Confession: I love when books are made into movies

It’s true. I love it when a book gets adapted for the big screen. Gasp! Ugh! WHAT? Yeah, yeah. I know, I know! But, I’m sorry. I can’t help it. Whenever I find out one of my favorite novels has made it to Hollywood, my heart does a giddy leap and my feet do a happy dance.

Oh, and, er, I like Katy Perry, too…

*throat clear*

Yeah…Apparently, this is gonna be “one of those” confessions (brutally honest and slightly shameful). You better prepare yourselves…

On Sunday night, I watched the Golden Globe Awards (wow, two seconds in and already another confession: I love Awards Season; love the glitz and glam, the Red Carpets, the golden trophies, all of it!). Anyways, as I watched Sunday’s show, I realized how many of the films nominated this year are based off books (12 Years a SlaveCaptain Phillips, Philomena, Labor Day). How cool is that? Well, it was cool enough to prompt me to write about this debatable topic.

The moment I hear one of my favorite books is going to be adapted to screen, I think, “Yes! At last, I get to see this awesome story brought to life!” Then I proceed to tell everyone in the world about it. Like, everyone. Example: When I discovered The Book Thief was going to be made into a movie, I almost peed my pants (almost!), and then I went on to blog and Tweet about it, and share the news on Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest…


I admit, I went a little crazy with the news. But, I couldn’t help it. The Book Thief is one of my favorite books of all time…Of course, it’s not the only book I’ve ever shouted, “Extra! Extra! Read all about it!” for. I’ve done this with countless novels, including The Mortal Instruments: City of BonesBeautiful Creatures, Catching Fire, Divergent, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Fault in Our Stars, The Help, If I Stay, The Maze Runner…Sheesh, there have been/will be a lot of quality books put on the big screen. And, yes, I plan on seeing them all (if I haven’t seen them already).

Unfortunately, not all book-to-film projects succeed. Far, far from it (don’t even get me started on Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief or Eragon). That’s why I always try and keep a level head when I enter a theater to watch these adapted films. As I sit down and dig into my popcorn and Peanut M&Ms, I give myself a firm mental slap and tell myself, “Jenna, this isn’t the book. It’s the movie version of the book. Things are going to be changed and slashed and rotated and implanted and screwed up! So don’t get your hopes up.” And, thanks to that personal pep talk, I’ve saved myself from innumerable broken hearts and shattered dreams.

Now, I know what many of you are thinking right: A bad movie means bad press for the book, which means the book will lose readers in the long run. On some level, I agree with you. If a movie bombs at the box office, there will surely be people–many people–who’ll never read its book. But, if you think about it, even if a movie does an amazing job, there’s a good chance people still won’t read its book. It’s sad, but there are (and probably always will be) more people in this world who’d rather watch a two-hour movie than read a 400-page book.

So sad. So disappointing…

Okay, let’s move away from the negative and look at these positive facts:

First, movies raise awareness. How many people would even know about certain books if they didn’t have a movie made for them? We’re not all book nerds. Heck, I AM a book nerd and even I don’t always get the memo, not even for big blockbusters like Harry Potter (yeah, go ahead and mark that down as shameful confession #500 in this post). Movies help draw attention to good (and not so good) books and promote them to the non-reading masses. And, more and more often, they seem to spark an interest in books, especially in younger audiences.

Second, movies can make books more likeable. I can’t tell you how many I’ve read that I just didn’t like and/or didn’t get.

Then I saw their movie version and was like, “Ohhh. Got it!”, followed by, “Ohhh, I like it!” Sometimes, you just need to “see” a plot unfold, or “watch” a character develop, or “hear” a story told. And thanks to movie magic, those things can happen and book epiphanies can take place. Stories that didn’t translate so well on paper can be appreciated on screen (same story, different format).

Look, there are plenty of reasons to love or hate Hollywood for adapting our favorite books. Perhaps you think movie versions discourage people from reading? Perhaps you think a book should be left in its purest, most natural form; it’s a piece of art that shouldn’t be tainted with brutal editing and iffy casting? Perhaps you just don’t like movies?

Or perhaps you’re like me and you think movies honor books? Perhaps you think they take the characters you loved so much on a black and white page and give them life–moving, breathing, colorful life? Perhaps you think movies are a celebration–a giant congratulatory pat on the back to the author who wrote a great book–a double thumbs up for a job well done?

Okay, go for it: tell me what you think. Are you pro-adaptations? Or do you think it’s a crime against nature when Hollywood gets their hands on your favorite book?

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Book Review: Fractured by Teri Terry

17269399Fractured by Teri Terry


“Perfect for fans of the dystopian settings of The Hunger Games and Divergent, the gripping second installment of the Slated trilogy is a riveting psychological thriller set in a future where violent teens have their memory erased as an alternative to jail.

Kyla has been Slated—her personality wiped blank, her memories lost to her forever. Or so she thought. She shouldn’t be able to remember anything. But increasingly she can—and she’s discovering that there are a lot of dark secrets locked away in her memories. When a mysterious man from her past comes back into her life and wants her help, she thinks she’s on her way to finding the truth. But this new knowledge lands her in the middle of a tug-of-war between two dangerous adversaries, and despite her misgivings about both of them, she’s forced to choose a side for her own protection.”

Jen’s Review

Overall, I enjoyed this sequel to Slated. In fact, I’d say I enjoyed it more (a rare occurrence in the land of trilogies). Why? Fractured was edgier, sharper and, in my opinion, stronger. I’m still in love Teri Terry’s concept of wiping away memories and giving criminals a clean slate, and I’m thoroughly enjoying her mysterious plot. All of the questions I had from book one are starting to get answered, and each answer is intriguing and satisfying…Though, to be honest, they’re not always surprising. There were twists and turns in Fractured I was able to predict a mile away. But no worries. They were still fun to experience!

My only ongoing complaint are some of the characters. In Slated, I forgave Kyla’s passivity for being a slated; passivity is a common side effect of the memory wiping operation. In Fractured, however, my forgiveness began to wane. I understand Kyla’s need to be cautious and wise, and I get she’s on the quiet side, but it came to a point when I wanted her to act up–act out! But every time she was about to, she’d fold in on herself yet again…I wish she’d at least have had someone to confide in–her “mom”, Aiden, Tori. Someone to open up and talk to without fear. I grew weary of living inside her head. I wanted her thoughts to be verbally expressed and bounced around with someone else.

I also continue to have concerns about Kyla’s main love interest, Ben. Simply put, I feel no emotional attachment to him. He’s, well, dull. One dimensional. And, I hate to say it, flaky. Which made Kyla’s ongoing infatuation with him irritating and tiresome. Why does she feel so connected to Ben? Because they like to run together? Because he’s good looking? Because he was the first person she felt safe enough to confide in? Because she’s a stronger person than him and thinks she has the power to control him in the future (that is starting to become the only logical answer to me)? I’m disappointed Teri Terry has chosen Ben to be “the one”. She offers up so many other juicy potentials for male leads (Aiden, Mac, KATRAN!)

Speaking of Katran…He is, by far, my favorite character of the series. And he’s hardly in it! I found myself searching for his name on each page, praying it would pop up. When it did, I’d give an internal cheer and gobble up the too few paragraphs he was featured in. Katran is so interesting, so addicting. Violent, yet sweet. Vicious, yet gentle. Why is he this way? Is there hope for him to be a better man? Does he love Kyla? Why? What is their history?…These were the questions that flew through my mind whenever he’d appear. And they were questions that went–mostly–unanswered. To be honest, I’m feeling on the bitter side of life right now with how Katran’s character was handled. I wish, wish, wish Teri Terry would’ve given him more page time. A bigger role. I wish he was the “Ben” of the story.

Anyways, as I said before, I enjoyed this book. I did. I know I have some problems with a few of the characters, but that doesn’t stop me from highly recommending the series. It’s fun, different and fast-paced. I’m looking forward to reading its final installment, Shattered, when it’s released this spring.

Jen’s Rating

3 Star

Read more about Fractured here.

Book Review: Horde by Ann Aguirre

10596724Horde by Ann Aguirre


“The epic conclusion to the USA Today bestselling trilogy.
The horde is coming.
Salvation is surrounded, monsters at the gates, and this time, they’re not going away. When Deuce, Fade, Stalker and Tegan set out, the odds are against them. But the odds have been stacked against Deuce from the moment she was born. She might not be a Huntress anymore, but she doesn’t run. With her knives in hand and her companions at her side, she will not falter, whether fighting for her life or Fade’s love.
Ahead, the battle of a lifetime awaits. Freaks are everywhere, attacking settlements, setting up scouts, perimeters, and patrols. There hasn’t been a war like this in centuries, and humans have forgotten how to stand and fight. Unless Deuce can lead them.
This time, however, more than the fate of a single enclave or outpost hangs in the balance. This time, Deuce carries the banner for the survival of all humanity.”

Jen’s Review

Overall, I’d say this was a fitting, satisfying conclusion to the Razorland Series. I have to admit I found the first half of Horde…hmm…I’m still not sure. I can’t say it was “boring” or “slow” as there was plenty of action. But it wasn’t exactly thrilling or exciting, either. It was missing that special something–that “I can’t put this book down!” feeling, which is something I definitely want to feel while reading a book, especially a final one in a great series. Maybe it was because the majority of the plot revolved around Deuce and her sidekicks traveling from town to town with the occasional Freak skirmish? It became slightly redundant. Travel, travel, fight! Travel, travel, fight!

However, the second half of Horde made up for its mediocre start. Although it was filled with more traveling and battling, the characters became more interesting and engaging, the plot’s temperature heated up and pulled me in, and that “I can’t put this book downfeeling sprang to life. Thank. God. And, without giving anything away, I appreciated how the story ended. It was, in my mind, perfect. Thank you, Ann Aguirre!

All in all, I’d recommend the Razorland Series to those who enjoyed other dystopians like Hunger Games, Under the Never Sky and Legend

Jen’s Rating

3 Star

Read more about Horde here!

Movie Review: Hunger Games – Catching Fire

Good news book nerds: The adaption of Catching Fire was aaaah-mazing. When I walked out of the theater yesterday, I felt like I’d just re-read the entire book. I loved how the film remained true to Suzanne Collins’s dystopian world and brought it to life in the most enthralling way possible.

Two big thumbs up!

Everything I expected, everything I wanted, made it into the movie. From the fiasco at District 11 during Katniss and Peeta’s Victory Tour, to Wiress’s sane/insane “tick-tock, tick-tock” muttering, to Gale’s ominous “Katniss, there is no District 12.” line. And then there were the smaller details I’d hoped to see, but didn’t expect, like Finnick’s flirty sugar cube offer, President Snow’s bleeding mouth ulcers, and Johanna Mason’s shocking, but hilarious strip down in the elevator.

There were even direct lines from the book that made it into the film, including Katniss and Peeta’s conversation about their favorite colors (green and sunset orange). And, my personal favorite, Peeta’s simple promise to Katniss: “Always.”

Of course there were tweaks here and there that diehard fans might notice–like the reason for Gale’s flogging (book: illegal hunting; film: interfering/tackling the new head Peacekeeper). But let’s remember: this is a movie and not all audience members are bookaholics like us. So, some details must be sacrificed for the greater good and to keep things moving along. And, in my opinion, the details that were sacrificed were so small, so insignificant, that it didn’t matter.

All in all, this was an awesome adaptation of Catching Fire, and I highly recommend both fans of the Hunger Games series and those new to the story to go see it. Of course, I still encourage people to read the books beforehand, because no matter how great a film is, the book is ALWAYS better! 😉

Great job, Catching Fire team. Great job! I’m now looking forward to Mockingjay.

Jen’s Rating

5 Star

What is the best YA novel of all time? Round one

Go vote!

Jen’s Top 5 Underdogs

This weekend, there’s a little annual event called the Rocky Mountain Showdown. Now, many of you probably have no idea what that is, so I’ll tell you. The Rocky Mountain Showdown is one of the fiercest, meanest, most nail-biting college sports events of the year in Colorado, when the CSU Rams (woo, woo!) take on the CU Buffs (boo, hiss!).

130730093521_Rocky Mountain Showdown 2013

Yes, I will be cheering for the Colorado State Rams this weekend. For three reasons:

  1. I went to CSU.
  2. I’ve despised CU since the 7th grade when a CU fan spit on me and “accidentally” spilled his beer in my hair for wearing the wrong jersey.
  3. I always cheer for the underdog. And CSU is definitely the underdog in this matchup. Since 1893, our team has only won 21 times. Did you hear that? 21! CU fans never waste a second to point out that lopsided stat whenever the smack talking begins. But you know what my response to them is?

“Never rule out the power of the underdog.”


Underdogs are the slyest, wiliest and most audacious characters around. They seize the day and sneak in the back door to steal the show. Nobody expects them to win. Nobody. That’s why I love them–both on the football field and in books. When the underdog triumphs, the victory feels like the Fourth of July and a midnight Harry Potter book release party rolled into one. It’s the first day of summer and the last day of a job you hated. It’s melting ice cream cones and purple sunsets. Fluffy beds and See’s Chocolates. When the underdog wins, it’s spectacular!

So, in celebration of this weekend and the hope that the CSU Underdogs–I mean, Rams–will defeat the CU Jerks–I mean, Buffs–I’ve come up with a list of my Top 5 Favorite Underdogs. The ones that came from behind, proved their enemies wrong, and made me go, “Woo, woo!”.

1. Neville Longbottom, Harry Potter

“I’ll join you when hell freezes over! Dumbledore’s Army!” Through seven books, we agonizingly watched Harry’s fellow Gryffindor get mocked, ridiculed and called a Squib. We winced, we laughed and, best of all, we incredulously witnessed Neville Longbottom transform from a clumsy, stuttering child…

into a rebellious, dauntless young man that defies Lord Voldemort and proves Harry isn’t the only badass in town.

2. Samwise Gamgee, The Lord of the Rings

“Let us be rid of it–once and for all. Come on, Mr. Frodo. I can’t carry it for you…But I can carry you.” Oh, little Hobbits. So cute. So small. So insignificant…NOT! Especially Samwise Gamgee.

samwiseHe may have started out as Frodo’s food-lovin’, plain speakin’ gardener, but Sam quickly proved that the little guy can win. Without him, the One Ring would’ve slipped back on Sauron’s finger and all of Middle-Earth would’ve gone up in smoke.


3. Elizabeth Bennet, Pride & Prejudice

There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me.” Society–Schmiety. Elizabeth Bennet may not be the prettiest or wealthiest girl in town, but that doesn’t stop her from keeping her chin up and fighting for what she believes in: true love.


She stands up to her own mother, evades Mr. Collins and his precious Lady Catherine de Bourgh, and even admits she, herself, can be wrong.

Her reward?

Oh, yeahhh…

4. Peeta Melark, The Hunger Games

“Yes, frosting. The final defense of the dying.” The boy with the bread. The boy with the sweet heart. The boy that nobody, not even his own mother, believed could make it through the Games.

But he did. Against all odds–which were never in his favor–Peeta Mellark of District 12 survives the arenas, the Capitol’s tortures, and the rebellion.

And, let’s just say it, he survives Katniss Everdeen, too.

5. Minny Jackson, The Help

I say ‘ That good vanilla from Mexico’ and then I go head. I tell her what else I put in that pie for her.” Minny’s “terrible awful” thing is the strongest piece of evidence that an underdog should never be mocked, discounted or disrespected.

Not unless you wanna a dash of poo in your chocolate pie.

That’s right. Chow down, Hilly Holbrook!

Underdogs. So many times they are the heartbeat of a story. They are the ones that get you to whoop and cheer inside a quiet coffee shop. The ones you run and tell your friends about. The ones you look up to. The ones you always remember.

Now, this list obviously didn’t cover all the awesome underdogs out there. In fact, my original list had 12 (and that wasn’t even thinking about it too hard). A few of those included Jack from The Pillars of the Earth, Aria from Under the Never Skyand Beatrice “Tris” Prior from Divergent.

Okay, game time! Don’t forget to root on the underdog in the Rocky Mountain Showdown this weekend, the CSU Rams! If they win, the scene could very well look like this.

Jen’s Top 10 YA Series

My sister is a high school teacher and she tends to sucker me into helping her chaperone field trips for her FBLA and DECA students. Well, during one of these field trips, I found myself in a conversation with two girls who loved to read, but had only read the big, popular, everyone-and-their-brother-has-read-these-books series. Like, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games and Twilight.

I tried not to show my horror and started recommending a few–well, a lot–of YA series that I thought they’d enjoy. When I hit the tenth series, I stopped and told them I’d give them a written list instead. Well, that list turned out to be ginormous too, so I told them to start at the top. Those were the big ones they HAD to read.

So, in a nutshell, here’s my Top Ten list of must-read YA series. Whether you’re a teen or an adult, you’re sure to enjoy them!

1. Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor8490112Bizarre, addicting and wonderful! I loved the author’s premise, wit and style. Really, it doesn’t even matter that I haven’t read the third and final book in the series, Dreams of Gods & Monsters (set to be published on April 1st, 2014). This is absolutely my favorite YA series! Karou’s blue hair and all!

2. The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare

7171637This prequel series to Clare’s Mortal Instruments shares the same fun, rip-roaring action and smart humor, but it feels richer and more endearing. By the last page, I was crying (and I’m not a crier) and wishing a thousand times it wasn’t over. I guess I’ll just have to re-read it someday!

Lately, rumors have been swirling around that this could make it to the silver screen. Fingers crossed!

3. Delirium by Lauren Oliver

11614718The concept alone for this series is a reason to pick it up. Love is a disease, deliria, and a cure has been created to eradicate it. But, not everyone wants to be cured and an uprising begins…Now, although the series had its up’s and down’s, overall, I found it to be intriguing and addicting. Plus, it nearly became a TV series, so it definitely has mass appeal. Check it out.

Oh, and I know I’m in the minority on this, but I’m totally Team Julian. Sorry, Alex!

4. Under The Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

10756656A surprisingly enjoyable dystopian novel where the future meets the past. We’re transported from Aria’s underground world of technology and bliss, to up above, to Perry’s savage, poisoned reality “under the never sky”. The love-hate relationship between Aria and Perry is amusing and endearing to read, and has you cheering them on from beginning to end. Into the Still Blue, the third in the series, is set to be released on January 28th, 2014.

5. Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

6050678Author of the well-known Uglies series, Westerfield takes readers on an around-the-world adventure with would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Prince Aleksander, and commoner girl-disguised-as-boy, Deryn Sharp. The story is exciting, sweet and completely entertaining. Trust me, you’ll be saying “barking spiders” for weeks!

6. Maze Runner by James Dashner

6186357It’s fun, it’s intriguing, and it leaves you wondering “what the heck is going to happen next?”. The Maze Runner is vaguely reminiscent of Lord of the Flies, but with a maze, a couple of girls, and oozing, creeping creatures that attack in the night! Oh, and there’s a tiny world-wide plague that gives people zombie-like symptoms. Make sure you read all three in the series before you see it in theaters February 14th, 2014!

7. Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

8591107When it comes to books, I tend to be one of those “judge a book by its cover” kind of gals. That’s how I came to pick up The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. I just loved, loved, loved the cover. And it was worth it! This haunting story makes you question the protagonist’s sanity the entire time and…well, I don’t want to spoil it for you, so I’ll just leave it at that. You can read the next book in the Mara Dyer series, The Retribution of Mara Dyer, on June 3rd, 2014.

8. Legend by Marie Lu

9275658Lu came up with the plot for Legend when she was watching Les Miserables on TV and thought a teenaged version of the criminal vs. detective storyline would be interesting. And she was right! Hopping back and forth between the two protagonists–June, the military prodigy, and Day, the country’s most wanted criminal–this dystopian tale will have you flipping to the next page again and again. Get the final book in the series, Champion, on November 5th, 2013!

9. Shades of London by Maureen Johnson

9802372A thriller that has you both scared and laughing throughout it. After a near-death experience, Rory Deveaux begins seeing ghosts, one in particular that has been wreaking havoc on London lately: Jack the Ripper. I loved the premise, the dialogue and, more than anything, the protagonist. Simply put, Rory was one of the most amusing character’s I’ve ever read. I can’t wait to read the next in the series, The Shadow Cabinet, set for a 2014 release.

10. Lux by Jennifer L. Armentrout

12578077This last one was a bit of a toss up. I almost went with Unearthly by Cynthia Hand, but I figured I’d already covered the angels genre with Daughter of Smoke & Bone. So, I’m using this final slot for a silly and frivolous book that was too entertaining to omit. It has aliens (dun, dun, dun!) and a sizzling hot boy. How can you beat that?

Counting down the days for the 4th book’s release. Origin will hit shelves on August 27th, 2013.

Now, I know some of you may be thinking, “uh, where’s Divergent? They’re making it into a movie, after all!”. Well, to be completely honest, I loved Divergent, but I was let down by its sequel, Insurgent. It’s difficult for me to say this because I genuinely enjoy Veronica Roth’s style and imagination.  Even so, I’m waiting to read Allegiant, the final book in the series due out October 22nd, before I decide my overall feelings for this particular YA series.

Be sure to check out Goodreads for full synopses and reviews of these and so, so, so many other wonderful YA series!