Thursday, January 31, 2008

Roverandom


Over the past few months I have grown increasingly interested in J.R.R. Tolkien. He is one of the greatest fantasy/epic writers of our time, but he wrote more than epics. I found out about this story a few months ago, and then bought it when I found a paperback at Barnes and Noble. (Incidentally, I bought this the same time I bought Here There Be Dragons.)
I only started it recently, but it has been a delightful and easy read.
Tolkien wrote this for his sons Michael and John (Christopher was still a baby) when Michael lost a toy dog on the beach. This is the story of that toy dog, and what really happened....(just kidding.)

When Rover, a very well kept black and white puppy offends the wizard Artaxerxes, the wizard says, "Idiot! Go and be a toy!" and Rover finds himself a lot smaller and very stiff. And then he finds himself in a box, where he can't move at all, and then he is taken out and put in the 'sixpence window' where he is bought as a toy for a little boy (little boy Two).
The adventures follow as Roverandom escapes Little Boy Two's house and meets another wizard named Psamathos Psamathides, whom is a sea wizard (or a beach wizard) that knows everything about the sea and a lot about other wizards' doings. He kindly sends Rover to the Man-on-the-Moon (a wizard of the moon) who lives on the moon with the moon-dog, also named Rover. Rover's name is changed to Roverandom, and then he and moon-dog have lots of adventures and the pastel landscape of the moon. They are chased by the white dragon, and become very good friends.
Roverandom also goes on to live in the sea for awhile after the Man-in-the-Moon sends him back, and tries in vain to get Artaxerxes to turn him back into a real dog. For awhile he is denied, and he has many adventures with the sea-dog (also named Rover; Rover himself has to go back to being called Roverandom) and then later Artaxerxes and his wife (whom is a mermaid) leave the ocean at the insistence of Mrs. Artaxerxes' family, and take Roverandom with them.
The landscapes and the adventures are charming and original. It's a good story for younger Tolkien fans, because the print is large and easy to read. It isn't a bit as complicated as The Lord of the Rings, or even The Hobbit. I recommend it for younger readers, because its a good book to introduce them to Tolkien. It is even linked to The Lord of the Rings and Middle-Earth in its own way...indeed I think that nearly all of Tolkien's works were connected somehow. This was a charming tale! Go on and read it.
Five stars.
Anna

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Devil and Daniel Webster


I watched this old movie tonight with my family and I really enjoyed it! This is the story of a young farmer that has lots of bad 'luck' if you want to call it that. His wife falls and faints. He is in deep debt, and the only thing he can use to pay that debt is seed which is spilled into a mud puddle by accident. His pig's leg is broken. He is very poor. What can you do?
Trust in God or make a deal with the Devil, I suppose.

The Devil, who calls himself 'Scratch' in New Hampshire, makes a deal with Jabez Stone, to be held for seven years. When the seven years is up, Jabez is defended by Daniel Webster and is released from the deal.

The movie is full of irony and humorous moments, the last being the funniest and perhaps the most uncomfortable when Mr. Scratch is looking in his little book for another person he can devour. He looks up, scratching his chin, and then points at the camera....giving the illusion that he is pointing at YOU. Funny....I was right in the middle of the living room when the movie ended, at right in front of the TV screen. Everyone insisted that he was pointing at me, although my parents were right behind me on the couch. :)

For fans of old black and white movies, such as Arsenic and Old Lace and The Picture of Dorian Grey, this is a good one to add to your list of movies to see.
Anna

Very Fast Update

First, before some of my friends think I've gone mad, I can say that I am going to make myself wait for the fourth Warriors book. :)
I have so many other books I need to read this month (meaning February of course) and I suppose I should wait until I can buy the next three and read them all at once....

Also, expect more book reviews soon. I'm on the brink of finishing some, and starting some. There will almost definitely be a book review tomorrow evening for J.R.R. Tolkien...so keep checking!

Also, if some of you will recall the review I did of the play that some friends did last year? I think I gave a link for it.....
but anyway a new play is coming up! To check it out, go to the following blog:
Scottish Flame

His most recent posts have a bit of information about it.

Bob Dylan: John Wesley Harding


I've decided to start reviewing music on the blog, since I've been listening to a lot these days! Some of you may not know that I am a Bob Dylan fan. I've gotten increasingly interested in him the last few days (don't ask me why) and I plan on reading so biographies soon. I just got done listening to his CD John Wesley Harding.
It's funny...Andy told me it would probably be hard to listen to, until I got used to it, but I enjoyed it a lot from the start. It isn't as good as Highway 61 Revisited, but it has a few songs on it that I really liked. My favorite was The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest, and maybe All Along the Watch Tower.
I think I enjoyed those two the most. I'm new to reviewing music, so sorry this is such a short one....but they may get as long as my book reviews later on!
For hard core Dylan fans, this was a really great CD. For those of you just starting out, I would recommend Highway 61 or Blonde on Blonde....possibly Bringing it All Back Home. Those are all around the same time period. This one is so different from all of them. I can't even try to describe the difference. Blonde on Blonde and Highway 61 are very surreal, but John Wesley Harding is more bleak and epicish. Okay never mind! You'll understand the difference when you listen to it (if you've heard the other CDs). Highway 61 is mostly electric, and I think Blonde on Blonde is too. John Wesley Harding isn't.
Anna

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Warriors: Forest of Secrets



I just finished the third Warriors book. This series is by far the greatest thing in modern children's literature that I have read since The Inkheart books and Harry Potter. Leven Thumps is nothing compared to these. This is treachery, forbidden love, broken friendships, murder, lies and trials in the form of cats. This is an epic of felines. This is amazing.
The other night, I read the prologue and first chapter. Yesterday I read fourteen chapters, putting me halfway through the book. Tonight, I finished it. I kept on thinking I would go to bed at such and such time, and I ended up staying up until 11:30 (right now) to finish it and right this review! They require more attention to read than Leven Thumps do, and they have smooth running narrative with complex characters. When I read the first book, I didn't really enjoy it a whole lot. When I read the second book I took it all back. I take it back a hundred times over now. I told myself that I could wait for Warriors 4, but no can do now! I can't wait to go and get it. I loathe the thought of the series ending!

The story line for this one is more about Fireheart finding truth and making the other Clan cats believe it. Its about saving lives and being loyal to the right cats and the right Clans. Its about doing what is right. Fireheart is grown up in this story, and Greystripe is as well. The authors throw in amazing plot twists. I nearly cried at the end. I rarely do that in books. This is saying something. I felt tears coming and a weird sadness that stories rarely provoke from me. I remember seeing a blurb on the back cover about it, saying that you would see cats differently. I thought that was stupid at first, but I understand now! Cats have a new respect in my eyes that they did not have before, even though I have always liked cats. It isn't as if cats really have these adventures, but you do look at them differently.
The characters fill me with loathing and sympathy. And it is so different from the fantasy stories of Harry Potter and Inkheart.....this is about cats. This is about animals. This is a beast fable.
I couldn't stop reading tonight. I literally couldn't stop. I was captivated, enchanted, bewitched.
With books like The Lord of the Rings and Perelandra, you can sit back and leisurely enjoy the story, because it takes time to make yourself think. Since this is modern and written for children, it is easy to read and it has such an engaging plot that I felt it was a wonderful read. Thick enough, and I felt like it was advanced enough that it used more than an eighth of my brain to read it. I don't guess that fans of cats will like this much. That's a pity, because I think that you're missing out on a great story!
Then again, even if you don't like cats, the story and the characters are still so well written!
FIVE STARS!
Anna

Monday, January 28, 2008

War of the Worlds


Everybody knows that there is a concept about aliens, extraterrestrials living out in space on other planets. There are a ton of movies about this. Aliens are usually thought to have big heads with big pupil-less eyes. War of the Worlds is about extraterrestrials and how they invaded our world long before we were here. It centers around a divorced dad named Ray (Tom Cruise). His children are Robbie and Rachel, played by Justin Chatwin and Dakota Fanning. The kids are staying at his house for the weekend. Robbie is in his teens, and Rachel is ten. The story opens out with Ray and his life, how it is obvious that he has problems being a parent, even for a few days, and how his son Robbie is a problem. While the kids are staying at his house, a freakish lightening storm starts and lightening strikes about twenty times in the same spot, over and over and over again. Robbie is missing and Ray is worried and both Ray and Rachel are shocked at the weird storm.
Ray explores the house and sees that everything battery powered has stopped.

The story continues with the aliens unearthing their great machines and how Ray has to fight for his and his family's survival.
This is one of the most desolate and morbid movies I have ever seen. That's probably why the story is so good....most stories have some kind of a place that is safe, or sort of safe, and there is always something they can do. In this movie, they can do nothing. Sooner or later, the aliens will find them and they will die. This is the end of the world. It isn't a war, it's an extermination. It also has some very freaky parts in it. The aliens take their prisoners and basically spew their blood and internal organs all over the place. They throw them on the ground and then stab them with some kind of....long robotic thing. This isn't for the faint of heart. I Am Legend was not this hopeless. This is something to which there is no power. Human even becomes enemy in the fight to survive. At one point Ray and his family are beat up because of the car they have that works. It's basically the only one in the world, or at least almost. The acting is amazing. Dakota Fanning is a thirteen year old wonder....even though she was probably ten or eleven when she made War of the Worlds. Kurt Russel has said that he will never work with a more talented actress. The kid is one year younger than me! (By the way, I could NEVER ever be an actress. She has guts. And talent.) This is a good outer space movie. I probably prefer Signs, an M. Night Shyamalan movie more than War of the Worlds. I also like E.T.....although most of you probably already know that! Sci-fi fans will love this. Especially if you like a taste of horror.
Anna

The Two Towers



I just finished reading The Two Towers for the second time. I think I enjoyed it more than last time, and just like the Fellowship, I got a 'Tolkien spurt' a few weeks ago and started reading in it as much as possible. In other words it was my target novel; the one I read in the most.
I have decided that I enjoyed the first half more than the second. I find reading Aragorn and Legolas and Gimli more enjoyable than Frodo and Sam; and Merry and Pippin too. I've just always liked them. Merry and Pippin are definitely my favorite hobbit characters!
I always enjoy reading about horses, too, and since some of this book took place in Rohan, I got to read a lot about Rohan horses and Shadowfax, Gandalf's horse. I don't know which chapter I enjoyed the most....perhaps the chapter Treebeard, or one around that. Or the White Rider. I enjoy reading the tree lore and Gandalf's tale in those chapters. I've also been reading a Tolkien Biography, and I really understand him and the books more than I did, and I also (to my thrills) noticed similarities between as writers...even quirks! I took him forever to write The Lord of the Rings (which he considered one book) and he kept on saying he would finish it soon, and then find that there was something else to add. (I know my friends have heard me say I would finish it soon lots of times!) It's just really interesting to read about his experience and his life, and how hard it was for him to write The Lord of the Rings. It's fascinating to me, and I know a lot more about him than I did before. This added to the reading of The Two Towers, I think, because as I was reading I would think things like, "I wonder if this is one of the parts he got stuck on?" and things like that, because it was towards the end of the Two Towers that he started to write it slower and get stuck more often. Too, his comments on how it was going, like on Faramir. "A new character has entered the story; I'm sure I didn't want him, but I like him at any rate."

Not an exact quote I'm afraid. I loved reading the Two Towers again. I don't know which book is my favorite of the Lord of the Rings, or which segment, if you like. Again, I had more fun reading it than the last time, and there were always little things I picked up on that I hadn't noticed or remembered before. It was truly a joy to read over....and now for the big test.....reading The Return of the King!
Anna
The tan cover is the oldest copy I have. I found it at a used book store. The other is the closest thing I could find to Tolkien's original design.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Lonesome Dove


This is one of my favorite westerns. We stayed up until twelve watching it last night, and we still have to finish it!

I haven't read the book, but I don't think it would be fit to read, really. The movie has to be watched with TV Guardian, and there are several places that need to be edited. Actually, make that a lot of places. Dad knows where all those places are, so he's the movie editor on this one. Before I tell you how great it is, it really can't be watched unless you know somebody else who has seen it before that can edit and if you have TV Guardian.

The characters are well-developed and have layers of personality. I think Gus McCrae may be the best western character I've yet seen. The story is about a bunch of old retired Texas Rangers and their friends that decide to settle some territory in Montana "before the bankers and lawyers get it," with their cattle and horses (some of those cattle and horses were stolen from Mexico). It also follows several other story lines, mainly those of a Sheriff in Arkansas and then that of his wife who is traveling to Nebraska. It also looks in on Jake Spoon from time to time, who is the fella that Sheriff July is looking for. Jake Spoon ends up being hanged by his friends later in the movie.

One of the reasons I can say this is so good is that it was a miniseries, and miniseries don't necessarily have as much money to spend as theater released movies. It's very long, and even though the picture isn't as bright and clear and realistic (meaning romanticized in a way that makes it look realistic and eye-pleasing at the same time) and even though the soundtrack wasn't composed by a great composer, the movie is great. The whole idea is almost mind-blowing. Without all of that, the movie still manages to be one of the best ever made. The music in it is pretty, though there are no CDs available that I know of, and the story is so appealing and amazingly well-written the movie is good anyway, even without modern technology.

This is basically a Western Epic. It is one of the greatest movies I've seen, but as I said, it requires extensive editing. It has several sequels and a prequel was recently made, starring Steve Zahn as the young Gus McCrae.
I just wanted to share the thought of western epics, because it hit me hard while watching it last night. I hadn't really realized until last night that westerns even had epics, because I'm not a huge fan of westerns. I take that back. I like some westerns, but I've seen so many that I mostly like the unique or modern ones. This counts as unique, and sort of modern; it was made several years ago, probably fifteen or twenty. The story and the characters are so amazing, and all the plot threads are intertwined together in a complex and intricate way. Nearly all of them cross over together, and I'm saying nothing about the ending, in case you decide to see it. Lots of editing though! (And even with editing, it's not really a very moral story, so probably not for little kids.....)
Anna
PS. Heavy editing!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep


I went to see The Water Horse this week with some friends, and I thought it was a good movie. The acting was good, and the CGI was amazing! Crusoe looked real...like you really could reach out and touch him.

The story revolves around a barnacle-covered egg and what's inside and a little boy named Angus.
When the egg hatches, Angus names the Water Horse Crusoe after Robinson Crusoe and then decides to keep it. They have lots of adventures together, trying to keep Crusoe a secret, and later trying to keep him safe. Angus' fear of water is later cured by Crusoe, who takes him on a ride under in the Loch.

I think it was a good movie, and worth seeing. Oddly, this movie didn't influence me or my writing one way or another at all. I really enjoyed seeing it and everything, but I haven't been thinking about it, and that's really weird, since nearly every move I go see I start thinking about it later, and I get new ideas for my story nearly every time, or have to quit writing for awhile.
So, this movie really didn't grab me, so I don't know how to rate it. Still, I enjoyed it a lot, so I think those of you who like fantasy and some comedy and adventure for a PG-rating would probably enjoy it.
Anna

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Here There Be Dragons by James A. Owen


Well, I've done it. I've finally found a book that wasn't really worth finishing.
I usually try to finish all of the books I start, generally all of the fiction ones, especially the easy-to-read ones, even if it takes me a long time. Just because the easy-to-read ones are easy to finish, usually.
But guess what? This book was so boring. This guy wrote comic books before....I don't even care for his illustrations. This really doesn't have anything to do with dragons, but dragonships, huge ships with dragon heads on it that have minds of their own. From the beginning, it was long, dull, and I was lost most of the time. Wendigo are lovely monsters, but I wasn't scared of them. They weren't written in a scary way, even though when I learned of them it was kind of creepy. The characters were always on edge. They seemed stereotyped. Jack was wimpy and ungrateful, John meek and unsure, Charles and Avis were both hot-headed. A few of those negative types are good, if written well, but these weren't written well. I'm going to tell you what happens, because you don't want to waste your time reading this. I skipped to the last page and glanced at it, and I was shocked. That's the only reason I even kept reading.
Then I realized; I had read enough at the end to know what happened, and to know how and why. I read enough of the beginning and then I read enough of the end. I knew why it happened, and what happened.
I found out that the characters, Charles, Jack, and John, were Charles Williams, C.S. Lewis, and J.R.R. Tolkien (John Ronald Reual Tolkien.....)
This is the first book to the Chronicles of the Imaginerium Geographica. John is chosen as a caretaker for it, and as you continue reading, you find out that many of the greatest authors of all time where caretakers and associates of the Geographica, such as Charles Dickens and James Matthew Barrie. It's only natural that these three should become owners of it.
I will probably finish this someday, but I decided earlier today that I wasn't going to push myself to finish it tonight, and I wasn't going to try to finish it this month. I decided that it wasn't good enough to be made a priority. I don't have a required reading list, unless my own personal goals count as requirement. This year I plan on reading books that I want and need to read, both at the same time, so that I have time for both. Since I don't have to do it for school, I have time for fun reading, and since I don't do fun reading all the time, I have time for reading that will help me (non fiction and old, ancient legends and plays and poems and epics and things).
Here There Be Dragons was bought on my first annual Christmas trip to Barnes and Noble with a friend, but it's too bad that I wasted the ten dollars. At least I got a Tolkien book too.....
So anyway, don't waste your time with this one. It's creative, yes, and sort of interesting....but the characters and the story isn't well written at all. One star. That's the lowest I've ever rated a book so far in my lifetime. The most interesting part was reading the last page, and maybe chapter nine through chapter ten, but then it got boring again.
Anna

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Leven Thumps and the Eyes of the Want



I have just finished the third Leven Thumps book. (I'll save the best stuff for last!)

Criticism:
I'm sure I mentioned this in the other book reviews on Leven Thumps, but I'll say it again. If there is supposed to be a god or higher power in Leven Thumps, it is obviously Fate. It's almost a religion. In all of the books, fate is greatly emphasized. Geth encourages nearly everybody in the book that he meets to trust fate to take care of the problem. Fate is what guides and/or decides everything. It's kind of like trusting luck. There is also a small amount of rude humor, and the Want is almost like a god or a wizard, although I don't know if really counts as criticism. It seems like even the Want's actions affect what happens in Foo. That's really fact, not criticism.

Praise:
Over this book, I really got to like Geth. At first, when he had just been changed back into a man, I didn't know if I liked the idea of him or not, but I have definitely decided that he is a favorite character now. He definitely tops Winter. Plus, it is always fun to read about Foo itself, because it is full of surprises. It almost like Skye thought up weird and fantastic things, wrote them down, and just stuck them into the book in places where he got bored. It feels like there are thousands more things about Foo to find out, and Skye is just revealing the ones that concern the story.
This one may have been a little slower than the second book, because Leven is with the Want for most of the book. The rest is taken up with Geth, Winter, Sycophants, Sabine, Tim, Dennis, and Ezra. I can't tell you about all of them, since that would take the next hour.
Even though the story was a little slow, it makes up for it with a killer ending that is ridiculously good and surprising. He was planning on it, I know, but it is so good because I never suspected it at all. At all. I know a good trick to the trade now!
Plus, I could really see Geth's loving nature. The solution to Geth being so pessimistic and loving, though, is that half of his soul is missing....his half of anger, malice, hatred, jealousy....virtually every thing unpleasant and sinful was cut out of him. Of course, that much is definitely fantasy. The bad in us will not be cut out until we die, even though I'm not saying that Geth has never sinned, even though I haven't noticed him doing any such of a thing. You'll have to decide that for yourself. However, that doesn't mean that Geth isn't a good character. Clover is my favorite character first, then Geth, then Leven.
I can't decide if this a three or four star book, so I'll let you decide. But, if you read the first two and enjoyed them, I think that it's worth it to go on to the third!
Anna

Friday, January 18, 2008

Der Berggeist


I have just been reading in J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography by Humphrey Carpenter and I just found the most delightful piece of information concerning Gandalf. According to the book, Gandalf was inspired first by a painting on a postcard by a German artist. I googled the painting and found it...the picture on the left. This is what Gandalf must have first looked like in Tolkien's mind! I find this fascinating, but I am a zealot of Tolkien and what fascinated him. And it's funny.....I no longer feel guilty about seeing a picture and being inspired by it for something to write about. Some call it copying, but it is really using your inspiration to create something new and/or similar, except your own. I am sure there have been instances that I have done the same thing. A new character in my book is largely inspired by a dream I had not to long ago, and is loosely based on one of my friends. Before all of my friends get excited (JK) the friend is Autumn, a Golden Retriever that lives in our backyard. :)
Anna

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Peter Pan


Peter Pan is such a legendary figure. Nearly every child knows about him. Many people have taken him and fashioned him to their own personal tastes...fashioned him in an artistic way that the public liked well.
I just read the original novel by J.M. Barrie. To my rather unpleasant surprise, I didn't like it. I was absolutely disappointed in Peter Pan's character. This may be the first book that I can say was far worse than the movie. And I mean the 2003 adaption, not Walt Disney's. For some reason, which may be that that is the only movie that my grandparent's kept at their house for us kids to watch besides Shirley Temple, I do not like Walt Disney's adaption of Peter Pan. I've watched it probably about fifty times, within a few years, and now I can't hardly stand it. I know all about Peter with his red hair and elf ears, and his feathered hat. I don't like it.
As for the book, I didn't like Peter's character there either. The boy in it was relentlessly cocky, and it wasn't charming or admirable, as it is in some of his other presentations. He was forgetful, rude, and stubborn. He wasn't a bit charming, not even with all of his baby teeth. I know what James Matthew Barrie was trying to do. I know he was trying to preserve childhood for all it was worth, but honestly. Peter Pan keeping all of his baby teeth is just a bit ridiculous. And Wendy was a sissy. I'm sorry. But I just really didn't much like the book. Nana is always charming. Tinker Belle is always the same.
I felt like in the book, Peter was the opposite of every thing I ever admired him for. In the 2003 adaption, he was portrayed by Jeremy Sumpter as being about thirteen or fourteen...my age. He was kind, he had feelings, he was playful with the Lost Boys, and he was charmingly cocky. In the book, it was implied that Peter actually killed some of the Lost Boys that joined him if they didn't behave, or they were banished. Peter Pan sounded like a tyrant. I'm tempted to rewrite Peter Pan to my full advantage, even though that would be copywriting. It's not as if I would publish it, unless I could get some rights for it.
I read it, and it just wasn't what I always thought Peter Pan was. Peter Pan is legendary because of the success of the play and Disney's adaption and now the 2003 adaption. It doesn't hurt that James Newton Howard composed the music for the new movie....and it definitely tops every other Peter Pan soundtrack. I am sorry. I know I'm going on and on with the same thing, but I was so disappointed! I love the movie Finding Neverland, but I read up on James Matthew Barrie, and the movie sugar-coated his bio thickly. See the movies, decide which one was your favorite. I saw little good qualities in Barrie's version of Peter Pan. It was the later actors that did him justice.
Anna

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Warriors: Fire and Ice


I take back whatever I said in the last post. I read Fire and Ice and I was captivated. Fireheart and Graystripe are just grown up, struggling with hard decisions and learning to trust each other. The things I said about the StarClan and The Lion King taste stays, but I'm afraid it's all downhill from there. At times I didn't want to put this one down. Most people like animals and animal stories. Why?

Animals are different to us. I don't know about you, but I light up with interest every time I see a dog or cat or horse or whatever, especially up close. Why is that? Animals can't talk. Animals are part of our everyday lives, like cars. Why are they so neat to us? Well, C.S. Lewis answered that question for me, and sadly, I had never thought about it before. Animals are of interest to us because they are different. They are a different species, a different creature, and to us that is appealing. Reading animal stories is obviously different from being with animals, but we read things because we are interested. I have glanced at these books and wondered if it would be good for a long time, and a few months ago I got Into the Wild for half price when one of our Hasting's was going out of business. Last month (last year, actually) I picked up the second book at the library, planning on having it once I finished the first one.
I think that we like reading animal stories because we're reading about animals, which are different and appealing to us, but we can also relate to the characters. We are meant to feel sorry for Bambi, but we can relate to him. We are inspired and delighted when Simba walks up Pride Rock, but how could we be if we couldn't relate to him? Non-human characters are just as good as human characters because we can relate to them like we can human characters, because they are given some human characteristics.

Fire and Ice kind of reminds me of a few late teenage friends, or maybe even twenty year olds that are just striking out on their own, and they're faced with all the problems of the world for the first time on their own without help. I was distinctly reminded of real human type relationships, like friendship, and Fire and Ice was also full of great twists which pleased my appetite for a good story. Sure, this is pop. I'm not going to say whether it's literature or not, because I like it and to be honest, I don't know if I'm qualified to say or not. The other one may or may not be. I said it wasn't, but I'm taking that back now. All of thirty chapters of Fire and Ice, I was interested and curious. There's even a nice, forbidden romance. It's still for mature readers, but this one gets four stars, not three. If you like cats and beast-fables, than this book is sure to please you purr-fectly. I'm sorry, I couldn't resist the pun, even though it is overused. :)
Anna

Monday, January 7, 2008

Warriors: Into the Wild


I've been gradually reading through this book for a few months now, and I confess, I was impressed. When I think about writing an animal story I think, "What can I write? How do I capture animals' thoughts in human form? What do Animals DO?"
Into the Wild is a good book for kids, and adults alike, but for cautionary reasons, I wouldn't give it to a kid just learning to read and just learning about the world. Why? Well...let's just say that these cats do lots of star talking, which isn't always a bad thing, but it has this sort of Lion King taste to it.
"The kings of our past are in the stars..."
Kind of like the cats are talking to dead Clan Leaders through the glowing Moonstone and the StarClan (in other words, dead warriors and cats of the clan that now live among the stars.)
However, for mature readers interested in cats and their secret lives, it was fine. I liked it well enough to pursue reading the series, and anyway I'm always looking for good pop fiction, even though I don't like to call it that. That's what it is, but I think it's easier for children's books that are pop fiction to be considered literature than adult pop books. It's a delicate balance. Literature depends a lot on tastes; some people would say the LOTR isn't literature, even though it obviously is. The whole naming cycle in the book is kind of weird, like apprentices being called Blank paw, such as Firepaw, Greypaw, Ravenpaw.....and then they are called something different once they become a warrior, and again something different if they ever become clan leader, making them Bluestar, Lionstar, Firestar......
such is the lore of the Warrior clans.

Warriors isn't written by Erin Hunter, it is written by Cherith Baldry, Kate Gary and Victoria Holmes.
They used the pen name Erin Hunter to avoid confusion among their readers. I liked this book. I'm going to read more. But a lot of my readers won't be interested in reading this, because it didn't grab me. It's considered fantasy, it was a good book. But...it wasn't good enough to recommend everybody read it. Those of you who like cats and are interested in reading children's literature...go ahead! But I can only give the book three stars. Any higher would be against my better judgment.
Anna

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles: The Nixie's Song


I just read a borrowed copy of The Nixie's Song today. I've read the first two of the actual Spiderwick Chronicles and the I have the Field Guide. They're good books. It was a good idea. The Nixie's Song had a lot of appeal because I really like Nixies, although I was disappointed because there actually wasn't a whole lot about Nixies in it. That part of Spiderwick is odd; the books are short, and they're hardback. Most books come out first in hardback nowadays. None of these have ever come out in paperback. The books must be aimed at younger audiences, because it is written in simple language, with little poetry hidden inside. Sorry, Holly Black, but...it ain't literature. Tony Ditirlizzi does of very nice illustrations in the books, which is probably why the books cost as much as they do. $10.99 for one of those. Buy them used. I'm not saying I don't like the book, but I'm just saying that they really aren't the best, considering that they are so short. I always feel like she ends them as soon as the point of the whole story is even revealed. But, that must be because of the age it is targeted at. I am really excited about the movie, and it looks like it will capture the theme of the book well. I like Freddie Highmore. I am looking forward to reading the rest of the Spiderwick Chronicles before I see the movie, though, and as always, read the books before you see the movie. I just recommend it. Sometimes, as with Eragon, it would have been better to see the movie first, but most books are better than the movie. No comments on Spiderwick yet!
They are good books though, but I would give them something more like three and a half to four stars; not five. However, there is a sense of adventure and the pure wonder of fantasy in it, if you know what you're looking for. Laurie was written well, and seeing Jared Grace a few years later really hit me hard, maybe the hardest of the whole story. I still wish that she had put more Nixie stuff in it though. It is worth reading, because even though books are never what you think they're gonna be, there is usually a little bit of what you wanted there, and it's no different with Spiderwick.
Anna