Top Five Wednesday: Books Outside my Comfort Zone

Today’s Top Five Wednesday topic is the best books I’ve read outside my comfort zone, which is definitely mystery. I probably had 6-7 books in mind when I came up with my list, but I ultimately stuck with the required five books. I’ve actually talked about all five books at some point either on here or in previous videos, so there really should be no surprise  this time around.

Now watch: It’s quick!

What are the best books you’ve read that fell outside your literary comfort zone?

Books Hitting the Big Screen in 2015

Is it me or did that title rhyme a bit? Hm.

Anyway, 2015 is another year full of books being adapted into movies. I wrote a million years ago about Hollywood’s fascination with turning toward the literary world for movie ideas. We all hear about the movie deals for this title and for that one just about every week. A movie is a hit, another book by the same author is adapted. Two prime examples of this just from 2014 are Gillian Flynn and John Green. And let’s not forget that the top grossing movie at the domestic box office has been adapted from a book in three of the last four calendar years. 2011 – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. 2013 – The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. 2014 – The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1.  Technically Guardians of the Galaxy still shows as the top grossing movie of last year, but I’m happy to say that Mockingjay is just a short time from claiming the top spot.

So when you take those little tidbits into consideration, it’s easy to see why Hollywood is always searching for that next big hit by way of the publishing industry. American Sniper just expanded its release and what happens? With Bradley Cooper as the lead and awards buzz from every which way, it’s going to shatter the January opening record at the box office. Another movie adapted from a book.

I’m sure you know exactly when your favorite adaptation will be released this year, but here are 20 notable releases. And no, I didn’t come up with the list myself. And no, I don’t have release dates because I’m too lazy to find them on Box Office Mojo. Here’s the list:

Silence

The Revenant

The Light Between Oceans

Paper Towns

In the Heart of the Sea

The Martian

The Zookeeper’s Wife

The Secret Scripture

Into the Forest

A Book of Common Prayer

Walk in the Woods

Lion

Dark Places

Child 44

Carol (The Price of Salt)

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

The Jungle Book

Macbeth

The Duff

Far from the Madding Crowd

And that’s it. Of course, none of these matter. It’s all about how soon November can get here so we can see Katniss again. Sorry for the lack of actual information about each movie, but I stole the list from here and they tell you a little about the story and the actors involved with most of the adaptations.

Are you looking forward to ANY of these? I’m not. But eh.

PS: You should know by now that the Fifty Shades of Grey movie is just weeks away from its release date. Well I read from a very good box office guy that it might open to more than $75 million domestically. A little perspective, Twilight opened to $69 million and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone opened to $90 million.

What I Thought of Mockingjay Part 1

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Photo Credit: To Hollywood and Beyond

Don’t read this like I’m writing some in depth movie review. Cause I’m not. I’m just going to ramble a bit about what I liked about the movie.

SPOILERS WILL BE INCLUDED

First, I wrote a post a few weeks back saying that I was going to reread the series. Yeah…I’m a liar. I did take the first book off the shelf and put it on my bed, but I never opened it. Mostly because I was more worried about some job stuff. So I went in a little bit blind. I’ve read the book, duh, but that was more than two years ago. I’ve read plenty more in the time since. Now to the movie.

The cast. Holy crap. Natalie Dormer (Cressida), I’m in love. Seriously, if she kept her head half shaved or whatever forever I’d love it. And Mahershala Ali (Boggs). Great casting. I know him from House of Cards, and I like him as President Coin’s right hand. I’ll talk about President Coin in a second.

I have to admit that the movie definitely starts a bit slow. Too slow? Eh. But I fully expected this to be the case. You almost have to when you’re splitting the book into two movies. Starts off slow but has just the right amount of action. Such as the scene released just this week in which Katniss witnesses a bombing first hand. That was a great part and her speech right after was the Girl on Fire we’ve all come to love.

District 13 was EXACTLY how I imagined. Looked great. I would have liked for them to give us more vision into the other districts. What we do get is nice, but it’s still pretty minimal. The attack on the dam is INSANE! One of my favorite parts of the movie because you see so many people sacrifice themselves for the handful of others who need to get through to destroy the dam. It really shows how important the revolution is to everyone.

Two things before I get to President Coin. I felt like Peeta’s role in this movie was greatly reduced from the previous two. Obviously being separated from Katniss is mostly to blame for that, but of the two hours I would be very surprised if he had even a half hour of screen time. And President Snow also seemed a bit more absent. I know, I know. They’re in 13 trying to plan everything out, but still.

Okay. I have some things to say about President Coin. Julianne Moore is great. You know from the first interaction with Katniss that she’s in control. But something that was really apparent to me throughout the movie is how similar President Snow and President Coin really are. Like holy crap. Obviously I’ve read the book and I know how it ends, but it was like they wanted to make sure you knew how similar they are. When you look at the shots of them speaking to their people, very similar. When you look at how Coin uses Katniss and Snow uses Peeta, very similar. I think they did this single part of the book even better than Suzanne Collins. Or perhaps I just appreciate it more after seeing it rather than reading. I don’t know. But kudos to Francis Lawrence and company on President Coin.

Overall, a very nice adaptation. As good as Catching Fire? Not in my eyes. But I do think it is a step above The Hunger Games.

Now go see it!

Oh, and we got there a little later than planned so I didn’t get to see all the other people arrive, but I did see some girls dressed as tributes! Should have snapped pictures.

Do you Reread Books Before The Movie Adaptation is Released?

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Photo Credit: Angelena Pierce/Pinterest

This is something of a companion post to yesterday’s post in which I admitted that I’ve finally decided to reread a series of books for the first time ever. I think the timing is perfect with Mockingjay Part 1 fast approaching release.

See, I’ve never had to answer this question myself. I just started the Harry Potter series this year, so obviously I never had to go back and read any books. And I’m not interested in all the YA adaptations released each year. Cause I’ve never read them anyway. So this is the first time that I’m kind of having to answer this question. I’d just read The Hunger Games before the release of the first movie and then read the other two books in the series shortly thereafter. But I didn’t reread Catching Fire last year, though I did think about it.

Now we’re here. 2014. And I AM going to reread a book before its movie adaptation is released. Why? Maybe this is a normal thing that people do all the time and I’m just catching up. Or maybe I just want to read SOMETHING.

Also, I’ve never had to ask myself this question because I never go to the movies. Ever. I saw one move in theaters in 2013. And two in 2012. The one and only this year comes out on November 21. The tickets are over $10 here. Forget that.

So tell me, do you reread books before the movie adaptation is released?

I’ve Never Reread a Series of Books…Until Now

Yep. I’m going to do it. It’s hard to believe that I’ve never once gone back and read a series from start to finish a second time. I mean, I know my last two years of reading have been a joke, but since 2010 I’ve read a good number of books (128). I don’t know exactly how many different series are in there, but there are a few. And never once did I tell myself that I wanted to experience it again. Eh. Oh well.

But now I am telling myself that. Why? Because why not. I’m not going to make a habit of this, but there’s really no difference between never having done something and having done it just the one time. So now I should probably tell you which series I’m going to reread, right? Hm. If you’ve read my blog long enough to remember who my favorite character is, then you know the answer. If you’ve read my blog long enough to know my favorite series of books, then you know the answer. Or if you’ve read my short bio on my About Me page, then you may or may not be able to figure out the answer.

Still wondering? Okay. I’m rereading that kinda sorta popular trilogy written by Suzanne Collins. There’s this girl named Katniss, maybe you’ve heard of her? I’m not doing this to refresh my memory of the series. I know it. I know the story. I know the characters. I know what I think of Katniss. I’m doing this because I simply feel like rereading three of my all-time favorite books. That’s it.

I first read the series in the first half of 2012. I loved every book, though I definitely have a favorite of the three. And oh by the way, I’m also doing something else for the first time…I’ve never read a series straight through all at once. I always jump from author to author and series to series in order to diversify my reading habits. I’ll also be continuing that practice, but only after I finish the series.

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Questions 41-55 About Books and Reading

So we’ve reached the final set of questions. I think you’ll know just about all there is to know about me and books and reading once we finish this last bunch. But if you need to catch up, here are the links to the previous posts with the questions leading up to today’s post.

Monday.

Tuesday.

Wednesday.

Thursday.

All caught up? Perfect. Let’s see what else I have for you all. Fair warning, this is a little lengthy. As in my longest post I’ve written. But it’s okay. There are some great questions toward the end!

41. The longest you’ve gone without reading

Well I didn’t hardly read at all during middle or high school. I mean, those are like full time jobs. Where could I find the time? So I’ll just say I’m sure somewhere along the line I made it a full year without reading a book from start to finish that wasn’t assigned reading.

42. Name a book that you did not finish

Well up until very recently my list of DNFs was quite small. But then I just started reading some books I didn’t like. I’ll just mention the most recent one. A Wrinkle in Time. And it’s so short, but I hated it from page one.

43. What distracts you when you’re reading?

Everything. I’m almost always in silence when I read. Occasionally I’ll read with the TV on mute.

44. Favorite film adaptation of a novel

This is tough. I think I’ll have to declare a three-way tie. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. But the only thing is that I haven’t actually made it that far into the world of Harry. Those two are based solely off the movies because I think they were great. I’ve obviously read Catching Fire and saw the movie on release day and thought it was true to the book and better than the first.

45. Most disappointing film adaptation

The Great Gatsby (2013). When you see that cast you expect a pretty damn good movie to result, and it didn’t. I had this on my DVR for months and I finally started watching it a few weeks ago. To say that I was wildly disappointed would be an understatement. I just didn’t understand the crap music in the movie. And it won a freaking Oscar for it! Just didn’t like the final product that was adapting a great, great book.

46. The most money you’ve ever spent in the bookstore at one time

I’ve never been one to buy a bunch of books at once. It’s expensive. And you all know I only read one book at a time. I’ve spent maybe $35 on Amazon at one time. And I think when my local Borders store was closing down I may have spent between $20-$30. I’ll never spend more than that at any one time. Makes no sense. I’m sorry I’m not rich like you.

47. How often do you skim a book before reading it?

Never. I read mostly series. And when I finish one I don’t even see what the next is about before buying it. I’ll literally read the back cover text of the book seconds before I start reading the book. I have no idea what the book is about until I’m ready to read it through. Just how I am. Skimming a book seems like stealing to me. Why not just go to Barnes and Noble everyday for a week and finish the whole book there? That’s what skimming is like to me.

48. What would cause you to stop reading a book halfway through?

The story. The main character. The writing. Any number of things. One of the most recent books I stopped halfway through was because the author wrote entire chapters of description. These were like 25 page chapters of nothing but description. not only was that boring, but holy crap it was annoying. Give me some dialogue or action or something!

49. Do you like to keep your books organized?

Whaa? I love books. More than non-book blogging people can possibly understand. You know how we randomly play out crazy “what-if” scenarios our heads to see if we’ll know how we’d react? Well I do that all the time. And very recently I thought of a house fire and what I might do. Guess what I came up with rather quickly? I’d break the window in my room by throwing my night stand out and then I’d grab one of those super heavy duty trash bags and just start throwing all my books in there as fast as possible. I think they’d all fit without ripping the bag. Then I’d throw them through the window and see what else is happening in the house. So yes, I keep my books organized because they’re my most prized possessions. Sure I have one on my bed and a few on my desk, but my shelves are perfect.

50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away after reading them?

Reread my answer to the previous question. Do you honestly think I would give away books if I’m over here talking about breaking windows and inhaling smoke just to save my books? No. Matter of fact, hell no. I will never give away any book I own. Even the ones I don’t like. And it really ticks me off to see that some people are willing to give away boxes and boxes of them. If there ever came a time in which I didn’t have enough room to keep all of my book, then I would throw away unnecessary furniture or I’d have them in storage or in the garage if it was climate controlled. I don’t care what you say, there will never be a valid reason for me to give away any one of my books. And when I’m older and dying I’ll probably leave them to someone in my family who vows not to ever give them away, in writing. If no one like that can be found, then I’d donate them to a library or charity. They’ll never just be given away. Rather serious answer there.

51. Are there any books you’ve been avoiding?

Avoiding isn’t the correct term. There is only one type of book that I’ll never read. Erotica. Cause no. Even though there are several books I’m not interested in reading like Twilight, I would read those four books fifty times before ever reading erotica.

52. Name a book that made you angry

Crap. Plenty of books have made me emotional. But I really can’t think of one that made me angry. Honestly, I don’t get angry but in very specific circumstances. Books don’t fit the bill.

53. A book you didn’t expect to like but did

The Hunger Games. Shocker, right? It wasn’t that I didn’t expect to like it, it was that I had no idea what it was about or why the heck my brother had been telling me over and over to read it. It was one of those rare instances in which I went in with no expectations because we all know my take on recommending books. Just because he liked it didn’t mean I would. But hey, now I’m obsessed with the series and I’ve been introduced to my future wife in Jennifer Lawrence and I’ll likely be getting that mockingjay tattoo I told you all about.

54. A book that you expected to like but didn’t

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I mean, we’ve all seen the first movie. And probably many of you have seen the second. I really thought this would be a great book. Roald Dahl is freaking beloved. But it wasn’t. It was not good at all. Oh well.

55. Favorite guilt-free pleasure reading

Nothing. I read whatever I want. Period.

Yeahhhh! All done! Any thoughts on the last bunch of questions? Or are you just ready for me to get back to my regular posts? Probably choice B. No worries. Monday shall be more normal.

What’s That one Series of Books you Won’t Forget?

In short, what’s your favorite series of books? Now I know this is not an easy question for any bibliophile out there to just answer without any thought. It isn’t for me, but hopefully by the time I reach the end of this post I’ll have an answer for you guys.

Let me first begin by listing some of the series that I read.

Spenser. Harry Bosch. Hunger Games. Karen Vail. Alex McKnight. Alex Cross. Will Trent. Grant County. Gears of War. Halo. Charlie Hood. Jesse Stone. Jack Reacher. Kinsey Millhone. Merci Rayborn.

As you can see, I read a lot of different series. I have several more on my shelf that I have yet to start. Now, let me see if I can narrow it down a bit. Merci Rayborn and Kinsey Millhone aren’t my favorite. I’ve only read two Jack Reacher novels, though both good, not my absolute favorite series. Charlie Hood is written by one of my favorite authors but isn’t the best series I’ve ever read. Jesse Stone and Spenser are both written by the same author and I’ve read more Spenser books. Will Trent and Grant County merge into one series later. Karen Vail…good but not great. Same goes for Alex McKnight.

That leaves these for me to decide on my favorite: Spenser, Harry Bosch, Hunger Games, Alex Cross, Gears of War, and Halo.

#6 Halo

I’m sure some of you are fans of the video games, but if you haven’t read the books then you absolutely should. It makes the storyline of the games look like nothing. My reasoning for putting this series at number six is because the books are written by several authors, which sometimes makes the Master Chief change from one book to the next. They’re all good books, and a couple of them are truly great. Three of them are ranked in the top fifteen of my list of best books read.

#5 Gears of War

Might as well get the other science fiction series out of the way, right? I have every book of the series and I’ve read all but one. One of these is actually the longest book I’ve ever read at just a couple of pages under 600. Again, I’m sure some of you are fans of the video games, but there is SO much more to the story than the games can possibly offer you. SO MUCH. Karen Traviss has done a phenomenal job writing these books and you definitely see all of the characters in the books exactly as they are in the games. I have one of the books ranked as the eighteenth best book I’ve read, which is very high, but the others fall a little short. Just an overall solid series.

#4 Alex Cross

James Patterson has his critics for the way he writes and publishes, BUT the guy can entertain his readers like no other author I’ve ever read. Sure, his stories are sometimes farfetched and unbelievable, but you only think that AFTER reading the book. His way of writing two-three page chapters keeps you wanting more. He literally has you on the edge of your seat while you read. I believe the Alex Cross series is the only one of his that he writes alone. Four of these books rank in the top nineteen books I’ve ever read. Alex Cross has been adapted to film three times and none of them have matched the quality of the books. This is a series for every reader of crime fiction.

#3 Spenser

This is where I start having to nitpick just to continue the list and not declare a tie. I started the series late (it began all the way back in the 70s). I started the series after having read every available book of the Jesse Stone series a couple of years ago. Suffice it to say that I couldn’t buy the books fast enough. Spenser is a former boxer turned Boston PI. He’s smart, witty, and loves to cook. He has a set of values that you rarely read in detective fiction. He’s always looking to help someone. Always. There isn’t much more for me to tell you. Start the series.

#2 Harry Bosch

Man this is tough. I’m sitting here going through the books of the two remaining series and I can’t come up with anything negative for either one! The Harry Bosch series by Michael Connelly was started in the early 90s. We’ve seen him age and adapt in real-time. It’s a wonderful thing to read. He’s a detective working with the LAPD and he takes every homicide victim to heart. Every one. You’d think that they were all family, and it just so happens that one of them was. Bosch is the guy cop shows try to show on screen. He’s the guy who never treats any one case differently than another. He’d solve every case if he could. He provides justice to those who need it most. If for some reason you haven’t started this series and you read crime fiction, then start it.

#1 Hunger Games

AND THE WINNER IS………..Hunger Games! I’m not trying to follow in everyone’s footsteps. I’m not. Yes I know the first two movies have begun a mega-blockbuster series. Yes I know millions of readers have declared their love for the series. Yes I know that there are similar YA series out there that many would argue are better. The thing is that I don’t care. I started this series at the beginning of 2012. I had no expectations because I honestly had no idea what the heck it was. I didn’t have a blog and I was unaware of the hype surrounding the series as the first movie’s release date neared. That first chapter, the one in which Katniss does the unthinkable and volunteers from District 12 to participate in the annual Hunger Games so her sister doesn’t have to, brought tears to my eyes and goosebumps down my arms. What author can accomplish that so early in a book?! The rest of the book flew by as I couldn’t stop reading. The second in the series, Catching Fire, managed to outdo its predecessor. I will admit, though, that the third book wasn’t quite on par with the first two. It was a great book and one couldn’t possibly predict how the series played out, but the other two were unforgettable.

So there you have my list, now tell me which series of books has left its mark on you permanently?

*All of the covers are the first books of their respective series.  By clicking on any cover image you will be redirected to the Amazon product page of each book.*