30 April 2013

April Movies

Argo: very good! I thought it was a fabulous movie and bit off a few nails towards the end.  6

Cabaret: I saw the play live in March and was absolutely blown away.  I'd never seen it and only knew the vaguest outline.  The movie was fine, different but fine.  Just not as amazing as the live show.  a 5

Skyfall: practically a 7 but B didn't like it as much as I did and felt it wasn't "fun" the way a Bond movie normally is.  I loved it though I still can't decide if i think Daniel Craig is handsome or not...nice eyes though.  a 6.

Snow White and the Huntsman: Way better than we expected! shame about the dwarves though.  a 5.

We've also watched a bunch of Doctor Who and Game of Throne which will continue through May! Also, I intend to see a ton of movies in the theater May, a few of which I hope to love enough to put up whole posts about.  don't let me down, Iron Man 3 and Star Trek: Into Darkness!

20 April 2013

A bit of Kid's Non-fiction

For class, I had to read 2 non-fiction books for the Under-13 set. I ended up reading 3 because I had to write a paper on one and wanted to give myself options.  All were Sibert Medal Honor/Award books.

Witches!:  The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem written and illustrated by Rosalyn Schanzer- This was the one I wrote my paper on, getting full marks!  It's about the Salem Witch trials and I really liked it, all the way up until the last sentence.  Until then, it was really good about explaining what happened, how the Puritan worldview led that to happen, and then the outcomes.  It shared the blame around and I loved that it showed, by this incredibly bad series of events, the benefits of rational thinking and skepticism without specifically saying that.  However, at the very end it says something like "these things will never happen again---or will they?" I actually heard the dramatic "duh-duh-DUH!!" in my head reading it.  it was such an odd change in tone; none of the events/attitudes of the time were connected to events/attitudes today.  If they had been, then the rhetorical question ending would have worked for me.  i recommend it anyway.  also, the art was great!    a 6.

An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 by Jim Murphy--definitely terrifying.  I ended up using this one in my reading record.  This one was about an epidemic in Philadelphia and all the terrible things that happened.  Made me very, very glad i live now and not then.  Did you know there's no cure for yellow fever yet?  a 6.

Vincent van Gogh by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan-- my extra book.  It was fine, informative, clear and interesting.  Many direct quotes and several pages of pictures helped too.  I learned some things and have picked up the giant Van Gogh: The Life to read more.  I just didn't feel as strongly about it as the above two so I didn't end up using it.  a 5.  Has anybody else read a Van Gogh biography and pictured the Van Gogh from Doctor Who?  

15 April 2013

Some Graphic Novels

I had to read a kid's graphic novel for class and picked Snarked Volume 1: Forks and Hope by Roger Langridge because it won a 2012 Eisner for Best Publication for Kids.  I liked it so much I went on to read Volume 2: Ships and Sealing Wax and Volume 3: Cabbages and Kings. Fabulous!  really really good. I'm gonna pull what i wrote up for the first volume for class: 

Set after the events in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, Snarked follows the adventures of the Walrus and the Carpenter, two con men, as they live in Wonderland.  The King has gone missing and young Princess Scarlet and her baby brother Prince Rusty have to escape the palace and the evil advisers.  They join up with the Walrus and the Carpenter and begin the hunt for the King.  

This graphic novel was really funny.  And really clever.  It is full of asides and nods to the Carroll novels and works these references in seamlessly.  The Walrus, who could be the villain in a different story, is the scoundrel-with-a-heart and the brains of the story.  Usually a step ahead of everyone, he meets his match in Princess Scarlet, who is single-minded in her quest to find her father.  The conflict between those two characters is more interesting than that between the heroes and the palace advisers.  Many other characters from the original books show up too such as the Cheshire Cat, the Gryphon, Bill the Lizard and others.

If you like Lewis Carroll at all I can highly recommend these books!  Basically, a 7.

For a grown up book, I read the latest Fables compilation, Volume 18: Cubs in Toyland. I'd say it was a downer but that would be a bit of an understatement.  Turns out Bigby and Snow's kids don't have to wait until adulthood to start killing people and sacrificing themselves.  It was depressing.  I don't know how much longer I'm going to keep reading this series.  a 4.

13 April 2013

Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore

I loved this book! Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan is a very good little novel.  I started to write that it is fantasy, except there's not any actual magic or fantasy world.  Then I was going to write that it's sci-fi but other than a love of all things Mac and Google there isn't really any techie stuff in it either.  It's about a young man who goes to work in a 24-hour bookstore.  There are 2 sets of stock, regular books and what he calls the "Waybacklist": books without any bar codes or ISBN's that he can't locate anywhere else.  Deciphering what the Waybacklist is sets the story in motion.   

The writing is lovely and poetic in parts.  It's about friendship and love and wanting to live forever and the love of books and mysteries.  I cried at the end because of lines like this:

There is no immortality that is not built on friendship and work done with care. All the secrets in the world worth knowing are hiding in plain sight. It takes forty-one seconds to climb a ladder three stories tall. It's not easy to imagine the year 3012, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try. We have new capabilities now—strange powers we're still getting used to.

I'm not doing it justice, read it! a 7. 

10 April 2013

Kids' Fiction

 I had to read a good bit of kid's lit this semester; this post is a roundup of the fiction.

The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson- the banned book I read.  Gilly Hopkins keeps getting kicked out of foster homes and wants to be with her real mother.  In her new placement she finds people she thinks are weird but that she grows to love.  I really couldn't figure out why this one was challenged. 

Savvy by Ingrid Law - the book i read for my reading record.  This book is technically fantasy; i decided it would be a good "bridge" book for fantasy fans to read something more realistic.  Mibs is about to turn 13 and when she does she will get her "savvy", a special power everyone in her family gets at that age.  One older brother controls electricity while another creates storms.  Her father is then in a terrible car accident and is in a coma and Mibs decides her savvy will be to wake him up.  So she hides, with several other kids, in a van to get a ride to see her father and ends up growing up a bit. 

The  Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick - the book i wrote my paper on. Historical fiction, Homer is a boy growing up during the Civil War with his good older brother and their evil uncle.  The uncle tricks the brother into joining the Army even though he's underage and Homer goes on an adventure to find him.  Homer reminded me a lot of Lyra from His Dark Materials: a good guy who tells a lot of lies and stories to make his way through the adult world.  I really liked this one the best, which was why i wrote the paper on it!  

So, Savvy and Homer get a 6 while Gilly gets a 5, mainly because i just don't prefer realistic fiction. 

06 April 2013

The Diving Pool

I, finally, finished The Diving Pool by Yoko Ogawa.   I say finally because I've had the book from the library for 2 months but just haven't taken time to read the little thing. It's a collection of 3 novellas, "The Diving Pool", "Pregnancy Diary" and "Dormitory".  Best word I can come up with to describe it is Haunted.  The narrators, all female, are all haunted by something.  The prose is lovely and dreamy.  I shouldn't have waited so long to read it.  A 6 and i'm looking for more work by this author!

05 April 2013

Doctor Who and the Giant Robot

I just happened across Doctor Who and the Giant Robot by Terrence Dicks, read by Tom Baker at the library when i was browsing the audiobooks and decided to give it a try.  Turns out this book is the novelization of the Fourth Doctor's first adventure!  I haven't seen a full Fourth episode (yet) though I've seen bits and pieces.  I'm not sure how to look at this one.  Since I haven't seen the episode, I can't say how well it follows.  It's ok as a book; nothing spectacular.  It's a bit draggy in parts but what i've seen of early Doctor Who (i've been watching BBC America's Doctors Revisted specials) is that they're all draggy in parts.  TV is far more zippy nowadays.  Anyway, for introducing me to the Fourth Doctor, this book gets a 5.