Monday, December 1, 2008
Keeping the Crown
The Other Queen (can not manage to get into this one)
Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing
Marley and Me
I know I'm forgetting some. I have a system on my bookcase; books that are lined up neatly I've already read. Books that are stacked on top or resting on top of the other books I have not read. Which reminds me ... I need to go to the library and pick up Brisingr on CD for Brian.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
5. And one other book I can't think of for the life of me.
I started the Other Queen and read maybe ten pages. But I literally read like 15 books in September so I think my brain just wanted a break. I have to finish Secret Life for Lit Flicks. I may start that one next.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
For my second novel for the Lit Flicks Challenge, I picked up The Golden Compass. Mostly because I was at the used book store and it was there on sale and I've always been interested. These books came out when I was a child but I never heard of them. I had no interest. I was 14, right up their alley, but no ... I couldn't say what I was reading then, but it wasn't these.
The novel took me awhile to get involved in. I started it on the airplane when I flew to Ohio last Friday and finished it last night. That's a long time for me to spend on a book. The beginning was slow and meandering and took us through a great deal of plot points that I'm still not sure how they all fit in. It did pick up, but one thing I kept doing in an effort to finish was imagine myself reading it too a child. The voices I would make and the expression on the kids face and blah blah blah. It made it pass more quickly.
Without getting into too much of the plot ... Lyra Belaqua is an orphan that has spent her 11 years living at Jordan College. She pretty much has the run of the place, and the professors there give her a makeshift education. One day her wafaring Uncle Asriel returns from the North. She sneaks into the Retiring Room (I can't remember why) and listens to a presentation he makes to the professors, asking for money. It is here she learns of the city in the sky and Dust. She also sees someone attempt to poison her Uncle, and it's here we are expected to learn how dangerous the idea of Dust and other worlds is.
Oh, and in this reality, all humans have daemons; little critters that are connected to them for life and are in essence their souls.
Meanwhile, Gyptian children (the novels poor people, sort of like gypsies or pirates) are being stolen away from their families. The remaining children have come to call the child thieves as Gobblers, and Lyra's best friend, just after Lord Asriel arrives, is stolen away by these meanies.
Soon after Lord Asriel leaves with his money from the college on his expedition North (Lyra asks to go and is refused), the dreaded Mrs. Coulter appears on campus and wants to take Lyra with her on her own trip North. Lyra, fascinated by the Dust, the city and the armored warrior bears, is very excited to go. Master, someone at the college, fears for her and makes cryptic comments about destiny and not wanting her to go, and gives her the altheiometer (forgive myspelling). He makes her promise not to tell Mrs. Coulter that she has it.
Desperate to go to the North and give the altheiometer to her Uncle and to save Roger from the Gobblers (it is assumed that whatever the baddies are doing, they are doing it in the North), Lyra travels with the enchanting and beautiful Mrs. Coulter only to discover that her beauty is skin deep, she's actually very cruel, and she's deeply involved and invested in the cover up of Dust and the city in the lights.
Mayhem ensues as Lyra escapes, is taken into custody by the Gyptians who are determined to find their missing babies and bring them home. They run into a renegade bear, a Texan with an air balloon, and witches who are on the brink of fighting their own war.
All very exciting fodder for the minds of the youth. And I love reading childrens books that are about meanie parents / guardians that are stealing away children in the night. I think it takes me back to my own childhood and The Witches, with those baddies posioning children and turning them into mice!
I give the book a B, because, well ... I think I'm jaded by Harry Potter, for one. And Narnia. But Lyra is very compelling and I love the litte daemons because I think it just fits so well with what children dream about ... a little constant companion that can ride about in their clothes and defend them from bullies. A living doll that can speak to them. I will pick up the second in the His Dark Materials series, A Subtle Knife, but I definitely hope the action picks up faster than this one did.
The movie ... eh. I felt similarly to how I felt when I'm watching Harry Potter. They don't particularly care about plot points, they just want to show you what you've read. The bug that Mrs. Coulter sent to find Lyra? Here's what that looks like! The armor that the bears wear? Here's what that looks like! The city in the sky and the daemons that pass when their humans do? Here's what that looks like!
The strangest thing though ... the ending. Why did it end that way? The book didn't end that way? Lyra finds Asriel as he completes his dasterdly plan to make his away to city in the Aurora and she travels after him with Pan, on her own search for the Dust. In the movie? Well the mixed up a lot of the plot points for reasons that don't make sense to me ... and the movie ends with the survivors in the air balloon, flying toward the Aurora. Why?
I don't know. Maybe something will be explained to me in the second novel. I enjoyed seeing the daemons and the bears and the things I had read about, but as usual, they butchered the plot in an effort to ... do something. I'm not sure what.
I will keep the book on the shelf for my future generations, but I don't think it's a repeat read for me. Unless said generation wants me to read it to them. :)
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
So I have the unusual ability this time to wonder which I enjoyed more.
To review the book first ... it was rather slow. Fowler is a very good author and I think that I just wasn't in the mood. This would be a very good, rainy day, skip work read. All cuddled up with nothing much to worry about, and looking for a little modern day Austen to keep you company. But I think my mood at the time I was reading this (just having finished something else on Henry VIII) hindered my enjoyment.
At any rate, definitely worth a read. It was only 300 or so pages, very quick once I sat down and got going at it.
The movie stays relatively faithful, except they leave out a great deal of back story on Jocelyn and Sylvia, and they completely butcher Prudie and Dean. Everything else, pretty dead on. Except for Prudie and Dean, and this is what irritated me the most now that I've read the book ...
I think that the screenwriters / directors had the same problem with action that I did. The book is rather meandering. It's just a steady pace through 6 people's lives as they read Jane Austen books. No one dies, some people do get hurt, but really, it's just a very steady paced novel.
So I think those reasons are why they said that Prudie, a high school French teacher, wanted to have an affair with one of her students, that her husband cancelled their trip to France for a basketball game, and that she almost met said high school student at a motel.
In the novel, and this just really made so much more sense, Prudie didn't get to go to France because her mother died (who also wasn't as crazy as the movie portrayed her), she didn't underestand why her dishy husband loved her, and he was just way too nice to her. The novel didn't really wrap anything up with a bow (also maybe part of my reserve in liking it) and the movie (catering to Americans) probably felt it needed to. Hence the final scene at the library dinner.
I liked both movie and novel, for different reasons. But I was really frustrated with the movie after reading the novel and discovering what they did to Prudie.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Mary was married to the King of France for only 3 months before he died, and shortly after his death she married the Duke of Suffolk, Henry's best friend, Charles Brandon.
Coincidentally, it's Charles' and Mary's granddaughter, Jane, that is put on the throne by the protestants after Henry's only legitimate son, Edward, dies.
So, what did I think of the book? I liked it. But at this point I've read so much about Henry VIII that I kind of take issue with different representations of him. This one was fairly in line with what I thought about him, though it proposes that Henry did love Katherine when they were getting married, after Arthur's death. Haegar sort of skims over Mary's (Henry's daughter) birth, which I found odd. But she explains it away in the authors note at the end of the novel.
Also, being such a fan of The Other Boleyn Girl, I get irritated when no one talks about Mary (Bolyen, so many of these people had the same names!). She gets one mention in the novel as being among Mary's attendants when she is Queen of France (as was Anne).
I have several other books to read now, but mostly what this book made me want to do was watch the episode of the Tudors when Mary announces to the King that she's married to Brandon. The Tudors skips over Mary except for maybe 2 episodes, and has her die very early on. In reality, she died several years into the Anne Boleyn episode, and was married to Brandon before Mary was born. But whatever.
Final verdict ... if you're interested in the Tudors it's worth a read. If not, it's a good love story, even if I think that while Mary may have been in love with Brandon, I still think marrying the King's sister was more an act of ambition than love.
But hey that's just me.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
The rules and details are all available at the link, but essentially between now and February 28th you read 5 books that have been or will be made into movies, and watch at least 2 of the adaptations.
It sounded like a good time to me, so my list of the 5 books is below:
1. Nights in Rodanthe, Nicholas Sparks
2. Harry Potter 6, JK Rowling
3. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
4. The Secret Life of Bees, Sue Monk Kidd
5. and either Jumper, Steven Gould, or Bringing Down the House, Ben Mezrich (movie title: "21")
That's not really iron clad. I might also through a Jason Bourne book in there, as I've wanted to read those too.
Monday, August 18, 2008
The book is due to be released on September 16th. Which means I have a little less than a month to read the two books I just bought ... okay so what that really means is I have to find some more books to read while I wait for September 16th.
But ... in keeping with this historical fiction challenge (linked above) the book I'm reading now totally counts, and I'm pretty sure if I go back far enough some of the other stuff I've read lately would count too ... I just have to remember everything I've read ... I only have like, 5 weeks left. So I've got quite a bit to read between now and then. I'll consider it a success if I complete 4. I'll just have to keep my eyes open for more challenges.
There is a whole world of book bloggers out there! I'm so excited to have found a place to potentially belong!
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Monday, August 4, 2008
First ... none of these novels are winning a Pulitzer. They are childish, written for a young audience, and very, very melodramatic. They have two things going for them ... an interesting love triangle, and Edward. Which, I don't really even know why his character is so fascinating, I just think that he is. I think it's part of that forbidden love bit, or ill-fated love.
The 4th book is not as good as the earlier ones in the series. But it is still worth reading. I think most of the negative reviews are occurring because of two things: 1 - they are feminist crazies who think Meyer is going to brainwash girls into thinking getting married and having babies young is the way to go and 2 - because they didn't like the change in Bella.
Let's start with 1.
Bella is married at 18. So what? It's a novel? It's a fictional book that doesn't even pretend to tell anyone else what to do. Obviously this situation is special to this particular girl. I don't think young teenagers are going to go to excessive lengths to marry at 18 and have children so they can be like Bella. They can't be like Bella. Bella marries a vampire and has a 1/2 vampire child.
And ... well what's wrong with wanting children? One of the reviewers at Amazon said that if she felt a baby kick inside her she would be horrified and definitely would not feel the joy that Bella claims to feel. That just makes me feel sorry for that reviewer.
There is nothing anti-feminist about these books. Feminism was/is about choice. You could choose to be what you wanted to be and not what society forced on you. Bella wanted to get married. And when it happened, she wanted to have a baby. No one forced that on her. It was her choice.
The reason her couple got married, is Stephenie Meyer was not writing a love story that involved cohabitation or sex or planning for the future, that did not include monogamy. That is her preference, and the lesson she wanted to push from that, was that sex outside of marriage is not good. I read another review that was put off by the fact that Bella enjoyed sex so much after she was married. I squinted at that one, and felt sorry for that author too. Clearly, something is missing there.
On to 2 - Bella changed in the middle of this book. She was no longer bookish, 17 and in high school. She was married, a mother, and an impossibly beautiful vampire. I don't think her original fan base enjoyed the change. Part of Bella's charm is that she has none. She's clumsy, not athletic, not the most beautiful, not the most eloquent. She's just Bella, an average girl from a broken family who is trying to fit in. Which she never felt like she did.
When she changes ... that all changes. I think she becomes harder for girls to relate to, because they aren't married, they aren't mothers and they aren't impossibly beautiful. At least, they don't think they are.
I had no issue with that change, as I am married, I could very easily be a mother, and well ... my husband makes me feel beautiful. Which is another message that is brought here. Bella was always beautiful to Edward. Just as wives are (should) always be beautiful to their husbands.
I think the reviewers had a harder time relating to this book, because it was outside their scope of reality. They could take teenage vampires, werewolves and danger. But they can't understand marriage, children and that very real need to defend and protect your children through any method available. They haven't had that experience, so it's hard for them to relate.
That's my two cents on that.
I've also heard that they didn't find it realistic. Ummm ... which part of any of this saga was realistic? I think that's code for "It didn't go like I wanted it to."
As with Harry Potter 7, this book left me a little wanting. Not that it was bad, (and parts of it were) but that it was rushing toward an ending. This book at least didn't have a ridiculous Epilogue.
In the end, all of our characters get what they want. Everyone lives happily ever after. And if you didn't know it was a fairy tale, than the title of the last chapter "The Happily Ever After" really ought to have given it away. Meyer always said she wrote these books for herself, and that other people were enjoying them was a huge bonus. I believe this was a fairy tale she told herself, and this (4th book) is how everyone turned out. Good on her for being able to write something that she loves, and profiting from it in more ways than one.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Ironman still rules my summer movie season. Followed closely by Kung Fu Panda and Wall-E.
Dark Knight was a great movie. But like many great movies ... it's a bit too intense for repeat enjoyment. And enjoyment isn't a word I would use to describe my experience. It was so ... dark. And sad. And about anti-heroes and sacrifice. Batman was never intended to be a figure of light and fuzzy animals. So this fits with what he was designed to be ... but still. Hard, difficult, almost painful at times. No it was painful at times. Very.
Made even more so by the fact that Heath Ledger is gone. I think the reviews are inflated because of his death, and no one wants to give a bad review post-humously. But, he was a fantastic Joker. A scary joker. Scarier, grittier, more insane ... hurtful. Jack Nicholson was a comical character. Funny, insane, but mostly funny. Ledger's Joker is only maniacal. And the movie revolves and centers on his insanity.
There is one ray of light. One piece of hope. When faced with a difficult choice, the people, the citizens, choose the right path. And it was this that brought the Joker to his end. But that was really about it.
On to other things ... I have been crazy busy at work. There early, staying late, working through lunch ... I'm exhausted and totally in need of a mental health day. But, alas, the work would pile up in my absence and it just really doesn't pay to be away. So that's why I've been absent of late.
I also joined the revolution and got my iPhone Friday. It is awesome. And - I haven't gotten one, legitimate phone call. (The ones from Lewis don't count as he was sitting next to me.) Go figure.
The other thing that I've been doing ... have you ever heard of the Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer? It apparently has a cult following similar to the Potter series (though decidedly smaller and largely - exclusively? - female) and I've seen the books everywhere. I have a habit of having to know what's going on (I made it a point to watch Hannah Montana several months ago - I had to know what all those small tshirts in Wall-Mart were about). And something that has this many loyal fans? And being on a bit of a kick lately, I picked them up. Read the first one, finished the second one yesterday, and the third one is half finished. The 4th one comes out in August. I don't necessarily, recommend them, but they are light, easy to read, and somewhat mind numbing.
And I think maybe it's the work thing ... but it's a good balm at the moment. And it's interesting to know what the teenage set is hip to these days.
After this I'm on to The Time Travelers Wife and I do have to pick up Atlas Shrugged at some point. I'm not really sure how long the reading thing will hold. I go in spurts. Lots of scrapbooking, lots of cooking, lots of reading, lots of music ... maybe it's the summer. Maybe it's something that's an old habit from school days, when you had the summer off to read whatever you wanted. But I've been voracious lately. Not all the books have been good ... but what are you going to do.
Hope all is well.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
I'm trying to relate what I know of God to what was presented to me in this novel. I know that I'm supposed to have a deep reaction to the ending, some sort of "a-ha!" because they claim this book will make you believe in God.
As a believer long before I picked it up, I'm really left kind of blank on that. The moral seems to me, that even if a story is fanciful and unbelievable, it can still be true. And that details of a story don't necessarily matter, it's the feeling and human suffering (in this case) that's important to remember.
To begin, Pi is a young boy in India who's father runs a zoo. He is born Hindu, though his family is not particularly religious, and then he discovers Christanity, and then later Islam. At one point, he asks for a prayer rug and to be Baptised. His mother agrees. I think he was 12 at the time?
His father then needs to sell the zoo, and they are moving to Canada. They find buyers for their animals, board a Japanese cargo ship and set sail. Somewhere along the way, the ship sinks, and Pi is thrown into a life boat. A zebra (the animals are apparently let loose from their cages) leaps from the ship and lands in the boat with him. The animal breaks his leg. Swimming in the water, is an adult male Bengal tiger, which Pi helps board the boat. He also helps an oranguatan, who's floating on a ton of bananas, and brings her onto the boat.
He later discovers, a hyena is on board with them, and surmises that that is why he was thrown onto the lifeboat in the first place. The crew wanted the hyena to eat the boy.
From what I can surmise and what I've read HERE and in the reviews of Amazon.com, the 5 creatures on the boat represent different things. The zebra represents uniqueness, the oranguatan the mother figure or Virgin Mary, the hyena cowardice, and the tiger, humanity. Pi himself represents divinity. Now, quickly the hyena dispatches the zebra and the oranguatan (not for weak stomachs - this book is excessively violent). Three days in the voyage, the hyena is destroyed by the tiger. Leaving Pi and the Tiger alone.
They survive together.
So, this can be read in two ways ... the tiger represents humanity. And when coupled with the alternative story that is told at the end, he is Pi, specifically. Pi, as I've said, is divinity, and God. And throughout Part 2, Pi provides for the tiger, struggling and suffering to keep him alive.
As God provides for us all. And, I would say, as Jesus suffered for us all.
The novel is very violent and fancifully, but it was enjoyable to read. His tone takes some getting used to, but you do and once you catch the thread of what it's all about, it's a pretty quick read. Martel seems to be out to question agnostics, ("to choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation") and to show them that belief is central to survival.
I've been voraciously reading these days, and finishing books at a pretty quick clip. The summer is a good time for this as there is not anything interesting on TV. Except the Discovery chanel NASA series, which we have dvr'd.
I'm adding to my list of books: Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged. Neal Boortz said today that most people are too stupid to read it.
I can't have Neal thinking I'm stupid. ;)