Archive for the ‘Book Review’ Category

This is Halloween!

Halloween is my favorite holiday. I love the decorations, I love dressing up, I love the food and the smells, I love the fall leaves and the smell of fall. It’s wonderful and unpredictable. I’ve actually been excited about Halloween since the beginning of September. I’ve got a few fun things planned, which include lots of festivities for the Law School. I’ve been looking up pumpkin recipes like pumpkin nog and fudge.

I’m trying to fit in two Halloween/scary novels this month. I finished Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein a week ago and my book club is reading The Heart-shaped Box.

I really enjoyed Frankenstein. It’s a great, dark Victorian novel and perfect for reading at this time of year. I was really surprised by how different this story was from the pop culture Frankenstein that I grew up with. For one thing, despite pop-culture references AND the cover on my book, there were no high tech mechanical devices and electricity from crazy lightening storms. I’ll let you find the other differences on your own 😉

Like Austen’s lead heroes, I thought Shelley’s main character was completely believable as a person with realistic desires and behaviors. That said, I also thought Victor Frankenstein was not that bright. I thought his desires to recreate life were believable; however, I was confused why, when the “creature” came to life Frankenstein was all of a sudden horrified.  He obviously had been looking at his creation the whole time he was working on it. I also was bothered that even though the monster told Frankenstein that he was coming after his bride on their wedding night, Frankenstein still thought that the monster was after him, not so much the bride, and instead of trying to protect the bride, he sent her up to her unchecked bedroom. What?! Still, I was pleasantly (or unpleasantly) surprised at the discoveries of the monster’s victims.

The monster in this novel, and the feel of the story, kind of reminded me of John Gardner’s Grendel, which I also recommend. Both characters were horrific yet relatable and interesting to follow.

What Halloween novels are you reading this month?


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Busy Bees

Do you know the saying that once you finish school you won’t know what to do with yourself because you’ll have so much free time? That doesn’t seem to be my case. It’s been non-stop running around and playing tag, it seems, with all of the events that I’ve been missing for the last two years. I’m finding that there are so many things to do that I’m planning weeks ahead of time how I’m going to spend my non-work hours. It’s amazing and I’m having so much fun. I’ve spent the last three weekends sleeping on couches as I bounce between Boulder and Story. I’ll be glad to spend the next couple weekends (at least) in my own bed but instead of state or city hopping I’ll be event hopping. For example, this week I’m taking my dog to agility class, attending a lecture on the best practices when investigating serial killers, a lecture by a Norwegian artist, a walk-through by the Norwegian artist, a law school chili cook-off, a public viewing of all the exhibitions in the UW Art Museum, a Cowboy’s vs Boise State football game and possibly a nature hike. I’m having so much fun! But in the middle of all this running around I’ve still had time to do some reading, movie/play viewing, quilting and writing. Below are a couple quick reviews.

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarks

I finally finished Jonathan Strange after a month. I have to say that it is a very long book. However, on the plus side it is totally worth reading. A one sentence summary for the book would be two men attempt to bring magic back to a nineteenth century England. The imagery is amazing and the story is great. The characters are well drawn out and interesting. I often found myself interested in what the antagonist was doing and irritated by one of the protagonist’s actions. If you like Austen and dark fiction you should probably read this book. If you just like dark fiction you should still read this book.

The Fall

This movie was a lucky find. I’m still not sure how I came upon it but I remember coming across it once or twice when I was checking IMDB for what movies a couple actors had been in. The more I think about The Fall the more I enjoy it. It takes place primarily in the 1920’s in a hospital. A stuntman after performing a jump ends up damaging his spine and can no longer walk. He is visited by a little girl with a broken arm and begins to tell her a fantastical story about a group of men who have all sworn to kill an evil Governor. The stuntman stops his story at cliff hangers so that he can convince the little girl to steal drugs for him. It was a gorgeous film made beautiful by the cinematography. If anything, check it out for the scenery and attention to detail in costumes and landscapes. Also, I was pleasantly surprised to see a Balinese chant sequence. The story is very sweet and sad. The actors were great, especially the adorable little girl. It kind of reminded me of Terry Gilliam but better. Click the picture for the trailer and enjoy.

Let me know if you have any questions about the movie, events or the book. There was a lot of content I just glossed over.

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Have you ever seen a movie trailer that seemed really interesting and when you found out the film was based from a novel you went straight to the bookstore or library and brought the book back home and set to reading? I did this with the book Never Let Me Go. I watched the trailer out of curiosity and thought it was an intriguing story. I wasn’t sure what was going on, but I had a hypothesis about the characters, which made me really interested to find out more. Fortunately one of my friends had read the book and highly recommended that I read it as well.

Never Let Me Go was written by Kazuo Ishiguro in 2005 and was a finalist for the Booker Prize and Arthur C. Clarke Award. It’s such a wonderful novel. Though, I have to say that it is very sad. I don’t usually like to read sad stories but this one was just too interesting to pass up.

The story centers on a group of children that grow up in a boarding school in a secluded area of England. There is no mention of parents and the children don’t seem to know of any life before the school or in the outside world. At first it seems like the children are like any other group of children but there is this weird magical realism to the storytelling that hints to the reader that these children are different and are being raised for a specific purpose. The children are taught that when they reach a certain age they have to give “donations” and after a certain number of donations their lives will be complete. The language is so casual regarding the word “donation” that it is a little confusing at first. The children seem to understand in a naive way what it is but it is not fully explained to the reader/viewer until much later.

It is interesting and sad to see how these children grow up knowing exactly how their lives are going to play out and yet they are so accepting of their fates with only a few outbursts of frustration. It is so tragic to watch/read about their lives but so beautifully written.

I highly recommend this book and I am really excited to see the film.

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