Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Castle Waiting vol. II by Linda Medley



This is good.

You should read it.

Okay, clearly I loved this. But actually I must as a provision to that recommendation. If you read Castle Waiting (vol 1), then yes, you should definitely read this.

The premise is this: After Sleeping Beauty was awakened by her Prince, she left to go be his wife in his kingdom. But who was supposed to rule her old land? And what happened to the castle she left behind? This graphic novel set attempts to answer those questions, filling the castle with a unique and wonderful mix of new characters, some giving us glimpses into a fairy tale world we are familiar with, but generally enriching it with new stories.

It's fabulous. It's funny: I laughed out loud often while reading this (vol 2), causing my attempting-to-nap husband to give me dark looks. If you aren't very into graphic novels, this is a good one to try. It's not terrible cartoony: the artwork is simple, elegant, and clear.

I suppose I should say that it's also powerfully a women's story, but to me that seems kind of silly. There are strong and well-rounded male and female characters, and isn't that how the best stories should be? I think this is one of the best stories, and I do hope Ms. Medley will continue.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cat's Tale by Bettie Sharpe

Okay. So. I have a confession. My husband recently bought me a Kindle, and I've been going a little crazy, checking the daily deals for ebooks, and browsing through for cheap books. However, I had heard of this one, Cat's Tale by Bettie Sharpe, some time before I got my Kindle, and when I remembered it I went back to see how much it cost. At $3.03 it was irresistible, especially as there aren't that many Puss in Boots retellings out there.

This is the story of Lady Catriona, a selfish woman who becomes the king's concert. But when he dies and the line to succession is left in question, Cat finds herself caught trying to make alliances with both the princess and the king's magician. When the magician learns of her deceit, he turns her into a cat and tries to drown her in the miller's pond....

And naturally she hooks up with the miller's youngest son, and the pieces of the familiar story fall into place.

I'm not a big reader of romance novels, so I don't know how this compares in terms of that. There are a few sex scenes and they seemed enjoyable enough. As far as the fairy tale goes, I thought it was a creatively done rewrite, giving the characters some depth as well as putting some twists on the old story, while still sticking to the bones of it.

It's a quick read, really a novella more than a novel. Unfortunately it's only available in digital format, but you can get it through amazon or audible and of course there is a kindle app for computers, so that's an option too.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge

As you may recall, when I reviewed The Secret of Moonacre, I said I would try to find and review the book that it was based on, The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge. I was able to get it fairly quickly through the Interlibrary Loan function of my local library.

It's a dear little book, written in a style similar to George MacDonald and other older writers for children; not watered down by any means, but definitely with the suggestion that good things come to good little girls and boys, and bad things come to naughty children.

I liked the story itself; the pacing was better than the movie, which sometimes felt abrupt or rushed. In the book, though, I often felt like things were falling into place TOO neatly, which is fair enough for a children's book but I guess I wanted things to be a little more complex or messy--or at least for the heroine not to triumph on her first try every time. (The one time that things did not go according to plan, she still discovered several important pieces of information which led to her eventually success.)

I hesitate to say that this might be one of the rare times when I like the movie better than the book... but it's definitely a close call, in spite of the many changes that were made to the movie. Perhaps because I saw the movie first?

The book is worth reading, especially if you like this somewhat older style of children's book. If you'd rather read a dark story with a lot of twists, you might want to give this one a pass. (Although I guess you could say there are twists in this one; to me they seemed more like things that had been subtly set up, falling into place, than surprises.)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Voyage of the Basset by James C. Christensen

I have always loved James C. Christensen's artwork, so one day while I was waxing poetic to my friend Sheila about his art, she said, "Wait a minute, I know that name sounded familiar. TELL ME you've read The Voyage of the Basset?"

Well I HADN'T. So naturally I immediately sought it out...

And let me tell you: this book is gorgeous. I knew it would be, of course; every page is illustrated by Christensen.

As I read, at first I worried that it would be more of a mythology review than an actual story. Mr. Aisling and his two daughters go for a walk one night and find a ship awaiting them: The Basset. They set out on a voyage of discovery, visiting royal fairies and other legendary creatures. But as they continue on their way, and I continued through the book, there are dangers both obvious and subtle in store for them.

I really liked the way the story was woven and the resolution. And the reminder that "By believing, one sees." Pretty apt for those of us who love fairy tales and mythology, isn't it?

This is definitely a little heavier than your typical picture book, but it's well worth checking out, both for the story and OF COURSE for the artwork. It's a bit pricey, used on amazon, but you can probably get it through your library. And if you can't, you tell them to get a copy!

Monday, November 14, 2011

NBC's Grimm (Pilot)

I was a little slower to catch Grimm (thank goodness for hulu, where I don't have to be on time!), but I finally saw the pilot of this show, too.

I think it shows some promise, although is much more aimed toward people who like a gritty police procedural than those who are looking for a fantasy story. The set up is that Nick is a police detective and one day he starts seeing creepy monster faces on passing people. His aunt shows up and tells him bits and pieces about his family legacy: he's a Grimm, one of the few people who can see what no one else can. Which starts him down a spiral of fairy tale mysteries, beginning with a predator hunting and killing girls wearing red....

I'm a bit worried at the show's early tendency to only have women as victims. So far all the interesting characters are male, except for the aunt who is clearly, from the beginning, slated to not be around for very long. (Which I can understand, as she'd be able to explain everything, and that would make it Too Easy. Still, so far I'd rather the show had been about her--what's HER story?! She kicks ass! Ah, well.)

I'm willing to give this one a little time to get its feet under it, because hey, I'll take my fairy tales how I can get 'em. The special effects aren't bad, so far--not big budget Hollywood great but certainly passable. The actors... ehh, nothing outstanding so far but give them some time to figure out who their characters are.

You can (as I mentioned) watch this on hulu if you don't have the network or the time to watch it when it's scheduled: