Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Tale of One Bad Rat (1995)

This is a fabulous graphic novel which portrays a young girl who runs away from an abusive household and how she finds herself with the help from, of all people, the author Beatrix Potter. Bryan Talbot is the British author-illustrator who has created this story which takes Helen to the streets of London where she falls in with a group of homeless kids. She finds that one of the unfortunate effects of abuse is being unable to form relationships and ends up running away from them, too. She ends up working in a pub for an older couple in the countryside where Beatrix Potter was inspired to write and illustrate her books. The rest of the story is a satisfying one of self-realization and eventually confronting her parents in order to begin the healing process.
I think anyone who has suffered abuse might find hope in this book and I highly recommend it. The only warning about this book is the heavy use of unfamiliar cockney slang in the street scenes.
My rating for this book: ++++

The Quest of the Fair Unknown (2008)

Imagine that you were born in the forest and grew up knowing only your mother. Imagine that just before she died she told you only that your father was a knight of the Round Table. Off you go in the world with only that knowledge. Beaufils (his mom's name for him which translates to "handsome son") goes off in search of his father. Well, it seems that almost everyone he meets in off in search of one thing or another. During this time in history, if there wasn't anything going on, the kings would send the knights off on quests so they wouldn't hang around fighting each other. Beaufils finds his way to Camelot, meets King Arthur, and realizes that finding out who his father is will not be as easy as he thought.
This book reminded me of The Little Prince, a French book about a boy who leaves his home planet and meets a lot of interesting characters. I love the subtle humor in this book.

"Does everyone have a title?" Beaufils asked.
"No," Gawain replied. "It's a special privilege, and the people who have a title sometimes
think it makes them very special indeed."
Beaufils smiled at Gawain's witticism. He had to be joking, of course; Beaufils knew that
people would never really think they were special just because of extra words tacked onto
their name.

Readers who enjoy Round Table stories will love this book and others by this author.
My rating for this book: ++++

Monday, August 25, 2008

Breaking Dawn (2008)

I have finally been able to finish the last book in this series by Stephenie Meyer and I am not at all disappointed with the ending. I can't talk too much about this book without spoiling the story so I will just say that Ms. Meyer has left the possibility open for a spinoff series featuring Jacob. There was a discussion about the difference between shape shifters and werewolves that seemed to come from nowhere and which gave me the feeling that we would see more on that topic!
This series was all about love between two very different people and the sacrifices we sometimes have to make for the success of the relationship. Of course, the sacrifices made for this relationship could be considered much greater than most of us would have to make but we are just ordinary humans after all, right?
It is a great pleasure to have a series of books that introduce new characters and situations. When you have finished one book you can look forward to the next. It's almost like reading one humongous book!
I am now looking forward to seeing Twilight, the movie.
My rating for this book: +++++

Monday, August 11, 2008

Momma Mia! (DVD, 2008)

The word that keeps coming back to me for this movie is "exuberant"! I think that Meryl Streep is able to add a level of dignity to every movie she is in, even the comedies, and she has shown me a new side of her with her singing and dancing. (I was surprised to learn she trained to be an opera singer when she was young.) Her character, Donna Sheridan, lives with her daughter on a small Greek island running an old inn. The story opens with 20-year old Sophie (Amande Seyfried) telling her two bridesmaids how she read her mother's diary and learned that there were three men (Pierce Brosnan, Collin Firth, and Stellan Skarsgard) who could be her father and that she sent wedding invitations to all three. Will she learn which one is her father?
This is a musical which incorporates songs originally performed by the 70s rock group, ABBA. I was a big fan of this group because their music was so sing-alongable and it was so hard to sit there during the movie and refrain from singing along.
I have to say that Pierce should stick with straight acting. But otherwise, this is a must see movie.
My rating for this movie: +++++

Saturday, August 2, 2008

World Without End (2008)

This book takes place in 14th century England in a town called Wigleigh and chronicles the lives of people in various levels of society such as nuns and monks, earls, serfs, and merchants and their relationships between each other. It takes over 1000 pages to tell their stories. One of the things you learn from this book is that it sucked to be a woman during those times and it sucked big time if you were a poor woman. Our characters face one disaster after another: collapsed bridge and cathedral, plague, rape, famine and all the other things people had to live through at that time. No electricity, steam engines, or printing press to make life easier. The only technological advance was the loom. But through it all, people fell in love, had babies and raised them, and made do the best they could. Giving up was not an option for these folks.
This is indeed a hefty book but it reads fast. Conversations and descriptions aren't very deep and you get caught up in the battle of good and evil and you are carried along in the currents that carry our characters through their lives.
I read this book in my car while my daughter was in meetings. It definitely helps having a place to read with little distraction.
I highly recommend this book to people who enjoy historical fiction and aren't intimidated by large books.
My rating for this book: +++++