Showing posts from May, 2017

Beauty and the Beast: A Review of the Original Fairy Tale

I recently tracked down a copy of the original Beauty and the Beast  by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve. Previously, I'd only read Beaumont's abridged adaptation of this story, as it's much shorter and easier to anthologize. Since this was my first time encountering the original of my favorite fairy tale, I thought I'd talk about what this version has that I've not seen in other adaptations. Brothers: Beauty has brothers as well as sisters, and true to fairy tale form, her brothers are kind and understanding people while her sisters (in contrast to Beauty) are vain and materialistic. I had seen or read adaptations that included the sisters before (Robin McKinley's Beauty , the French film  La Belle et la Bete ) but I hadn't seen brothers before, and their presence reminded me of the relationship between the heroine and her brothers in "The Wild Swans" (or "The Seven Ravens" or "The Six Swans"). I wish more retellings

Summer Reading Lists: My Take

It's Memorial Day, so everyone is gearing up for summer. And that means summer reading lists. I didn't really do summer reading lists when I was in school, not do I have a good gauge of what a friend called "summer books" (i.e. books that have a summery tone or setting). To be honest, I was constantly reading whatever I could get my hands on no matter the season. (And when I tried to think of "summer" books, I found I tended to place books in either autumn or fall categories if I could categorize them at all; not surprising, since I am an autumnal soul.) So instead of sharing a suggested reading list for this summer, I thought I'd share what's on my own list for this summer. * means it's a reread. # means I'm already reading it. @ means it's an audio book. Innocents Aboard by Gene Wolfe * # Uprooted by Naomi Novik # The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich # Stone of Farewell by Tad Williams * # To Green Angel To

Saturday Snippets: May Edition

Just like last month, I've got snippets from Albion Apparent  and "Paper and (T)horns". From Albion Apparent : Aaron Faust sat in his SUV outside the perimeter emergency services had erected around Buckley High School. He wasn’t the only parent who’d conducted an impromptu stakeout in the last few weeks, but he was the most persistent. The police and fire officials appointed to patrol the perimeter knew him on sight. Though they ought to have kept him under careful observation to prevent his sneaking into the cube of darkness, Aaron knew they would slip eventually. He tapped out a text message on his phone. A call would be faster—if she answered—but he couldn’t bring himself to hear her voice. Not even with Gabriel trapped behind a wall of darkness with a bunch of— *** “Are you ready?” I asked Corrine. She stared at the unbroken surface of the water. Her breaths were shallow, controlled. “What if it doesn’t work?” I shrugged. “Then at least we t

O'Brien Read/Watch: Z for Zachariah Book vs Film

Welcome to the second half of my look at the film adaptation of Z for Zachariah . This time, I'm going to look at the differences between the book and the film and talk about how those differences affect the story. I knew going into the film that there were going to be differences -- primarily that there was a third character introduced into the main conflict, giving the film a love triangle of sorts. This is, quite possibly, the largest departure from the story in the book. I say possibly because I think there is something that better qualifies -- but more on that momentarily. The addition of Caleb (everyone has Biblical names here; even Ann is derived from Hannah) actually could have served to emphasize the book's themes very well. His appearance would have been a major concern to the paranoid John from the book, and the potential romantic tension between Ann and Caleb would definitely have rankled the possessive and outright predatory man O'Brien depicts in his

Monday Musings: O'Brien Read/Watch: Z for Zachariah Film Commentary

I've finally returned to the Robert C. O'Brien Read/Watch Marathon with the 2015 film adaptation of Z for Zachariah . As I did with The Secret of NIMH , this post will be a running commentary from my viewing of the film. I'll follow up next time with a comparison of the book and the film. So. Many. Logos. (There were probably over a full minute of studio and distributor logos.) Nice establishing shots of the empty and run-down buildings. This dystopia town looks like Rossville (a city near where I live). Books! They have Ann going for books like she said she wanted to in the book! But why does she have a suit? It's not the  suit, is it? Is this a flash forward? The HD version of this is very intense. (I am not usually a fan of the way HD feels, like I'm actually in the room where the movie/show is happening. It's too real for me.) The dog is here! :) :( Ok. Now we seem to be back to the book. The valley, the church, etc. all looks right. It almost

ThrowBook Thursday: The Queen of Attolia

Thick as Thieves , the fifth book in Megan Whalen Turner's The Queen's Thief series (sometimes called the Attolia series by fans), came out earlier this week. I haven't plunged into it yet because I promised myself I would finish rereading the series (or at least the first three, which are my favorites) first. But, in the spirit of the series, I thought I'd take a quick look back at the second book, The Queen of Attolia . (I did a mini review of the first book, The Thief , a couple weeks ago .) Spoilers ahead! The Queen of Attolia  is a gripping sequel to The Thief  and it lets you know right away that the stakes are higher than before. The opening sequence reintroduces Gen, his skills as a thief, and the rivalry between him and the titular queen. Their encounter breaks a common trope of fiction that says a main character cannot be killed or seriously injured. My first time reading this book, I remember thinking that Gen was clever and resourceful. He'd man

Monday Musings: My Wishlist for Once Upon a Time Season 7

Before we get started, let me warn you that there are SPOILERS AHEAD for the season six finale and past seasons, so read at your own risk if you're not caught up on this show. Last night was the season finale for Once Upon a Time , and it ended with a wonderful twist to set up the next season (which they didn't even know for sure they were getting till after they finished filming). My history with this show has been a bit rocky. We watched season one on Netflix while season two was airing and we loved every minute of it. When season two hit, we binged it in order to be caught up for season three, and we've watched every season since as it airs (not as much fun as binge-watching, let me tell you). Season two was almost as good as season one, but the Greg/Tamara arc in the last third just didn't sit well with me. I liked the idea  of it (especially Greg's backstory) but having Neal with someone who's obviously not going to last the season was not a good

Watercolor Wednesday: Sun, Moon, and Stars

It's time for another Watercolor Wednesday! This month, I wanted to do something inspired by Albion Academy , though maybe not as directly as you might think. Throughout the Albion books, Merlin uses "Stars" as his go-to exclamation, and at some point this will become the more encompassing, "Sun, moon, and stars." I decided to combine this phrase with the Colors of Magic: silver, black, gold, and red. I added an alternating scheme where each quadrant contained the other colors, not just its primary color (so the silver quadrant has a gold sun with black rays and red stars). (The moon quadrants didn't get all four colors because moonbeams just don't work that way.) I added some ink lines with a black fine point and a silver Sharpie to give the boundaries some distinction. I'm mostly pleased with how this one turned out, but I'm a bit frustrated that the silver stars look so blue/purple in the red quadrant. Payne's Gray is just too lo

Monday Musings: The Thief and The Gunslinger: Mini Reviews

I recently re-read two books: one that I love and one I was lukewarm toward the last I read it. Both are first books in their respective series, and both were picked because I want to read the rest of their series soon(ish). Since my experience with them was so dissimilar despite the similar reasons for reading them (again) so close together, I thought I would write up some quick reviews of the two. First off, The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner. I've read this book three times now, and it gets better with each reading. Turner's skillful use of an unreliable narrator who never outright lies to the reader, but continually withholds information in such a way as to lead the reader to the wrong conclusions, makes this a landmark in the young adult genre. I picked this one back up to start a reread of the series before the fifth book, Thick as Thieves , releases later this week. (Spoiler alert: I won't be finishing the series before the release, but I will probably read at l

Beautiful People: Parental Edition (Link-Up With Paper Fury and Further Up)

Cait at Paper Fury and Sky at Further Up and Further In have put together a fun set of questions for this month's Beautiful People link-up in honor of Mother's Day. It's been a long while since I sat down and filled out one of these posts, but this one was too good to let slip away! Today we're digging into Merlin Pendragon's relationships with his parents. Be warned! Major spoilers are ahead for Albion Academy ! Continue at your own risk if you haven't read the book yet. (If you have, proceed with delicious glee.) 1. Overall, how good is their relationship with their parents? Merlin's relationship with his mother is strained at the start of Albion Academy because of her relationship with his sister, Kaya. As the story progresses, it becomes even more strained to the point of breaking when he learns that she's a sorceress who tried to seal his Second Sight. By the end of Albion Academy , Merlin is completely estranged from his mother

Top 10 Tuesday: Short Story Collections

John Barth, author of Lost in the Funhouse , once said that writers tend to fall into one of two categories: sprinters and marathon runners, meaning they tend to excel at short stories or novels. Ever since I first read this description, I have identified strongly with it because, like Barth, I rarely find myself wanting to sprint (write a short story). Most stories that I'm inspired to write come to me as fully fledged novels. However, just because I don't tend to write short stories doesn't mean I don't enjoy reading them. I recently was reminded of a short story collection I read four years back and was inspired to track down a copy to read again. In that spirit, I'm listing out my Top 10 Short Story Collections. They are, in roughly ascending order: The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie This loosely connected collection of stories deals with the Native American/Amerindian/First Nations experience in modern America. It's a skil

Monday Musings: Osten Ard Reread: The Dragonbone Chair

When I listed my top 10 most anticipated books for 2017 , I included a couple of books from Tad Williams, an author known for his "doorstop" fantasy and sci-fi novels. He tends to write four-book trilogies*, with the occasional standalone novel**. This year he has already released The Heart of What Was Lost (a short novel -- especially for Williams -- set shortly after his original Osten Ard trilogy Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn) and in June the first volume of a new trilogy set in Osten Ard is coming to my doorstep bookstores. In the spirit of getting ready for the new trilogy (which only has three books announced so far, but really five if you count THoWWL and another ancillary novel set to come out between the main novels of the trilogy), I'm rereading the originals. (Also, it's been approximately 12 years since I reread the second and third volumes and something like 3-5 years since I last read The Dragonbone Chair  in an attempt to reread the series that was ulti