Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld


Sybel wields great magic, but chooses to live her life alone on the mountain of Eld. She gathers around her a fantastic set of companions, magical creatures. Her attempt to remain apart from humans is tested, when Coren brings a baby to her to be protected and raised. She loves the child, only years later having to give him up and face the decision whether or not to love Coren, who declares his love for her. Choosing to leave her home and companions to be with Coren, she soon finds herself drawn into a conflict in which she must decide to stand with the man she loves or the child she loves and raised.

Coren's love for Sybel runs deep. Girl, I observed how he seeks to have her and how the two of them begin to yield and entwine their hearts together. Her conflict of love is powerful...a trait many of your books have. Sybel must twist and turn in so many ways, however, she will not yield to any pressure to give up what she loves. Coren has to learn to never doubt her love for him, no matter how things may seem. You've told me never to doubt your heart, in that I hear you speaking through Sybel as I read. And as she reaches out on the last page for his hand, I can feel yours slipping into mine.

4 stars

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Girl In a Swing


Alan is a cermaic dealer and collector, including a valuable piece called, The Girl In A Swing. While on his travels collecting, he mets the beautiful and sensual Kathe. He pursues her and marries her, discovering she has an untold mystery from her past. They honeymoon in Florida where their relationship becomes more sensual and intense. When they return home, Alan's latent psychic abilities begin to warn him of a danger. His world begins to twist into uncertainty as he fights to know and keep Kathe as his own.

I found the start slow, but when Alan meets Kathe the book becomes a slow seduction of the reader. I found myself daydreaming about you as they swam down the river and stopped together on a sandy curve. Kathe is sexy, in her mannerisms, her words, and the mysterious past which surrounds her. I felt the anguish of Alan through the last third of the book and the plot took me places I didn't expect to go.

Girl, I think I'll dream about swimming in a river with you tonight.

4 stars

Little Women


When their father goes off to be a chaplain in the Civil War, four young women and their mother face the trials of war time America and their own internal flaws. The story centers around Jo, an outspoken fifteen year old who has an imaginative mind and gifts as a writer. She spurns a suitor, but later finds her way into the heart of Professor Fritz. Each girl looks for her own way in life and must face the hardship of hearts which love and sharpen one another in the family.

I suppose this is a girl's book, but its been a favorite of mine since junior high. I think at that time I was in love with Jo. Her passion, her interest in books and words, her sophisticated view of romance, despite her tomboy exterior. Amy fascinated me with her art and her touring in Europe, but it was Jo who won my heart when I read it. The strength of the book lies in the relationships of the sisters and their love and devotion to one another. It reminds me some of how you speak of your sister.

You aren't a twin of Jo, but so much of what I loved in her, I find in you.

4 stars

Drop Dead Gorgeous


Set in rural Minnesota, this mockumentary follows the Mount Rose Miss American Teen Pageant. Amber enters with the desire to be able to dance for her mother, while Rebecca wants to win and follow in the footsteps of her mother, Gladys. Gladys is the coordinator of the pageant. Tragedy follows as some contestants are killed or injured in "accidents". Amber is often the target, but manages to elude injury. The movie is an exaggeration of all the attitudes and motivations of both beauty pageant participants and rural America with hilarious outcomes.

I like satire, Girl. This movie continues a good rolling comedy throughout. I found the rivalry between Amber and Rebecca to be my focus. The side characters added so much color...the girl who does sign language...her mother's best friend...her mother, with the beer can melted into her hand. I love how Amber taps in an embalming room, mixing work with practice. The documentary format lended to the satrical nature of the film.

I enjoyed the scene where the girls perform with the step ladders and the paint hasn't dried. Of course, maybe that is because I think from time to time about painting you.

4 stars

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Haunting of Hill House

Hill House is a mansion with no residents. Dr. Montague assembles a team of four hand-picked people to come stay at the house and discover its secrets. A young, single woman, Eleanor, comes with psychic abilities and can sense the feelings and events of the house. While all four characters are terrorized by the house, only Eleanor can experience some events. She dreams of a romance with Luke, heir of Hill House and is tortured by the recent death of her invalid mother. Eventually, Eleanor becomes the target of the house and the team seeks to find a way to untangle her from the talons the living house has in her.

I enjoyed how this book terrorizes. Babe, I've never known a book before where a house was the main character. There is no explanations, no uncovering the mystery, there is just getting to know the house and Eleanor. I liked the interchange between her and Theodora, her infatuation with Luke, and the pull the house has in attracting her despite all of its oddities. The ending seemed abrupt and confusing, however, the rest of the book overshadows this making it worthy of your list.

I found myself with goosebumps when she holds the mysterious hand, the two girls hear the entity in the hall which no one else hears, and the inability of the Doctor's wife to experience any of the supernatural occurences.

I wouldn't mind taking you away for the weekend, but we'll skip Hill House.

4 stars

4 stars

The Haunting (1963)


A team of paranormal investigators moves into Hill House. Centering around the character of Eleanor, a lonely single woman with psychic abilities, the house comes alive. The team of four seek to verify and find explanations for the strange occurrences within the house. However, the house will both elude and pursue them. Based on the book, The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson.

Girl, I hope you can see this movie sometime. I found it captured the frightening aspects of the book and the mental state of Eleanor. However, it changed a few elements which make the book superior. The strength of the movie is its visual and audio impact: the house looks much as the book describes and the soundtrack conveys the terror of the house. The ending has some small differences, though I didn't find it anymore satisfying than the ending of the book.

3 stars

The Blue-Nosed Witch


Blanche, a young witch, with the power of turning her blue nose on and off, is always late. Not wanting to miss the Flight meeting on Halloween, she sets her clock back early not knowing another witch as already done so, making her wake up 3 1/2 hours before she needs. She falls in with a group of trick-or-treaters and and evening of fun ensues.

Your children's books are always fun. This story is one of innocence and the joy of children and stands above a lot of other children's books in how Blanche brings such joy through the telling of her story. I like the simplicity of the black and white illustrations and paused to remember my own halloweens growing up.

3 stars

The Prince of Tides

Tom Wingo is a man who has lost his job, is losing his wife, and now is watching his sister slip into insanity. He travels to the city to speak to the psychiatrist, Susan Lowenstein, who is treating his sister and begins a journey of self-discovery into his past. While falling into a romance with Susan, he recalls his upbringing and how it has set his present course. Set in South Carolina, the story is a rich dialogue of a troubled family and a man who is discovering the underlying passions of his own heart.

Girl, this book drew so many responses and emotions from me as I read. There is Tom, who creates the central study of the story and how his past weaves in and out of his present. There are comedic scenes in the funeral home, the rescue from the water park, and the tragedy which unlocks the secrets of their family. He is a passionate man, who has emotions twisted and formed by so many experiences.

Susan was a good secondary character. In a way, as he finds himself, he accidentally helps her find her own way. Each character has depth. Though for me, Tom was the one who interested me.

I found here a man working through a maze of love in such an obscure fashion. Its again one of those smart pics you make, finding a story which is more than its surface presents.

4 stars

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Companions of the Night


Kerry leaves for the laundromat one night to retrieve a teddy bear and finds herself rescuing Ethan from an eager group of vampire hunters. Her good deed goes awry when as she discovers Ethan is a vampire and the vampire hunters decide she is a vampire as well. In a fast paced story, the vampire mythos is told in a way which is fresh. Ethan and Kerry present a unique dramatic tension with a romantic edge. Their pursuers stay close behind as Kerry must decide how to relate to Ethan and build a trust in the unknown.

Girl, this has to be one of the best vampire books ever written. I've read Twilgiht, which unlike millions of others, I did not care for. I find Vande Velde captures the tension and romance in her short book much better than four volumes of Edward and Bella. I like the dark romance of Ethan and the slow burn of Kerry being able to accept him. The tension in this book is sexy, the characters have chemistry and depth. I love how Ethan watches over her.

I'm always watching over you.

4 stars

Drowned Hopes


Dortmunder has a problem. His old cellmate from prison, Tom, buried some loot behind a library. A reservoir was built over the location and now the money is deep underwater. Tom wants to blow the dam, kill everyone downstream and get his money. However, Dortmnder convinces him they can come up with a better solution and puts together a team who will go to any length to get their share of the cash.

Babe, this has to be the funniest book I've ever read. I laughed at so many places. In fact, I often get this book out and reread a page or two, it keeps calling me back. I enjoyed the church lady who breaks into swearing every time she sees her ex-husband, the computer geek who lives in another reality with his computer, and the witty dialogue between Dortmunder and Tom. The book reads like a movie. I'm disappointed the other Dortmunder books aren't as good. But this one is worth each page of reading. But then again, all your books bring me pleasure.

4 stars

Friday, November 13, 2009

Afternoon of the Elves


Hillary discovers a minature village in the yard of outcast Sara-Kate, beginning an odd friendship between the two girls. Sara-Kate claims the village was built and is maintained by elves. Despite warnings from her mother, Hillary continues to visit Sara-Kate and determine whether or not elves are at work. As she delves in the mystery of her friend, Hillary begins to wonder if there are not in fact real elves, and if Sara-Kate isn't one of them.

This book hovers at first between the mystery of fantasy and real life. I found myself going back and forth with Hillary about the existence of elves. The story speaks of an unusual, but deep friendship, fraught with the oddities of Sara-Kate. I wanted to know the answers myself and found the revelation to be shocking and fascinating at the same time.

Girl, Hillary's devotion to her friend creates a passion in this book. They seemed mismatched and yet their friendship becomes a dependency that holds them together. I wanted to know the answers and each page made me continue to seek.

3 stars

The Adventures of Pinocchio


A craftsman shapes a piece of wood into a table leg, only to find out the wood is alive, so he gives it to a woodcarver who carves it into a boy marionette. Geppetto, the carver, discovers his creation has a sour disposition towards life. The two struggle, resulting in Pinocchio leaving home to find his own way in the world. The marionette's choices lead him into misadventure, eventually being turned into a donkey and slated to be made into a donkey skinned drum. Fate however brings Geppetto and Pinocchio back together. Through Pinocchio's aid to the ailing Geppetto and an unselfish gift to a fairy, he is magically transformed into a real boy.

Girl, this story has been a favorite for as long as I can remember. I once told it to the entire second grade of an elementary school as a sixth grader. The book is darker, creates more tension, and is more brutal than the movie adaptations. But lessons are more vibrant, the relationships more interesting, and the characters more tightly drawn.

I love how you are attracted to stories like this...with strong characterization, fantasy, and a challenge to ethics which is woven into the story.

4 stars

Monday, November 9, 2009

Gods and Monsters


James Whale is past his prime. The once esteemed Hollywood director of Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein fame, is now a discarded relic and discredited homosexual, living out his days with his faithful housekeeper, who worries that yet another stroke may kill him. Attracted to his gardener, an aimless, former marine, the two men strike up a platonic friendship in which they discover their family histories, their military experience, and their passions will drive their lives in different directions.

Girl, what I like about this movie was the loyalty of the gardener and housekeeper to James. The gardener can overlook his aversion to James' sexual orientation and appreciate all that he is as a man, while the housekeeper, abhorred at James' lifestyle, sees him also as a person worth her devotion. There is such a question in the movie of what makes a god or monster of a person. It never fully resolves, which I liked. The underlying background of James' friendships in World War I and the impact of those lives upon him, also drove the movie for me. The friendship between the movie draws a fine line of tension, which kept me wanting to watch to the last frame.

3 stars

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Spell for Chameleon


Bink has broken a sacred law of Xanth, he does not posses a magical power and faces exile. Bink sets out on a quest to discover, what he hopes, is a hidden power within himself. Along the way he meets three women who all intrigue him in different ways, discovering they are one and the same woman, Chameleon. Chameleon has found no man who will endure her different aspects. The two become tangled in plans to overthrow the King of Xanth and Bink must learn if he will ever have a power, how to prevent his exile from being permanent, and if he can truly love Chameleon.

This book is fun, the characters are likeable, and plot meanders in a delightful joy of the characters' self-discoveries. I remember reading and thinking of Bink discovering all the ins and outs of Chameleon, and knowing how much I enjoy learning all the different aspects of you. Bink takes a while to find an attraction to Chameleon. Though unspoken for a time, my love for you came quick and I haven't stopped observing you since.

4 stars

Blubber


When Linda does a school report on whales and mentions blubber, she does not expect the teasing that ensues and the fact that Blubber is now her nickname. Jill and Wendy, best friends, team up in tormenting Linda and making a daily game of it. But when Wendy pretends to befriend Linda in order to make Jill jealous, she does not anticipate how the tables of 5th grade can quickly turn on you.

Girl, you have an attraction to strong ethical tales, told with strong characterization. Blume has a gift for creating ethical dilemmas in real life situations and a gift for capturing real children. The consequences of bullying and how it is carried out are told in realistic fashion, rather than a forced morality tale. I remember kids acting just like this in 5th grade. This is another example of the smart picks you make in children's lit.

3 stars

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Piano


A young mute woman, with a young daughter, is sold into marriage by her father to a New Zealand Forester. She brings along her piano, which has been her voice and life, only to have her new husband give it away to a neighbor for some land. Her daughter's father was a teacher, whom she claims could hear her speak as she put her thoughts in his head which he feared, so he left her. Since then, she has given her heart to no man, including her new husband. Her love is for her piano. Her neighbor strikes a bargain, she can have the piano back if she will come play for him, one day for every black key, while he "does what he likes". And thus begins the struggle as two men attempt to gain her heart over that of the piano.

Girl, I wish was watching this with you so I could bother you and talk during the movie as things strike me. There is a power in this movie of only letting the piano be her voice. There is subtle sexuality in the music, that reminds me of how I feel about you and the books you read. There is the magic of touch of the smallest place on the skin and the desire to explore.

This is a movie of contrasts between refinement and wildness, silence and noise, function and passion, freewill and control all in hoping to observe and discover the nature of love.

I'm thinking of my fingers over your skin.

4 stars

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Hundred Dresses


The girls notice how Wanda wears the same blue dress each day. The other girls make a game teasing her, until she proclaims that she has 100 dresses at home. Maddie joins in the teasing, but then begins to wonder if its wise. When Wanda stops coming to school, Maddie and Peggy begin to learn the real lesson of compassion.

Girl, the ethical slants you discover make this book worth its read. The illustrations are enchanting, done in an almost surrealistic fashion. I could feel with Wanda as the depth of the teasing caused her to withdraw and then the shame of Maddie as she learns the truth. The book is over 60's years old, but still speaks where the heart of many children are today.

It speaks of timeless values...its a voice worth hearing, as I find your voice is to me.

3 stars

The Man In the Iron Mask


The Three Musketeers are nearing the end of their careers and lives. Their young charge d'Artagnan is now a man who influences history. Each man must make tremendous choices if France is to remain great. Among these is the discovery of the King's twin, locked in the Bastille and hidden behind an iron mask. Each musketeer will set the final course of their life in determining the fate of a prince, the loyalty to an empire, and and a quartet of friendships which will be tested in every way.

This remains a favorite story of mine. Girl, I love how we have come to some of these on our own and I realize how much parts of your heart were bound in mine before I ever knew you. This story, for me, is about loyalty and power. I'm caught up in how men follow one another and the reasons and methods by which they do so. I've noticed how much things French capture you. There is a mystique and romance to this book which comes from the culture there. The book is heart breaking in the fates of each person, but also wonderful in how each loves the other.

4 stars

The Magic Chalk


Mrs. Monsen, the witch, loses her magical chalk, then walks right out of the story. John finds the chalk and begins a series of adventures with his created chalk friend Sofus. Facing great dangers, such as water (which can melt Sofus), the two boys meet and explore a world of imagination, only to realize they wish simply to both be at home with a mother.

You find such jewels. This book is forgotten, often copied, the original outshines all others. I searched hard to find a good copy and was not disappointed. Girl, I loved the ins and out of this book, how the type was set to help tell the story, how the story tells the real love of friendship between two boys, and the unlimitless imagination of stick figures and chalk.

I like the pitch black page, the disappearing witch, the uneven words, and the simple love of a mother who makes all things right in the end.

You find the simplest of things which fascinate me.

3 stars