Tag Archives: movie

Book vs TV Series: The Handmaid’s Tale

Hey guys! As usual, I’m sorry it’s been for-fucking-ever since I posted last, but I think I have a pretty valid excuse: we bought a townhouse! So I’ve been really busy, I’m trying to get acclimated, and get my doggy acclimated (harder than it sounds), and I just started school again. So, that being said, with all the craziness going on, I’ve managed to read a book!

Now I’m sure you’ve gathered this from the title, but I read The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. I have to be honest, I’ve heard of this book before, and have seen it in passing and book stores my whole life and never had a desire to read it until I saw a trailer for Hulu’s new original series of the same name. I was listening to Britney Spears radio Pandora (like there’s any other station, amirite?) and a REALLY short commercial came on, because I’m not paying for that “no ads” shit, that basically said something like, ‘My name is Offred. But I had another name, once, in my other life – but I was asleep then. Now I’m awake.’ or something like that and I was like SAY WHAAAAAAAAT?? So naturally I bought it immediately.

And I’m really glad I did. This book has it all. It’s interesting and intriguing from the first page to the last (particularly the last), but it doesn’t go overboard. What I mean by that is that a lot of books, especially books set in dystopian societies, tend to want to cram too much information in there. It’s like the author needs to give an explanation for why certain things happen a certain way, and while I fully agree that authors should give you information, I don’t always believe they should give you all of the information.

There are some books, like The Martian, where more information is needed because most of the readers aren’t fluid in botany, engineering, or frickin’ space travel, But some books, like Master of Disguise: My Secret Life in the CIA by Tony Mendez (the real-life guy that Ben Affleck played in Argo) that overloads you with information. I really, genuinely, honestly, do not give a fuck about all of these acronyms – I understand that a lot of government branches have long names and they require acronyms, but do you really need to bring up like twenty different branches throughout the first fifty pages and then NEVER bring up what the acronyms stand for again? I mean seriously, I was flipping through the book like four times a night trying to figure out what the hell branch of government he was talking about at any given time. I respect you, Mendez, you done good in Iran, but chill the fuck out with the acronyms.

Anyway, Atwood does a fantastic job of giving you enough information so that you know it’s sinister, or enough information to know what’s going on or what could happen, without blatantly expressing such. The novel is expertly written, it ebbs and flows back and forth between past and present, and captures the horror, complacency, terror, and understanding that come with being a Handmaid, and a person, in this society.

While I definitely could have used another 40 pages or so of information, she does offer an “Historical Notes” chapter at the very end that I found interesting, and definitely food for thought.

I will say this: if you don’t like kinda gross, but not gory details, don’t read this book. But if you love women fighting back, if you love the power and strength that women can conjure even in the hardest, darkest, and most oppressive of times, you will love this book.

I’m actually mad at myself that I never picked it up sooner, because to me it’s fantastically empowering. Nolite te bastardes carborundorum!

Now, as for the TV show…. it’s aight. *shrug emoji*

Before I continue: I’m only three episodes in, so this review may be inaccurate after I watch a few more episodes, but so far I find this show fun, entertaining, but only somewhat accurate to the book, with a few small issues hidden in there too.

Look, I’m never one of those people that thinks it needs to be exact to the book. The only time I get upset is when a movie (or in this case a TV show) changes the facts of the story. For example, I was upset when the Burrow burned down in HP and The Half-Blood Prince. I completely understood that it was for action in an otherwise non-action-y time in the movie, but the Burrow didn’t burn down in the book! The biggest problem I had with that was just the complete lack of accuracy. They could’ve just had a fight at the Burrow – that would have made sense – but to burn down the house meant that in the following movie the Burrow needed to look different than it had the previous five movies, which completely threw me off as an audience member. Now obviously that’s a small example, but honestly those are the kinds of inaccuracies that bug me in this show.

They’ve changed little facts. Like in the book we don’t know what happened to Luke, but Offred mentions he’s dead in the first or second episode (not a spoiler at all, though, guys – it happens like 30 seconds into the show). We never know Offred’s real name because her name is supposed to be a treasure and secret that’s just for her, but in the show we know it’s Jen. In the show Serena Joy is not only seemingly much younger, but also does not have the slight handicap she has in the book, and doesn’t even seem very resentful, and actually seems somewhat pleasant most of the time. The Commander as well has dark black hair in the show, but they make it a point to say that he has grey hair in the novel.

Now, okay, am I being nit-picky? Yes. But isn’t that what I’m here for?  I mean, if the question is: Is this a good, entertaining, interesting show? Then the answer is undoubtedly yes. Yes yes yes. But if the question is: Is the show basically the book but in show format? Then no. They’ve added things in, like Ofglen’s story, and they’ve taken things out, like Serena Joy’s background. Also, is it just me or do the characters seem a little disconnected from one another.

Like Nick and Offred obviously have some kind of tension between them, but Nick isn’t as flirty or sarcastic, or even as douchey in my opinion, and Offred isn’t as snarky back to him. In fact I’ve barely seen any of that and that was some of my favorite stuff from the book.

But I’ll be lenient here. I understand that they’re not making a movie, they’re creating a series and that needs to span at least twelve episodes, and from what I’ve heard they’ve been renewed for a second season. So I guess you can’t really take a 300 page book and turn it into 24 hours. Also, I will admit that I’m still early in the game: from my experience, shows start to pick up around the three episode mark, and I’m about five minutes into episode four, so maybe I just need to give it more time.

So, my final thoughts? Read the book. It’s absolutely incredible. The writing is phenomenal, the imagery is spectacular, and it’s just truly extraordinary, ESPECIALLY in today’s society, with all the crap that’s going on, and this patriarchal thought process that says women are just toys to be played with, have no say over their own bodies, and anything that goes wrong in their lives is directly caused by them and not any extenuating circumstances (*cough cough* sexual assault).

As for the show, it’s a very interesting, fun show to watch. It’s not fun in the traditional light-hearted sense, but it’s an entertaining show that keeps my interest. Have I watched better shows? Yes. Am I hesitant to watch more because they’re 57 minutes long? Yes. But if you have the time, and you like extra drama, then this is perfect for you.

But I still highly highly highly recommend the novel. I think it’s something any feminist (and don’t start on me with the feminist term, I understand people misuse it, abuse it, and use feminism as a crutch. But I’m just a traditional feminist who just genuinely wants women, and people in general, to be equal and treated equally, with the right to do whatever they please with their own body – no shaming involved! That, to me, is exactly what feminism represents, and I will use the term as such) needs to have on their bookshelf. If for no other reason than to empower yourself when you read it.

And for any man interested in this novel – good on you! I’m 100% sure that you’ll enjoy this novel, and if you don’t let me know and I would love to hear why. I think this is a great book for men to read, again, if for no other reason than you can get into the mindset of a woman who has no control over her situation and body. I’m also of the belief that the more you’re enthusiastic to learn about new topics, or topics that may not directly affect you, the more prepared and better off you’ll be for life in general. Education is a wonderful thing!

Okay! That said, I will try to continue watching the show and if I change my mind on any of my opinions stated before I just might write an edited review, so if you’re interesting in keeping a look out for that post or any other articles I write in the future, follow me! You can add your e-mail address to the box on the top right, and you’ll get a notification every time I post on here!

In the meantime, if you have any opinions, comments, or questions, please feel free to comment below or to e-mail me at rachel@booksandcleverness.com

Until next time,

Rachel

E-mail: rachel@booksandcleverness.com

Book vs Movie: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

I finished Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them!!! And let me tell you – it was mediocre.

Okay, let me explain: I’m a huge nerd.

I am a HUGE Harry Potter fan. I love everything about it. I love the books, I love the movies, the symbolism, the fan-base. Just everything. And I read the actual Fantastic Beasts book (the encyclopedia version, that came out as a two-pack with Quidditch Through the Ages, which was published in 2001) and I loved it because it opened up a world of new creatures I hadn’t known, or that had only been mentioned once or twice.

So when I heard that they were going to come out with a movie based on that book, but instead of an encyclopedia of animals, it was going to be a fictional story based on the author of that encyclopedia, Newt Scamander, I was thrilled! I’ve waited three years for this movie to come out, and it was fantastic (see what I did there? You can’t see me, but my eyebrows are moving up and down suggestively). It was incredible, and it actually blew me away.

It was an incredible movie. It was so much darker, and much more adult than the Harry Potter movies (I think the books are still just as dark and adult, but the movies never truly portrayed that dark, eerie, messed up world that Harry and his friends were journeying through). This movie was the perfect blend of character development and animal development. I found myself wanting less of the humans, and more of the creatures – but even so, I thought there was a great blend of the two.

The main character, Newt, was wonderful. He was exactly the type of antisocial, awkward, uncomfortable person that I could imagine would make a life out of studying magical creatures. I loved how awkward and how much unease he seemed to feel around humans, but how relaxed and free he felt around the creatures, and talking about the creatures. It’s this spectacular transition that I thought genuinely made this movie come to life. Newt could have been any one of us nerds. He could’ve been me, being awkward around others, with a quizzical nature towards people who want me to feel accepted …. Is this a trick? Do you actually want me here, or should I just go find a dog to pet?

The cinematics of this film were wonderful. The colors were beautiful, the CGI and 3-D animation were seamless, and the music was the perfect at every instance.

But the book. Oh God, the book.

I didn’t realize they were coming out with a screenplay of the book until maybe a week before I saw the movie. I was thrilled, though. I knew it was a screenplay, and not a novel, but I felt like the script for the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Pt. 1&2 was pretty great, so why wouldn’t this screenplay be? I was wrong.

Look, there are great parts to this book: the cover is beautiful, it’s made to look like a 1920’s hardcover novel, and the interior art is absolutely stunning! It’s honestly the beautiful book I’ve ever seen in my life – no joke. But the writing is not as good. I feel horrible saying it, because I love JK Rowling so much, but the writing is subpar. ne60ri1lfofa99_2_b

It’s written in screenplay version. So it’s supposed to be written with very little detail, since the real detail should be in facial expressions, scene art, and story. But that’s the thing – this book is word-for-word the movie.

The only part that is different is the very first page, where they show Gellert Grindelwald killing a bunch of people. Every single thing afterward, including the newspaper articles from the beginning of the movie, are in there. No extra dialogue, no extra information, no extra subtext, or body language, or anything that would make me truly imagine what was going on.

In fact, I’m so happy that I watched the movie before reading this screenplay because I can guarantee I would have been like, “what the hell am I reading?” because there just wasn’t enough description of characters and animals for it to actually make sense, or for me to truly imagine what I was reading.

I saw the movie twice in theatres, once with my boyfriend, and once with the rest of my family – but honestly I feel like I watched it two and half times, and the last half just wasn’t as fun.

I’m really disappointed, actually, because I was very excited for this screenplay and I’ve NEVER disliked something that JK Rowling has written. I was skeptical when The Cursed Child came out, and I was expecting to hate it, but I didn’t. It wasn’t a perfect book, but it was still very good. This book I just don’t like at all.

I’m glad I own it for aesthetic purposes, but honestly I wouldn’t recommend reading it. I DO, however, want you to know that I am not only recommending that you see the movie, but demanding that you see the movie if you like this type of story, or are a Harry Potter nerd like myself. It’s uttertly fantastic!

The movie is obviously the clear winner in this case, so my tally is:

Book: 8, Movie: 6 

Let me know in the comments or via e-mail if you felt any differently. I don’t know if maybe I was just expecting more from the book and was just let down, or if there were other people out there who didn’t like it as much as I did.

Until next time,

Rachel

e-mail: rachel@booksandcleverness.com

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts I & II Review

Hi friends! Guess who read the new Harry Potter book? This guy!

I got my preordered copy of Harry Potter and Cursed Child on Monday the first, I believe. I halted the book I was reading (Cress by Marissa Meyer) and went straight into this book. If you can show me a person that says they can sit through a book they’re already reading when they have a new HP book sitting on their shelf, I will show you a liar. Harry Potter waits for no one.

For those who don’t know, I am a HUGE Harry Potter nerd. I love it, I have a tattoo for it, I have a painting for it, my life is basically all HP, and my blog is named for one of my favorite lines in the entire series, “Books! And cleverness! There are more important things – friendship and bravery” … I’ll admit, I omitted the latter half because I mean, really, what’s more important than books?

So I sat down a week ago and read the book. Admittedly it took me three days to do so, but I finished it! And oh my god…

This was completely different than the usual HP books, which was both good and bad:

First of all, it’s written like a play is written. For good reason: it’s the book based off of the play that just took stage in London. It’s supposed to be the same story that they’re doing on stage, only they turned it into a book for everyone to read instead of just the lucky few who get to see it on stage.

I am a huge fan of the fact that they released this book. I remember how bummed out I was when they said there was going to be a play but it was in London. I actually considered just going to London to see that play, so having the play in my hands and only paying twenty bucks instead of probably over 2,000 bucks was an amazing feeling.

The story itself is fantastic. I was hesitant at first because I thought, ,”okay, am I really going to sit down and try to feel okay about Harry being a forty-year-old father?” But I thought they did a great job.harry-potter-and-the-cursed-child-poster-461923

This book picks up exactly where we left off at the end of HP and the Deathly Hallows which I thought was a really great way to start the book. Just from the first few pages in King’s Cross Station I could already start to get a feel of the characters and their differences and similarities to the original books.

The plot was fun. It’s about Harry’s son, Albus Severus, who is trying to find his own identity at Hogwarts while everyone thinks he should be just as great as his dad (or the two wizards he’s named after…. Side note: I always thought it was fucked up that he named his kid Albus Severus because it seemed like a pretty heavy burden to put on someone. They’d constantly be trying to live up to the name. But in the book Harry actually asks a portrait of Dumbledore how he feels about having someone named after him and Dumbledore, being the smarty pants he is, says that it seems like a big weight to put on a kid! Ha! I was right.)

Albus Severus then goes on an adventure with his best friend Scorpius (Malfoy’s son) to try to change the past. Adventure ensues. I won’t give it away because I think it would make it much less exciting if you knew the whole story.

Now, while I enjoyed the books I did have a few dislikes:

As much as I love plays (I’m a Shakespeare girl through and through) I really do wish this were in novel format. Not because it wasn’t an amazing story the way it was, it really was an amazing story, but rather because I feel like there could have been so much more detail. I thought there were times where everything felt like it got cut off – because it was.

Because it’s in a play format, you don’t necessarily have all the imagery that you’re used to with Harry Potter books. There were several times that a scene ended and I was like, “no, there has to be more… Right?”

The problem with play format is that its broken down into what the character is saying, a small descriptive action, and then back to what a character is saying (obviously not always in that order). But because it’s broken up that way you almost don’t get as many of the descriptive emotions going on – you just have to identify it for yourself. Part of me is fine with that, but the other part of me wishes there was more meat to these bones.

The other thing I wasn’t crazy about was the portrayal of Ron. I know this is going to sound nit-picky, and it really is. But one of my favorite characters is Ron because he’s so cheeky, sarcastic, and just kind of reckless. Whereas in this book I didn’t get the same feeling from Ron. I got the same feeling from Hermione, from Harry, Ginny and Malfoy, but there was a disconnect for me with Ron.

Ron in this book felt more staged, almost like they wanted to have him say something funny but it just didn’t work. I wish they had more fluidity with his character.

Now, do I think that that’s a deal breaker? No. Do I think that makes the book any less great? No. I just really wish that there had been more “Ron” in Ron’s character in the book.

Other than that, I really did think this was a great book. It was so exciting to finally read a new HP story with new characters and a whole new generation.

I thought the idea was fantastic, the writing was impeccable (You can always count on Jo), and mostly the feeling of being back in the Wizarding World made me feel as free and welcomed as it always has.

Once again, JK Rowling has done it. She’s made me fall in love with Harry Potter all over again.

Now who’s ready for Fantastic Beasts????

Until next time,

Rachel

P.S. If you have any opinions on the book, have seen the play, or just want to talk to me about everything (because I want to talk to you about everything) leave a message in the comments or shoot me an e-mail: rachel@booksandcleverness.com

Book vs Movie: The Revenant

Well well well, look what the cat dragged in… Or should I say, “look what the grizzly dragged in???” (Forgive me, my vocabulary is limited to sarcasm and dad jokes) I know this review is a little bit late to the game but better late than never, right?

Let’s get started: About a week or so after it came out, my boyfriend and I watched the brand spankin’ new movie The Revenant starring the ever-so-awesome Jack Dawson (aka Leonardo DiCaprio) [… side note, does anyone else think of Leo as Jack still? Because that love will never die in my mind and is always the first thing that comes to mind. DAMNIT LEO AND KATE GET TOGETHER ALREADY!] 

We went in to the movie trying to keep our expectations to a minimum. The last time we saw a movie that was that hyped up we were so disappointed. To be specific, that movie was Mad Max: Fury Road. Mad Max got something crazy like 99% on Rotten Tomatoes and everyone was saying it was the greatest movie of all time. So of course I’m expecting the best movie ever. Instead I got a two hour desert car chase.

Before anyone argues with me, I want to say that when the movie came out on DVD my boyfriend and I bought it and gave it another shot and actually really enjoyed it! The problem lies in the hype:

You see, for most movies that come out with five star ratings, everyone expects the best movie ever – they don’t go in appreciating the movie for what it is. With Mad Max, it just so happened to be one of the most extraordinary car chases I’ve ever seen. But again, how was I supposed to enjoy that when everyone is saying it’s a feminist masterpiece and the most brilliantly made film since Avatar?

So like I said, my expectations were lower than usual because I just didn’t want to feed into the hype. Fortunately, my expectations were exceeded. The Revenant kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. There was never a dull moment, even in the slowest moments I was still wholly captivated.

Which is why when we went out to dinner one night and I saw The Revenant in Barnes & Noble under the Page to Screen section, I was thrilled! Should I have spent the money? Probably not. But was it worth it? Definitely. (I can practically hear my wallet yelling from the living room, “Ah’r you f#*&ing kidding me? I’m bleedin’ ova here!”Apparently my wallet is an Italian Mobster – No ragrets)

Anyway, I bought the book when I was still reading the Dan Brown novels  – which I will tell you about, by the way, I just need a break from the disappointment – and mentioned the book in one of my posts. I was surprised that one of my favorite bloggers Bottles And Bookends had heard the actual story of the main character. I was actually impressed that this was a true story and I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to read it.

Well it took me probably about a week or a week and a half to finish the book. It’s not that big, less than 300 pages, but I’ve been a slow reader recently so I was actually pretty pleased on my timing. But let me tell you … you have to read this book.

This novel was phenomenal. From the very first page I was completely hooked. The author, Michael Punke, did so much research and really got the feel of early 1800’s trappers and Native Americans and put them in this small but powerful book. The writing was an interesting style akin to watching a movie. The constant change of what I’ll call “point of view” for lack of a better word, made the book all the more authentic.

It was poignant, it was different, it was rough at times, incredibly detailed, and all over a well written novel.

Now here’s the tricky part: was the movie similar to the book? Yes. But did the movie take a hell of a lot of creative liberties? Abso-fucking-lutely. For starters, Hugh Glass does not have a child in this book. And anyone knows from the trailer of the movie that this man is seeking revenge because of his son. So that’s plot difference number one.

Number two: the movie, remarkably, is mostly following one man’s journey for revenge. A solo adventure to find the men who deserted him. The book, however, offers a much more realistic take: the main character is seeking revenge on his own, but often needs the assistance of other people in the surrounding areas to survive.

Number three: The ending. I’m not even going to touch on the ending because I don’t want to give it away, but the endings of the two Revenants are different. One is more concrete while the other is open to interpretation.

But let me say this. absolutely adore historical fiction. I think it’s incredible. I love being transported into a world not entirely unlike my own, still based on fact, but obviously maneuvered to make it more appealing and exciting to read. This book hit that mark to a tee. If you like historical fiction, this is the perfect book for you.

As for book versus movie. I honestly don’t think that there’s a way to compare the two. While there were obvious similarities between them, I truly believe that the movie was a 10/10, and the book was 10/10, but for different reasons.

For that I’m calling this one a tie.

I do very highly recommend this book. And I highly recommend seeing the movie and then reading this book, because it was really cool to see the dramatization and get interested in that story and then go and read a more realistic interpretation of what actually happened.

So what are you waiting for? You’ve listened to my dad jokes enough – go read!

Until next time,

Rachel

P.S. Thank you for supporting me for 50 posts! I’m so excited that I get to share my thoughts and ramblings with you guys and I’m so thankful that you find me interesting enough to stick around. Here’s to the next 50!

e-mail: rachel@booksandcleverness.com

Book vs Movie: The DaVinci Code // Review

Whaddup peeps? As of exactly seven days ago, I finished the second book in the Robert Langdon series by Dan Brown, The DaVinci Code.

First things first: I would like to preface this by saying that this book was amazing. But I would also like to say that the movie, while similar, was not as good as the book.

I think I told you guys a while ago that I had re-watched the movie The DaVinci Code for the first time in like 10 years. I really, really enjoyed the movie and was so excited about it that I went to straight to the bookstore to pick up the first two books in the series, Angels & Demons and The DaVinci Code. The first book, A&D, was spectacular. I was so enthralled in this book from beginning to end, it was just really fun and interesting and I loved it.

I felt the same way about The DaVinci Code – it was extremely well written, well researched, and put together. It had everything and more that I could want from a murder mystery book, and it really made me think back on history and Bible versus and things that I never could have put together to make an interesting chain of historical evidence (whether it’s fiction or not, it’s very intriguing.)

That being said, by reading this book I was actually a little more disappointed in the movie version. First of all, I don’t think they should have released the movie counterpart BEFORE A&D. Since it technically comes first in the series I think it would have made more sense to continue with releasing the movies in chronological order simply because of the character development that happens in Angels & Demons.

Here’s where I want to clarify something: I was super excited when I realized that the first movie was actually the second book. I thought it was really cool that they could switch up stories like that and still make everything in the plot make sense.

What I didn’t like was the fact that Robert Langdon, the main character and symbologist, was used in the movie to promote the fact that Sophie was related to Jesus and therefore had healing powers. In the first book, Angels & Demons, Langdon goes through a lot of difficult situations involving tight quarters and closed off spaces. Langdon, you may have guessed, is claustrophobic. He doesn’t like elevators, he doesn’t like planes, he doesn’t like anything small and enclosed.

Well, in the first book that’s never resolved; that’s just his character flaw. Good ol’ Langdon, always finding himself in tiny closed off places! That scamp! In the second book, this flaw is still not resolved. But in the first movie The DaVinci Code it is! In the movie Sophie has this weird healing power that allows her to touch people’s foreheads and cure them. So what does Sophie do? She puts her hand on Robert Langdons head and he all of a sudden can be stuck in tight corners. WHAT?!

Fine. I get that you’re trying to make a point to really prove that she has these mystical ties to Jesus and that Mary Magdalene and Jesus are her ancestors. But are you really going to sit there and tell me that she can frickin’ heal people by touching their heads but then never mention that AT ALL in the book? Like where do you even come up with that part of the plot? It’s never alluded to in the novel, it’s never mentioned that some ancestors had magical healing powers – there’s nothing even remotely close to that to give anyone that idea, and yet in the movie here she is just healing people whenever she wants.

I don’t know, I know this is a small flaw to find but it actually really irks me. I feel like if you’re going to make this HUGE point of proving that this woman is related to Jesus then you should back it up. In the book it would have been pretty easy to squeeze that little piece in because it is, after all, the second book in the series. There’s already been one book where we learn of his claustrophobia, so why not get rid of it in the second book? But they didn’t do that.

Instead, they let him stay claustrophobic and continue on to find the murderer. But in the movie they make it a big spectacle that she can heal him because that’s what her mother used to do to her and oh by the way did I mention she’s related to Jesus?

It all just seems too convenient. I was perfectly fine with having The DaVinci Code come out in film version first, I figure that each book is different enough that they can get away with it. But I just can’t condone putting magic healing powers in a movie that barely goes into his extreme fears simply to prove a point.

I can’t speak for everyone but I’m pretty sure that if we’re reading The DaVinci Code we’re not really going to second guess magical powers in the middle of the novel. It’s just not going to happen. Everyone is too involved in the book to care. I mean you could throw in a gorilla riding a unicorn with Gollum on his back yelling “I’M THE REAL JESUS” and I don’t think anyone would question it.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I would be fine with this whole healing power thing in the movie if it was alluded to in the book. But there was nothing that I read that would support that theory. And I’ve seen a lot of movies where they take away plot to fit it into the movie, I can’t remember a movie that added extra plot to it. I feel like they could have gone without it, or at least explained it a little bit in the book.

All that said, though, I thought this book was really great. If you’re someone who enjoys history, who likes reading about secret societies or if you just really like mystery novels this book is for you. It has everything in it: action, adventure, murder, love, car chases. Everything.

Dan Brown does an amazing job of really getting his readers to accept the theories he’s putting out there because without them none of the book would make sense. You can tell that he really did a lot of research and knows what he’s talking about when it comes to secret societies and rituals. He also consistently blows my mind with all of his symbolism work. I know that the main character is a symbologist, but it has to take a lot of time and effort to truly understand the meanings behind so many of the pictures, architecture and random trinkets discussed in the books.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone at all who loves mysteries. The book is about 600 pages but it goes by so fast with all of the craziness going on! I guarantee you’ll love this book. I do recommend that you read the book first in this case just because the book does a much better job at explaining all of the complicated rituals and beliefs than the movie does. The movie gives you more of a bare minimum or an overview instead of a solid explanation.

I’m going to start the next book in the series The Lost Symbol – this one is about Freemasons!! I’m very excited to read it and I’ll be sure to keep you posted on how it’s going! My only complaint so far is that they are working on the third movie which will be Inferno, but the order goes Angels & Demons, The DaVinci Code, The Lost Symbol, Inferno. I don’t know what it is about the movies, but they just want everything to be all outta whack.

If you’ve read any of the Robert Langdon series comment down below and let me know what you thought so we can talk about it and I won’t feel like a crazy person just sitting here obsessing over these books!

Until next time, friends!

Rachel

e-mail: rachel@booksandcleverness.com

Top 3 Books I Want To Read

Hi friends! So this week I’m in a funky mood. I’ve been wanting to buy more books but I don’t have enough money and I already have a ton of books that I haven’t read yet that I need to read. It pains me to want to buy books so badly and not do it, but it’s for the best, I’m sure.

I have a pretty big collection of books. Most of them I’ve read but some of them I haven’t. Recently I’ve been trying to read all the books I own instead of going out and buying new books. This is great for my bank account, and it’s super difficult for me. So rather than pine and think of all the books I want to buy, I’m going to get myself excited about the books that I already own.

So without further ado, let’s begin:

  1. The Revenant – Michael PunkeTheRevenant_Poster

I actually just saw the movie based on the book and it was fantastic! I had no idea that this movie was a book first (published in 2015) and the second I saw the cover at Barnes & Noble I had to buy it. This is my most recent purchase and I’m just itching to read it. For those who haven’t heard of the book or the movie, the premise is about a trapper in the 1800s who is mauled by a bear and left for dead, but not before his son is killed before his eyes with no way to stop it. This book/movie is the ultimate book of revenge and vindication, and I can’t wait to read it.

Side note: The movie was incredible (yes, I will eventually do a Book vs Movie on this one). And I love Leonardo DiCaprio. He’s easily one of my favorite male actors. Everything he touches turns to gold (except his Oscar…. poor Leo.)

2. The Mole People: Life in the Tunnels Beneath New York City – Jennifer Toth

This is a book I’ve wanted to read since the mid-2000s but was a little too scared to. As someone who lives relatively close to New York City, I’ve walked those streets many-a-time and don’t really like thinking that there could potentially be an entire race of people who live beneath your feet in total squalor, but with a somewhat advanced society. I don’t know, it just always scared the living daylights out of me.

molepeopleBut recently I’ve wanted to learn more. I’ve been told that this book is fiction, but nearly everything I’ve read has said that this book is categorized under “non-fiction” and “history” and that fascinates me even more. This book and the stories told within it could be fiction or they could be facts.

It’s one of those things where when I think of it, my brain logically goes into “oh please, this is totally fiction” but slowly changes to, “hold up. Of course it’s true!” I mean let’s just discuss the possibility here for a second: New York City is completely overpopulated. Years and years ago it was so crowded that they couldn’t build outward anymore, only upward. Who’s to say that they couldn’t built downward as well?

Looking at an entire city filled with more than 8 million people spanned over 305 square miles, where are they all going to live? Let’s assume that each person has an apartment – that’s 400 square feet that they need to live in. At a certain point you can’t build flat anymore – you have to start building up. There’s unlimited space in the sky. Maybe having the world’s tallest apartment building isn’t the greatest idea, but hell! It gets people to be off the streets and in their own space!

So if you agree with the fact that you can’t build on the ground anymore, and can only go up, what makes you think you can’t go down? What in the world would stop people who don’t have the money to afford a NYC apartment from inhabiting the tunnels hundreds of feet below the surface? Nothing! They’ve already been excavated, you can continue to excavate the area, and you’re free of the windy air pummeling down on the other NYC homeless. And that’s why I absolutely can’t wait to read it. It’s just so interesting!

    3. The Lost Symbol and Inferno – Dan Brown

I know I’ve already discussed reading the first of the Robert Langdon series Angels & Demons but I’m just so so so excited to finish this series. I’m halfway through the second book, The DaVinci Code, and I’m absolutely loving it. My boyfriend was sweet enough to surprise me with the last two RobertLangdonbooks of the series so that I wouldn’t have to go out and buy them. (He’s a good man who knows the way to my heart!) And since then, they’ve been sitting on our coffee table just whispering, “read me! we love you! you know you’re curious! read me!” and damn is it hard to resist!

I’m not even halfway through the entire series and I’m already thinking this is one of the best mystery/adventure/historical fiction-ish series I’ve read. It has everything: history, murder, bad guys, guns, an awesome symbologist, super smart women, and conspiracy theories (that honestly make a hell of a lot of sense)! It’s amazing!

I highly recommend reading these books if you haven’t already (I know, I’m late to the Dan Brown game).

So those are the top three books that I have in my possession right now that I absolutely can not wait to read!!!!!!

If you have any books that you think I should read, or any books that you think I should add to my collection please feel free to let me know!

Until next time!

Rachel

e-mail: rachel@booksandcleverness.com

Angels & Demons – Dan Brown Review

Hi friends! I’ve been meaning to write this post for the last week, so I’m really excited that I get to write it now. “Rachel, why are you so excited to write this blog?” Because, friends, I have finished the very first book in my quest to read all of the Robert Langdon series by Dan Brown. angelsanddemons

I know, I know. I’m super late to this party. Here’s how it happened:

On New Years Day I watched The DaVinci Code on Netflix. My boyfriend and I hadn’t watched this movie since it came out in theatres (2006, holy shit!), so I was really excited to watch it. I’m a huge fan of history, a huge fan of secret societies (hay, Masons, haaaay!) and a huge fan of adventure movies, particularly when there’s a mystery involved.

What I remembered about the movie was minimal, so I really had an open mind going in… I was enthralled the entire time. My boyfriend not so much, but I loved it. So I immediately decided I needed to read the series and we took a late night trip to Barnes & Noble and picked up Angels & Demons and The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown.

I think I’ve mentioned that recently – maybe in the last year or so – I’ve been reading at a much slower pace than usual. Well, when I started reading Angels & Demons on New Years Day night, I read 75 pages which is basically a full 50 more pages than I’ve been reading per night (A fact that I’m incredibly ashamed about – I’m sorry! I just get sleepy!)

To say that I was excited about these first 75 pages is an understatement. I wasn’t just excited, I was involved. I was in Rome with Robert Langdon and I was seeing a dead scientists on the floor with a brand on his chest. In fact, I was so involved that for the next four weeks I read A&D almost every night and finished the more than 700 page book and was so incredibly proud of myself. Again, I hadn’t been reading more than TWENTY-FIVE PAGES PER NIGHT. I don’t know if you know how long it takes to finish a book by reading twenty pages per night, but the answer is: a long time. A lot longer than I want. It really is almost a shameful amount because I had been reading 100 pages per night easily for a very, very long time.

Anyway, finishing the book was awesome and sad. It was an amazing book and I got to start the next one in the series, but it was also a great book that I didn’t want to end.

So let’s get into the review. 5 stars. 100%. A+. Seventeen thumbs ups.

Seriously, I have not read a book that I have enjoyed this much since The Martian back in July 2015. That’s a long ass time, man.

This book, for starters IS the first book in the series. Why The DaVinci Code movie came out first, I have no idea. My only guess is that it was more popular than the first book and could easily be an independent story, separated from the rest. But nonetheless, it is, in fact, the first book of the series. It goes:

  1. Angels & Demons
  2. The DaVinci Code
  3. The Lost Symbol
  4. Inferno

Now, A&D was incredible. Again, I know I’m way too late jumping on the bandwagon, but honestly I’m really glad that’s happened because now I know that there’s a solid movie series to go along with the books when I’ve completed them.

I remember when the movie Angels and Demons came out and I remember loving it. But I don’t remember anything else. There were little snippets of memory that I thought might be from the movies but I wasn’t sure (like some guy being branded by a fire) but I didn’t remember who was good and who was bad. That made reading this book even better.

I know that I’ve discussed this, but I actually don’t mind seeing the movie version before the book version because then I get an idea of how someone looks, I can really imagine their features and facial expressions. I’m not saying it’s great for every movie, but I’m never really upset that I saw the movie first. That’s only happened a handful of times.

That’s why when I was reading A&D I had so much fun following around Robert Langdon. Not only is the character strong, funny, intelligent and fun to follow, he also looks exactly like Tom Hanks in my brain and I’m A-OK with that. Who doesn’t want to think about Tom Hanks before bed? He has such a soothing presence.

This book was witty, funny, sad, emotional, thrilling, and every other adjective under the stars. It was an absolute joy to read and it made me really look into the historical side of the societies Brown brings up. He’s a phenomenal writer and a brilliant man when it comes to intertwining historical and factual references into completely fictional situations. Not to be confused with historical fiction. He is not a historical fiction writer. He is simply wonderful at using facts about history to support his own crazy fictional adventure.

I would liken this book to something a little more for young adults: the movie National Treasure with Nicolas Cage. I don’t care what anyone says, I really like Nic Cage. Rage Cage is awesome, and he might not be the best actor but he sure is fun to watch. My boyfriend and I have been saying we’re going to watch Pay The Ghost for a while now, and maybe we just will this weekend! (Note: my boyfriend and I are people who really enjoy B movies and not great movies/movies with maybe not so great actors. We also like to be entertained. If you are like my sister and her husband, this movie, or anything with Rage Cage in it may not be suitable for you. You’ve been warned.)

Anywho, I really highly recommend this book to people who love history and who love to be challenged when reading a book. This book will keep you on your toes the entire time and I guarantee that if you don’t mind a reading a huge fucking book (700+ pages) with a lot of plot twists before you get the truth, you will LOVE this book. Go get it!

I’ve also just begun The DaVinci Code and I can’t wait to finish it. It’s about 500 pages, and I’m about a third of the way through, but it’s already amazing. I even remember the plot from the movie and it’s still good. I’ll keep you all posted on my thoughts of that book and the next books.

I’m instituting The DaVinci Code as the February book for the Books and Cleverness book club, but you can read whatever you want. Just get those books under your belt!

Well, that was a long one.

Until next time!

Rachel

e-mail: rachel@booksandcleverness.com