Book to Movie to TV Series Review: The Mortal Instruments (Season 1)

Summary: On her birthday, Clary Fray discovers a surprise concerning her life. The teenager is not who she thinks she is -- she comes from a long line of human-angel hybrids, called Shadowhunters, who hunt demons. After her mother is kidnapped, Clary is thrust into the world of demon-hunting. Clary relies on mysterious Jace and fellow hunters Isabelle and Alec to help her navigate the dark world. While living in this new world among creatures like vampires and werewolves, Clary's best friend Simon helps her uncover answers that could help her find her mother. The fantasy show is based on a series of young adult books by Cassandra Clare.



I have to say this is a first for me, a Book to Movie to TV Series Review. When Cassandra Clare was writing The Mortal Instruments series we were SO into it! I even traveled to a book signing to meet her (and her rocking purple hair). When the series concluded she dropped two bombshells: 1. it would be extended and 2. there was a movie adaptation in the works. Those two surprises for book lovers are equivalent to winning the lottery. In short, I (and all human-kind) were winning.

Then the last two installments rolled out followed by the movie. I really enjoyed the series and the world that Clare created. I still think it is one of the best YA worlds imagined. With that said, I was so freaking pumped about the movie-- like Twilight excited. BUUUUUTTTTTT... the movie sucked.

I don't mean to be mean, really. The storyline was true to the series and the graphics were fantastic but the actors really killed it for me. I kept thinking of the Volturi when I looked at Jace (Jamie Campbell Bower) and he was just too skinny. I don't know what else to say, I just didn't like it. BUT I still bought that sucker on DVD and supported my fellow YA cronies {my grassroots efforts to keep the YA adaptations flowing}.

So, when I heard that there was a TV series in the works for TMI I was automatically interested. 

Why? 

Because a TV series format can really work out some of the storyline and plot twists in books better than a movie. Case in point, The Vampire Diaries --> the books were terrible. The series (and its spin-off The Originals) are the BEST. VAMPIRE. SERIES. EVER. 

I knew I had to give TMI series a fair shot.

I had to prepare. 
I had to inspect the cast. 
  *Katherine McNamara who plays Clary has been a frequent on several of the Disney shows that my kids love so I was really excited to see a familiar face. Plus I knew she could do weird. #thehauntinghour
Watch the trailers. 
And record the first 4 episodes {see #SHOWHOLE post for explanation}. 

After watching the pilot episode I was on the fence. It was like watching the Vampire Academy Movie with regard to the acting. And then it HIT ME! I looked up my review of VA: Blood Sisters and low and behold who played Christian Ozara --> Dominic Sherwood aka "The new Jace".  He was my favorite of that whole movie adaptation. 

In my best Yoda voice I thought Press Forward You Must.

13 episodes later (season 1) and I'm hooked! It's creepy, clever and even witty. I love all the characters, they all fit what I imagined while reading the series. With one exception, Alec, he is even better looking than I imagined. It made me realize how much I missed Magnus Bane. He is just so fluffy and wise.

There is so much potential for plot twists while still staying true to the series Clare created. So far, I like the changes made and am currently suffering through what I like to call The Star Wars dilemma that Clare so kindly bestowed on us mere mortals. All in all the series ended on a high and has just been given a green light for season 2! 

My final parting words are simple.

Go now and watch. Watch them all. 

Binge on my friends! As always, binge responsibly.

If you're a #Newb and none of this makes sense go HERE.
#shadowhunter #cityoffallenangels #claryfairchild #prettylittleliars #cityofheavenlyfire #cityofglass #cityoflostsouls #cityofbones #isabellelightwood #tmi #domsherwood #jamiecampbellbower #simonlewis #vampires #valentinemorgenstern #claryfray #aleclightwood #werewolves #themortalinstruments #jacemorgenstern #cityofashes #katherinemcnamara #jacewayland #bloodlines #witches #magnusbane #thevampirediaries #ifistay #lilycollins #vampireacademy 

Book Review: Unbound by Neal Shusterman

Summary:
In the New York Times bestselling Unwind Dystology—Unwind, UnWholly, UnSouled, and UnDivided—Neal Shusterman thrilled readers with the story of a society that deals with its out-of-control teens by “unwinding” them—transplanting more than 99% of their bodies into other people.

In the latest installment of this sequence, Shusterman—along with collaborators Terry Black, Michelle Knowlden, Brendan Shusterman, and Jarrod Shusterman—explores even more aspects of a world that has accepted the unacceptable. These short stories examine the world of unwinding in a way we haven’t seen before, providing a fresh framework, new characters, and a different take on some events.



Release Date: December 2015
Age Group: Source: Purchased
Reviewed By: Nat

Review:
What can I say, Shusterman is brilliantly twisted and now he has found collaborators who are just as clever! If you are a fan of the Unwind series then this read is really a no brainer. If you are new to the Unwind world, lets pump the breaks and redirect you to the first 4 books and then you can come back to this one and really appreciate it. Anything related to this series is an "auto-buy" for Ms. Leger, Evan and myself... it's that good.

Simply put, we just can't get enough! I still think about this story often, especially after watching the nightly news or reading my news feed because it could totally happen! It's a unique dystopian in that it is plausible and based on human fear and judgment.

Unbound updates us on some of the characters that we grew attached too and also introduces new characters and events. The world Shusterman created is so vast that it is really limitless. There could easily be an entire series in this world that is completely separate from the dystology (UnwindUnWholly, {Unstrung}, UnSouled, and UnDivided). 

Mr. Shusterman we want more and more and more... you get the idea.

image source: goodreads.com

Book Review: The Nocturnals by Tracey Hecht

Summary:
A flabbergastifying adventure under the stars!

"The characters are delightful and the nighttime landscape is captivating. It was just as I expected—because the best stories always take place in the dark!—R.L. Stine, author of Goosebumps

The Nocturnals features three unlikely friends: Dawn, a serious fox, Tobin, a sweet pangolin and Bismark, the loud mouthed, pint sized sugar glider. The stories all play out in their nighttime world with teamwork, friendship and humor in every adventure.

In The Mysterious Abductions, the animals form a brigade of the night after a random encounter with a blood-thirsty snake, and just in time because something is threatening their night realm. Animals are disappearing without a trace. Together with the help of a wombat, a band of coyotes and many others, Dawn, Tobin and Bismark journey to the depths of the earth in a wacky, high stakes game that will determine all of their survival.

Release Date: April 2016
Age Group: Middle Grade
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
Reviewed By: Ms. Leger
Tobin
Bismark

Dawn

Review:
I love mysteries and this truly was one. If you like a good mystery where adorable animals are your main characters, like many middle grade readers do, then this is a must read. The Brigade: Tobin, Bismark and Dawn, form an unforgettable trio of sleuths trying to solve the mysterious disappearances of animals. You will easily fall in love with their wonderful personalities and funny antics. I must admit my favorite is the shy pangolin, (I had to look up this animal) Tobin. I was hooked in the first chapter when he passes gas. Oh how middle schoolers will love this. I must admit this well read old lady didn't figure out the plot until the end. Ms. Hecht writes beautifully with just the right amount of humor to keep you chuckling. You will find her group of odd ball characters very charming. And who doesn't like a good mystery with a little humor added in.

The Nocturnals has made a "tour" through my classroom and every single reader has said the same thing, "Do you have book 2 yet?" That question alone implies huge success!

Interactive Website
I highly recommend visiting The Nocturnals website to meet the characters, watch short video clips and find educational resources. {I highly recommend the educational resource page for teachers and parents.}



What is a Pangolin?
I must admit that I stopped reading fairly early on to look up a pangolin. And I'm glad I did for two reasons: 1.) it's a really neat animal and now I can talk about it with my students and 2). you have to visually know what a pangolin is once you are introduced to Tobin.
Pangolins.org


Join the Brigade! 
Join the Nocturnal Brigade and receive a Free Cape. I've joined the Brigade and I know middle grade readers will want to too!
 
  
Ms. Leger
image sources: goodreads.com, thenocturnals.com & pangolins.org

Book Review: Denton Little's Death Date by Lance Rubin

Summary:   
Fans of John Green and Matthew Quick: Get ready to die laughing.

Denton Little's Deathdate takes place in a world exactly like our own except that everyone knows the day they will die. For 17-year-old Denton Little, that's tomorrow, the day of his senior prom.

Despite his early deathdate, Denton has always wanted to live a normal life, but his final days are filled with dramatic firsts. First hangover. First sex. First love triangle (as the first sex seems to have happened not with his adoring girlfriend, but with his best friend's hostile sister. Though he's not totally sure. See: first hangover.) His anxiety builds when he discovers a strange purple rash making its way up his body. Is this what will kill him? And then a strange man shows up at his funeral, claiming to have known Denton's long-deceased mother, and warning him to beware of suspicious government characters…. Suddenly Denton's life is filled with mysterious questions and precious little time to find the answers.

Debut author Lance Rubin takes us on a fast, furious, and outrageously funny ride through the last hours of a teenager's life as he searches for love, meaning, answers, and (just maybe) a way to live on.

Release Date: March 2015
Age Group: YA, Comedy, Mystery
Source: Review Copy from Author
Reviewed By: Evan & Ms. Leger & Nat

Review:
This book made a tour through I'd So Rather Be Reading, which is VERY rare. Why? Because Evan read it and thought it was #boss but was worried about reviewing it because there was pot smoking. Evan typically reviews fantasy and normally faeries and dragons refrain from pot (although they do occasionally pull out a hookah and have a little fairy fun but hey tomatO or tOmato right?). I am not #propot but lets face it, most {all} teens are pretty desensitized to it. So, Ms. Leger gave it a go since she reads the "hard stuff". After many phone calls, texts and hallway conversations, it was a no brainer. The consensus--> MUST READ YA.

For parents who have children at an age where you are still able to monitor their reading choices (under 13), be warned that this comedic book entails youth smoking pot and having #thefeels for the opposite sex. With that said here are Evan's thoughts.

Comedic relief and death conspiracy don't usually mix, but this is not your usual book. Denton Little's Death Date is honestly one of the best and most original works I have ever read. It is a dystopian of sorts in that it is a world exactly like our own BUT everyone knows the exact day they die. Some might think that is depressing but the way that Rubin plays off the emotions surrounded with death is oddly comedic. 

There is a little sex but nothing graphic and recreational pot smoking (for this reason I wouldn't let my young teen read it). But I would highly recommend this book to YA lovers> 90's kids will have a real appreciation for this story. I read Bone Thugs & Harmony and lost it! It took me right back in time. 

The mystery is what makes this book a binge'er. The humor will literally make you LOL and cause people in the Wal-Mart line to give you odd stares (true story).

Lance Rubin may be a genius, amazing job! This book will not end up in the donation bag, it is a "borrow AND return". Denton is a permanent fixture on my bookshelf. 


And the best part... THERE IS MORE DENTON COMING! But the wait is killer---> 2017 with Denton Little's Still NOT Dead. An automatic TBR for I'd So Rather Be Reading Reviewers!

*image source: goodreads.com

Book Review: Mouse Scouts (1-2) by Sarah Dillard

Summary:  
For fans of Ivy and Bean and Junie B. Jones comes a brand-new chapter book series: Mouse Scouts!

Brimming with lively black-and-white illustrations—including pages from the official Mouse Scout Handbook, plus diagrams, games, activities, and more—this darling new series is just right for chapter book readers. 

Mouse Scouts (#1) 
Meet Violet, Tigerlily, Hyacinth, Petunia, Junebug, and Cricket, six new Mouse Scouts who are trustworthy and strong, thrifty and brave . . . and destined to be friends to the end! Best friends Violet and Tigerlily can’t wait to start earning their merit badges. But their troop leader, Miss Poppy, is one strict rodent. And earning their first badge—planting a vegetable garden—is hard work. Will the troop drive unwanted pests from the garden and earn their Sow It and Grow It badge? And will they ever get Miss Poppy to smile?
 


Mouse Scouts (#2) Make a Difference
Violet, Tigerlily, and their friends are ready to earn their Make a Difference badge. If only they could agree on what kind of difference they want to make. But when the troop decides to clean up a local park, they find themselves facing an unusual rescue mission. Will the girls be able to make a real difference, or will this badge prove more than the Mouse Scouts can handle?

 



Release Date: January 2016
Age Group: Middle Grade
Source: Review Copies from Publisher
Reviewed By: Macy Kate



1. Who are the main characters? Did you have a favorite and why?
My favorite characters in both books were Tigerlily and Violet. I like Tigerlily because she is adventurous and daring. I really like Violet because she's careful around danger and is a good friend. 

2. What is the story setting?
The story takes place at a Mouse Scout camp 

3. What was one main event?
The main event in the first book "Mouse Scouts" was planting a garden. The mice had to work together to plant the garden and keep pests and animals from messing up the garden. The main event in "Making a Difference " was that the mice work together to make a difference by cleaning up a park that is important to them. They figure out a way to keep the trash in the trash can. 

4. What didn't you like? 
I really liked it all!

5. Was the book easy to follow (understand)?
Yep. 

6. What is your overall opinion of the series? Will you continue? 
I really loved these books! I hope the author writes more Mouse Scout books. I have told my friends about them because I loved them so much. The books made me want to be a better friend and help others.
 
Note from Nat:
These books are so visually attractive that I instantly wanted to use them as decorations in my daughters room! But I held it together and gave them to Macy Kate. {They are such a cute size too.} 

After reading Macy Kate's review, I wanted to recommend this series to parents for a few reasons.
1. Bullying is so bad in our schools and this is a series that encourages strong, healthy friendships. And most importantly teaches appropriate ways to resolve conflicts.
2. Obviously this series appeals to girls especially those that: love animals, are in girl scouts and those that love a little adventure.
3. Whether you have an avid middle grade reader or a hesitant one, this is a series that is fresh and just beginning to roll out. This will give young readers something to look forward too and begin to develop those feelings of anticipation (and sometimes distress :). It is best to start them young and really develop these intense book habits-- really it's good for our society.

The next installment, Mouse Scouts: Camp Out is set to hit shelves this October and you can bet Macy Kate is ready!

A Letter from Ally Condie

I really love Ally Condie and this week is the release of her new middle grade book, Summerlost. I just got my copy in the mail and am eager to read it! Below is a sweet letter from Ally to her readers:
____________________________________________________________________________

Dear Readers,

I think most of us have had our hearts broken. Sometimes we can see it coming, and sometimes it comes down with the unexpected force of a sudden gale of wind or a rising of waters that we thought were still and safe. Loss is universal to human experience, but the way we each feel and recover is one of the most personal things we do.

In Summerlost, Cedar is dealing with the loss of her father and younger brother. And my intent was to show how hard their deaths are for her. But this is also a book about the healing power of friendship. Most of us have been broken-hearted; I hope that most of us have also discovered the miracle of friendships that were just what we needed. Cedar and Leo’s friendship is based on someone I met when I was twelve. Like Leo, my friend was fun and liked to enlist me in crazy adventures (although we never gave a secret guided tour of our town the way they do in Summerlost). And, like Leo, he thought I was wonderful and of worth at a time when I needed it most.

SUMMERLOST is my attempt to pay tribute both to the pain we feel and the friendships that save us. Thank you so much for supporting this book, and for your willingness to give Cedar’s story a try. I hope it makes you think of a wonderful friend of your own, whether that is someone you met in the pages of a favorite book or outside, in the world where it is often hard and beautiful to live.

Best wishes and happy reading always,
Ally Condie
____________________________________________________________________________

If you want a copy and a chance to win two other goodies from Ally, fill out the giveaway form for a chance to win!
a Rafflecopter giveaway 
 
____________________________________________________________________________

And if you are like me and lack the "luck" for giveaways, here is where you can grab a copy:

____________________________________________________________________________ 

Thank you Word Spelunking & Penguin Kids for hosting this giveaway and putting Summerlost on my radar!

Still not convinced or want more on Summerlost

Read the first 19 pages here: Summerlost Excerpt

And visit one of the following blogs:

The 100 #SHOWHOLE


I waited and waited and waited.... FOR 10 MONTHS for season 3.

I had my mom, my brother and even my grandma anticipating the season opener.

I. Got. Burned.

The very graphic sex scene was where we shut it off. I'm pretty sure my face was bright red as my grandma said "We've had enough of that crap". 

If I am watching HBO or Showtime I know what I'm in for--> naughtyness. But this is The CW for crying out loud!
So farewell to a series that I was totally into. You embarassed me in front of my old lady and I ain't havin' it!


Book Spotlight & Giveaway: The Urban Boys: Discovery of the Five Senses by KN Smith


The Urban Boys: Discovery of the Five Senses is an action-adventure story about five teen boys who are mysteriously exposed to a foreign energy source that gives them extremely heightened senses. Sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell become hypersensitive gifts that forever change the world!

The story chronicles their effortless interrelations and later exposes the testing of their deep bonds, and introduces the reader to an array of supporting characters who alter the boys’ lives forever. The Urban Boys offers young and mature readers central themes of loyalty, responsibility, honesty, fear, and triumph, which become artfully integrated with cinematic-level action and high drama.

We wonder, will they pass the test of fate, and will each of us pass the test of our very own lives? Intriguing, intelligent, and full of action, The Urban Boys offers a memorable, emotion-packed, thrilling ride for traditional and digital readers of all ages!

Buy the book:  


About the Author K.N. Smith is an American author and passionate advocate of childhood and family literacy programs throughout the world. She continues to inspire students of all ages to reach their highest potential in their literary and educational pursuits. Her creative, lyrical flair sweeps across pages that twist, turn, and grind through elements of paranormal and action-adventure in diverse, exciting, edge-of-your-seat narratives. She lives with her family in California.

Connect with the author:   




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Tour Schedule:
March 14Amie's Book Reviews - review / guest post / giveaway
March 14I'd So Rather Be Reading - book spotlight / giveaway
March 15Bookworm for Kids - review / giveaway
March 16The Autistic Gamer - review
March 17Bound 4 Escape - review / giveaway
March 18Splashes Into Books - review / author interview
March 21bookmyopia - review / giveaway
March 21Reading Authors - review / giveaway
March 22Library of Clean Reads - review / giveaway
March 23JBronder Book Reviews - review / guest post
March 24Readers' Muse - review / guest post
March 25Room With Books - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
March 25Christy's Cozy Corners - review
March 28Ali - The Dragon Slayer - book spotlight / guest post
March 28Comfort Books - review
March 29The Page Unbound - book spotlight 
March 30Over the hills and far away - book spotlight / giveaway
March 31Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers - book spotlight 

Blog Tour hosted by:

Book Review: Hooray for Kids! by Suzanne Lang & Max Lang

Summary:
Every kid is a one-of-a-kind kid!
Suzanne and Max Lang (Families, Families, Families!) bring us another joyful ode to diversity in this zippy rhyming celebration of kids of all stripes. Whether you’re a play-a-lot-of-ball kid, a hang-out-at-the-mall kid, a bake-delicious-pie kid, or an always-asking-why kid . . . when you read this book, you’ll be a laughing-till-you-cry kid! Children can find themselves in the hilarious menagerie and recognize their friends and classmates. The subtle anti-bullying message will make this a welcome addition to classroom libraries.

Release Date: March 2016
Age Group: Young Readers
Source: Publisher
Reviewed By: Nat & The Boys

Review:
I was really excited to read Hooray for Kids! to the boys because they are total one-of-a-kind-kids! For example, #hurricane is very bright and asks about 74,529 questions each day and can be identified as an asks-a-lot-of-questions-kid in the book. He thought it was pretty cool that the book identified a kid like him and then asked "mom, there are other kids like me?!" with a sly grin.  My reply:

Yes wild man, there are other moms out there that fight the good fight. Every.Day.All.Day.
Yes there are other handsome little devils out there just like you.  

{Just} yes. Yes there are. Next question...

It was entertaining to read through the ryhming-text and listen to my boys trying to decide who they knew that was that kind of kid being described. The unique colorforms mixed with photographs was immediate eye candy for both myself and the boys (especially the monkey kids-- super #GROSS but super funny & TRUE). It's nice when the illustrations are enjoyable for both the parent and the child and Lang hit the mark.

Overall, this is one of the coolest young reader's I've gotten in a while! With Scholastic's partnership with We Need Diverse Books, this is one that could easily be added to that list.

"Featuring award-winning titles, beloved classics, and new releases, these special edition Scholastic Reading Club flyers will reach millions of students during the 2016-17 school year. The collection will showcase a wide variety of titles representing many types of diversity, including race and ethnicity, religion, LGBTQ, disabled characters, and more." 
 

"Together, we’ll be able to broaden the breadth and scope of the books we’re putting into the hands of children, presenting them with both the necessary windows and mirrors through which they explore the world." -- Dhonielle Clayton, COO and Sr VP of Librarian Services for We Need Diverse Books 

Hooray for Kids! is simply a fantastic celebration of diversity as seen through the eyes of kids and is both creative and fun!



Book to Movie Review: Pride & Prejudice & Zombies

Spencer Cole is one of our favorite guest reviewers that loves to focus on book to film adaptations.  Today he's here to talk about an adaptation of an adaptation.


A movie adaptation of a book adaptation of a classic novel - it sounds a little bit like a game of telephone, but actually works surprisingly well in the case of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. In a year with a huge number of worthy films, this quirky action movie is nevertheless carving out its own niche. The book itself was a fun and lighthearted read when it came out in 2009, taking a very prim and proper storyline and turning it on its head. It also took advantage of a longstanding interest in the fantasy genre and zombie phenomenon, while adding a nice helping of girl-power on top of it. The film both succeeds and fails for many of the same reasons - it is a familiar story but with a whole new twist.

The core plot is essentially unchanged. Elizabeth Bennet, played by Lily James, still takes an almost instant dislike to the haughty Darcy, who still advises his much more mellow friend against marrying Elizabeth's sister. Unlike the original plot, all the Bennet girls are also talented warriors who like to blow off stress by killing zombies. Also unlike the original book, Elizabeth decides that the best response to Darcy's slight of her family is to kill him too. He eventually is able to make amends and the couple works together to not only help their friends and family find similar happiness, but to also fight back the zombie hordes.

The movie is fairly true to the modern book adaptation however, there are a few changes. It goes even further in its depictions of battle, choreographing fast-paced fight sequences alongside the more sedate ballroom scenes. The ending also embraces the warrior concept even more deeply than the book, letting the women take the lead in battle and even having the more traditional Jane, played by Bella Heathcote, save her beloved Bingley. Though Darcy, played by Sam Riley, proves himself to be a very capable fighter, there is no implication that Elizabeth is any less handy. This ramping up of the violence from the book works well, since movies are by their nature more visual and less cerebral, and it keeps the plot moving quickly.

The movie, despite working hard to stay true to both the original novel and its adaptation, doesn't always connect. There are a few reasons for this. True Austen fans may be offended at the implication that Pride and Prejudice needed spicing up to begin with. There was also the fact that some plot points were breezed past fairly quickly in order to make time for the battle scenes. Similarly, zombie fans may not appreciate that the film is more of a parody than a real horror staple. It is noticeably more fun than frightening.

The timing also worked against it to a degree. There has been an influx of thoughtfully done zombie movies in recent years, including the romantic Warm Bodies and the zany Fido, both of which can still be seen on cable TV. This has both raised the bar for the genre and taken away the novelty factor that Pride and Prejudice and Zombies would have otherwise benefited from. It may simply be that the film needed to commit to one direction or another. It needed to be more frightening or more funny, rather than trying to walk the line in between.

Regardless of its flaws, this adaptation directed by Burr Steers will likely do better on the small screen than it has on the big screen. It is certainly a fun enough film to enjoy with a group of friends and popcorn, if you don’t compare it to the original or other parodies. While the quirkiness may not have quite been enough to carry it to box office success, it seems like there will be a certain niche of fans who will continue to appreciate it as a stand-alone film.


*image sources: google.com