Posts Tagged ‘fiction’

Movie Review: The Lightening Thief

March 8, 2010

Sadly I started this movie review on February 15th, but sometimes life gets in the way. But better late than never!

As a lovely Valentine’s Day present from my boyfriend we went to the Sunday matinee of Percy Jackson and The Olympians: The Lightening Thief. I had high hopes for this film and I was not disappointed. I have learned to see movies based on books with a very open mind, and I try very hard not to spend the entire two hours comparing each scene to the book.

This movie was directed by Chris Columbus who also directed the first two Harry Potter movies. Perhaps part of the reason I had such high hopes for this movie was because Columbus tends to do a pretty good job of bringing books to life on the screen. All of the major elements of the story were there. The CGI was incredible, although a few times I thought it was a bit overdone. I found myself cringing in my seat during Medusa’s entire scene. I was also a little disappointed to see that they left out Mrs. Jackson’s quirky habit of feeding Percy blue food!

The one downfall to the movie was it did very little to set itself up for the next story, and by very little I mean they didn’t even explain the signifigance of Thalia’s Tree….it simply looked like a BIG tree at the gates to Camp Half-Blood. This may have been due to the fact that at this point they are not sure that the sequel to the movie will be made.

As I said a few times already, I enjoyed this movie. I never found myself wondering how long we had been sitting in the theater or wishing I had bought more candy. If you are looking for a fun family film, especially if you have any Harry Potter fans in your family I would recommend this movie.

4 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: Between Here and April

March 7, 2010

Between Here and April
Author: Deborah Copaken Kogan
Genre: Fiction
Source: Personal Collection

Kogan’s novel, Between Here and April, is a haunting story about maternal love gone wrong. Before settling down and starting a family Elizabeth Burns was a journalist covering international war stories. Now she is the mother of two young daughters, and is married to a man, who in her opinion, works too much. Elizabeth is struggling to save her marriage, and find purpose in her life beyond her duties as a mother.

The stresses in her life cause a deep-rooted memory to suddenly surface and Elizabeth finds herself obsessed with investigating the disappearance of her childhood friend April Cassidy.  Her initial investigation leads her to a thirty-five-year-old newspaper article that reveals details of April’s disappearance that had been hidden from her as a child. Adele, April’s mother committed an unthinkable crime. Elizabeth embarks on a journey into her own past to track down people who knew Adele in an effort to gain insight. What Elizabeth doesn’t bargain for is how Adele’s story will raise questions about her own upbringing and how she parents her children.

Any book that brings to light a new topic of cultural and/or historical interest I find intriguing. Kogan introduces her readers to the female culture of the 1950s and the oppressive nature of this time in American history. I saw this most clearly in the relationship Elizabeth has with her own mother. They struggle to connect, mostly because of the cultural shift in what is considered ok for a mother to do and be. This element of the story has encouraged me to learn more about the life of mothers in the 1950s, beyond our stereotypical visions of Leave it to Beaver.

The only issue I had with the book was the ending. I felt that it wrapped up too neatly. After covering such a deep issue the ending was a little bit too happily ever after for me, although the symbolic encounter at the photography exhibit was an interesting ending. Overall I enjoyed the novel and am interested in reading Kogan’s memoir Shutterbabe.

3.5 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson and the Olympians)

February 11, 2010

The Sea of Monsters
Author: Rick Riordan
Genre: Fantasy/ Fiction
Source: Personal Collection

Percy Jackson’s seventh grade year was uneventful. Not a single monster bothered him at his New York prep school, until the last day of school. An innocent game of dodgeball between Percy and his classmates quickly degrades into a deadly match against cannibal giants. Then Annabeth arrives to tell Percy that Camp Halfblood’s border is failing, it has been poisoned. Percy embarks on a wild journey to find the cure, rescue Grover and save the camp. What he didn’t count on was gaining a better understanding of family. His journey reveals a surprising secret about his family and Percy can’t help but wonder if being the son of Poseidon is really the honor he thought.

I enjoyed the second book in the Percy Jackson series even more than the first. In the first book Percy often acted like a selfish child, typical eleven-year-old mentality I suppose. In The Sea of Monsters, Percy started his journey as a selfish child, but as his adventure continues he began to realize that life isn’t always going to go his way. Percy’s relationships with his fellow demigods are strengthened. I enjoyed watching him come to terms with his imperfect family. I found this part of the story very easy to relate to, everyone wants to think their father is perfect, but dads are not perfect— human or god.

The Sea of Monsters still did not give us much attention and depth to the Greek mythology, as I would have liked. The myth that Riordan did spend some time with was the Golden Fleece. Also he begin to get into some of the less common myths and monsters, which added to the intrigue because it was more difficult to figure out the monsters fatal flaw, before it is revealed.

Book Review: Jane Eyre

February 2, 2010

Jane Eyre
Author: Charlotte Bronte
Genre: Gothic Romance, Fiction
Source: Personal Collection

Jane Eyre is one of my favorite novels, and it is a story I find myself revisiting annually. Each read through I discover new elements- I follow in love with new passages, understand Jane in new ways. Bronte’s novel has grown with me. When I read the novel for the first time I was ten, I fell in love with the romance of the language and the time period. Later I re-read the novel for a class assignment- I discovered much as we analyzed poignant passages. Now reading the novel again for pleasure, I find myself understanding Mr. Rochester, he is so much more than the arrogant lover I remember. Bronte has developed a true gothic romance, complete with beautiful settings, religious undertones, passionate romance and a mysterious attic secret.

Jane is an orphan, the only family she knows doesn’t want her and she is sent to live at Lowood school. The school, while providing her with a good education, is a cold and cruel place. After living most of her young life at Lowood, Jane decides it is time for her to see more of the world. She takes a position as a governess at Thornfield Hall, and for the first time in her life Jane feels truly happy and comfortable.

Nothing in Jane’s life up until this point has been easy and when she finds herself drawn to Mr. Rochester she is immediately wary. Jane is a woman of high morals- she always does what she believes is morally right, even if it means unhappiness for herself.

I had not intended to love him; the reader knows I had wrought hard to extirpate from my soul the germs of love there detected; and now, at the first renewed view of him, they spontaneously revived, great and strong! He made me love him without looking at me. (Chapter 17)

Despite Jane’s misgivings she has fallen deeply in love. It isn’t until the day they are to be wed that Jane discovers Rochester’s dark past.  Jane unbending in her beliefs is forced to make a heart-wrenching decision.

Charlotte Bronte wrote in the poetic yet sometimes cumbersome prose of her time.  If you are up for the challenge of the language you will find that Bronte’s descriptions bring Jane’s world to life.  Bronte isn’t one to only focus on the beauty in life, she tackles difficult issues –- the question of passion versus morals, and that of woman’s independence and strength in a world dominated by men.

I love this story because of Jane’s passionate and independent spirit. Bronte wrote this novel in a time when female authors were rarely published. She creates a smart, courageous and passionate character who does not rely on her looks to make her way through the harsh world. From what little I have read about Bronte and her sisters, I believe that in part, Jane is modeled after herself.  This is a deserving classic, and in my opinion a must read!

A Nancy Drew Weekend

January 31, 2010

I read SIX Nancy Drew books over the weekend! And I will probably finish a seventh before I go to bed tonight. I am really enjoying this challenge. Each book takes me about an hour to read. It is nice to relax and read without having to work all that hard. I still love Nancy and all of her friends. I love the freedom her father gives her to follow her instincts- I don’t think this type of parenting was very common in the 30s.

When I first read about the challenge and learned that the yellow-spined version of the series were updated to be more accessible to current readers, I was a little surprised. As a child I do not remember thinking the books had old language. As I read them now, I can see why the language was updated, and even still the sentence structure feels a little odd at some points. In some ways the outdated feeling is what makes the series enjoyable. Nancy can’t just pull out her cell phone and text for help, she has to be resourceful and observant!

I’m excited to continue with this challenge, but I think I need to take a break this week and start reading something from one of my other challenges- I don’t want to overdose on Nancy Drew.