Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Book Review: The Story of Ferdinand

The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf, drawings by Robert Lawson, Scholastic, New York, original Viking Press, 1936.
This book is the inspiration for the movie out last year.  Ferdinand is a bull unlike the other bulls.  he prefers to sit quietly enjoying the smell of the flowers rather than butting heads with other bulls.  However, when the bullfight managers come to select a bull for the bull fights, a bumble bee intervenes and Ferdinand goes crazy and is selected.  However, in the ring he is more interested in the flowers in the hats of all the ladies, and sits and smells; and refuses to fight.  Neither the Banderilleros, the Picadores nor he Matador are able to show off.  I especially like the drawing of the trantruming Matador. 

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Five Kingdoms 4: Death Weavers by Brandon Mull

Five Kingdoms 4: Death Weavers  by Brandon Mull, Aladdin, New York, 2016
This is the most adventuresome of the Five Kindgoms books to this point.  Cole travels to the land of the dead in an effort to rescue Destiny, one of the five princesses.  He leaves his body behind, and enters a death-like state.  He does this at a time when he is separated from his powers; although he knows he has them.  As part of this adventure he comes in contact with a magical stone, which restores his powers, and he is able to manipulate things to escape, and to rescue his friends.  In terms of science fiction and fantasy, this book does a great job of setting a new world with its own rules.  Each of the Five Kingdoms books has introduced a new world to this point, and that keeps this work fascinating.  The characters are mostly the same, while the environment changes. 
very good read. 

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Book Review: Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow

Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend, illustrated by Jim Madsen, Little, Brown and Company, New York, 2017.

When I get done with a good book, I miss the characters.  In this case, I have really missed Morrigan Crow, and her benefactor, Jupiter North.  I have also enjoyed many other characters, like Fen the big cat that serves as a baby sitter at times, and her friend, Hawthorne.  There are many fine adventures, such as the trials themselves, escaping with her life, and fending off evil.  This book opens up a whole new world with fantastical modes of transportation.  But there is a terrible evil looming over everyone.  What role with Morrigan have in facing this evil.  That will be the subject of another book.  I now have to wait for it to come out.  This was fun. 

Monday, March 12, 2018

Book Review: The High King by Lloyd Alexander

The High King by Lloyd Alexander (Black Cauldron Series), a Dell Yearling Book, New York, 1968.
For this book, Alexander won the Newbery Award. This is the fifth and final book in the series, and it is the most exciting.  All of the main characters come together for a desperate attack on the fortress of Arawn.  This is after he  comes farther than he has before into the realm of men, and steals the sword Drynwyn from Prince Gwydion.  The have left him badly wounded, but he is saved by the bard Fflewddur Fflam.  These leads to the desperate attempt to attack Arawn's home territory of Annuvin.  To Taran, and those with him, falls the task of visiting the countries Taran visited in his last book, and recruit and army to attack.  Taran is well liked, and he soon has a substantial army.  At the same time they are trying to keep and army of Cauldron-born from attacking those following Gwydion.  This book features the return of the love interest of Taran and Eilonwy.  Of course there is a third member of this triangle, Prince Rhun, now King Rhun.  But the King is killed in an heroic escape attempt. 
This book is very exciting, and with good reason the Newbery Award was given.  It is about finding your strength, and in the end, being willing to give up comfort for the right thing to do.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Movie Review: ***^Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014)

This is a movie based on the Tom Clancy characters, but seems out of order in terms of the time line and the story.  Other than that, this is a very good story.  Jack Ryan versus a plot to start on economic catastrophe in America with a terrorist attack and then a dumping of U.S. dollars.  Keira Knightly is Jack's fiancé if she says yes.  She wants to see what he is up to and follows Jack on his trip, and becomes and impromptu agent.  Crazy stuff.  This of course doesn't go well when she is taken hostage.  Lots of action to the end here.  Very entertaining.
Does anyone have an explanation for the out-of-sequence nature of this movie.  Is this Jack Jr., or just taking liberty.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Book Review: Taran Wanderer

As Taran ages, he wants to discover his heritage, with the hopes of proving he is of royal lineage, and consequently worthy of the hand of Eilonwy.  Gurgi, his trusted companion travels with him.  Taran never finds his heritage, although one man claims to be his father and uses Taran's work to restore his farm.  What Taran does discover is more of who he is, and many friends.  He visits King Smoit, and assists him in solving a cattle war that has been going on for years.  He does this by rewarding the cows to a farmer, and the calves to the different parties.  They encounter Fflewddurr Fflam who joins him.  They meet Doli, of the Fair Folk, who is on a grave mission to discover how a wizard Morda has gained entry to the fair realm and stolen gold and jewels.  Morda quickly turns Fflam and Gurgi into animals, but he fails to turn Taran, saying it is like fighting himself.  Then Taran realizes that a bone the collected, is that of Morda, and into which he has put his life force so he could not be killed.  However Taran is able to break the bone and the life force.  Morda is no more, and all his enchantments melt away. 
But Taran continues to travel.  He meets many more interesting country folk, Hevydd the smith, Dwyvach the weaver, and Annlaw the potter.  He learns the trade of each, but does not become a master.  He realizes he has become who he is through hard work, and returns home, more confidant in himself.
Taran's character grows in this book.  However I missed Eilonwy.  She has been such a great part in the other books.  

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Movie Review: ***The Black Cauldron (1985)

This is a Disney movie, based on the novel by Lloyd Alexander.  It is not a musical.  This film was directed by the Mormon movie maker Richard Rich.  My thought about this movie is that somehow it missed the magic of the Alexander book of the same name.  In the book, Taran and Eilonwy are fascinating characters, and then you add Dolbi, Gurgi and Fflewddur Fflam and it is a very entertaining story.  The characters lack the same spark and spunk.  It gets really bad when the fair folk sound like little kids.  The voice of the evil Horned King is ridiculous.
So my conclusion is I love this book, just not this particular telling.  Read the book.