Saturday, January 24, 2009

Review: Artemis Fowl the Graphic Novel by Eoin Colfer

 Artemis Fowl the Graphic Novel
by Eoin Colfer
YA, Fantasy, graphic novel

125 pages
published: 2007
2 of 5 stars

I have recently read through number 4 in the Artemis Fowl series and have been thoroughly enjoying them, so when I saw that there was a graphic novel out I was excited. I haven't had much experience with graphic novels, but figured the pictures would be highly stylized so I wasn't surprised when they were. My biggest complaint was that I was under the impression that this one contained an additional story, a side story, or something extra, but it did not. It was a retelling of the first book in the series.

Even given my disappointed on that count, I enjoyed this book and branching out from my usual reading style. It was actually fascinating to me to see how the author pared down the original book to fit it into this format. Surprisingly, most of salient points were hit.

  • If I ever have trouble getting one of my children to read, I'll be happy to whip this out and get them involved in a story.
  • I need to watch graphic novels carefully to make sure they don't cross the line into "graphic." There were a few pictures of the heroine I thought a bit too revealing.
  • I much prefer the full fleshed out story of a novel and my own imagined pictures. The author's words and MY visualizing are MUCH better.
Recommended For: Artemis fans, reluctant readers

Friday, January 23, 2009

Review: Mira, Mirror by Mette Ivie Harrison

Mira, Mirror
by Mette Ivie Harrison
YA, Fairy Tale
320 pages
published: 2006

3 of 5 stars

I've been wanting to read this book for a long time, and finally got to the library to get it. The premise for this novel is fascinating and I was excited and intrigued. I figured, with the magic mirror, that it was a take-off of Snow White, but it took me a little while to figure out where the characters in the beginning of the novel fell into the original fairy tale. It was a fun mystery.

I loved the idea and the insight into the wicked witch. I enjoyed the mystery and perilous situations that the peasant girl and the mirror got into. I was pulled into the story and read it straight through. I enjoyed the spunky peasant girl, though she seemed to wither as the story continued, only coming out again at the end. The ending was unexpected, but it made enough sense to me, and I wasn't upset that it was unhappy for some. It was happy enough. And the novel had good messages about love, loyalty, and appearance.

With everything I liked so well, I was surprised to realize that I did not love this book. After reading other reviews (and thinking lots) I have come up with some reasons. I didn't like the dark theory of magic employed in the story. I have read worse, but not in a YA. I really hated the scene where a child was grossly murdered, though I understand the use of it in characterizing the witch. The middle fell flat for me when the story centered on the relationship between the peasant girl and the merchant girl. I guess I just got a little bored with all the love. But the worst fault for me was that I didn't really care about any of the characters. I was interested in their story, but wasn't caring rather it turned out well or not.

Interesting Note: The story seemed to overlap with Beauty and Beast.

Recommended For: older YA, people who enjoy fractured fairy tales (without too weak a stomach)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Review: Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson

Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians
308 pages
published: 2007
Alcatraz and the Scrivener's Bones
336 pages
by Brandon Sanderson
MG, Fantasy
5 of 5 stars

I love these books! They are fun page turners that are right up my sense of humor alley. (This is probably largely due to my being a writer and these books being filled with silly writer humor.)

The story is about another poor foster kid - but this one breaks things and happens to be from one of the other continents that us Hushlanders don't know about. He has to rescue his birthday sand from the evil librarians conspiracy with the help of his late grandfather. (And I don't mean dead grandfather.) Oh, and there is the 13 year old female knight with an attitude.

In the sequel, Alcatraz is trying to find his father who seems to have joined the ranks of the undead librarians. This time his help comes from his lost uncle, his sometimes ugly cousin, and the angry knight, of course. And don't forget the cyborg librarian!

These books are irreverent. Deliciously irreverent. Brandon Sanderson breaks all the literary rules. He talks directly to the reader, he lies, he throws in absurd things as well as philosophy, and makes the absurd make sense. Even more deliciously, he makes fun of himself, his novels, his genre, other popular novel, classic novels, novels in general, and librarians.

Recommended for: kids starting around 10. It would be helpful if they have done enough reading to have a grasp of how things "usually" go, otherwise they won't catch on to how Sanderson is breaking all the rules. Also for adults whose sense of humor tends toward the absurd and irreverent - adults who don't take themselves too seriously. (I've read a few bad reviews, people take themselves too seriously!)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Review: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

 Wuthering Heights
by Emily Bronte
464 pages
published: 1847
For: Book Club
1 of 5 stars

My copy of this classic has a million pages of forwards, prefaces, original forwards, and the like which I dutifully waded through. These extraneous readings got me much more enthused about reading the book since they discussed how controversial it was, how shocking, how horrible. It told me the book read like a stream of consciousness, and that it crossed the internal line of horribleness. How exciting!

For the record, it is nothing like stream of consciousness. And while it had almost no characters worth knowing, it was neither shocking nor horrible.

It did keep my interest most of the time. I appreciated the family tree that I finally understood enough to no longer reference. But I did not love it. I don't know if I even liked it. Neither did I dislike it.

Cathy was unbelievable selfish (and stupid) and killed herself out of spite. Pretty sad. Heathcliff was mean and heartless. But rarely have I seen such a patient bad guy. The most disturbing scene was at the graveyard (which I had to read twice to understand) but it was all right with me. (Too much fantasy?)

A couple things that stuck out to me the most:

How myopic these peoples' lives were! They never saw anyone, went anywhere, or did anything. Cathy Jr. never associated with anyone but her father, servants, and later the inhabitants of Wuthering Heights. I would get bored reading because of how boring I perceived their lives to be. Gasp!

How unbelievable I found most characters and behavior. How did Cathy manage to ruin her health permanently by throwing a fit and not eating for 3 days? I could do the same right now and still be fine! How did Isabella run off with Heathcliff when every one she had ever known told him how awful he was (Heathcliff never denying it nor showing any affection) AND Heathcliff hanging her dog before they left together. Really? Why did Heathcliff insist Cathy Jr. marry his son when he knew the kid would die and leave him with the daughter of the woman he loved? I could go on. Nothing seemed plausible to me. Just sick and wrong.

So. I think poor Emily must truly have been a sad, lonely, disturbed soul. The most I can say is that I'm glad to cross this book off the list of books I've wanted to read.

Confessions of a Idiot

This one goes under the idiosyncrasies category.

I've had a bib quandry for some time. Bibs are easy to come by, of course, you can buy them in packs of 10. But I quickly learned that a bib that doesn't cover the entire baby is no good. I then went on some bib adventures, including one that involved those plastic bibs that you wipe clean after the meal. Well those don't work for me. I tend to not clean anything immediately and plastic bibs with dried food are impossible. I like cloth. Get them dirty, then throw them in the washing machine. That is what technology is for.

Then I got a stack of bibs from my ever crafty get-everything-done sister in law. They are homemade from bath towels, bigger than the baby's chest and shoulders, with bias tape sewn around the outside to form the edge and the strings to tie the bib on. (Velcro doesn't work for long, and snaps just get pulled out.) These were wonderful and saved my life through most of Xander, Kyra, and some of Aspen. They are worn out now.

This sparked 2 bib missions. One was to make more bibs following the same pattern. I now have a huge bag of towels cut into bib shape, matching bias tapes, and cute appliques for the corners. Nothing much will ever happen with these because one, I hate my sewing machine (it is over 30 years old, weighs 500 pounds, and requires expertise to thread and use) and two, I suck. Really, I suck bad. I never have sewn much, so making a neat line that stays perfectly at the edge of both the top and bottom layer of bias tape is basically impossible. This sent me to the store where I found fairly large, thick cloth bibs with elastic-over-the-head baby attachments. I purchased these and have since decided this is the way I will go. I have to accept my personality defects to some degree, ya know.

Here is the point. I had purchased 4 of these bibs because there were 4 different ones - 4 wording/color styles. I had even struggled with getting one of them because it had the most obnoxious phrase (if you think I'm cute you should see my mom) which so does not apply that I am embarrassed to own it. But what could I do? I really wanted more than 4! (Confusion from all you well adjusted people, no doubt.)

A few days ago I confessed an epiphany to my husband. While pondering the need for new bibs, and blue bibs, I had happened upon the realization that I could buy more than one of each style. This was big to me. I was thrilled with my brilliant solution to this problem. The really funny thing is that it didn't even occur to me how ridiculous I am until I was saying it out loud to my poor husband who didn't realize how truly impaired I am.

While I was expounding on my brilliance, the alarms went off. The "why are you confessing this idiocy" and "are you seriously that infantile" and "this was an epiphany? you twit!" alarms had me seizing up with laughter. My husband was having a good laugh at me too. I don't even know the source of this strangeness - a symptom of OCD?

Anyway. I'll be going to the store before this one arrives and buying bibs. I will find the ones I like and clean out the store - buying more than one of each style.

It's so exciting when you feel yourself growing.

*It is also ridiculous how long this post is - but what can I say? I'm a writer.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Something New for 2009

My friend Suey is a bookblogger and I've been reading her blog for awhile. With the new year she has posted all the reading challenges that she will be participating in. I don't know if I'll ever be a "bookblogger," but these challenges sound like great fun to me. I don't mind direction or goals - and if I have direction or goals I certainly need a deadline - so this is perfect for me. Here we go.

And, No, I really don't have a problem being a copycat. Meow.

* Watch for lists!