Sunday, March 15, 2015

A Movie?

Yes, believe it or not, as much as I love to talk about books, I do enjoy movies, as well. I don't usually enjoy them as much as I do books, but - now and then - I get a truly pleasant surprise. I'm pleased to share one of those with you that I recently enjoyed, although, isn't a recently released movie.

I had finished reading a wonderful historical fiction (which I'll talk about later) and was still marinating it, which means I was still researching some information from the historical fiction, still thinking about the storyline. I wasn't ready to start a new book yet, but I wanted something to keep me company for a couple of hours one day. I knew what could satisfy my desire: Kindle Fire.

The great thing about my Kindle is his Fire not only burns passionately with beautiful books, it also glows with Netflix and Amazon. (There is more than one reason I love him, you know.) It helps that I'm a Amazon Prime Member, too, which means I love shopping for a "free" instant movie to see what hidden treasures I can find without paying an additional price for them. (What can I say? Along with being born a bibliophile, I'm also a born bargain shopper. It's the thrill of the hunt!)

The movie I found, on this particular hunt, was "Amelie" from 2001. I had never heard of it before, but I loved the look of the pixie-faced actress on the cover. She reminded me of a faerie, and I love faeries. When I read the reviews and a bit of the synopsis, I decided it might be just the thing I wanted. I also admit it appealed to me because the film was set in Paris (one of my most favorite places), and it was in French with English subtitles (which helps me practice my French). I thought I might like the film. Little did I know, I would fall in love with it! I smile, even now, just thinking about it.

To me, "Amelie" is everything a movie should be: art and magic and wonder. A movie is a place to lose yourself for a little while and enter another world. If it's a good movie, you take a part of that world with you when the film is over. It's a place you remember fondly and, if the movie is really good, it might be a world you'll want to visit again. "Amelie" is definitely that kind of movie.

I was going to post a link here to the movie trailer, but I feel it gives too much away. I'm glad I didn't really know much about the movie before I watched it (which is why I only read a bit of the synopsis, I hate knowing too much before watching a movie or reading a book. Spoils the fun, in my opinion. I believe I've said this before, yes?)

I'll end my recommendation with this, if you find yourself wanting to spend some time in a lovely place with a pixie-faced faerie girl as your guide, just give "Amelie" a try. She'll lighten your heart and make you smile, and we all need some of that, oui?


Oh, yes, I do have a book recommendation, as well. I won't go into a review, but I will say this book was another great surprise (so, don't think my lack of review indicates a lack in the book). It was one I had on my shelf, but had not read yet. It was meant to be a "filler" book or a "tweener" - you know, something I was reading to kill time until my next Kristin Cashore book arrived. I was pleasantly surprised to find the book was more of a main attraction than I would have imagined.

 If you love historical fiction, as I most passionately do, I recommend you read The Irish Princess by Karen Harper. I've never read Harper before, but I liked her style. I also like the research she did for her book and the references she gives to the real information at the back of the book. I found the novel to be a springboard into some interesting research of my own. I admit to having a particular fondness for the setting, as I love England (another one of my most favorite places), and was more than a bit thrilled to see some places mentioned I know and love well, such as Leicestershire and Charnwood Forest - truly lovely places with truly lovely people.

Time to go now...

Not that this post was short, but I do feel a bit rushed in writing it. You see, today is my last day of Spring Break. It's back to work tomorrow. I have a few things on my "just gotta do list" to end my break in style and, of course, one of them is reading. My Kristin Cashore book has arrived from Amazon, and I am anxious to spend a little time in that world before enjoying some other things this lovely Sunday.

Happy reading! :)


Saturday, March 7, 2015

Cold Day, Warm Book

We've had a bit of cold weather in Texas lately. We had two ice days a couple of weeks ago and, most recently, we had a real snow day on Thursday. It was quite beautiful! On that day, I really needed a good book to warm me up after The Goldfinch left me cold and disappointed.

When I suspected we might miss another day of school due to weather, I asked a friend of mine to give me a suggestion for something I'd enjoy reading that wouldn't take long to read. I really needed something to lighten my reading mood. I just wanted a good story to keep me company on a snowy day.

I am happy to report the book she suggested is a good one, and I thoroughly enjoyed it! It's one of those stories that I wanted to read quickly to find out what happens, but...I found myself trying to slow down once I was halfway through the book because I knew I wasn't going to be ready to let the characters go when I got to the end.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore is a wonderful book about a young woman, Katsa, who has a "Grace" she must learn to live with and control. Gracelings are people born with a particular skill they are better at than a normal human. In Katsa's case, she's a very skilled fighter. In fact, she's the deadliest killer any person or animal could come across in her kingdom. She has been raised in a castle, the niece of the king, and does her uncle's bidding when it comes to fighting. It's the only life she's known until she meets and makes an unlikely friend in Po, another Graced fighter.

Katsa is a wonderful character, and I find she's the kind of female character I like the most. She is strong and quick-witted. She is intelligent, but not in a book sense. She knows herself. Even when she's confused about her own feelings and her own thoughts on a subject, she is always aware of the struggle. Katsa knows how to pull back and analyze what is going on within herself and in her surrounding environment. She is present in every moment and is honest with herself and those around her, sometimes brutally honest.

Po is also a great character and one of those I don't mind admitting to having a 'character crush' on. What I love, too, is that Katsa is the hero,...and Po doesn't seem to mind. It doesn't hurt his ego. In fact, there are a couple of male characters in this book I like because of the way they support, and aren't intimidated by, Katsa and her Grace.

It really is an exciting adventure book. I found myself smiling after I finished it. That's always a good sign. Hugging the book close to my chest after I finish it is also a good sign. (And, yes, I really do that. I hug books, smile at them, and keep the ones I like most on a special bookcase.)

I should mention that while this book is classified as young adult fiction, I wouldn't suggest it to middle school students. Much like the book Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly (which, still, remains one of my favorite books), I am surprised it is considered young adult fiction because of the adult situations and relationships in the novel. I could see an older high school student reading it, but not a middle school student.

I also think any adult who enjoys medieval fantasy books would definitely enjoy Graceling. I wish there was another book on Katsa. While the author has written a companion book to Graceling, I am told it is completely different characters and different worlds. I've been told it is equally as good, though. (And I've already ordered my copy from Amazon.)

As for the cold weather, it has passed us now. It's Texas, the weather changes quite frequently. You'd never know by looking outside today that we had ice, sleet, and snow on the ground just two days ago. It's a lovely 62 degrees and sunny right now,'s the first day of our Spring Break from school! I have plans for this week, some involving travel, but you can believe I'll have books with me wherever I go.

Happy reading!

      Sighing, Helda carried the dress from the bathing room. "It would look stunning, My Lady," she called, "with your dark hair and your eyes."
      Katsa yanked at one of the more stubborn knots in her hair. She spoke to the bubbles gathered on the surface of the water. "If there's anyone I wish to stun at dinner, I'll hit him in the face."

~ Kristin Cashore, The Graceling


Monday, March 2, 2015

Hang In There?

I'll be brief.

I don't think it's fair to do a review of a book before I finish it. I have, however, come across what may be an exception to my normal rule because the thought of having to finish this book makes me tired.

I could tell you what is wrong with it, in detail, but that would take too long, isn't worth my time, and - again - makes me tired just thinking about it.

What's a reader to do?

To review an unfinished book or not to review an unfinished book? That is the question.

How about a brief, fair assessment on what I've read so far?

I was looking forward to reading this Pulitzer Prize winning book. I didn't read detailed reviews before I began, just overall ratings and comments.  This is my usual practice. I don't like detailed reviews because, too often, they give too much away. I wasn't worried that I might not like The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. I mean, it won a Pulitzer, it had to be great - right?

There are parts of the book I like, lovely passages I've highlighted, and characters I enjoy, but the details are too many, the story is too long, and I've not been on such a long, boring ride in a long time. It's never a good sign when you read for hours and, then, find yourself looking at the bottom of your Kindle to see what percentage you've you'll know how much more you need to endure to get to the end. It's a pretty desperate feeling, and it makes me sad. I wanted to like this book.

The thing is, I can see how it could be a great story. It just...isn't. There are parts of it I've enjoyed, but not enough to make me push through the rest. The book just feels...depressing. Worst of all, I don't really care about the main character anymore.

All I care about is that I'm only halfway through the book, and I'm about to give up. It isn't like me. In fact, I don't think I've ever abandoned a book this far in, no matter how bad, because I usually want to know how it ends. Not this time. I really don't care. And I hate that.

Before writing this review, I went on to Amazon to see how many pages are in the book. There are 755 pages. I've read numerous books longer than that and, because they were so good, I found them too short. When I saw the number of pages for The Goldfinch? I winced. I thought of my limited pleasure reading time during the school year and thought time is too precious to labor through another page. And, yet, I still feel guilty abandoning the book.

I think I'll just learn to live with the guilt...