Top Ten Tuesday – Top Ten Favourite YA Books…at the moment

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish – I’ve been meaning to take part in it for quite some time now and it would appear today is the day for my first foray into the lovely land of weekly lists.

Picking my all time favourite anything book-wise is pretty difficult, picking my favourite YA books? Well that’s kind of a “Sophie’s Choice” for me. So I’ve decided to go with the books I keep going back to, some are relatively new reads, some not so much. But the top three are without a doubt my all time favourites. So, without further ado…

10. Graceling, Kristin Cashore 

Graceling_cover

The first in author Kristin Cashore’s sort of trilogy (more like a companion piece and a sequel) despite being first published in 2008 I first read, or rather heard it last month. (The audiobook – full cast! was my first and was awesome.) After finishing the audiobook I decided to buy a copy of the physical book and read it. Which basically solidified my love for this epic fantasy romance. Heroine Katsa is kind of everything I’d like to be.

9. The 39 Deaths of Adam Strand, Gregory Galloway

adamstrand

Galloway’s Adam Strand is an unusual kid – plagued with the constant need to commit suicide, he is constantly killing himself, only to feel utter disappointment when he comes back to life, some 39 times. Perfectly dry, perfectly macabre The 39 Deaths of Adam Strand is unlike anything else in the YA canon.

8. Hey Nostradamus, Douglas Coupland

Heynostadamas

Arguably Coupland’s best book, this is the story of a fictional school shooting in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1988. Told from multiple first person narratives it is the perfect blend of themes like religion, sex, grief and adolescence.

7. His Dark Materials, Phillip Pullman

materials compass

Many know these books as the series about two kids who set out in essence to kill god – but it’s so much more. An in depth and intelligent commentary on life, organized religion, the afterlife and science, the books though controversial are, well, epic.

6. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky

perk1 perks

You can mark this as one of the first books to break my heart. Chbosky’s Charlie is painstakingly tragic and poignant as the titular “wallflower”, this coming of age story should be read with tissues in hand. Perks also happens to be one of those rare books to make a seamless transition to film. The movie adaptation starring Logan Lerman and Emma Watson is astounding, and totally worth watching.

5. The Outsiders, S.E. Hinton

outsiders1

Ponyboy. Darry. Sodapop. Greasers. Socs. Friendship. Family. Rivalry. This book has it all. Even more amazing despite originally being published in 1967 the book still holds up 47 years later.

4. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee 

mockingbird

There are so many life lessons in Mockingbird – but what makes it so good is that it never feels preachy. Each lesson serves a purpose, and really when Atticus Finch is teaching you morals it’s hard not to listen.

3. The Spectacular Now, Tim Tharp  

“Life is spectacular. Forget the dark things. Take a drink and let time wash them away to where ever time washes away to.”

“Life is spectacular. Forget the dark things. Take a drink and let time wash them away to where ever time washes away to.”


I love this book. The story of loveable ne’er-do-well and teenage lush Sutter Keely pulls you in, takes you for a ride and blows your mind with its unconventional ending.

2. Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Laini Taylor 

DaughterOfSmokeAndBone

This series is my current obsession, and though I dearly love Days of Blood and Starlight (the second book in the trilogy) series opener DOSAB is a book I go back to time and time again. With a love story that spans not just lifetimes but worlds, the book unfolds so beautifully and yet so unexpectedly. It’s a real gem. (28 days until Dreams of Gods and Monsters!)

1. The Fault in Our Stars, John Green The Fault in Our Stars

There’s no denying I am definitely a JG fangirl – I have often wondered where he was when I was in high school and in desperate need of characters like Margot Roth Spiegelman, Quentin Jacobson, Lindsay Lee Wells, Alaska Young, Miles Halter and most importantly Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters. Of his four books what makes TFIOS my favourite (and makes it top not only this list but the list of my favourite books) is the reality with which it is so deeply entrenched. Despite what some say, this is not an “issues” book, this is a love story. An honest, innocent, beautiful love story, one that doesn’t just draw you in but makes you invest in each character. Best of all you’ll laugh just as hard as you’ll cry.

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The Spectacular Now – Film Review

“Goodbye, I say, goodbye, as I disappear little by little into the middle of the middle of my own spectacular now”

“Goodbye, I say, goodbye, as I disappear little by little into the middle of the middle of my own spectacular now”

The Story
Based on the book by Tim Tharp and starring Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley The Spectacular Now tells the story of lovable yet hopeless teenage lush Sutter Keely who would rather live in the now than deal with the future. After being dumped by his girlfriend Sutter befriends the timid Aimee Finecky (Woodley), as their relationship develops both Sutter and Aimee find themselves navigating a relationship neither was expecting.

The Review
A Sundance darling, this little indie film will blow your mind with its sheer perfection of the quintessential teen coming of age story. Book to film adaptations are sticky territory, book people can be, well, crazy…possessive…obsessive and are always ready to tear an adaptation apart. Navigating the thin line between artistic creativity and fan pleasing can’t be easy, but in the case of The Spectacular Now, director James Ponsoldt and writers Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber (the writers behind 500 Days of Summer and the highly anticipated adaptation of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars) totally deliver.

Myles Teller as Sutter Keely
Teller’s Sutter Keely is part Ferris Bueller/part Lucas (from Empire Records) and one hundred percent the Sutter Keely you can’t help but love from the book. As in the book the film version of Sutter maintains all of the depth, charm and vulnerability that make him such a great, full character. Teller’s portrayal is executed with the perfect amount of bravado and feigned immaturity necessary to make the peeling back of Sutter’s many layers that much more potent, especially when the powerless, sad, scared and angry boy is finally revealed. Something of Teller’s performance continually brings to mind James Dean in East of Eden (perhaps slightly less dramatic.) His impotence and fear, hidden behind his cup of whiskey are all the more compelling when you realize how high the stakes become (specifically as his “non-relationship with Aimee matures.)

On a purely superficial note I think when I read the book I imagined Sutter as being unbelievably good looking – now I’m not saying Teller’s a dogface or anything because he’s not – it’s just in my head part of why Sutter could get away with a lot of his behaviour was because he was so good looking people kind of just overlooked his epic failing at life. Obviously this is something I may have projected onto the character myself and therefore has no bearing on Miles Teller’s portrayal. And in fact I really liked Teller as Sutter. He had the perfect mixture of bravado and sheepishness that embodies Sutter. He’s a good ol’ boy, always shaking everything off – I would think that it’s incredibly difficult to portray indifference or ignorance and Teller does it perfectly. Most importantly he’s likeable. The movie would not have worked if you hated Sutter and Myles Teller has so much charisma it would be impossible to hate him in this role.

Shailene Woodley – the face of YA film adaptations
Having not always been the most enthusiastic when it comes to Shailene Woodley (I can’t say I was overly excited when I heard she was cast as Hazel in The Fault in Our Stars) and I won’t lie, this is mostly because I can’t separate her from that God awful Secret Life of the American Teenager show (Oh Molly Ringwald, how could you stoop so low?) It’s quite possible that The Spectacular Now has changed my mind about her because she was quite possibly the best manifestation of Aimee Finecky I could imagine.

Amy’s not a nerd. She’s quiet and a little bashful, but she’s not a nerd. Her mother’s put so much on her that in a lot of ways she doesn’t have time to be a teenager. Which is why she jumps at Sutter’s taking such an active interest her. Also she’s a pleaser – hence the boozin’ and schmoozin’. Woodley picks up on these attributes and exemplifies them beautifully. She’s equal parts charming, goofy and heartbreaking. And even though this is Sutter’s show you can’t help but root for Amy. That comes down to great writing and great acting. Woodley delivers on her end for  sure.

Direction and Writing
Like the book it’s based on the film version is wonderfully written, sharp, witty, charming (there’s that word again) and completely relatable. There’s a freshness to this film. The story feels real, honest and earnest without being saccharine. This should excite a lot of people because as I’ve already stated writers Weber and Neustadter wrote the screenplay for The Fault in Our Stars. Okay? Okay.

*SPOILER*
My only gripe with this film (and this is saying  a lot, usually I find myself fighting the urge to eviscerate film adaptations of books, especially those of books I love, and if you’ve been following my blog then you know I love TSN (hmm, that acronym can definitely be misconstrued – I love The Spectacular Now. I’m fairly indifferent to The Sports Network.) I digress. My issue with the film, and it’s a doozy, is that they changed the ending. THEY CHANGED THE FREAKING ENDING. I’m sorry but that’s just sacrilege. Part of what makes the book so good is the ending.

The point was that in the end Sutter really is an addict. He’s an alcoholic, though he wants to change in the end living in the now is more advantageous because he doesn’t have to face the future. He doesn’t have to grow up. He can live in his own spectacular now. Not run off to whatever school Aimee decided to go to and try and make things work. That’s not who Sutter is!

Despite this obvious desecration of one of the best endings in a YA book ever, this movie is wonderful. If anything The Spectacular Now sets the bar pretty high for the new generation of teen films. What Ferris Bueller was to the ’80s, Rushmore was to the ’90s and Mean Girls was to the ’00s The Spectacular Now will be to the ’10s. Despite one minor (MAJOR) change, this is one of those rare movies that manages to elevate the original text – which was amazing to begin with – and bring something new, something more to the story. Really stop reading this review and just go watch it.

Check out the trailer below.

Top Ten Quotes from The Princess Bride (The Book!)

The Princess Bride – a literary goldmine of awesomness brought to us by William Goldman – the man who gave the world Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid – first published in 1973 was eventually turned into a great film featuring the talents of Carey Elwes, Robin Wright, Andre the Giant, Mandy Patinkin and Christopher Guest. Many a person however fails to acknowledge the brilliance of the original source. I strive to correct that most grievous oversight. Behold ten of the best quote from The Princess Bride.

10. “Life is pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.”

Life IS Pain

9. “When I was your age, television was called books.”

Grandpa

8. “Life isn’t fair, it’s just fairer than death, that’s all.”

Obviously this has nothing to do with the above quote. But you know, imminent death or whatever.

Obviously this has nothing to do with the above quote. But you know, imminent death or whatever.

7. “You are trying to kidnap what I have rightfully stolen, and I think it quite ungentlemanly.”

Humperdink

6. “Westley: Hear this now: I will always come for you.
Buttercup: But how can you be sure?
Westley: This is true love – you think this happens every day?

Swoon

Swoon

5. “Good night, Westley. Good work. Sleep well. I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.”

Dread Pirate Roberts y'all

Dread Pirate Roberts y’all

4. “You fell victim to one of the classic blunders. The most famous is ‘Never get involved in a land war in Asia,’ but only slightly less well known is this: ‘Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line.'”

InconceivableFenzini

3. “I’ve been saying it so long to you, you just wouldn’t listen. Every time you said ‘Farm Boy do this’ you thought I was answering ‘As you wish’ but that’s only because you were hearing wrong. ‘I love you’ was what it was, but you never heard.”

Swoon...again

Swoon…again

2. “Let’s look on the bright side: we’re having an adventure, Fezzik, and most people live and die without being as lucky as we are.”

DoggyPaddle

1. “Hello,” he said. “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”

Obvi.

Obvi.