Friday, March 16, 2012

Tuesdays at the Castle

From Goodreads: Tuesdays at Castle Glower are Princess Celie's favorite days. That's because on Tuesdays the castle adds a new room, a turret, or sometimes even an entire wing. No one ever knows what the castle will do next, and no one-other than Celie, that is-takes the time to map out the new additions. But when King and Queen Glower are ambushed and their fate is unknown, it's up to Celie, with her secret knowledge of the castle's never-ending twists and turns, to protect their home and save their kingdom. This delightful book from a fan- and bookseller-favorite kicks off a brand-new series sure to become a modern classic.

This book is so charming. I love Jessica Day George's writing and have enjoyed all of her books so far, and this is no exception. The whole idea of a castle with personality isn't totally original (hello Hogwarts) but the castle plays a much bigger role in the plot so it doesn't feel like too much of a repeat.

And I loved the castle. I want it. I want secret passageways and towers and miraculously appearing rooms. I'm still trying to figure out how I can (really and truly) build a secret passageway in my house (hooray for a supportive husband!) and so stories with a setting with this kind of atmosphere always click with me. I liked the characters as well. Celie was funny and her siblings felt real and not canned.

I'll admit that I had a hard time logically with some of the ways the story wrapped up. It was a really sudden ending and there were a lot of questions I had left unanswered and I was worried that the book would end on a cliff-hanger as I got closer and closer to the end and things still weren't wrapping up. Now, though, I kind of think I would have preferred a cliff-hanger to all the hastily tied ends I ended up with. 

One last minor beef. It took me several pages to figure out how to pronounce Celie's name and that bothered me. Every time I came across it my reading groove was thrown off as I tried out several pronounciations. It wasn't until I figured out that her real name was Cecelia that I figured I'd just pronounce it "See-Lee" because it seemed the most logical shortened version of Cecelia. Does an uncertain character name bother you? I usually just decide on a pronounciation so I can get on with things. I know that I pronounced Hermione's name wrong until the fourth HP book where she explained to Viktor Krum how to pronounce it right. *embarrassing*

One more thing - this book is even more fun to read aloud! As I was reading it, my 7 year-old kept asking me questions about it. She thought it sounded so fun that I decided to read it out loud to her. I worried it might be a little old for her, but I was wrong. She LOVES it! This is the kind of book that kids love, I've decided. Sometimes I read children's books that I think are more for adults than kids, but this one really is a kid pleaser.

Highly recommended! And while you're at it, pick up Jessica Day George's Dragon Slippers trilogy, and her fairy tale retellings: Princess of the Midnight Ball; Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow; and Princess of Glass. Oooh! And just discovered a new one coming out November 13th this year: Princess of the Silver Woods.

Our Mutual Friend

Finally finished! It's weird for me to take two weeks and spend it just reading one book, especially when my pile of to-reads from the library is stacking up. But, for Dickens, I couldn't help it. It takes a lot to read a Dickens book. It needs extra attention and the longer breaks I take from it, the harder it is to get back into the language and the complex plot. BUT, as I just said, for Dickens it's worth it.

I loved this book. There are so many memorable characters (always Dickens' strong point) and the plot here is incredible. So many stories lines woven together with such skill. There's a lot of both mystery and romance in this book. The love stories are so so good. So sweet, so heart-breaking at times. As for the mystery, well, it wasn't too much of a surprise (because I watched the movie first :D) but was still enjoyable. This is, arguably, one of Dickens' darkier and scarier works, especially as we get inside the mind of one Bradley Headstone, who is a truly terrifying character. I won't give away any more, but this is a bite-your-nails kind of read. I knew how everything would turn out and I still got completely into it and could hardly put it down.

Also, the most recent movie adaptation of this book (1998 from the BBC) is a little-known gem of British drama.

 If you love Austen movies this is one I'd recommend. It also plays out almost exactly as the book does. Almost all of the dialogue is Dickens' and the actors and actresses all do a great job portraying their roles.

And if you're hesitant to read a Dickens' novel (no easy feat) watching a movie adaptation first is a great way to get to know the characters and plot lines so you don't get lost while reading the book. It also helps me to know which scenes are not as important to the plot so I can skim when Dickens gets long-winded about society. Which he does. A lot. Anyway, it's a super movie and I recommend it. (Content advisory: There is one scene with nudity, so when you see Bradley Headstone heading into a river to wash off in episode three, close your eyes if you don't want to see his ugly backside. :D It's a very brief moment and easily fast-forwarded through)

Anywho, I'll leave you with some of my favorite quotes from Our Mutual Friend. Dickens is, after all, enjoyable quotable.

"No one who can read, ever looks at a book, even unopened on a shelf, like one who cannot."

Mr. Boffin: But there's nothing like work. Look at the bees.
Eugene Wrayburn: I beg your pardon, but will you excuse my mentioning that I always protest against being referred to the beest?
Boffin: Do you?
Eugene: Ye-es. They work; but don't you think they overdo it? They work so much more than they need - they make so much more than they can eat - they are so incessantly boring and buzzing at their one idea till Death comes upon them - that don't you think they over do it? And are human labourers to have no holidays, because of the bees? And am I never to have change of air, because the bees don't? Mr. Boffin, I think honey excellent at breakfast; but regarded in the light of my conventional schoolmaster and moralist, I protest against the tyrannical humbug of your friend the bee. With the highest respect for you.

Eugene and Mortimer, on being told to pretend to be lime merchants while they spy in a tavern:
'You hear, Eugene?' said Lightwood, over his shoulder. 'You are deeply interested in lime.'
'Without lime,' returned that unmoved barrister-at-law, 'my existence would be unilluminated by a ray of hope.'

"There was an innocent piece of dinner-furniture that went upon easy castors and was kept over a livery stable-yard in Duke Street, Saint James's, when not in use, to whom the Veneerings were a source of blind confusion. The name of this article was Twenlow and he was in frequent requisition."

“[She wasn't] a logically reasoning woman, but God is good, and hearts may count in heaven as high as heads.”

One Miss Peecher, the schoolmistress:
"She could write a little essay on any subject, exactly a slate long, beginning at the left-hand top of one side and ending at the right-hand bottom of the other, and the essay should be strictly according to rule. If Mr. Bradley Headstone had addressed a written proposal of marriage to her, she would probably have replied in a complete little essay on the theme exactly a slate long, but would certainly have replied yes. For she loved him."

Jenny Wren: "You are wise as wise can be godmother (having been brought up by the fairies), and you can tell me this: Is it better to have had a good thing and lost it, or never to have had it?"

'No one is useless in this world,' retorted the Secretary, ' who lightens the burden of it for any one else.'

"And oh, there are days in this life, worth life and worth death."

Bella: "Dear John, your wishes are as real to me as the wishes in the Fairy story, that were all fulfilled as soon as spoken. Wish me everything that you can wish for the woman you dearly love, and I have as good as got it, John. I have better than got it, John!"

“Love, though said to be afflicted with blindness, is a vigilant watchman.”   

“A heart well worth winning, and well won. A heart that, once won, goes through fire and water for the winner, and never changes, and is never daunted.”   

“Are you thankful for not being young?'
'Yes, sir. If I was young, it would all have to be gone through again, and the end would be a weary way off, don't you see?...”   

Bella: "Give me a moment, because I like to cry for joy. It's so delicious, John dear, to cry for joy."

The Hero of Ages

This is the final book in Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy and it was a fitting and intense end. Sometimes I think I overuse the word epic, but in this case, Hero of Ages really deserves it. This was truly EPIC fiction. I love endings like this where pieces from all the books come together. Brandon Sanderson used just the right touch of foreshadowing here so that I wasn't wholly surprised by the ending, but also wasn't able to predict it. Really brilliant writing.

I'd say more, but at this point in a series almost anything else I could add would include a spoiler! Let's just say that this is a perfect ending to a spectacular fantasy trilogy.