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Page to Screen: YA Books That Would Make Great Movies

A lot of people seemed to love Paragraphs to Pictures, a blog post I published a few weeks ago on the YA books I’d love to see adapted as graphic novels. So, here’s a follow up post – this time, I’m looking at some books I would love to see on the big screen!PicMonkey CollageI’m normally team The Book Was Better when it comes to adaptations of books I love – take City of Bones, Stormbreaker or Harry Potter for instance – some of the increasing number of YA novels that have been brought to the screen. As brilliant as the films are, there’s always something more magical about reading the printed word and imagining the scenarios in your head.

I went to see Paper Towns a few weeks ago. I loved the book and it may be my favourite John Green novel – but the movie was unexpectedly maybe even better than the book. I thought the cinematography was perfect – scenes such as Q and Margo driving around the town at night captured beautifully. I think the story was translated fantastically.

It got me thinking about other YA books  that I love and treasure. What if these works were brought to big screens? Who would I pick to play characters, or direct the film? Here’s a list of some titles I think would be brilliant on screens.

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ALL OF THE ABOVE (James Dawson, Hot Key Books)

As soon as I put down All of the Above, I wanted to pick it up again. It’s a beautifully messy book, capturing the life of a teenager flawlessly. There’s lots of scenes I imagined so realistically in my head – I’ve never really envisioned a book’s setting so in-depth as I did with All of the Above! There’s potential for lots of beautifully shot scenes in the crazy golf course at night, where Toria and the crowd she falls in with hang out. Polly would totally be played by Cara Delevingne, as Cara has that crazy-awesome personality.

THE NEXT TOGETHER (Lauren James, Walker Books)

I am obsessed with a TV show called Orphan Black at the moment, which is about a woman called Sarah Manning, who finds herself falling into a dangerous spiral of events when she discovers she is a clone. The actress, Tatiana Maslany, portrays lots of different clones and it’s amazing. I was watching Orphan Black around the time I read The Next Together, and my thoughts while reading were often about how riveting a film of this book would be. Not only because the plot is constructed so well, and the different eras would be so cool to stitch together in a movie, but like Orphan Black, the same two actors would be portraying many different versions of themselves. It would be awesome.

ARISTOTLE AND DANTE DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE (Benjamin Alire Saenz, Simon & Schuster)

Aristotle and Dante is a beautifully written novel. Everything about it is beautifully crafted. Old me would say making this book into a film would be a terrible idea because you’d lose the magic of the writing. But I think seeing it in a different medium could bring a whole new level of magic to it. Also, of course – both of the main characters are LGBT* and Mexican. Name one movie out there with two PoC & LGBT* leading characters… *radio silence*

AN EMBER IN THE ASHES (Sabaa Tahir, HarperVoyager)

This book was one of the most epic fantasties I’ve read in a long time. It was fast-paced, gripping, and didn’t want to be put down for a second. I adored the characters and the writing evoked so much imagery for me. I couldn’t stop imagining the Empire in my head, how it would look and feel. I have a feeling Peter Jackson would be a pretty good choice as director / producer, as he’s fantastic at creating beautifully detailed alternate worlds – he did a stunning job with the world of The Lord of the Rings.

ALL THESE THINGS I’VE DONE (Gabrielle Zevin, Pan Macmillan)

All These Things I’ve Done is a dystopian novel where chocolate is illegal and the main character is part of a famed family that sells it. It’s so hard to describe (I recommend it to people all the time, but there’s no way to put its brilliance into words!) but it’s gritty, emotional and captivating. Anya Balanchine is one of my all-time favourite protagonists and she would be so cool on a big screen. The setting would be quite interesting to depict in a different medium, too, as it’s 2083 New York with a mafia undertones.

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So, there’s my choices! What would yours be?

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Songs and Stories #2

I’m so excited to see what people think of this post 🙂 A few months ago, I wrote Songs and Stories, in which I paired some of my recent favourite reads with songs I loved that bore similar meanings or messages. It was really fun to do, but I’d only ever intended it as a one-off post. However, over recent months, I’ve been scribbling down some more ideas for book and song pairings. I came up with quite a few more, so I thought, why not make a Songs and Stories #2?


THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green // Soil, Soil by Tegan and Sara

“All you need to save me
Call (call)
And I’ll be curled on the floor
Hiding out from it all
And I won’t take any other call.”

This song is probably Tegan and Sara’s saddest, and to me some of the lines really resonate with John Green’s story – the sorrowful yet romantic lyrics go perfectly. The mood of the song is just right!


THE MISEDUCATION OF CAMERON POST by Emily Danforth // Girls Like Girls by Hayley Kiyoko

“Isn’t this why we came? Gotta get with you
Girls like girls like boys do, nothing new”

Cameron Post is about a gay teenage girl who grows up in a very conservative town and is sent aweay for being who she is. Girls Like Girls goes with the book for obvious reasons – especially because the message of the song is that being different is nothing new!


OFF THE PAGE by Jodi Picoult & Samantha Van Leer // Believe by Mumford and Sons

“I don’t even know if I wanna believe
Anything you’re trying to say to me /
So, open up my eyes
Tell me I’m alive.”

Off the Page is all about Delilah and her boyfriend Oliver, who is literally a prince from a fairytale. I love it because it’s a story about how much people believe in childhood stories and writing. This Mumford and Sons song is perfect.


THE NEXT TOGETHER by Lauren James // Someone New by Hozier

“Don’t take this the wrong way,
You knew who I was with every step that I ran to you”

In The Next Together, two characters fall in love. They will die – but they’ll be reborn again, years into the future, and the cycle will repeat – except they don’t remember their past lives. This is one of my favourite Hozier songs and it’s about someone falling in love with a different person, every day, and I  think some of the lyrics fit Lauren James’s story quite well!


Do you agree with any of the pairings I made? Do you have any songs and stories suggestions?

And,  of course – would anyone like to see a Songs and Stories #3? 😀

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Book Review: Harry Potter: The Character Vault by Jody Revenson

Published 25th September by Titan Books.

26805823Goodreads Synopsis: Unlock new information about your favourite characters from the Harry Potter movies with this definitive coffeetable book profiling the good, the bad, and everything in between within the Harry Potter universe. Dive into the personal journeys of beloved Harry Potter heroes, and an insightful look at the motivations and actions of the films’ most notorious and complicated villains.

Concept art, behind-the-scenes imagery, and film stills track everyone from Harry, Hermione, and Ron to Dobby, Mad-Eye Moody, and Dolores Umbridge, telling their complete stories as they evolve throughout the film series. A comprehensive collection of the movies’ beloved characters, this beautifully designed book is the ultimate Harry Potter character overview.

My Review: I know I mostly review fiction here, but when I was offered the chance to review this from the lovely people at Titan Books, I jumped at the chance to be able to share my thoughts on this gorgeous book!output_iQj2ur

Of course, I grew up with Harry Potter, and the stories will always hold a special place in my heart. However, I recently realised I hadn’t actually read the books or watched the films in a long time. After poring over this book over a few hours, I’m really eager to get back into the wizarding world again. It’s given me some serious nostalgia.IMG_6226

The Character Vault wasn’t actually quite what I thought it was going to be; I had assumed it would be a compendium of information about the characters, like a cute fact file. It was actually more heavily focussed on the development of the visual representations of them in the films – especially their wardrobe designs. So, not what I’d expected, but it was still fantastic to read through!

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All of the artsy, behind-the-scenes stuff that goes into creating films interests me, so naturally every aspect of this book really appealed to me. Reading about how all of the iconic costumes for the main characters were developed was so fascinating – and this book takes its time to go very in-depth, into how both costume designers and actors collaborated on aesthetics and looks. Every few characters, there’s some stunning spreads of concept artwork too. Cue flailing.

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The book is split into rough sections – from school students, to professors, to the order of the phoenix. Each character has between two to four pages of movie stills, character sketches and art design details. Every page is a visual feast, beautifully presented and incredibly fun, whether you’re reading every detail or simply flicking through the pages. Also, there’s a little bonus poster in the back, aaaah!

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Overall, Harry Potter: The Character Vault has definitely reignited my love for Harry Potter and now I want to go and reread and re-watch everything! This is the perfect gift book for a fan, especially one who’s into film making, as it provides such a fantastic insight into how the most iconic characters of the world were created. It’s a gorgeous book, perfect for leafing through when you’re in a Harry Potter mood.

My Rating:

four and a half

I received a copy of Harry Potter: The Character Vault from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

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Book Review: All About Pumpkin by Natasha Farrant

The Diaries of Bluebell Gadsby #3 | Read my review of book one, After Iris, here

Published September 2015 by Faber.

24321595Goodreads Synopsis: It’s the summer holidays and Flora has gone off with Dad to the exotic set of his new film and Mum is at home having a much-needed rest with baby Pumpkin. Bluebell, Twig and Jas have been sent to stay with Grandma at Horsehill in the countryside.

With Grandma keen that the children get as much fresh air as possible, they are sent off on bikes to go wild swimming and befriend the boys next door. With so much freedom, they can’t help but get into trouble, and Grandma doesn’t seem to be as capable as looking after them as she should be…

My Review: I’ve been a fan of Natasha Farrant since the first book in this series, After Iris – so I was really excited when I was offered the chance to review the third title, especially as it’s being published in the new cover style that the whole series is being re-modelled with. Isn’t it pretty?!

Like the previous two books in the series, All About Pumpkin is half transcripts from Bluebell’s filming, and half diary entry. I love the format so much, and I always say that when I’m talking about these books – I just think it’s such a good idea, and Farrant writes both formats so brilliantly! The film transcripts are so much fun, and always very witty.

In this instalment of the series, the latest member of the family, Pumpkin, has been born – and he’s taking up everybody’s time. Bluebell’s dad and eldest sister are in New Zealand, and unable to cope, her mum sends her and her younger siblings off to their grandma’s so she can cope with just the new baby – but inevitably, being the Gadsby family, things always end up going a little wrong.

I honestly can’t find the words to describe how much I love the Gadsby family, and these books – each one has a completely fresh-feeling, fun plot. Natasha Farrant is leading the way in children’s fiction – her books are so entertaining, and I love escaping into the fictional family’s antics for a while so much. Although the Bluebell Gadsby books have their fair share of emotional bits, there’s an equal amount of hilarious moments – Farrant has got the balance of the two perfect. I also really enjoyed the way that Farrant explored the Gadsby family in All About Pumpkin, as I feel like it put a lot of focus on the younger siblings, like Jasmine, who is so loveable.

Overall, I really enjoyed All About Pumpkin – it was actually the one book that managed to get me out of a month-long reading slump! It’s such a joy to revisit these characters, and I’m really looking forward to the next in the series – they feel like such timeless classics and I love to read them no matter what mood I’m in. I really recommend All About Pumpkin, and all three books so far if you haven’t tried them yet – as they’re just such fantastic reads, no matter what genre or age category you usually might stick to.

My Rating:

four

I received a copy of All About Pumpkin from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

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UKMG Extravaganza Blog Tour: An Interview With Julia Lee!

You may have heard of the UKYA or UKMG extravaganzas – two massive events happening very soon with an unbelieveable amount of authors! I’m so sad I can’t make it to either of them, as they’re too far up norf’ for me to get to, but I’m lucky enough to get the next best experience – I’m part of the UKMG Extravaganza’s blog tour!

I’ve been paired with Julia Lee, who’s the author of award-nominated books for children. Exciting, right? 😀 I sent Julia over some questions about MG books, and I love her answers so much! Before we get to the interview, though, here’s a little more detail about Julia –


charney 1 (1)Julia Lee has been making up stories for as long as she can remember. She grew up in London, studied English at university, and has an MA in Creative Writing. She has worked in education and for children’s charities. She lives at the seaside and writes at a transparent glass desk, not helped by a cat who chews the computer leads and adds lots of xxxxxs to whatever she is writing.

Julia writes mystery adventures for 9-12 year olds which have been described as ‘Dahl meets Dickens’ and ‘like an anarchic Frances Hodgson-Burnett’. Her first book, The Mysterious Misadventures of Clemency Wrigglesworth, was shortlisted for a number of prizes including the 2014 Booktrust Best Book Awards. Her latest book features a hopeless housemaid-turned-detective.


So, here we go, enjoy the interview…

GW: Hi Julia! Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your books?

JL: Hi Georgia! Thank you for being my host on the UKMG Extravaganza blog-tour.

I write Middle Grade fiction – natch – but became a children’s writer almost by accident. I was stuck on a novel for grown-ups, so I did what lots of writers do when they’re feeling a bit down about a current piece of work: I had a look at some other stuff in my computer files to see if it was any good.  I found a story I’d written purely for fun, when my kids were about the right age to read it – but I’d never had the courage to show it to them. (They’re a tough audience.) It galloped along with lots of cliff-hanging moments and questions to be solved, and made me laugh. And it became The Mysterious Misadventures of Clemency Wrigglesworth. That makes the process sound suspiciously easy, but it wasn’t!

My books are adventure mysteries with a bit of comedy thrown in, oh, and lots of animals. The first two, Clemency Wrigglesworth, and The Dangerous Discoveries of Gully Potchard, are set in dark and dastardly Victorian times. They feature travelling theatre folk, rags and riches, nasty villains, wicked crimes and thrilling escapes.

18277705Now I’m working on a series set just after World War One. Its heroine, Nancy Parker, is a 14-year-old who dreams of being a detective – she reads lots of sixpenny crime thrillers – but on leaving school has to take the first job she can get, which is as a housemaid. And, strangely enough J, this lowly position is just the right place to spot a crime.

When not writing – or thinking about writing (I know it doesn’t look like work, people, but it is!) – I spend far too much time reading. Also I love walking on any beach, anywhere, and always come back with my pockets full of interesting pebbles. I’m good at whistling, useless at finding things I’ve just put down somewhere, and if I had a super-power it would be to look at people and make them think, ‘Oh, I’ve just got to get a book…’ in the same way they go, ‘Oh, I’ve just got to get a coffee…’
Your next book, Nancy Parker’s Diary of Detection, is released in March 2016. What was your favourite thing about writing it, or your favourite part to write?

Half the book is made up of Nancy’s diary entries. I haven’t written anything like this before and I had really good fun with her voice, and her writing style, including spelling mistakes and crossings-out. She draws jokey sketches, writes lists, and notes down anything that could be evidence. My editor, Liz Cross at OUP, encouraged me to go to town on this aspect. It was so exciting to see how the book’s designer and illustrator turned my fuzzy ideas into gorgeous reality.
Do you want readers of Nancy Parker’s Diary of Detection to take away a particular message from it?

It’s a fun book so it doesn’t have a deep message. But I have lightly scattered in some social history of the time: about girls and education, women and work, the sad after-effects of the War, but also the thrill of exciting new things like films, flying, and 1920s fashion – shorter skirts and bobbed hair! And my books always have a clash of cultures. Children from privileged and poorer backgrounds meet and find out some unexpected truths about each other and the world. So really that’s questioning the tired old stereotypes about people whose experience is far from yours.

And I don’t think there should be ‘girls’ books’ and ‘boys’ books’. Books are for whoever wants to read them. I always try to create appealing lead characters of both sexes. They’re not incredibly brave or talented or clever – like most of us! So I have to come up with ways to make them ingenious, work out their own strengths, and get together to solve problems even if they make some nerve-shredding mistakes along the way.
What do you love about middle grade fiction?20559211

The best ones take you on a roller-coaster of emotion and suspense but are so life-affirming. They help you to love and trust the good in fellow human beings (and animals!) The endings aren’t just a total happy cop-out; there can be quite a challenge there, but always the reassurance that good can triumph over bad.

And they often make you laugh – not always out loud – but a sort of smiley ‘hrmmph’. A smiley hrmmph is a very good sign.
Did any MG books inspire you to write in that age category?

With my first children’s book I was writing just for me and had no clear idea what age-group it was aimed at. I left that up to my agent and the publishers. But always in the back of my mind were The Wolves Chronicles by Joan Aiken. Fantastic historical world-building and memorable characters. I tried to put some of their vibrant spirit and sprightly language into my fiction.
Are you currently working on a new project?

Yes! I’ve just been given the go-ahead to write two more detective books featuring Nancy Parker. Plus I’m finishing a non-funny book set in the 18th century, based on a strange-but-true story. So watch this space.
And finally… Have you read any awesome middle grade books recently that you want to give a shout out to? 🙂

Erm – have you seen the rest of the amazing line-up of authors for UKMGX?? Can we start there?

Also, shamefully, I’d never heard of the late Eva Ibbotson until a couple of years ago and now love her books – they’re in the classic children’s lit style.  The one I’ve read most recently is The Star of Kazan.
I love Eva Ibbotson! I haven’t read any of her books in ages, but I definitely recommend them too. Thanks for visiting the blog, Julia!


Be sure to check out some of the other posts on the UKMG blog tour and spread some love. Here’s a handy schedule!

If you’re interested about Julia Lee’s books and want to find out more, you can visit her at @julialeeauthor and http://www.julialeeauthor.wordpress.com!

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Reasons to Read: Six Of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

I was ecstatic when I was given the chance to read Six of Crows, Leigh Bardugo’s latest book. It’s beautifully written and riveting and I can’t wait to see what everyone else thinks of it. I could ramble on about it forever in a generic review post – but here’s a short summary of why you need to go find a copy right now, in a graphic form. Enjoy! Click for a larger image.

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I received a copy of Six of Crows from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.