated changes such as giving more of an arc and depth to Aragorn and giving Arwen more of a role in the story. I do like the books, but personally, I think I will always love the films more for the way they take the world, characters and story but bring it to life in such a tangible, engaging and epic way.

The Shining (1980)

The Shining has got a lot of stick over the years for being an inaccurate adaptation of the books. Stephen King himself has spoken out against it for “not having heart” and whilst I agree that the film makes a lot of fundamental changes that separate it from the book, I think it’s a great film and I actually prefer it to the book. The book is a slow paced psychological horror with elements of the paranormal and supernatural but the film is punchier. It does remove and diminish core aspects of the story such as Jack’s alcoholism, his possession and the ending, but this is an adaption I like it for the ways that it’s different from the book. The book is ambigious and the film capitalises on that by taking inspiration from the source material but putting its own spin on it and the result is a highly entertaining film which is an icon and classic in horror cinema.

Jurassic Park (1993)

Jurassic Park is a sci-fi book which goes into great detail around the science of genetically recreating dinosaurs. It has a lot of technical, mathematical and scientific language and has social commentary around the ethics of scientific research, development and innovation in the same way classics like Frankenstein did. It’s a great book but the film is fantastic. It stays true to the book but shifts focus away from the characters and the specific details of the science and towards the dinosaurs and action. The characters in the film are more likeable and not as stereotypical as they are in the books. Overall, I like that the film prioritises entertainment value over science because the idea of creating a zoo of dinosaurs is so wild that all I really want to see is people losing their sh*t as the dinosaurs wreak havoc 😂

The Vampire Diaries (2009-2017)

The Vampire Diaries is the perfect example of how a great adaptation can be made from shoddy source material. I strongly dislike the books but love the TV show. Like The Shining, this is an adaptation that works so well because it’s so different from the books. In the books, the characters are unlikeable caricatures, it’s melodramtic in tone, there’s barely a plot and a complete lack substance. Although the show isn’t perfect, it takes the characters and world and crafts genuinely loveable, complex characters, an entertaining plot and a supernatural world with rich lore.

Flowers in the Attic (2014)

Is this a controversial choice? Probably, but I really like this adaptation (I also like Lifetime’s adaptions of Petals on the Wind and If There Be Thorns). It suffers from the same issues most Lifetime films do of having a low budget and some mediocre acting, but overall, this adaption captures the essence the book. Previous adaptations erased or glossed over the incest between Cathy and Christopher but this one acknowledges it. This is such a key part of the book, that I can’t get on-board with any adaptation that doesn’t include it. It portrays as much of the horror that the children suffer that it’s able to given its rating. Although I personally feel that any adaptation of Flowers in the Attic should categorically be a horror film with an 18 rating, this adaptation does what it can with what it has and does it well. I actually saw it before reading the book and it intruiged me so much that it compelled me to pick the books up, which shows me that this adaptation definitely has merit.

The Notebook (2004)

I really do love the book and the film for The Notebook. Rachel McAddams and Ryan Gosling’s chemistry is electric and they bring this couple’s love story, emotional intensity and passion to life beautifully. Due to the nature of the book and its simple plot, the film is generally a very accurate representation and doesn’t devitate too much from the book. The only real difference is that the book provides a more in-depth insight into Noah and Allie’s relationship in their later years. But as far as adaptations go there’s very little to find fault with.

Peter Pan (2003)

I’m not a big fan of Peter Pan in general, but even I have to admit that this is a solid adaptation and one I really enjoy. My issue with Peter Pan adaptations and the general perception of it in the public imagination is that it’s infantalised. This probably stems a lot from the Disney adaptation, but Peter Pan is not and never has been a whimsical fairytale for children, despite how it might seem on the surface. It’s is a very dark, twisted and psychologically complex story and this adaptation captures that. It’s an unsettling film to watch. I can’t necessarily explain why but watching this film makes me uncomfortable. It explores the complexity of Peter’s character and pushes the boundaries with the romantic and sexual undertones of Peter and Wendy’s relationship. On a more practical level, the casting in the film is strong and the setting feels like Neverland to me in a way no other film adaptation does. Most of all, I like this adaptation for setting the right tone, having high emotional stakes and presenting a complex, conflicted, morally grey Peter.

What are your favourite book adaptations? Let me know in the comments.

Stay safe, my lovelies and keep reading.

My Favourite Novellas

In my recent post about slumps as part of my Breaking into Books series, I mentioned how life-saving novellas have been for me and wanted to share my love for novellas with today’s post. Novellas are great. They’re my go-to reads when I have a busy schedule or I’m not mentally in a space where I can commit to a full length novel or long series. I appreciate the challenge and skill that it takes for an author to create a full story with a beginning, middle and end, incorporating complex themes, characters, relationship and world building with such a low word count. I love how novella’s often explore abstract ideas in an imaginative way, leaving lots open to interpretation. Basically: I love novellas! Without further ado here are my favourite novellas in no particular order (if you’ve read any of my previous posts some of these will come as no surprise to you!).

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

It’s a classic for a reason. I studied this novella at college and did a presentation about the theme of scientific advancements and their potential repercussions for society and loved every second of it. The concept is simple but the depth of what is explored about human nature, morality, good and evil and scientific technologies are fascinating and always relevant no matter how much time passes.

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer

If you read my Best and Worst Reads and Every Book I Rated 5 Stars posts right at the very beginning of this blog, you’ll already know that I adore this book. This is the prime example of the power and beauty that novellas can contain and the ways in which they can explain emotive and complex themes in beautiful, touching and impactful ways.

This is How You Lose the Time War

Time-travelling-enemy-to-lovers with stunning prose and unique world-building. What more could you want? You can read my full review here.

The Outsiders

Again, I’ve mentioned this book multiple times in other posts. It’s one of my favourite books of all time and is another example of how a simple premise and short story can be so meaninful and cut to the core of so many complex issues. Although I don’t have a review posted for it, I’m planning to do a full analysis soon which I’ve very excited about 🙊

I Am Legend

I didn’t have particularly high hopes for this one but it gave me The Walking Dead vibes in the best possible way. It’s a eerie, dark, gritty depiction of what it would be like to live in a post-apocolyptic world and what it takes to survive. This really gets to the heart of what it means to be human and the difference between survival and living.

The Picture of Dorian Gray

What’s not to love about this book? It’s short but an effective and nuanced examination of beauty, corruption, arrogance and vanity. This classic stands the testament of time and is the epitome of “looks aren’t everything”. Oscar Wilde is also a creative genius.

The Test

A lesser known novella but it packs one hell of a punch. This is a twisty, unpredictable sci-fi thriller that touches on themes around immigration and British citizenship. In the context of post-Brexit Britain, this hit me harder than I think it would’ve if I’d read it at a different time.

Carmilla

I will probably beat people over the head with this book for the rest of my life. It’s the female counterpart to and inspiration for Dracula. But ultimately it’s a sapphic vampire tale so the question is… why wouldn’t you want to read it?

Do you like novellas? If so, which are your favourites and why?

Stay safe, my lovelies and keep reading.

Favourite Children’s Books

In celebration of International Children’s Book Day (2nd April), I wanted to share some of my favourite children’s books. Despite being 26 years old, children’s books are some of my favourite books to read. The pure whimsy and joy that they contain brings me so much comfort and always helps motivate me to read if I’m in a slump. Whether you’re looking for a children’s book to read yourself or you have children or young people in your family, this post has a selection of wonderful children’s books for everyone 😊

Favourite classic: The Hobbit

Most of you reading this will have already read The Hobbit because it’s a true classic, but if you haven’t what are you waiting for?! It’s a fun adventure filled with humour and friendship. The episodic structure makes it perfect to read a chapter per night as a bed-time story for children or for yourself, if you’re looking for a nice, easy read before bed. Bilbo is one of my all time favourite characters (I named my dog after him!), his development is fantastic and Middle Earth remains the best, most complex and incredible fantasy universe ever created.

Favourite series: Nevermoor

Nevermoor recently featured in my favourite current fantasy series post and that pretty much sums up how much I love this series. It’s the perfect middle grade fantasy story with whimsical magic, beautiful friendships, interesting plot and exploration of themes effecting children around identity, belonging and self-discovery. This series gives me Disney’s Coco vibes crossed with Harry Potter. I’d recommend it for anyone and everyone.

Childhood favourite: Elmer

I remember reading this book over and over as a child, then when I was older I would read it to my little brother over and over too and he loved it just as much as I did. I love that this book teaches children that it’s okay to be different and the importance of self-acceptance and self-love. Despite this not being the intention of the author, I interpret Elmer as a metaphor for being LBGT+. Generally, this is such a lovely book for younger children which is uplifting and sweet with subtle but important messages within.

Current favourite: Winnie-the-Pooh

If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you already know how much I adore Winnie-the-Pooh. I will talk about this book every opportunity I get because it owns my heart. It’s been featured in my Every Book I Rated 5 Stars and Best and Worst Reads of 2020 posts. I love the characters, the friendship and the adventures that they share. Pooh is one of my favourite characters in fiction because he’s so funny and charming. It’s the ultimate comfort read and a must read for all children.

All time favourite: Noughts and Crosses

I owe a lot to this book because it reminded me how much I could love reading. I first read it when I was 15 years old during a period where I hadn’t read properly in at least four years and I binge read it. I ran back home from school at 3pm because I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next. I’ve since re-read this book over five times and I will come back to it again and again. It holds such a special place in my heart and I feel very deeply connected to Callum and Sephy as characters. The themes of race that are portrayed in this book are so important and more relevant now than ever before in the context of Black Lives Matter.

Do you enjoy reading children’s books or do you have children in your life that you read to? What are some of your favourite children’s books? Share in the comments!

Stay safe, my lovelies and keep reading.

My Current Favourite Fantasy Series

Fantasy is one of my favourite and most-read genres. There’s nothing quite like being transported to an entirely new world with its own unique socities, cultures, beliefs and magic. I love how much fantasy can teach us about our own world by exploring themes that we experience in our daily lives and incoporating fun, fantastical elements. Some of the characters and worlds I’ve found in fantasy are the ones I remember most vividly and think about everyday. I’m constantly debating which new fantasy novel or series to pick up and it’s an ongoing struggle because there are SO MANY great fantasy books out there. In this post, I’ll be sharing my five favourite fantasy series that I’m currently in the process of reading.

Nevermoor (Jessica Townsend)

This middle-grade series is absolutely brilliant. If you love Harry Potter, it’s almost a guarantee that you will love Nevermoor. It’s whimsical, fun and quirky with a wonderful world, charming characters, heartwarming friendships and an interesting plot. It’s light-hearted, but also has darker themes around bullying, prejudice, discrimination, power and corruption. Despite being targeted at a younger audience, Jessica Townsend’s writing style and storytelling is so beautiful that it has the potential to appeal to audiences of all ages. This is going to be a nine book series, and I’ve read two out of three books that have currently been released. I cannot wait to read Hollowpox (Book 3) and to see where the rest of this series goes.

The First Law (Joe Abercrombie)

The First Law series drew me in from the very first chapter of the first book. This world is gritty, gruesome and dark with a cast of characters that are so well-written and complex that I feel like I know them. Joe Abercrombie’s character work and world building is top-knotch. I feel myself being pulled back to the world time and time again, and craving to read a book from this series if I’ve gone a few months without picking one up. I’m deeply attached to the characters and they are some of the few characters that I regularly think about. Their characterisation and development is some of the best I’ve read in any fiction full stop. So far I’ve read five out of the nine books in the series (excluding short stories). This universe continues to be built upon in each book and I cannot wait for the next book I plan to read, Red Country.

The Poppy War (R. F. Kuang)

The Poppy War is a series that I was reluctant about when I first started, but the first book blew me away and was a five star read. R. F. Kuang’s ability to weave Chinese history into a fantastical setting and plot is incredible. The action and stakes in this series have me on the edge of my seat. Despite being her debut series, Kuang demonstrates her flair for fantasy and talent in writing. The political intruige, military focus and exploration of complex dark human emotions such as grief, anger and depression all make this a great series. I’m currently reading the third and final book in this series, The Burning God, and will be posting a full review for the series when I’ve finished so keep your eyes peeled if you’d like to know my thoughts.

The Farseer Trilogy (Robin)

This series is a new discovery for me. Assassin’s Apprentice was the February pick for the monthly book club I have with my friends and I throughly enjoyed it. Robin Hobb’s prose and writing style was a joy to read. Although I found the pacing to be slow, the magic, characters and plot kept me engaged. The main character Fitz is so complex and well-written, and every single character was interesting. I’ve only read the first book in this trilogy, but there’s a lot of promise. I’m already invested in the characters and the world. I want to uncover some of the mysteries surrounding the magic system and to see more of some of the minor characters that intruiged me in the first book.

Discworld (Terry Pratchett)

What can I say about this series? It’s the most recent series I’ve discovered on this list but I’m already captured by it. Terry Pratchett’s wit, creativity and humour make for such a fun read. Although I’ve only read one novel in full – Mort – I’m currently reading my second novel from the series (Reaper Man) and loving it. This 41 book series is expansive and I can’t wait to work my way through it. There’s so much detail and the variety in the types of books that are in this series is exciting.

There are a few other fantasy series that almost made the cut and lots more I’m planning on reading this year that I predict could become new favourites, but these 5 series stand out in my mind for their world-building and character work. What are your favourite fantasy series? I’m always on the look out for recommendations, so share in the comments.

Stay safe, my lovelies and keep reading.