Top Ten Tuesday: Extraordinary Book Titles

It’s time for another Top Ten list from That Artsy Reader Girl. The topic this week was “Extraordinary Book Titles.” This topic is broad and undefined, so I went through my TBR and Read lists on Goodreads and picked 10 books with titles that stood out to me in some way. Whether they were comical, unique, or just perfect for the story, here is my list, in no particular order:

1. The Dead Girls Club by Damien Angelica Walters
This title is ominous, and I have a feeling the actual book won’t quite live up to that. But it is initially what led me to check into the book request it on Netgalley. I’ll be reading it soon.

2. The Escape Room by Megan Goldin
It’s easy to explain why this title stuck out to me–I am an escape room enthusiast and worked at an escape room company for over 3 years. I know the actual escape room content in the book will be light, based on reviews, but I’ve still decided to give it a try at some point.

3. I Want to Punch You in the Face But I Love Jesus by Sherri Lynn
I love this book title, and I love the person who wrote it! The title kept her from being able to get it published traditionally, but it’s about dealing with PMS with humor, from a Christian perspective, so the title is perfect. I am looking forward to reading this when I have a chance to locate a copy.

4. How We Became Wicked by Alexander Yates
The title caught my interest quickly; otherwise, I likely wouldn’t have put much thought into this one. I am not really a zombie person in any medium, but I read the first few pages of this, and I’m planning to give it a go.

5. His Name Was Zach by Peter Martuneac
So again, I’m really not a fan of zombie fiction (books, movies, TV or games). So the fact that I have 3 zombie apocalypse books on my TBR, and 2 just on this list, probably makes no sense. Still, I’m going to give this one a try, hopefully by the end of the year, in support of a fellow new author. The name isn’t what initially drew me to this book, but I do think it has a nice ring to it.

6. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
I read this for the first time in high school, and remember how interesting it was to learn that the title was a reference to the temperature at which paper burns. It’s perfect for the book, of course, and I’ve always really appreciated the title.

7. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard
This is another book I read in high school. My English class had read Hamlet that year, and then later read this play. Everyone knows the sacrificial heroes are going to die, whether because they know Hamlet, or because of the title…but they do make it entertaining along the way.

8. The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
The title of this book is a clear indication of the mystery found within. It’s a little strange, though, that the question of whose murder the narrator is supposed to solve seems like a mystery, for at least the first quarter of the book, and then it’s a big reveal when it’s discovered…but the name is right there in the title. Other than that though, good title. (Note: the original title is The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, but had to be changed in the US.)

9. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Considering the subject matter of this book, and the extreme 80s & video game references, the title of this book is perfect. I don’t actually have more to say about this one.

10. Blessed Are the Misfits by Brant Hansen
This book for those who struggle with feeling like an outcast in the American church culture is perfect for introverts and socially awkward people like myself. And the title, borrowing from a section of Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount is clever.

Have you read any of these? What would you add to the list?

Book vs. Movie: Ready Player One

RP1 movie vs book

I watched the movie about a week and a half after I finished the book. At first, I wanted to watch the movie quickly, before I forgot details about the book. Only a few minutes into the movie, I thought it might have been better to have waited several months (or more) to watch the movie. Maybe forgetting the details of the book would have allowed me to enjoy it in its own right. I understand that movies adapted from books have to be changed for various reasons, whether that’s to shorten the story, to add excitement, or even because a lot of what happens in the book is internal (which would be fairly hard/boring to show). And there are other reasons too. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it!

In my review of the book, I gave it a rating of 3.5 out of 5. It’s intriguing to me that the movie actually gave me more appreciation for the book. I’d probably rate it higher now. As with other posts I’ve made, some of my notes about what I didn’t care for in the movie are personal preference. Some of them, though, are places where I don’t think the movie did justice to the book, or even where I felt the movie just didn’t do well in general. I am going to give my notes, but without too much detail, mostly because my list is a little too long to go into much detail here. These are by no means all of the differences between the book and the movie, just the ones that bothered me. Also, I’m splitting these notes into things that aren’t too spoilery (shown first), and then notes that I feel would spoil either the book or movie enough to give a proper warning for.

Note: There are a lot, so it probably seems like I’m ranting. Well, I am. Again, I am well aware that movie adaptations are often very different from the book. If you think I’m being unfair, that’s fine. I didn’t realize how many notes I had about this until I started writing them down, and I considered cutting it short. But in the end, I decided to keep them all (and frankly, there may be some I forgot). So read on, or jump ship right now; it’s up to you!

  • From the very beginning of the movie, the atmosphere didn’t feel right to me. When I read the book, I got a feeling of desolation and isolation in the real world, especially where Wade lived. People didn’t go out much, because they could do much more from the comfort of their couch (and because the real world was fairly dangerous). But we first see Wade outside of his “home,” and it’s pretty lively. People are shown outside a lot during the movie, and it just felt wrong.
  • The book was heavy in 80s pop culture references. The movie expanded that to just general pop culture, but even that was very light (I get that a lot of this might have been copyright issues, but it’s still worth mentioning).
  • In the book, Wade started out overweight (spent most of his life in a virtual environment, after all), but had a physical transformation once he gained the means to be active while also in the OASIS. There was no change of this sort in the movie.
  • Also, in the book, Wade started out completely destitute. The things he had to do to make any progress in the OASIS showed ingenuity and a real struggle. This was barely touched on in the movie.
  • Because The Hunt had gone on for years already when the book started, everyone who was hunting (called gunters) knew pretty much everything there was to know about Halliday, his life, and every book, movie, video game, song, or TV show that he liked. In the movie, Wade was explaining how he’d figured out a clue to other gunters often, and it really bothered me that he knew so much more than the others.
  • Though I said in my original review that the time that Wade was alone (pushed away his friends) was not a time I enjoyed, I realized watching the movie that I missed it when it didn’t happen. Most likely, that means I didn’t enjoy it because it was depressing (which it was meant to be), not that it was a bad story element.
  • I loved Ogden Morrow’s role in the book. In the movie it was kinda…meh (and it seemed like a waste of Simon Pegg).
  • It really bugged me that they called the IOI gunters Sixers, but had absolutely no explanation as to why. It wouldn’t have been difficult to explain it. Even not coming from a book, it was an unnecessary lack of explanation.
  • Similarly, in the book, the first 5 gunters to find the first key were known as the “High Five,” because of their positions on the almighty leader board. When watching the movie, I’d completely forgotten about that until some time in the last 20-30 minutes when Wade uses that term to reference those 5 characters, and I actually sat up and said, “Wait, what?! How are we supposed to know what he means by that, when this is the first time anyone’s said it?”

Before I go into the spoilers, I want to mention a few things about the movie that I liked:

  • The visual effects in the OASIS were great. Much better than I could imagine in my head, I’m sure. I also enjoyed the way it looked when characters accessed things from their inventory and such. I’ve had dreams about actually being inside a game world, i.e. being my character, and it reminded me a bit of that. (Is that weird?)
  • There were some nods to some of the things in the book that weren’t used in the movie at all, which was nice. Seeing the planet Ludus early in the movie, for example, made me smile.

Below here are the rest of my notes, which have what I would consider spoilers. Read on at your own discretion.

Continue reading

Book Review: Ready Player One

Finished Reading: Ready Player One
by Ernest Cline

My rating: 3.5 / 5
Genre: Science Fiction

RP1.png

Over 100 years in the future, mankind has been largely driven inside the virtual world. They work in the OASIS, go to school, hang out with friends, rely on it for entertainment, and even treasure hunt in the OASIS. The main storyline in the book is a treasure hunt that was created by the man who created the OASIS. The person who finds the Easter egg hidden in the virtual environment, by following all of the clues, will basically be the wealthiest person alive.

Ready Player One is my husband’s favorite book. He’s tried to get me to read the book or watch the movie here and there, but I told him that I didn’t think I’d enjoy it as much as him, because the 80s references would largely be lost on me. I was a teenager in the 90s, and a fairly sheltered one at that. I don’t even know much about pop culture in the 90s and know way, way less about pop culture in the 80s. But now that I’ve started to get back to my bookworm roots, I knew it was time to give this book a read.

Keep in mind when reading the rest of this post that I was correct about the heavy 80s references not providing much nostalgia for me. However, I don’t think that’s the only reason that the plethora of references fell flat for me. I came to a point pretty early on when I realized how shallow most of the references were. Movies, games, books, TV shows, comics, music–all of these things were briefly named, often in lists, but that’s about it. So I guess the people who get the references get to go, “Oh! That show!” and move on. Not much substance.

On the flip side, however, the times when the 80s pop culture was part of the challenges in The Hunt, even though I didn’t get the hit of nostalgia during those sections that others would get, I really enjoyed them! So not diving into spoilers too much, the Easter egg hunt involved finding 3 keys, which each opened a gate. So the hunters had to find the keys, find the gates, and “clear” the gates, all of which involved solving some sort of challenge, even if just a riddle. Those were my favorite parts of the book. Unfortunately, in between these sections, the book mostly dragged for me, especially when the main character, Wade, pushed his friends away and was alone for a while.

Another thing I enjoyed about the book was the way the author described things inside the Oasis. I actually thought it would seem silly or weird to read about the mechanics in this virtual world, but Cline did a good job of explaining it. I’ve played a decent amount of games that allowed me to imagine how the interface worked, so that might have helped.

As the book ramped up to the end, I kept expecting a huge twist. A certain specific trope that I won’t mention so I don’t spoil that it doesn’t happen was especially on my mind, but it doesn’t happen. Not that there wasn’t any kind of twist near the end, but not what I was expecting, and not as big as I was expecting. I weirdly found the end of the book and the challenges the characters had to go through too easy and very difficult at the same time. It’s hard to explain without giving anything away though.

My husband tells me that the movie is different from the book, but good in its own right. He also says it focuses more on The Hunt (the parts I liked the most). I’m looking forward to watching it!

Find out more about Ernest Cline and Ready Player One

See what’s coming up.

If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!

Book Review: July Review

At the beginning of this month, I decided to devote more time to reading. Of course, in my case, based on how much I’ve read over the last 10 years, more time meant…any time. Over the course of the month, I read 6 books, which surprised me. But even more importantly (and more excitingly), I quickly rediscovered how much I loved reading. Two days ago, my husband saw where the bookmark was in my 6th book for the month and said, “You really are getting back into reading, aren’t you?” My response: “Yes! This is what I used to do, and I’m loving it!”

So while in my first post announcing this new feature (and hobby re-kindling), I suggested that posting about what books I’m reading would be a way to hold myself accountable, I know that’s not necessary. Now I’m just posting what I’ve read to share it with others and make my recommendations. But while I planned for this feature to be weekly, and thought it might even sometimes have to be filled in with something besides a review of what I recently read because I wouldn’t read fast enough, my reading pace has made me realize I’m quickly going to get behind in posting reviews.

My plan going forward will be to post on a Tuesday now and then to catch back up, because I can’t guarantee this pace will be consistent. For example, The Novice (a YA book that I enjoyed), I read in 3 days. The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle (an adult murder-mystery with a complicated premise) took 7 days. I’ve also been lucky to have had a quiet month, but I know that at times I will be too busy to finish books this quickly. So I’m not ready to completely move to a twice a week schedule, but I’ll stick in some extra posts to stay caught up.

Here are the books I read in July, only half of which have been posted about:
Weave a Circle Round by Kari Maaren
The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
The Oath by Frank Peretti
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (review pending)
The Novice by Taran Matharu (review pending)
The Trials of Lance Eliot by M.L. Brown, a.k.a. Adam Stück (review pending)

The rest of these posts will go up in the next few weeks. My ever-changing list of to-be-reads, as well as a flag for the book I’m currently reading and an ongoing list of those I’ve read and posted about can be found here.

I’m also keeping my Goodreads page updated with a more extensive list of to-be-reads, if anyone is interested in that. (Note: The list of books I have read overall is not remotely complete there. When I created my Goodreads page 4 years ago, I added some of my favorite books over the years, but to add everything I’ve ever read would be very time-consuming, not to mention impossible to remember it all.)

Despite my almost too-long list of TBRs, I’m always looking for more to add. Feel free to offer suggestions of your favorites or just recent reads you enjoyed.

Book Review: The Oath

Finished Reading: The Oath
by Frank Peretti

My rating: 5 / 5
Genre: Christian Thriller

The Oath

People are disappearing, possibly dying, in or around a small mining town in the Pacific northwest, and the the people in town seem to know what’s going on, but are unwilling or unable to talk about it. When an outsider dies, it opens up their small-town secrets to the rest of the world. The brother of the outsider who died starts to dig and uncovers a creature that he is determined to bring to light, but the town’s occupants won’t let go of their dragon without a fight.

The Oath has been my favorite book pretty much since I first read it, at least 20 years ago. Up until maybe 10 years ago, I re-read it just about every year. It used to scare me when I read it at night, despite how well I knew the story. Now that I’m getting back to reading regularly, I realized how much I wanted to read it again, and part of that was curiosity about whether or not its status as my favorite book would hold up. I’m happy to say it did!

I fully admit that the book could have been shorter, as there is a decent amount of description of old mining operations and mountain views that I generally skim, but overall, the book is a great example of a Christian thriller. It is also an allegory, which I think is important to realize while reading it.

Once again, by the time I was in the 2nd half of this book, I found myself caught up in the hunt and the excitement of what was happening. I did not have any issues reading at night though, so apparently I’ve either gotten used to it enough, or I’ve grown out of that problem. But I thoroughly enjoyed it, and in a way felt like I was coming home as I read this classic favorite.

Find out more about The Oath

Up next: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!