This Review is Brought to You by Request of My Sister….

Have you ever found out that one of your favorite book series is getting a film adaptation, but when it came out you ended up being extremely disappointed with the finished product? This sadly happened to my sister when it came to the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. The series was and still is a favorite of her’s and truth be told it is also one of mine as well. I first read the series back in middle school and I remember loving it and Riordan still remains one of my favorite children’s authors.This a large part why I passed it on to my sister after my brother had passed it on to me. The series follows Percy Jackson a sixth grader with ADHD and dyslexia who through rather random circumstances finds out that he is the child of the Greek god Poseidon. As a result, he is sent to live at Camp-Halfblood where he and his friends learn all there is to know about their godly parents and are sent on various quest to fight monsters from Greek mythology.  The series was in my opinion well researched as far a the geek mythology element goes which is important because the series is based heavily on it and around it.The story is extremely well written as well, which is a testament to the longevity to the series considering that it follows Percy until he is roughly seventeen years old.

The Percy Jackson and the Olympians series is split into five books all of which are entertaining reads are well-respected in the world of children’s literature.

  1. The Lightning Thief
  2. The Sea of Monsters
  3. The Titian’s Curse
  4. The Battle of the Labyrinth
  5. The Last Olympian

However, the story is also continued in the Heroes of Olympus series as well and it consists of another five books as well with equally enjoyable plot lines and new characters.

  1. The Lost Hero
  2. The Son of Neptune
  3. The Mark of Athena
  4. The House of Hades
  5. The Blood of Olympus

Both series serve as a companion to one another and I will tell you that I was to some degree surprised how well the two series were able to tie together as one. Although, I suppose they could be read separately even though I think they are meant to be read together and I suggest starting with the Lightning Thief and moving on from there. Neither of these series is ones to be read out-of-order because each book builds on the previous one.  Overall Both are highly recommended by me personally but the films are a different story.

There were only two films produced for the Percy Jackson series.The Lighting Thief and the Sea of Monsters which when looked at by themselves without taking into consideration the accuracy of both films to the books are decent. However, when taking the actual books into account the movies are pretty unfaithful. While I believe the essence of the story was captured in many ways the film completely missed the mark.This is rather sad because the series had such great potential for being on the big screen and it failed to live up to that potential, which probably was a big reason that there were only two films made. The one thing they managed to do right in theses films was the casting. Now, I understand people’s arguments about if they would have cast younger actors like in Harry Potter things may have turned out a little better for the films, however,  I don’t  care. I thought the cast was great when I saw the movies and my sister didn’t  have an issue with it either. In the end, the films are not the best book to movie adaptations I have ever seen.

In The words of my younger sister, Percy Jackson is a wonderfully entertaining read and worth the time of any reader. The movies are nothing compared to the book even though when taken alone can be enjoyable.

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Stay Don’t Go. I’ll Eat You Up I Love You So 

Hi everyone this week I am feeling a bit nostalgic. As I was sitting in my living room this week in beautiful California my eyes were drawn to the little section of picture books that still remain on our bookcase. I began to remember all of those stories that first captivated me as a reader like Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. And, so with a childlike love, I have done something this week that I haven’t done in a very long time. I read a picture book.

While sitting criss-cross applesauce on the floor of my living room, I read Where the Wild Things Are. As I read I was struck by two things, one that it is an incredibly simple story and second that, when thought about in a deeper sense it is profound in many ways. On the surface, it is simply a story about a boy named Max, who is sent to bed without supper. In order to pass the time in his room, he dreams up an island where the wild things live. Which he travels to rule over them for a while because he’s mad at his mom.

However, on a much deeper level, I believe it is a story about the power of imagination and how our imaginations help us deal with situations in life. Max creates an island of wild things because he has to deal with not having dinner And he’s mad at his mom.

The film Where the Wild Things Are might be one of the most adorable things I have ever seen. I had never seen this movie before deciding to do this review, so I have didn’t know what to expect at all. I pleased to tell you all however that I was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved it. The story is fleshed out more so it is approximately an hour and forty minutes instead of just fifteen. The additional amount of story that is created around the original fits right in and I feel in no way hinders it. The film also gives the ”Wild Things” names and personalities all their own and some of them are pretty funny. The one thing about this movie that my disinterest people is that Jim Henson’s Creature Shop provides the magic behind the Monsters themselves. Therefore if you’re not a fan of The Muppets I’d advise you to proceed with caution. Overall though it is a welcome company to the written story.

Where the Wild Things Are is a truly wonderful picture book to enjoy with your children. It is a book that will remain a classic and be remembered by all who read or watch choose to enjoy.

Sisterly Love

I have a confession to make about the book The Color Purple by Alice Walker. I cried after only reading the first thirteen pages of the book. The story was so moving that at times I had to set the book down just so I could digest it all. The story follows two sisters down their extremely different paths through life. While the older sister Celie is forced to live a life married to a man chosen by her father and is at times abusive, her sister Nettie spends her life as a missionary to Africa surrounded by the love and care of a Christian couple. The sisters chronologically recount their lives to each other through the form of a letter all with the hope of being reconnected someday.

I was incredibly and profoundly moved by this story for many reasons.One of those reasons is that at its core The Color Purple is a story of the Sisterhood. The fact that I have a little sister of my own strongly influences my love of this book. But honestly, all things considered, the book changed my life. The thing is I love my sister and I won’t trade our weekend movie marathons for anything. In fact, I wanted a little sister so bad that when my parents told my younger brother and I that she was a girl I cried right there in the local Chick-fil-a. I love my sister and that is exactly what The Color Purple is about.

The family is another important aspect of the book. This book is able to beautifully demonstrate the great joy of family and, it is also able to demonstrate the trials and tribulations as well. A family is not limited to blood relations either, the length this book goes to in order to convey this message is amazing. Although Celie ‘s family is a more than a little broken, the journey that each member of the family takes to get to the end of the novel is lovely.

The Color Purple also is an amazing story of finding Christ.In the beginning of the story, Celie writes letters addressed to God because she is unaware of where Nettie is or if she is even alive. The problem is she doesn’t really understand who God is. Celie has had so many horrible events transpire in her life that She is unable to believe that God loves her and has a greater plan for her life. It is only after a rather profound confrontation with her husband and some help from a family friend does she truly understand the awesomeness of God’s love and power within her and her sister’s life. The Movie is without a second thought a must see for anyone who is a fan of the book or simply a lover of Oprah, Whoopi Goldberg or Stephen Spielberg. The written words of Alice Walker wonderfully translate onto the movie screen in a way that is so perfect and equally as moving that the two pieces work together seamlessly and it is a thing of beauty.

Be a Leaf that knows…

“If you don’t know history, then you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree

– Michael Crichton

This past weekend my family and I took a trip to the Redwood National Park here in California, and as I think back on the trip I can recall feeling incredibly small. As my family and I walked along the Lady Bird Johnson trail that lasted for about two miles surrounded nature’s beauty I felt this amazing feeling of peace wash over me. The Thing about being among the Redwoods is it is so quiet that I swear you could hear a pin drop. When I looked up at these trees I couldn’t help but wonder what it looked like before the many trails were created and some of the trees were cut down, although there are still thousands. I wanted to know each story behind every tree there, I wanted to know its history.

This week’s blog post is on Timeline by Michael Crichton. The story begins when a doctor is found in the desert with unexplainable injuries that lead to his death. A company Known as ITC tries to hide the truth of what happen in whatever way they can to protect their reputation and Edward Johnston finds that his sponsors know a great deal more about his archeological dig than he does. However, after Johnston goes missing following a visit to the project’s sponsors three of his researchers travel back in time six hundred years to 1357 France to rescue him. While the fourth researcher stays behind to wait for their return from the past.

The book was ok, but not great in my opinion. In certain areas, it seemed to drag on where it didn’t need to and I personally found the character of Chris Hughes a little annoying at times but other than that the book was overall a good read. In the book, the characters stress that without the past, there is no future which is true. Our entire life is based upon the actions someone else in the past. For instants, if your parents hadn’t met at the Starbucks around the corner on a such and such day you may not even be here right now. Or if the Wright brothers had never tried to fly, airplanes may not be what they are today. Basically, the idea is that everything that is happening now is based on a previous event.

Then why do we claim we can change history? The truth is that we can’t we can only move forward. we can, however, look at past events in life, learn from them and make new history, all while using the past as a reference point to look back on. Rafiki from the Lion King says it this way “the past can hurt. But the way I see it you can either run from it or learn from it.” The world doesn’t take the time to learn about history simply to know random facts, it takes the time to study in order to learn from it even if there is a lot of pain and suffering involved. The history of our world is not cookie cutter clean there is a lot of hardship and heartbreak found as well within our timeline along with times of happiness and peace. The question then arises what happens when three fictional archaeologists are sent back to 1357 on a rescue mission in a time of war. Well, a lot not so great road blocks happen which takes them on a roundabout adventure throughout France and all of it is happening with a time limit attached.

The timeline does a nice job of creating a separation, but also a likeness between 1357 and the modern world.While the book is able to show the differences in lifestyle within the two different time periods, it also is able to point out that both were making technological advances in their own way. There is a moment in the book where all the characters have just arrived in 1357 in the middle of the forest. Chris believes there is something odd about his surroundings, but he can’t put his finger on it. Then he figures it out the forest is almost completely silent except for the chirping of the birds and just like that, he feels a measure of peace come over him. In this moment the book presents an important question about our current world we live in and the past. Are we as a population so accustom to technical advancements that we forget to unplug and live without them? I would dare to say we are…

The movie by the same name is a great representation of Michael Crichton ‘s work if not better. The movie cuts down on what I believe in some of the more unnecessary content like the lengthy explanation of the science behind time travel. While it adds to the almost absent, but sill present love story in the book, this it does successfully without taking away from the actual story.

In the end, the lesson is simply to make your own history, don’t let the actions of someone else define the future. Instead, let the actions of the past be a guide to help you through.

A Miraculous Horse

In Proverbs 21:31 it says that the horse is made ready for the day of battle but victory rests with the Lord. I personally feel that there is no better way to start off this week’s review of War Horse by Michael Murpurgo. The children’s book recounts the experience of World War I through the eyes of a farm horse from Devon England named Joey. Who is purchased against his will by the army to become an asset to the soldiers of the war in many ways. Joey’s main goal, however, is simply to return home to his previous owner Albert who enters the war only to find his horse.

The book itself though it is fairly small in size carries an important lesson about the friendship between all animals and humans alike. It also is able to provide a surprising and somehow very emotional look at World War I on the battlefield all the while using the mind of the horse. This is impressive considering that at times I felt I was reading the thoughts and feeling of a human being not a four-legged animal. Joey as he goes through his adventure eventually spends time on both sides of the war with both armies and in the process becomes a celebrity among the men.

As I mentioned before the book carries a lesson about the friendship between all creatures including but not limited to humans and horses. Joey, within the book, befriends  another horse named Topthorn at the beginning of the war and it’s this friendship that shapes most of his experiences during the time he spends on the front lines. The way in which their friendship unfolds and is described by Joey is touching and at times beautiful. There is also a second message of antiwar in the novel which is best illustrated I believe when two soldiers flip a coin in order to decide which side gets to keep Joey after he is cut free from the barbed wire between the two trenches….

The film version directed by Steven Spielberg is lovely.The film not only able to show Joey’s journey in its entirety but it is able to do so without a single word from the horse’s mouth no voice over required. The film also does a nice job of showing Albert’s Journey through war to find Joey, which is something the book almost gives no detail on at all. The Film doesn’t have a bad cast of actors either and it was an oscar nominee in 2012 as well for Best Picture among others. The book was also turned into a stage play complete with giant horse puppets that did rather well earning a few Tony Award nominations along the way.

War Horse, although it is fictional, tells the story of how one horse can change an entire war and how it affects all who come in contact with his kind spirit. So I leave you with this question what do animals really teach us humans and likewise what do we as human beings teach them?

As You Wish……

So I have a question for all of you.What does a farm boy, a beautiful girl, a giant and a bloodthirsty Spaniard all have in common with one another? Well, the answer to this question is the following: when all of these lovely of people are combined the end result is an extremely funny and entertaining novel called The Princess Bride by William Goldman. the Novel begins with   William Goldman explaining his connection to the book (that he assures was written by a fictional man known as S. Morganstern). He also explains how it was his favorite book from childhood because his father read it to him when he had pneumonia. Then following his somewhat lengthy but never the less necessary personal anecdote of the story’s importance in his own life he finally tells us the story of Buttercup and her dear Westley. Set in the fictional country of Florin the novel tells the story of Buttercup a beautiful farm girl turned princess who falls madly in love with her hired hand by the name of Westley. Their love was discovered over a course of time in which Westley repeatedly told her “as you wish” to every command she gave him until the day she realized that when translated the phrase meant  I love you and that she returned his feelings. However, as the two make plans to marry they realize that they don’t have the money and so Westley leaves Buttercup by ship in order to come up with the funds to finance their wedding. While he is away through news come to Buttercup that he was tragically captured and killed by the Dread Pirate Roberts. This sets into motion a rather action packed and laugh out loud adventure that is worth anyone’s time of day.

Before I write on, however, I feel that I need to write a little bit of a disclaimer because I personally have a connection with both the book and its film adaptation,  which I will write about later in this post. The personal connection I have with work comes in the form of the nickname Haleycup (based on Buttercup) which I affectionately received  from an uncle of mine because of his love for the film adaptation of the story. This being said both the book and movie hold a special place in my heart and I will try my best to refrain from being biased. But anyway let’s get back to the actual review.

After Buttercup recovers from her mourning period, she had set aside for Westley she decides to do what any woman in her situation would do. She decides to become engaged to the power obsessed Prince Humperdinck whose father’s health is quickly fading although he never seems to actually die. But seriously on a quick side note whose parents in their right mind would actually name their son Humperdinck, I’m  just wondering.  So anyway once Buttercup agrees to marry the prince her only real joy in the world is her daily horse rides. Now on one of those rides, she comes across three men named Vizzini, the giant Fezzik and the Spaniard Indigo Montoya who kidnap her in an attempt to start a war with the next country over called Guilder.

While all of this is happening we also find out that the whole entire reason that Indigo is on this trip is so he can hunt down his father’s murder known as the six-fingered man and it has been his entire life’s work. Fezzik, on the other hand, is on this trip for exactly one purpose and that is to provide the majority of the physical strength of the group. While Vizzini is the group leader and claims to be the brains of the operation.However, they are each met by a man known as the “Man in Black” who is for whatever reason determined  to rescue Buttercup and he is eventually successful. It is also eventually revealed that he is The Dread Pirate Roberts as well as Westley alive and well in the flesh, and after an implied joyous reunion they decide to attempt to run away together through the fire swamp.But unfortunately, their efforts are unsuccessful only to be apprehended by Prince Humperdinck who has been looking for Buttercup all this time. Therefore, Humperdinck believing that Westley is responsible for  Buttercup’s kidnapping threatens to kill him in the woods only to be prevented from doing so when Buttercup promises to go home with Humperdinck if he promises not to hurt her true love. This he agrees to make her happy but he ends up torturing him anyway with the help of one of his friends.

But fear not, because having survived his challenge with The Man and Black Indigo with the help of Fezzzik decides to hunt down the Man in Black thinking that he can somehow help him finally get revenge for his father murder. When they finally find Westley in the zoo of death where he was being tortured and revive him with some help from Miracle Max, recommend reading the three of them devise a plan to rescue Buttercup from Humperdinck…..

Now, before I do any comparisons between the book and the movie please let me say that nine times out of ten before I write anything I recommend reading the book before seeing the film but that’s just my opinion.

This being said what do I like about the book the Princess Bride…

  • Well for starters its longer then the movie  so over all there is a lot more content
  • The book went into  a lot more of the back stories of some of the characters like Fezzik and Indigo just to give examples
  • The book also had little interjections of the author throughout the story in italics expressing his thoughts which were at times funny to read and added to the reading experience as a whole.
  •  The book was laugh out loud funny at times and was truly an entertaining read.

What do l like about the 1987 film adaptation of the Princess Bride 

  • It may be one of the most faithful book to movie adaptations I have ever seen because as far as I can tell they  didn’t add anything to the film that wasn’t already there and they still in some way made mention of the back stories in  the book.
  • The acting talent in this  film is  great and entertaining
  • Every character has its place in the film.That is to say  that everyone has a particular reason for being there no one is there just for the sake of being there.
  • It is just as equally funny as the book and it really comes across well on-screen.

Bad things about the film..

  •  I will say that there are a few special effects that go on during the movie and they are good but they aren’t great but the movie was made in 1987 so the special effects weren’t as technologically advanced as they are today. But hopefully that won’t prevent you from enjoying the movie in any way.

 The Princess Bride  regardless of what format it is shared in is able to ask how far is a person truthfully willing to go in the name of love. What is a person willing to sacrifice on behalf of another and what effect does that have on their lives. It asks all this of its audience and is able to so with humor which is extremely cool because it is done well.

Changing Lives One Page,One Scene at a Time

Welcome to the California Bookworm. The place where life in California and the power of the novel and film come together to create what Bilbo Baggins once described as an adventure.

In the context of this blog, I hope to explore through review how books, as well as films, have the power to change someone’s life.

  • Why is it that when we go to the movie theater we walk in as certain individuals but walk out two hours later changed after witnessing the film?
  •  In the same respect, why do we as individuals start reading a book as one person but when done with it leave its pages as a new person?
  • Why do we as human being put so much value into attending the Friday night movie at the drive-in and spend so much time pounding our brains over the literary work of Faulkner and Shakespeare?

The truth is I personally believe the human race does the above things for a couple of reasons…

  1. Books and films show us universal truths that otherwise we as a nation are afraid to acknowledge for ourselves.
  2. Both are able to at times reveal aspects about ourselves we are unaware of and as a result, show us who we truly are.
  3. They say what we are sometimes afraid to express.
  4. They make use feel things we as people have never felt before.
  5.  Most importantly they bring us together with others in fellowship, giving us an unspeakable freedom both together and apart.

Therefore I would purpose that books and films change lives because they touch people’s hearts, make them think, give them answers and provide them with hope in a way that nothing else in the world can. Why else would people have their favorites?