It’s finally here! After a great collection of behind-the-scenes looks, set pictures, and a resounding approval by John Green, the Fault In Our Stars trailer arrived on Wednesday.

As much as I enjoyed all of the excitement (the name of the book/film was a top trending topic on Twitter), I was also reminded of the book itself: not as something to recommend or promote, as I’ve been happy to do, but as a story.

When I first got my hands on The Fault In Our Stars (TFiOS), I knew it was special. It made me laugh, it made think, it made me question, wonder, and re-define my views on death. A book like that doesn’t come along every day. I soaked it in as long as I could, discussing and suggesting and rereading. But there’s nothing quite like that first experience of reading a book, as all book lovers know. That experience, that wonderful, thoughtful, perspective-changing experience, is guaranteed only once per book.

Luckily for us, cultural phenomenons like The Fault in Our Stars don’t have a monopoly on the book business. The New York Times bestseller list (and many others!) hold many wonderful books. I’ve done my fair share of reading, and I found a few that helped me fill the TFiOS void with thoughtful commentary on the heavy topics of life and death.

1. ‘Thirteen Reasons Why’

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This one’s been on the “must-read” shelf in nearly every bookstore I’ve been in for years. For a while, I refused to pick it up, mistaking it for a breakup story. My eventual insight into the book’s true content (i.e. reading the display at the library) pushed me to give it a try, and I’m so very glad I did.

The book is narrated by Clay, a teenage boy, but its true main character is his friend and classmate, Hannah Baker. When the story begins, Hannah is dead; she committed suicide weeks before. But she left something behind: Thirteen audio tapes that Clay one day finds at his door. Thirteen reasons why she died.

The reader sees the night Clay listens to the tapes. It alternates between Clay’s voice and that of a disembodied Hannah’s. This mode of storytelling is both clever and incredibly interesting. It allows for multiple perspectives on Hannah’s experience, but also gives the reader the strange experience of listening to a story along with an in-canon character. Often, I found myself reacting one way while Clay, holding previous knowledge, reacted another.

As I read, I felt like I was benefiting from two different sides of the book: the engaging and clever storytelling, and the thoughts and questions it had to offer. Hannah tells the story having already given up, and Clay listens to it carrying the burden of knowing that he can do nothing about it. He finds out more and more about the people he thought he knew, and discovers just the impact you can have on another person. Hannah describes her own example of the domino effect of others actions, giving a new perspective to both Clay and the reader. It brings up a lot of important questions. How do we know people? Do we really know them at all? Many of Clays reactions were insightful. As is the book on the whole: insightful, poignant, shocking, and sad.

(Purchase on Amazon)

2. ‘Before I Fall’

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This book is another combination of unique storytelling and an underlying theme of death. Written by Lauren Oliver, author of the Delirium series, the novel adheres to a Groundhog Day style of storyline. After the death of the narrator, Sam, she wakes up again, shocked not only to find herself alive, but in the previous morning. As time passes, she realizes that she is stuck in a loop, and the resulting decisions make for a thrill of a story. Each time her day is relived, she changes in successive subtle ways, until I could look back at a few days of story and find an incredible character arc.

That’s the true power of this novel: the characters. The way Sam reacts to each of them and the ways in which those reactions develop are incredibly powerful. As she finds out more and more about what people were thinking and doing on that day, she begins to get the full story, and uses that knowledge to her advantage. This frustrating cycle makes for a very complex internal struggle. How she wants to act changes, but the events of the day (and her death) don’t.

Though not an original plot device, Oliver utilizes it in the best of ways. The day stays the same, but the girl changes. Her experience with, and desire to avoid death pervade her thoughts in the novel, and it’s that fact, rather than the fact of the repetition, that lead her to act the way she does. It’s an infuriating loop, trying to change things when they will inevitably repeat. As the story went on, I kept wanting to chime in with my own ideas of how the story should go. By the time it got to the end, I too, had learned a thing or two.

(Purchase on Amazon)

3. John Green’s other books

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If you find yourself more attracted to John Green’s style than the themes of TFiOS, this will be a pretty obvious choice. If you can separate your associations from TFiOS, I suggest Looking for Alaska (Amazon). It’s somewhat similar in the depth of the questions it tackles, but the story itself is wildly different.

Paper Towns (Amazon) is less similar, and brings up insightful questions while challenging storytelling tropes and ideas about teenagers in a very self-aware way. He also wrote An Abundance of Katherines (Amazon), one of my favorites, and co-wrote Will Grayson, Will Grayson (Amazon). I can whole-heartedly recommend them all.

So there you have it, folks! Read away. By no means can you ever replicate that first TFiOS experience, but the power of all books still remains. Check them out while you wait to see the story on the big screen.

The upcoming 25th anniversary edition of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast includes a couple of first looks at next year’s live-action adaptation.

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been a quarter of a century since the animated Beauty and the Beast hit movie theaters. To celebrate the occasion Disney is putting out an anniversary edition, and its special features section includes a treat: Our first look at Cogsworth and Lumière in the live-action installment, as well as a glimpse of a scene within Gaston’s tavern.

As confirmed by producer Jack Morrissey on Facebook, this photo of Cogsworth (played by Ian McKellen) and Lumière (Ewan McGregor) is concept art, but it gives us a sense of the style that director Bill Condon is shooting for:

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The upcoming 25th anniversary edition of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast includes a couple of first looks at next year’s live-action adaptation.

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been a quarter of a century since the animated Beauty and the Beast hit movie theaters. To celebrate the occasion Disney is putting out an anniversary edition, and its special features section includes a treat: Our first look at Cogsworth and Lumière in the live-action installment, as well as a glimpse of a scene within Gaston’s tavern.

As confirmed by producer Jack Morrissey on Facebook, this photo of Cogsworth (played by Ian McKellen) and Lumière (Ewan McGregor) is concept art, but it gives us a sense of the style that director Bill Condon is shooting for:

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While it’s nice to finally see a glimpse of a couple of the characters, a big question remains unanswered: How will these objects look once they have faces on them? (Cogsworth’s face might be hinted at in the center of the clock.)

Also on the Beauty and the Beast 25th Anniversary Edition is a shot from the the “Gaston” musical number. From left to right we see Alexis Loizon as Stanley, Josh Gad as LeFou (just over Gaston’s shoulder), and Luke Evans (with his back to the camera) as Gaston.

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Update: And here’s another look at the movie, courtesy of this person on Twitter — this time we get to see Dan Stevens as human Beast!

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We’ll be curious to get our hands on the anniversary edition in September, because we expect we’ll see more from the new movie than the two stills above.

Disney released the first trailer for the live-action Beauty and the Beast in May. It was very much a teaser trailer, as it didn’t provide any looks at the characters — except Belle (Emma Watson), appearing through the glass casing protecting the film’s iconic rose.

In fact, the trailer’s first looks at the various settings (Namely the Beast’s castle) fell in line with the visual style we see in the above concept art.

Beauty and the Beast starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens hit theaters March 17, 2017.

Apple — always one to push the boundaries by simplifying their products as much as possible — is reportedly looking to remove the all-important Home button in next year’s new iPhone.

Apple loves making their products as simple as possible. The iPod was a success because of how clean it looked compared to other MP3 players. With Apple TV, Steve Jobs bragged about how few buttons the device’s remote had.

But since 2007, every new iPhone has had the same number of physical buttons, switches, and ports: A ringer switch, a lock button, volume up/down buttons, a USB port, and a headphone jack.

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Apple — always one to push the boundaries by simplifying their products as much as possible — is reportedly looking to remove the all-important Home button in next year’s new iPhone.

Apple loves making their products as simple as possible. The iPod was a success because of how clean it looked compared to other MP3 players. With Apple TV, Steve Jobs bragged about how few buttons the device’s remote had.

But since 2007, every new iPhone has had the same number of physical buttons, switches, and ports: A ringer switch, a lock button, volume up/down buttons, a USB port, and a headphone jack.

That changes next month, when Apple is expected to announce that the iPhone 7 will be lacking a headphone jack. Instead, users will be listening to music via the Lightning port (which you currently use to charge and sync your iPhone).

And for 2017, Apple will reportedly go one step further by removing the Home button.

Ah, the Home button. It’s always been there for us — it’s our captain for navigating the iPhone. We use it to switch between apps, we use it to get to our Home screen, we use it to summon Siri, and we use it to read our finger print. Back in the “old days,” we used it to force quit apps when they froze on us.

In a new report, Bloomberg says Apple is planning to remove the Home button for the 2017 iPhone, which will presumably be called iPhone 7s. It’s billed as a “major redesign of the iPhone for 2017 that focuses more heavily on the display.”

Previous rumor mill reports have suggested that Apple will ditch the Home button in order to decrease the size of the top top and bottom bezels, thereby making the phone not as tall, or using the freed up space to add more screen.

Here’s a mock up of what that could look like, via TapSmart:

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What remains unclear is how users will be able to unlock and navigate their iPhone without the Home button. Reports have suggested that the whole screen will serve as a TouchID surface and a Home button (using the 3D Touch feature Apple launched last year).

Interestingly, next month’s release of iOS 10 will introduce a new way to unlock your iPhone: You’ll have to press down on the Home button to activate an unlocking. Previously, all you had to do was rest your finger on the Home button while your lock screen was awake.

Disney is making another live-action movie, and this time it’s James and the Giant Peach, to be developed by Director Sam Mendes.

To refresh your memory, James and the Giant Peach is the terrifying delightful children’s movie directed by Henry Selick and based off of the Roald Dahl story. It features nightmare-inducing adorable stop-motion animated bugs that helped James float away from his mean aunts in a — you guessed it — giant peach.

The original film was an interesting mix of live-action characters in the beginning and at the end, with stop-motion animated sequences throughout the middle.

Read full article

Disney is making another live-action movie, and this time it’s James and the Giant Peach, to be developed by Director Sam Mendes.

To refresh your memory, James and the Giant Peach is the terrifying delightful children’s movie directed by Henry Selick and based off of the Roald Dahl story. It features nightmare-inducing adorable stop-motion animated bugs that helped James float away from his mean aunts in a — you guessed it — giant peach.

The original film was an interesting mix of live-action characters in the beginning and at the end, with stop-motion animated sequences throughout the middle.

Now, according to Deadline, Disney is developing an all-live-action remake of the film. Nick Hornby will write the script, while Joe Roth is in negotiations to sign on as a producer.

If Mendes’ name sounds familiar, it’s because he directed the last two James Bond features, both Skyfall and Spectre, as well as 1999’s American Beauty.

You can check out the trailer for the horrifying original film below:

As of late, Disney has been announcing live-action versions of its properties left and right, including The Nutcracker (which has a huge cast of well-known actors), The Little Mermaid (with Lin-Manuel Miranda attached to help write the music), Beauty and the Beast (starring Emma Watson), and Cruella (starring Emma Stone), among others.

With the amount of remakes — especially in the live-action department — it’s no wonder James and the giant Peach is the latest to be announced.

Do you want to see a live-action ‘James and the Giant Peach’ movie?