Sunday, November 28, 2010
Monday, November 22, 2010
Meet Harriet Morton, daughter of a strict an intolerant professor who is strongly against female students. And that wouldn't be that bad for Harriet, since she isn't greatly interested in school, but when she is invited to go on a ballet tour of South America, her father bans her from her ballet lessons. Harriet has never fought her father for anything, but she does for this. If she stays, she will most likely be forced to marry the very uninteresting Edward Finch-Dutton.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
For instance, everyone knows about The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo, but have you actually read the (unabridged, obviously) book? All 500+ pages?
And the, story, well... don't expect the Disney version. Several differences: Quasimodo is deaf in the book, but not the movie; there are no magical gargoyles in the book; Esmeralda ain't that bright in the book. Seriously, she is not the cleanest sock in the laundry. Most of the time she's just exclaiming about her wonderful Phoebus, no matter who else is eloquently proclaiming their love for her, or saving her life, or just treating her much nicer than Phoebus.
I love Quasimodo, but it's hard to feel anything but pity for the poor man. Both he and Don Claude Frollo were unfortunate enough to fall in love with the gypsy girl Esmeralda, and Esmeralda never, throughout the entire book, gives a straw about either of them. Frollo goes a bit overboard in his efforts to win her affections, but Quasimodo just saves her life and treats her with kindness and respect. Frollo, on the other hand, quite literally goes insane. I admit, I really liked him too, but... He's not much of a charmer.
I really loved how Victor Hugo led up the end. He built the stories of all the characters, described the time and setting, and then got deep into the story. It was very nicely done. While I might not read The Hunchback of Notre Dame over and over again (mostly just because of its length), it's definitely a favorite.
Robert Louis Stevenson is known for Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but I'm currently reading his little known The Black Arrow, set in the time of the War of the Roses.
While all this happens, he meets Joanna Sedley. During his first encounter with her, she's disguised herself as a boy and is trying to run away from Sir Daniel and her arranged marriage to Dick himself. Dick, poor guy, doesn't realize she's actually Joanna for a long time. But after that, they both realize they're in love with each other and promise that if they ever both escape from the clutches of Sir Daniel, they will get married.
About halfway through the book is when Dick joins the Black Arrow (sorry if this is considered a spoiler), and fights to get Joanna back from Sir Daniel and avenge his father. His first attempts usually fail miserably, but he gets better every time.
I haven't finished this book yet, but I'm confident that it will end well. The story and writing are both wonderful, as are the characters. Dick, while he might be a bit thick (poor thick Dick) at times, is actually pretty cool, and the same goes for Joanna. Lawless (ex-sailor, ex-friar, and now thief) is also awesome. This is my first Robert Louis Stevenson book, and he has definitely piqued my interest.
These are just a few of the many classics I enjoy, but maybe these are some you never really knew or thought about. If you're a lover of classics, or if you just dabble a bit, these are some you should definitely check out.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Meg Finn is too bad for Heaven and too good for Hell. That pretty much sums up The Wish List. During an attempted heist on an elderly man's house, Meg and her partner-in-crime Belch blow up a gas tank, which kills them both. Because of a random act of goodness, though, Meg finds herself perfectly balanced between Heaven and Hell. So, to tip the scales, Meg is sent back to Earth as a ghost, to assist the man she and Belch assaulted before they were killed.
If you've read any of the Artemis Fowl series, you know what you'll get from Eoin Colfer - witty dialogue, sharp action, and lots of twists and turns. One of the characters instantly reminded me of Foaly, with his technological doublespeak. All fairy references aside, however, Wish List stands on its own.
Meg isn't overly endearing unless she's bantering with Lowrie, the old gentleman she has to help. Lowrie is more likable, even if a little cliché, as a crusty old guy with lost dreams he wants to fulfill before he too kicks the can. The supporting cast, of course, is typical of Colfer's style.
Also predictable is his loose regard to morals and lawbreaking. To fulfill one of Lowrie's wishlist items, they have to break into a football stadium. The next item has to do with getting revenge on a childhood bully; though he doesn't actually follow through, Meg herself gets her revenge on her stepfather through Lowrie. It annoyed me a little; but if you don't mind that kind of thing, you'll be fine.
Lawless antics aside, The Wish List was a fun, short read for people who have exhausted Artemis Fowl. Colfer's fairies are better, but his ghosts aren't half bad either.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Monday, November 1, 2010
Finn has lived in Incarceron for as long as he can remember... almost. He's one of the tremendous prison's many, many cellmates - one the others think was actually born from the ever-recycling Incarceron. But Finn and Gildas, one of the prison's Sapienti Wise, don't think so. His dreams and seizures can only point to a life Outside Incarceron.
Claudia Arlexa is the daughter of the Warden of Incarceron. Trapped in the sterile Era of their world, Claudia is doomed to an arranged marriage, planned her entire life. But, of course, Claudia is having none of that. What she wants to do is find Incarceron - even if her father is the Warden.
Cliché novel? It sounds like it. But rest assured, it is not. Both worlds - that of Incarceron and of the Era-world - are original and exciting. While more description could have been used at times to describe these fresh settings, what Fisher gives gets the reader by.
The book's pinnacle and downfall are its characters. Yes, they're both. Finn and Claudia seem like stereotypes at first, especially Claudia. But they show different, deeper sides I rarely see in other novels. Also, Gildas, Keiro, Attia, and Jared (my personal favorite) are all flawed, all too human, all too likable characters. Gildas is obsessed with the legend of Sapphique (supposedly the only man to escape Incarceron), but he really does care about Finn, even though it seems at times he uses him. Jared, a Sapienti on the Outside, is intelligent and wise, and daring to a degree, but he's a self-admitted coward. And yet you love just about every single person.
And yet... they feel cardboard. You're not really feeling what they're feeling; you're seeing it narrated. So perhaps Incarceron's downfall isn't it's characters, really. It's the writing. Crisp and to-the-point, it's amazing for the action; for character development, not so much. It's not that we don't get character development. It's just... hard to feel it. If you didn't already like the characters from reading about them, then I doubt many people would really care.
The ending is... different. The revelation of Incarceron's secret isn't a smack-your-forehead, I-should-have-gotten-that kind of revelation. It's more a wow-that's-a-really-interesting-idea kind of revelation. In short, there's not much real foreshadowing involved. Unless you're an in-depth scientist, I doubt you'll guess. This could be a good thing, or a bad thing, depending on your taste.
All in all, Incarceron wins. There's also a sequel, called Sapphique, coming out December 28, which I will be getting my hands on as soon as possible.