• How to Read More Books for Free with BookBub

    Man Reading on a Tablet
    I’m addicted to the Internet.

    Most of the time, this is a problem. When I’m trying to write a blog post or get a chapter of my novel finished, the shiny lure of the World Wide Web is difficult to resist. There are so many things to click on and enjoy! If I stop for a second, I might miss something! Five more minutes on Twitter won’t hurt! You get the picture.

    Occasionally, however, I’ll find an Internet resource that aids me in my writing journey. Instead of a distraction, it becomes an integral part of my writing routine. I plan to cover some of these golden nuggets in a future post. For now, I want to share my most recent discovery: BookBub.

    I don’t like to spend money. I bet you don’t, either. If you’re reading this blog, though, I bet you like to read. Your biggest problem with reading is that books cost money. I feel you on that one, friend. It’s a terrible thing.

    Of course, you could always rent books from the library, but sometimes you might not feel like going out (like me). You want something to read that’s cheap, and you want it as soon as possible.

    That’s where BookBub comes in: just enter your email, tell the site which genres you like, and wait for book discounts to show up in your inbox. It really is that simple. The best part is that you don’t just get books you’ve never heard of for cheap – last week, I got The Body Electric by Beth Revis for free.

    What are you waiting for? Sign up for BookBub now and get serious about reading.

    *This is not a sponsored post. The thoughts and ideas expressed in this article represent the author’s personal opinions.

    What do you think about BookBub? What are your tips for reading on a budget?

    Tweet tweet:

    No money? No problem! @brianawrites shares a great resource for finding discounted ebooks. (Click to tweet)

  • 5 Worst Book to Movie Adaptations

    movies

    “The book was better.”

    It’s almost impossible to avoid hearing or uttering that phrase after seeing a film that’s been adapted from a novel.

    And it’s true (of course it is) that Hollywood often fails to capture the magic of beloved literature. With that being said, not all adaptations are terrible. Most recently, The Hunger Games movie franchise has been praised for its accuracy.

    At the same time, there are often more bad movie adaptations than good, especially when it comes to classics. Here are five of the worst book to movie adaptations.

    5. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (2005)

    Hitchhiker-s-Guide--Movie--hitchhikers-guide-to-the-galaxy-545258_700_456

    Photo Credit

    Douglas Adams’ spirited sci-fi romp falls flat when shoehorned into this gimmicky film version. The movie lacks most of the wit and charm of the book it’s derived from. The sole redeeming quality is Martin Freeman, who makes his American motion picture debut in this film.

    4. The Count of Monte Cristo (2002)

    2002_the_count_of_monte_cristo_005

    Photo Credit

    I’m sure Alexandre Dumas would despise this adaptation. For one thing, a handful of characters have been entirely removed from the narrative. Moreover, the director even had the gall to change the original ending. Not even young Henry Cavill can save this one.

    3. The Scarlet Letter (1995)

    scarlet

    Photo Credit

    I don’t know who thought Demi Moore and Gary Oldman would look good onscreen together, but… no. While Gary Oldman does a fine job of playing Dimmesdale, poor Demi Moore gets the shaft when it comes to the poorly-penned script. Most of the novel’s complexity is abandoned in favor of playing up sensuality and a lighter, happier ending. High school students beware: you’re better off reading the book.

    2. Great Expectations (1998)

    o-GWYNETH-PALTROW-GREAT-EXPECTATIONS-facebook

    Photo Credit

    Who reads a Dickens’ classic and thinks, “yeah, this book is dying for a modern-day rechristening?” Alfonso Cuaron, that’s who. This film functions like a weird mishmash of Titanic, Moulin Rouge, and a teensy bit of Dickens. Why did this happen?

    1. Gulliver’s Travels (2010)

    Jack Black stars in Gulliver's Travels.

    Photo Credit

    I don’t think I could think of a worse film adaptation than this one if I tried. The film lacks most of what makes the original narrative great. On top of that, it’s just not funny. It tries too hard to be.

    I’m sure there are worse movie adaptations than these out there, but I have yet to experience them.

    What do you think of these adaptations? What other bad ones can you think of?

    P.S. In Conversation with–Bob Gale, Co-Writer of Back to the Future and Selections from Pixar’s 22 Rules for Storytelling.

  • Book Review: The Successful Novelist by David Morrell

    Image

    David Morrell is a genius.

    There’s no getting around that fact. After reading this book, I am more than convinced that this man has more writing talent in his pinky than I do in my whole body.

    I digress.

    When I mentioned on Twitter that Stephen King’s On Writing is one of the most influential books about writing that I have ever read, someone suggested that I look up David Morrell’s book The Successful Novelist: A Lifetime of Lessons about Writing and Publishing.

    I’m delighted I did.

    This book, like King’s, provides a veritable treasure trove of knowledge regarding the craft and the business of writing. However, Morrell takes a much more practical approach, giving out advice for you to use in your daily writing sessions. King’s book is largely memoir with some practical bits sprinkled in. On the whole, Morrell seems so much more approachable.

    The Successful Novelist is suitable for writers of all skill levels. Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been writing for ages, this book is for you.

    It’s also short, succinct, and easy to read and understand. What more could you want?

    Go out and pick up your copy today. This book will change your life.

    Have you read this book? What did you think of it? What book would you like to see me review next?

    P.S. Book Review: Adulting by Kelly Williams Brown.

  • In Defense of Rereading

    Photo Credit: Pestpruf on Flickr
    Photo Credit: Pestpruf on Flickr

    Recently I spoke to someone who doesn’t believe in rereading books. “It won’t be any different from the first time I read it,” she said. “The material is the same. I don’t get the purpose.”

    This sentiment, though shocking, is one I’ve heard echoed in previous conversations by a variety of people. The general consensus seems to be that once you’ve read a book, you shouldn’t read it again.

    This idea is nonsense.

    When I think about the stories I’ve experienced in my life, it amazes me how some of them have changed with the passage of time. One of my favorite books, for example, is George Orwell’s dystopian classic Nineteen Eighty-Four. I shudder to think what might’ve happened had I only read it once.

    The first time I read the novel, I was thirteen. That’s too young to fully grasp most of what happens in the book, primarily the political overtones and the implications of the society Orwell has crafted. The sex scenes and manifesto went right over my head. What can I say? I was naive.

    Every time I read Nineteen Eighty-Four, I notice something new. I’ve read this book at least a dozen times and still I learn more with each reading. The material isn’t changing (that much is obvious), but I certainly am. As I continue to change I’m sure I’ll continue to get different things out of the novel.

    If you’ve read something once, there’s no reason you shouldn’t sit down and reread it. If it’s a book like Nineteen Eighty-Four, it should withstand the test of time. Whether it’s The Great Gatsby, Harry Potter, or Crime and Punishment, there’s something new to discover when you dip back into the pages.

    Don’t believe me? Well, there’s only one way to find out.

    How do you feel about rereading books? What books have you enjoyed rereading?

  • Book Review: Morning Glory by Allison Blanchard

    review

    Having read Allison Blanchard’s debut novel Forget Me Not, I was thrilled to have the chance to read and review the sequel. Morning Glory continues the story of Adeline, a high school girl whose ordinary life is turned upside down when she encounters a boy named Cole and his native traditions. Blanchard’s new novel is the perfect blend of depth, drama, and romance. Her stellar cast of characters, dedication to narrative, and attention to detail make Morning Glory an even greater success than Forget Me Not. This book is fantastic.

    Fans of the first novel’s protagonist Adeline will not be disappointed by her portrayal in this sequel. Blanchard stays true to Adeline’s character throughout this novel, and I had a difficult time finding anything that did not feel true to character. My other two favorites, Cole and Emma, are given an equally respectful treatment. The relationships established in the first novel are deepened and explored further in this sequel. Because fiction is about people, I loved Blanchard’s depth of characters and exploration of family, friendly, and romantic relationships throughout her new book.

    Another quality that makes this sequel worth reading is Blanchard’s dedication to the established narrative. Blanchard reminds the reader of the legend established in Forget Me Not while adding details that enhance the realism of the mythology. She also does an excellent job of keeping up with her characters’ histories and backstories (I’d like to know how she does it because I could use a few pointers).

    With a whole mythology to look after, it’s impressive that Blanchard does not slack off when it comes to her attention to detail. As with the backstories, Blanchard makes certain that every part of the legend exists for a reason–that is, every seemingly-insignificant detail coincides with something that happens in the story. Nothing happens unless it needs to. This level of attention is something that I have the utmost respect for.

    My only complaint about the novel? At times, it seemed that there was too much convenience. Certain events felt contrived rather than inevitable. Without giving too much away, I had a hard time believing the identity of the man who pulled Adeline from the river. Even then, Blanchard did her very best to convince me, which is why I am reluctant to list this single grievance.

    This sequel is as good as, if not better than, its predecessor. I enjoyed every second of the book and found it difficult to put down. If you loved Forget Me Not, or if you’re in the market for a new kind of paranormal romance, you need to check out Blanchard’s work.

    You can purchase Blanchard’s debut novel on Amazon. She also has a blog that you can view here.

    Want me to review your book? Comment or send me an email! I’d love to get in touch with you.

    2

  • Book Review: Oleanders in Alaska by Matt Thompson

    Image

    I’ve read and reviewed plenty of books in my time. Some of these books have been written by individuals that I have not known personally (the vast majority. in fact). However, some of these books have been written by friends or colleagues with whom I am well-acquainted. When reviewing these books, I have to be careful to stay objective. I usually pretend that the book I’m reviewing was written by someone else entirely, someone that I don’t know, in order to give the review the emotional distance it deserves.

    And if the book is bad (oh, God forbid it), then I lie. When my friend or neighbor or loved one asks me what I thought about the book, I spit half-truths through gritted teeth. This approach takes a great deal of energy and usually results in me feeling exhausted and unfulfilled by the conversation.

    When it comes to Oleanders in Alaska by Matt Thompson, though, I’m happy to say that I do not have to lie. This book is fantastic. Let’s talk about it.

    Here’s the book description from Amazon.com: “Not all lives seem connected, but when a storm hits in St. Laurent’s, Alaska, the lives of many are thrown together. They find that their lives weren’t really so far apart to begin with, but quite the opposite.”

    Throughout the novel, the people of St. Laurent’s, Alaska interact and develop relationships with one another. Thompson handles their backstories with a masterful touch, revealing details only when they are relevant to the present action. Although the novel is short, it contains a great deal of emotional and psychological depth and character growth. The prose in and of itself is an absolute delight.

    Thompson’s latest novel is a treat. Oleanders in Alaska presents the struggles, triumphs, and journeys of the citizens of a small Alaskan town. It is a pleasure to read and even more so to review. If you love literary fiction, you should consider this novel your next must-read.

    Want me to review your book? Email me or leave a comment!

    2

  • Book Review: Flowers in the Attic by V. C. Andrews

    books

    I’ll be the first one to tell you that I love scary things. Whether it be books, movies, or video games, I love any story that gives me the creeps. Blame my weird fascination with horror on R. L. Stine’s Goosebumps series and the television show Are You Afraid of the Dark?. Whatever the cause, I love anything that frightens me. And Flowers in the Attic is no exception. Note: this review contains some spoilers.

    I feel like I’m the last person in the world to have heard about this book. V. C. Andrews wrote it in 1979, so it has certainly been around for a while. The book achieved widespread popularity after its release, selling over forty million copies worldwide. In 1987, it was adapted into a movie. Somehow, though, I still hadn’t encountered it until discovering it on a list of contemporary classics. I’m so happy that I found it.

    The narrator of the novel is Catherine Dollanganger, a young girl who wants to grow up to become a ballerina. After Catherine’s father dies in an automobile accident, Catherine’s family loses all of their money and possessions. Corinne, Catherine’s mother, moves her four children (Christopher, Catherine, Cory, and Carrie) out of their family home and into the house where she’d lived as a child. Corinne’s wealthy parents have written her out of their will, and she hopes to win back her father’s approval and secure a stable future for herself and for her children.

    Upon arriving at Foxworth Hall, the house of Corinne’s parents, the children discover that the grandfather has no idea that they exist. Apparently, he and the grandmother would view them as an abomination because they are the product of incest. Corinne goes along with the grandmother’s plan to hide her children in the attic. The mother assures the children that they will only have to stay in the attic for one night. The next morning, she says, they can come out into the open.

    Needless to say, the children spend a great deal more time in the attic than they anticipate. Without giving too much away, days turn into weeks and months and even years. As the children grow older, they also grow weaker. Could it be that their mother has no intention of ever letting them out of the attic?

    Flowers in the Attic is a chilling story that reveals the dark side of human nature and the capacity for imagination and innovation in children. This book is certainly not a light read, but it’s hard to put down. If you’re looking for something haunting, psychological, and intense, be sure to pick up V. C. Andrews’ bestselling novel.

    Have you read this book? What did you think of it?

    2

  • Costume Ideas Based on Literary Characters

    costume

    In case you hadn’t noticed, Halloween is close at hand. It’s less than a week away. If you don’t have a Halloween costume yet, there’s no need to panic. I’m happy to help. Here are a couple of ideas based on characters from famous works of literature.

    Hester Prynne

    All you need for this look is a black dress, a white apron, some black shoes, and a scarlet letter. Bonnet and child born of wedlock are optional.

    Jay Gatsby

    Pull off the infamous American Dreamer by dressing in a suit and carrying around a glass of champagne. Be sure to mention Daisy and green lights wherever you go. Also, don’t forget to say, “old sport” as much as humanly possible. Bonus points for hosting a legendary Halloween party without sending out any invitations.

    Big Brother

    Take a piece of poster board and cut out a hole in the middle for your head to fit through. Write BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU in bold letters with a permanent marker. For added paranoia, hide cameras all over your friends and family. And grow some nasty facial hair. By the way, you may or may not actually exist. Keep that in mind.

    Mina Harker
    Here’s another for the ladies. Put on a nightgown, preferably a lacy one. Muss your hair and wear it loose. Apply fake blood to your neck as though you’ve been bitten by a vampire. Faint constantly throughout the evening. Babble incoherently about uninvited nighttime guests.

    I know this post is short, but this should’ve given you a few ideas for your Halloween costume. 
    What do you think? What are you going to be for Halloween?
  • Books to Get You in the Spooky Spirit

    pump

    I love Halloween. You should know that about me. I also love reading.

    Why not combine the two?

    There are several books that I love to reread around this time of year. These books are full of thrills, chills, suspense, scares, horror, and mayhem – every spooky sensation that you can imagine. That’s what makes them perfect for an All Hallows Eve read. If you’re looking to curl up with a creepy classic or a contemporary chiller, check out one from this list:
    • Dracula by Bram Stoker – Whether or not you’ve read the book, the story of Dracula is certainly familiar to almost anyone. Read about the vampire that inspired them all. The cool thing about this book is that it is told in the form of letters from several different characters.
    • The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux – Another haunting read whose story is pervasive in modern culture. This novel tells the story of the ghost of the Paris Opera House and his obsessive attraction toward a young chorus girl. Fear, violence, love triangles – what’s not to love? And yes, this is the book that inspired one of the longest-running shows in theatre history.
    • Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier – Released in 1938 and made into a movie by none other than Alfred Hitchcock, Rebecca has been dazzling audiences since its initial release. Hands down one of the best books I’ve ever read. I couldn’t put it down. Without spoiling anything, this book is about a young woman who marries a widower with a mysterious past. It. Is. Good.
    • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte – One of the most famous examples of the gothic romance. Jane Eyre is a young woman who falls in love with her employer… and finds that he has a skeleton in his closet (or perhaps in his attic, but I’ll say no more). If you read it in school, it’s worth a second look.
    • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley – This is the novel that birthed science fiction. And it was written by a woman. Need I go on? If you read this book, you’ll understand why some people cringe when you refer to the monster as “Frankenstein.”
    • The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne – Okay, okay. This book is not necessarily scary, but parts of it are unnerving. Hester Prynne has an affair and is forced to wear a scarlet “A” on her chest so that everyone will know her crime. This novel is haunting, and I can’t explain why.
    • The Shining by Stephen King – The King of Horror writes the King of all horror novels. Just read it, mmkay?
    • Misery by Stephen King – Another masterpiece from the master himself. Man, do I love Stephen King. Even if you’ve seen the movie, you should probably read the book.
    • Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews – This book creeped me the eff out. A mother keeps her children locked up in an attic for over two years. Terrifying because it reveals the dark side of human nature. I couldn’t put this one down, either.
    Of course, these are just some of my favorite scary reads for the scariest time of the year. I’m interested to see which of these books you’ve read and enjoyed. 
    What do you like to read around Halloween? What books did I miss?
    Helene in Between

  • Cheap Books and Fried Dough

    funnel-cake

    I spent this past weekend at school for a couple of reasons, one of which was Deep Roots. For those of you unfamiliar with the area, Deep Roots is an all-day event downtown with food, games, vendors, drinks, performances, and live music. It’s basically the most exciting thing to happen to this town all year.

    I spent a whopping four hours at Deep Roots with my boyfriend, friend, and roommate. While the four of us were out, we watched a STOMP-like performance, danced in a flash mob rendition of “The Time Warp” from Rocky Horror, bought over a dozen books, chowed down on funnel cake, and had a fantastic time.

    If you like to read, let me tell you about the awesome deals I got on books. Have you spent much time at antique or thrift stores? Maybe you’ve noticed that these places also sell books. These books are CHEAP. I picked up twenty for only sixteen dollars. How cool is that?

    Also, I’m sorry if I made everyone crave funnel cake. Luckily, I found a recipe that you can try out at home! While you’re reading that post, follow that blog. It’s fantastic.

    All in all, I had an excellent weekend. What about you guys? What did you do?