Top 10 Adaptations of 2014

Blog 2014

I absolutely love adaptations. I know this can sometimes be a controversial subject with book lovers but not for me. I think my real love of them came from my time studying performance at university. There I became fascinated with taking a story and telling it through a different medium; whether that be book, film, TV, or on the stage.

Hello my fellow bookworms and adaptations watchers. 2014 was a great adaptation watching year for me so I thought I would do my first top 10 list for it. This is a list of adaptations I watched in 2014 not that were necessarily released in 2014. After much thought here are my choices (ordered alphabetically by title):

1. Captain Phillips (2013)          Not Read     Film     Television
A heart-racing thriller based on a true life account; recounted in A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea by Richard Phillips (with help from Stephan Talty). The amazing Tom Hanks takes the title role of Captain Richard Phillips who is willing to sacrifice himself when he finds his ship and crew under attack from Somali pirates. Great performances from the whole cast and an all round beautifully made film.

2. Death Comes to Pemberley (2013)          Read     TV Mini-Series     Television
BBC period drama adapted from P D James’ novel which continues Darcy and Elizabeth’s life on after Pride and Prejudice. With beautiful scenery, lavish costumes, a great cast and a good murder mystery, what wasn’t there to enjoy here? I only wish I had watched this mini-series sooner

3. Endeavour (2014)          Not Read     TV Series     Television
A second series of ITV crime drama series based on the characters of Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse novels and prequel to the ITV Inspector Morse (1987-2000) TV series. Endeavour takes us back to the Oxford of 1960s where we see the young detective constable Endeavour Morse solve some of his earliest cases. Mysterious, clever and Shaun Evans does a wonderful job of portraying young Morse.

4. Game of Thrones (2014)          Read      TV Series      Television
Lavish fourth series of the epic fantasy drama based on George R R Martin’s epic A Song of Ice and Fire series. Another gripping series of war, intrigue, family, politics, love, lust, lies and dragons! What’s not to love? Again though not for everyone it is jam packed with violence, sex and foul language. (Since watching this I have caught up with the books).

5. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)          Not Read     Film     Cinema
A action-packed superhero adventure set in space based on Guardians of the Galaxy created by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning which is featured in Marvel Comics. A gang of extra-terrestrial misfits fighting and stealing their way around the galaxy in hopes of saving it from Ronan the Accuser. An exciting and fast paced film with great special effects and a cool soundtrack. I enjoyed this even more than I thought I would.

6. Noah (2014)          Read      Film      Cinema
An epic biblically inspired Hollywood film inspired by Noah’s Ark from the Old Testament of The Bible and other similar ancient tales from around the world. Whether you believe in these tales or not I thought this was a stunning and innovative film with a cool science fiction twist. With great performances from Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Ray Winstone, Emma Watson and more.

7. Sherlock (2014)          Read     TV Mini-Series     Television
The third series of the BBC’s popular show inspired by the tales of Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous private detective Sherlock Holmes. An excellent modern interpretation of Doyle’s characters and mysteries which has been highly anticipated for a return since 2012! As before. All I can say is I hope it won’t be long till there is more..

8. Shetland (2014)          Not Read     TV Series     Television
A second series of BBC crime drama series based on Ann Cleeve’s novels Raven Black, Dead Water and Blue Lightning featuring Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez each novel was covered over three two-part episodes. I thought this series was mysterious and well performed with the isolated, lonely and beautiful setting of the islands of Shetland. I hope there will be more.

9. Thor: The Dark World (2013)          Not Read     Film     Television
An action-packed superhero adventure set in space based on Thor created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby who features in Marvel Comics. I thought The Dark World was another fun and action packed adventure this time set in part on Earth and Asgard, which I loved, as Thor, Jane and Loki battle across the universe with the Dark Elves. I was totally sold on this film.

10. X-Men: Days of the Future Past (2014)          Not Read     Film      Cinema
A Hollywood blockbuster about The X-Men superheroes featured in Marvel Comics with a plot loosely based on a story by Chris Claremont and John Byrne. Exciting, fast-paced, amazing special effects and great performances from the ensemble cast.

It was hard to dwindle my list down to just 10. Honourable mentions must also go out to TV series Fleming (2014), Hannibal (2014), and Inspector George Gently (2014), and films Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014), The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014), and my re-watch of Pride & Prejudice (2005).

What were your favourite films and TV shows you watched in 2014?

The Classics Club: His Last Bow

His Last Bow

I have been ploughing on with my love for short story collections in 2014. I have so far read and adored the Adventures, Memoirs and Return of Sherlock Holmes. I haven’t read any since last year however I have been very keen to get my hands on more Sherlock Holmes stories. I was lucky enough to download the complete and free collection of Sherlock Holmes to my Kindle. So at the beginning of September with the R.I.P event going on I delved into His Last Bow by Arthur Conan Doyle his fourth collection of Sherlock Holmes stories.

His Last Bow is a collection made up of another eight Sherlock Holmes short stories Arthur Conan Doyle wrote and published in The Strand between 1908 and 1915; much later than the stories I have previously read. Probably the most famous adventure from the collection would have to be the Bruce-Partington Plans where we see Mycroft calling on Sherlock to find stolen plans for a secret submarine project. I instantly recognised this story as it was adapted for the dramatic finale of the first year of the BBC’s Sherlock series. I very much enjoyed Bruce-Partington Plans as well as the adventures of The Dying Detective and Lady Frances Carfax. However that being said as usual there were no adventures in this collection I didn’t enjoy, they were all fascinating, the three I have named though particularly amused me.

Like previous collections I have read I thought His Last Bow had a good range of stories (although a smaller collection than the previous ones) which were varied and well-balanced. There was also the wonderful chemistry between the two protagonists that I love to witness during the intricate mysteries. The difference I like about this collection is you get to see Holmes and Watson as they start to age and reflect back on old adventures. I did again find I was most drawn to Holmes’s companion Dr Watson in this collection. As much as I love the mind and foibles of Holmes it is his down-to-earth companion Watson that I find I really connect with. I think it is a very clever device of Doyle to have Watson narrate the stories even though Holmes is the main protagonist. I just don’t think these stories would be as popular if the poor reader had to be literally in the mind of Holmes!

While the length of each story varied quite dramatically in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes for His Last Bow the length was a standard length which I much prefer. I am still really enjoying reading the short story collections of Sherlock Holmes. As the shorter length of the stories means I can easily keep the thread of the mystery and fully enjoy all the twists and turns, without the worry of needing a break. I do now however have all of Doyle’s Holmes novels and I would like to read them in the not so far future too; especially The Hound of the Baskervilles. For now I look forward to reading the next and final short story collection The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes.

His Last Bow is another fascinating read with more interesting adventures for me to discover. I highly recommend to those interested in classic crime. This is now my 26th read off my Classics Club list. Good read.

Have you read this collection? Do you have a favourite Sherlock Holmes story?

I am also counting His Last Bow as Mystery for the R.I.P IX event hosted by Carl V @ Stainless Steal Droppings.

New Read: A Very British Murder

A Very British Murder

One of my continuing aims in 2014 is to continue to read more non-fiction. I had previous to picking up A Very British Murder by Lucy Worsley watched some of the TV series it was written to accompany but I didn’t get to watch it all. What I did see I found really interesting which made me really keen to get hold of this book to find out more.

A Very British Murder follows the British developing macabre love of a good murder mystery which started in the early days with wanting to know all the details of a local murder to reading the weekly ‘Penny Dreadfuls’ which went on to become a booming literary crime market that is still going today. Worsley in particular looks at the influence and popularity of newspapers, novels and other forms of written coverage of murder and crime both fictional and real. Worsley also looks at the other forms that this obsession spawned such as plays, puppet shows, public hangings, wax works, games, songs and the macabre trade in murder souvenirs. And our obsession is still going in novels, plays, films and TV shows today.

A Very British Murder is the first book I have read by Lucy Worsley though I have watched a few of her TV shows. I’m really glad I requested a copy because I thought A Very British Murder was an excellently written and perfectly fascinating book. I had trouble putting it down! Worsley splits A Very British Murder into three main parts. Part One: How To Enjoy a Murder looks at how the British first got a taste for a good murder with the gossip, trial and hanging that would follow it and how this started to influence journalists, authors and other entertainers. Part Two: Enter the Detective looks into the first famous detective Mr Whicher and how he went on to influence some of the best known literary detectives and private sleuths. Part Three: The Golden Age looks into the inter-war years where the popularity of crime and its authors was at its height; including probably our best known crime writer Agatha Christie. I thought each part was well written and structured, flowing well into each other and full of interesting quotes, examples and references.

A Very British Murder is an interesting and enjoyable look into the British obsession with a good murder mystery. As a fan of the murder mystery myself I found it all fascinating and would highly recommend to those who are also murder mystery fans whether British or not. Not sure what other historical non-fiction that could follow this for me at the moment. Great read.

Have you read and/or watched Worsley?

I received a copy of A Very British Murder via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

The Classics Club: The Return of Sherlock Holmes

The Return of Sherlock Holmes

I have been ploughing on with my new-found love for short story collections in 2013. I read and adored The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes at the end of 2012 and The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes at the beginning of this year. Since which time I have been very keen to get my hands on more Sherlock Holmes stories. I was lucky enough to download the complete and free collection of Sherlock Holmes to my Kindle. Not long after I started reading the next short story collection The Return of Sherlock Holmes as I’d been rather missing the adventures of our famous sleuth.

The Return of Sherlock Holmes is a collection made up of another thirteen Sherlock Holmes short stories Arthur Conan Doyle wrote and published in The Strand between 1903 and 1904. These were the first stories since 1893 when in The Final Problem Doyle killed off his popular creation. The most famous adventure from the collection would have to be The Empty House as this is where we see the ‘return’ of Sherlock Holmes and his explains where he has actually been. I very much enjoyed The Empty House as well as the adventures of The Priory School, Charles Augustus Milverton, and The Six Napoleons. That being said again there were no adventures in this collection I didn’t enjoy, they were all fascinating, the four I have named though particularly captured my imagination.

Like previous collections I have read I thought The Return of Sherlock Holmes had a good range of stories which were varied and well-balanced. There was also the wonderful chemistry between the two protagonists that I love to witness during the intricate mysteries. I did again find I was most drawn to Holmes’s companion Dr Watson in this collection. As much as I love the mind and foibles of Holmes it is his down-to-earth companion Watson that I find I really connect with. I think it is a very clever device of Doyle to have Watson narrate the stories even though Holmes is the main protagonist. I just don’t think these stories would be as popular if the poor reader had to be literally in the mind of Holmes!

While the length of each story varied quite dramatically in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes for The Return of Sherlock Holmes the length had returned to the more standard length like those found in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes which I much preferred. I am still really enjoying reading the short story collections of Sherlock Holmes. As the shorter length of the stories means I can easily keep the thread of the mystery and fully enjoy all the twists and turns, without the worry of needing a break. I do now however have all of Doyle’s Holmes novels and I would like to read them in the not so far future too. For now I look forward to reading the next short story collection His Last Bow.

The Return of Sherlock Holmes was another fascinating read with more interesting adventures for me to discover. I highly recommend to those interested in classic crime. This is my 15th read off my Classics Club list. On finishing this collection I started reading Unfinished Tales by J R R Tolkien to keep things diverse. Although I do hope to return to the adventures of Holmes and Watson again very soon.

Have you read this collection? Do you have a favourite Sherlock Holmes story?

The Classics Club: The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes

I have been ploughing on with my new-found love for short story collections in 2013. At the end of 2012 I read and adored The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle. I adored it so much that I immediately started another of Doyle’s collection, The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes. The weather has taken a bitter turn here in the UK. Most nights I have been very keen to tuck myself in bed and lose myself in a mystery, hence me having finished off another collection so soon.

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes is a collection made up of the next twelve Sherlock Holmes short stories Arthur Conan Doyle wrote and had published in The Strand. The most famous story from the collection would have to be The Final Problem where we see our intrepid sleuth take on his finest nemesis Professor Moriarty. I very much enjoyed The Final Problem as well as The Stock-Broker’s Clerk, The Musgrave Ritual, and The Naval Treaty. That being said again there were no stories in this collection I didn’t enjoy, they were all fascinating, the four I have named though particularly captured my attention.

Like The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes collection, The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes had a good range of stories which were varied and well-balanced. There was also the wonderful chemistry between his two protagonists that I love to witness during the intricate mysteries. I did find I was most drawn to Holmes’s companion Dr Watson in this collection more than the previous. In The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes I discovered there was a more sympathetic side to Holmes while in this collection I think we saw more of his unusual behaviour again. I imagine that difference is just down to the choice of stories in each collection.

I am still preferring reading the short story collections of Sherlock Holmes, as the shorter length of the stories means I can easily keep the thread of the mystery and fully enjoy all the twists and turns, without the worry of needing a break. Although I did find the length of the stories in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes varied more with The Naval Treaty being a lot longer than the rest of the stories in the collection. While the stories in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes were of a more standard length. As much as I enjoyed both collections I think The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes just has the edge for me because of the standard length of the stories and how I think the choice of stories slightly captured my imagination more.

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes was another fascinating read with more interesting adventures for me to discover. This is now my 9th read from my Classics Club list which means I am well on my way to my target of 10 books a year. On finishing this collection I started The Complete Brothers Grimm’s Fairy Tales for a bit of a change, although I hope I will be able to return to Sherlock Holmes again very soon.

Have you read The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes? What’s your favourite Sherlock Holmes story?

The Classics Club: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

I have become quite a fan of short story collections recently, as I now see the advantages of being able to read one or two stories at a time. At the beginning of December I read and enjoyed Aesop’s Fables when I finished that I decided to start The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. I thought this might be a match made in heaven of two of my loves; short stories and crime. I read this collection alongside The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley. Between the two I spent many a happy hour curled up in a blanket in my mother’s conservatoire reading over my Christmas holiday.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is a collection made up of the first twelve Sherlock Holmes short stories Arthur Conan Doyle wrote and had published in The Strand. The most famous story from the collection would have to be A Scandal in Bohemia where we are introduced to the infamous Irene Adler, one of the few people to ever best our intrepid sleuth. As much as I enjoyed A Scandal in Bohemia I would say my favourite stories were The Five Orange Pips, The Speckled Band, and The Copper Beeches. That being said there were no stories in this collection I didn’t enjoy, they were all fascinating, the three I have named though particularly captured my imagination.

This is not my first foray into the world of Sherlock Holmes, previously I have read A Study in Scarlet the first novel to include Holmes and his faithful companion Watson. Sadly several years have passed since I read this first novel but I was very keen to read more so when I joined The Classics Club I made space for Doyle’s work on my list. I am really glad I did because I just love delving into Doyle’s intricate mysteries and witnessing the chemistry between his two protagonists. I was a little hesitant because I hadn’t read any short stories by Doyle before but in fact I think I enjoyed this format more than I did the novel. The range of stories in this collection was varied and well-balanced. While the shorter length of the stories meant you could easily keep the thread of the mystery and fully enjoy all the twists and turns, without the worry of needing a break.

From my experience of reading A Study in Scarlet I found I was most drawn to Holmes’s companion Dr Watson. As much as I find the workings of Holmes’s mind fascinating, the down to earth narration of Watson is what made the story more relatable for me. I found a change in my opinion from reading The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes because I think in some of the stories we see a more sympathetic Holmes. The modern film and television adaptations tend to only focus on his intelligence and clinical thinking, while I feel Doyle’s original stories show Holmes can be compassionate. As much as I like the adaptations I’ve watched I think I now prefer the Holmes from the stories.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes was a fascinating read with an interesting mix of adventures to discover. I also found my return to Doyle’s well-loved sleuth rather comforting. On finishing this collection I started The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes straight away. This is now my 8th read from my Classics Club list, I am very proud of my progress so far.

Have you read The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes? What’s your favourite Sherlock Holmes story?

The Classics Club: Oliver Twist

With my recent blues I have not been in the mood for brand new reads, choosing to get lost in childhood favourite The Hobbit instead. Once I had finished that I decided to move onto Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens because I thought it would be a good go-between of the new and the familiar. I have never read the novel before but it is very hard not to know the story of the little orphan Oliver due to the musical, films, and television adaptations. This turned out to be a wonderful choice. I found a lot of comfort in discovering known to me characters in their original context.

Oliver Twist is a harrowing adventure that follows a young orphaned boy trying to survive in Victorian England. Oliver is born in the work house which in Victorian times then places a stain upon his character by others in the community. A stain Oliver finds very hard to escape from. While I have always felt sorry for Oliver from other sources I have seen the character in, I was not prepared for how much more the novel would make me feel. Any child in Oliver’s position would be heart-breaking to read about but Oliver is no ordinary child; he has such a pure and honest heart that many in the novel just don’t wish to acknowledge. I found it hard to put this novel down because I was so keen to see Oliver escape his situation, but as he seems to escape one bad situation he falls into other just as bad situations. Dickens highlights very successfully in this novel what a vicious cycle life could be like for a pauper child in this time period.

Before reading Oliver Twist I had only read one other novel by Dickens which was Nicholas Nickleby. This was some years ago now. I do remember enjoying the story and characters however I found the language hard to get into. With several more years of reading experience I was hoping I would have better luck with my second foray into Dickens work, and I was right. I still feel Dickens’s use of language is rather convoluted and highly detailed but it didn’t take me long to get into the flow of the style. Once I was into the style I found I was free to just get lost in the story. And boy, can Dickens weave a wonderful story.

What I was surprised about how much of an adventure Oliver Twist turned out to be. Before reading this I always imagined all the story took place in the back streets of London but there are in fact many locations and situations Oliver finds himself in. What I feel really makes the story though are all the interesting and colourful characters that Oliver meets during his journey. The pompous and silly Beagle Mr Bumble, slimy Noah Claypole, the slick Artful Dodger, the kind and patient Mr Brownlow, the angelic Rose, the fallen Nancy, the dark and brutal Sikes, and of course the one we all know; the sneaky, conniving and ruthless old Jew Fagin. And that is only mentioning about half of the characters! I think the variety of strong characters is maybe the secret as to why Dickens novels have been so well-loved and adapted over the years.

Oliver Twist is a wonderfully touching and insightful fictional look into a world gone by. I highly recommend reading this novel. This is now my 6th book towards The Classics Club. I am now really looking forward to cracking open my copy of Great Expectations.

Have you read this novel? Did you enjoy it?