Book Review: House of Many Ways

House of Many Ways
By Dianna Wynne Jones

My Edition:
Paperback, 404 pages
2008, Greenwillow Books
ISBN: 9780061477973

Charmain, having led a sheltered life mostly full of reading, finds herself watching her great uncle William’s magical house while the wizard is convalescing with elves. There’s a dog to take care of, piles of dishes to wash and mountains of dirty laundry (it breeds if not cleaned!) and Charmain has no idea what to do with any of it. When an apprentice wizard, Peter, shows up, the two find themselves not only tending after a magical house, but caught up in a plot that involves the king of the land and a familiar family of wizards.

I knew from the first couple chapters that I was going to enjoy this book significantly more than Castle in the Air.

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Book Versus Movie: Howl’s Moving Castle

In a previous post, I made a list of books whose movie adaptations I enjoyed as much as (or more than) the original texts and Howl’s Moving Castle was one of them. Rather than do a review of the book (TLDR: I love it and think you should read it), I thought I’d write a post about some of the more significant differences between the book and movie.

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Book Review: Castle in the Air

Castle in the Air
By Diana Wynne Jones

My Edition:
Paperback, 298 pages
1990, HarperTrophy
ISBN: 0064473457

Abdullah often dreams that his life is not truly his own – amid the daily tasks of running the carpet shop he inherited from his father, he fantasizes that he is truly a prince who was kidnapped and adopted by a rug merchant after a lucky escape. His dreams also include marrying a beautiful princess (of course). When a mysterious bearded man appears at his shop and offers to sell him a magical, flying carpet, Abdullah snatches as the chance for adventure. After falling asleep atop the carpet, Abdullah wakes to find himself in a night garden with a beautiful princess – his dreams are finally coming true! But his princess is quickly kidnapped by a djinn and Abdullah sets off to rescue her with only his carpet and his wits.

The cover of this book declares it to be the sequel to Howl’s Moving Castle, but the connection is tenuous at best.

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Movies I Like as Much as (or More Than!) Their Books

I’m a notorious book snob and it’s no secret that most movies based on books disappoint and/or enrage me. I’m rarely excited about upcoming movie adaptations (example: Ready Player One) and you can typically find me rolling my eyes at trailers and grumbling about the issues I’ve already spotted.

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Judging A Book By Its Cover: The Art of Howl’s Moving Castle

This is my weekly post where I highlight and appreciate cover designs and the general physical appearance of books. We all judge book covers to some extent. I can’t say that I’ve ever decided against a book with terrible cover art if I liked the sound of the plot, but I have purchased special editions of books, or multiple editions of books based on their cover art. If book covers didn’t matter, publishers wouldn’t put out so many beautiful editions!

I love the Howl’s Moving Castle movie and was happy to find out it was a book first! I enjoyed the book as well, though it’s quite different from the movie, and I intend to read the rest of the series (eventually). A friend of mine bought me the movie art book for my birthday and it’s lovely. If you’re a big fan of the film, I highly recommend it. There are all sorts of notes, and the full screenplay, not to mention the beautiful art! ISBN: 9781421500492.

Movie Adaptations

Movie adaptations of books can be a double-edged sword to book lovers. Of course I want to see my favorite books made into movies – good ones though! More often than not, despite trying to keep my expectations low, I usually leave the theater disappointed.

Most recently, I was feeling optimistic about The Martian. I think Matt Damon was an excellent choice for Mark Watney and I figured, based on the previews, that this could be a decent movie. Unfortunately I ended up bored. Granted, it’s hard to be impartial when I’ve already read the book, and yes, I knew how it would end. However, there were some pivotal scenes in the book that were either left out of the movie, or had all the drama sucked out of them. During the whole movie, it felt like nothing was really at stake. I seem to be in the minority with my opinion on this movie however – though I’ve yet to talk to anyone else who’s read the book as well. If you’ve read The Martian and seen the movie, what did you think of the two?

I might be a harsh critic, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting quality and authenticity in movie adaptations of books. I’m tired of important scenes being left out so scenes that aren’t in the books can eat up the screen time instead. Most times I avoid book adaptations to spare myself the frustration. I made the mistake of watching the first Hobbit movie…what a disaster that was! I also wasn’t impressed with Horns, though it wasn’t for lack of trying on the actor’s parts – once again all the feeling seemed to have been sucked out of the script.

But I’m not impossible to please! I’ve been satisfied with the Hunger Games films, though they’re probably the most recent book adaptations I’ve seen and actually enjoyed. I also liked the movie versions of Howl’s Moving Castle and Memoirs of A Geisha. While they both vary from the books, it was done in a way that didn’t bother me. I tend to think of them as separate entities and it makes them easier to enjoy.

Then in the middle of that spectrum lies Beautiful Creatures. I’ll admit…I’ll sit through almost anything starring Jeremy Irons. I saw the movie first and thought that the storyline had potential. The acting wasn’t great, nor was the writing, but I enjoy tales about witches and figured the book would be ten times better. So I picked up book one and was even more disappointed with it than I was with the movie.

So tell me, do you normally give movie adaptations of books a chance? Are they any you’d recommend?