Jenn gives some suggestions for books reminiscent of the Harry Potter series
Welcome to our first monthly recommendations blog where the Adaptation staff tells you lovely readers what we’ve been loving in the month of August!
I just finished reading Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. It’s about an incredibly nerdy girl, Cath, in her first year at college (a girl after my own heart, actually). She suffers from severe social anxiety and agreed to go to college with her more sociable twin sister, Wren, only to have her twin disappear into a new social life, leaving her feeling alone and lost. Meanwhile, Cath retreats into her dorm room and a fictional world, writing fanfiction for her favorite Harry Potterish-book series until she slowly starts to emerge from her shell with the help of her aggressive, gruffly lovable roommate, Reagan, Reagan’s ex-boyfriend and Cath’s eventual love-interest, Levi (who’s also probably the friendliest and most sociable person I’ve ever read about), and her fiction-writing professor. It’s a fascinating read, and I felt like I could really relate to Cath throughout a lot of the book.
This TV series brings back that familiar love of cowboys and the wild-wild west, while expressing new ideas of the reality for those who built the first continental railroad and those who tried to stop them. A battle of races, cowboys vs. Native Americans and blacks vs. whites, as well as a battle of government persuasions that take place in the first frontier towns, complete with respectable whore houses and saloons for the tireless railroad workers. In a time when the new citizens of America are still recovering from the Civil War, old neighbors have to learn to put aside their old alliances of North VS South to unite and reestablish this developing country. Let’s just say there is nothing simple about this series and the sub-plots engage just as much as the plot of racing railroads. If you can handle gore and a series full of handsome cowboys and Native Americans, what are you waiting for?
I’ve been listening to the How to Train Your Dragon audiobooks, which is read by David Tennant, and I just finished book 6, A Hero’s Guide to Deadly Dragons. This series tells the ‘memoirs’ of the renowned Viking hero Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III from when he was just a teenager–and not at all what you’d expect a Viking hero to be like. Helping him along the way is his best friend, Fishlegs, and his hunting dragon, Toothless–who is the smallest, laziest, whiniest dragon, making him ABSOLUTELY ADORABLE. I would definitely recommend actually listening to the audiobooks for this one, rather than reading them. David Tennant is a wonderful narrator, and he really endears you to the characters.
I just finished a complete rewatch of all seven seasons of Gilmore Girls and even though it was probably the fifth or sixth time around for some episodes, it was just as enjoyable as ever. The show focuses on Lorelei Gilmore who left her upper-crust, blue blood Connecticut family when she had a baby at 16 and refused to follow the path her parents set out for her. Now she lives in a quirky small town with her 16 year-old daughter, Rory, who has inherited her mother’s coffee addiction as well as her ability to talk a mile a minute throw out even the most niche of pop culture references. In addition to these two admirable characters, Stars Hollow is populated with a host of other lovable, occasionally insane characters from gruff diner-owners and power-mad town leaders to sarcastic Frenchmen and former Broadway dancers. Gilmore Girls is funny, charming and inconspicuously heart-felt.
I have a new obsession and her name is Yulin Kuang.
That sounds creepy, but if there’s one thing I think I can trust internet fandom with, I hope it’s understanding that stage where you have just discovered a new creator and then must proceed to watch everything they have ever created. This has recently happened to me when I came across Shipwrecked‘s series Kissing in the Rain.
Kissing in the Rain is a transmedia YouTube project of the Shipwrecked team that includes Yulin Kuang, Sinead Persaud and Sean Persaud. It’s first chapter has just concluded and chapter two is due to begin May 5. Chapter one followed actors James and Lily, played by Mary Kate Wiles and Sean Persaud, as they are frequently cast as romantic leads in films that have them kissing in the rain. Each episode starts with the movie scene leading up to the kiss and then the director yells cut and the couple reverts to the actors awkwardly trying to fill the post-kiss silence.
The transmedia bit comes in with the encouragement and canonization of fan fiction. With each episode Yulin Kuang releases a companion drabble to add to the story of the two actors and then fans follow her lead. After going through the related tumblr tags and reading what the fans come up with, Yulin decides what to canonize and it gets reblogged on the official Shipwrecked tumblr and is official canon from that point forward.
If you’re interested in starting to watch, there is a very helpful post that pulls everything together here. There’s just a week until chapter two starts which will be following a different set of actors, Audrey and Henry, played by Sinead Persaud and Sairus Graham.
But at the risk of sounding like an infomercial, that’s not all! After I got caught up on Kissing in the Rain, I needed more, so I moved on to a previous Shipwrecked series called A Tell Tale Vlog where Sean Persaud takes on the role of Edgar Allan Poe as he vlogs, writes poetry of questionable quality and gets haunted by Lady Lenore played by Sinead Persaud. EA Poe tends to bring to mind thoughts of a rather somber nature and Shipwrecked expertly takes advantage of that, turning somber into hilariously awkward. There’s even something of a crossover in the last episode with Kissing in the Rain episode 4, which just happens to be my favorite.
And if you thought that I stopped there, you haven’t been paying attention. After finishing A Tell Tale Vlog, I moved on to Yulin Kuang’s personal YouTube page where she has a series called I Didn’t Write This and various other original projects, including a trailer for an upcoming short film called Irene Lee, Girl Detective. But since this is a blog that focuses on adaptations, I think I should at least try to pretend that is what I’m doing.
In I Didn’t Write This, Yulin creates visual representations for poetry such as T.S. Eliot’s The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock and excerpts from novels like John Green’s Looking For Alaska. A personal favorite of mine is her adaptation of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116 and among the few videos that I haven’t watched yet is an excerpt from Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl as I fear the potential spoilers. Even if poetry isn’t your thing, I seriously suggest watching and continuing to follow this series. Yulin’s videos are gorgeously created and will make you feel things, just like the rest of her work.
Finally, Shipwrecked used their week off from Kissing in the Rain to release their newest project- a music video featuring Mrs. Rochester from Jane Eyre as she sings a parody if “When Will My Life Begin” from Tangled. Titled Bertha’s Attic Song, Sinead Persaud plays Rochester’s neglected wife as she toes the line between her distress, her insanity and her obsession with fire. They even work in a little crossover at the end with Alysson Hall of The Autobiography of Jane Eyre web-series.
If you’d made it this far, I do hope that something on this list of creations has caught your eye enough for you to delve into the world of Yulin Kuang and Shipwrecked. Everything that I’ve seen so far has been impeccably executed with an obvious passion for film making and that sense of fun which keeps you wanting to see more.
Let us know in the comments if you’ve already been following one or all of these projects or if something in particular caught your eye. You can also talk to us on Twitter @AdaptationCast and Tumblr.