August Reviews in September

Gone, baby, gone is another month (and a movie with a bad ending). As always I am looking back on it wondering where it went. Thought I would throw out some reviews for books read and movies watched.

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
approximate age: Young Adult, Adult
So, since the movie is coming out and there was so much hype about the release of Breaking Dawn, and since every librarian I know has read one or all of the books I thought I should get on the band wagon. I like to try and read books or series that are popular so I have an informed opinion about them, so, I read Twilight.

Umm…I don’t know what I was expecting when I started the book, so I’m still not sure how I felt about it. I think a major part of the reading experience is where you are at in life when you read it, that’s why they write books on every subject. I think I would have absolutely loved, loved, loved this book when I was early on in high school and really into Anne Rice's vampire books. Don't get me wrong. This was a fun book and as much a page turner for me as The DaVinci Code was, so I guess I walked away enjoying the book. I am not dying to read the 2nd book...but I just might...because I guess I am sucked in enough to want to know how this thing pans out. We shall see.

Magic Treehouse #1 Dinosaurs before dark by Mary Pope Osborn
Magic Treehouse #2 The Knight at Dawn by Mary Pope Osborn
Magic Treehouse #3 Mummies in the Morning by Mary Pope Osborn
approximate age: 1st-3rd grade
These books were so much fun. Brother and sister duo Jack and Annie find a treehouse in the woods that allows them to visit the places that they see in the books stacked all over the treehouse.

What is really cool about this series is that when the kids fall into trouble and sticky situations in the places/ancient times they are visiting they consult the books that got them there in the first place. This is such an invaluable thing to tell kids-- if you need the answer, find it! For example in Dinosaurs before Dark, the kids look to see what kinds of food certain dinosaurs eat to see if they need to worry about the dinos being carnivores or not! Clever writing on Osborn's part. Overall, I thought the books were fun!

Series of Misfortunate Events: Book the First: A Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket
Series of Misfortunate Events: Book the Second: The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket
approximate age: 3rd-5th grade
Oiy! Don't get me wrong, I liked the books, I liked that the books teach children a multitude of new words, and I LOVED listening to the Tim Curry version on CD...it's just that, as the title suggests, it is a series of misfortunate events. Bad things happen to the poor Baudelaire orphans and no one believes them when they are right in their guesses of the evil deeds of Count Olaf. I guess I just wanted some happy things to come at the ends, but they don't and you know that in a series of 13 books, more bad events are to follow. I guess a sampling of the first two was enough...for now.

The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander
approximate age: 4th-5th grade and up
I am still in a fantasy funk and thought about trying out these old school Chronicles of Prydain stories which I read when I was about 10 or so. The Black Cauldron is second after The Book of Three, and is followed by The Castle of Llyr (which I am slowly reading now). The book doesn't have the wham bam of fantasy today, but is interesting as we watch the assistant pig keeper Taran grow and become a young man while fighting the good fight against evil. Since this series was written so long ago (the 60's!) it is interesting to read it and not really hear from of a female voice, except that of Princess Eilonwy and of course the 3 witches that guard the black cauldron. Macbeth, anyone?

Mystic River (Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, Marcia Gay Harden, Laura Linney, Director: Clint Eastwood) The movie, based on the book by Dennis Lehane, was AMAZING. It deals with so many fascinating themes including the way family pulls together in crisis and also the biggie: what defines right and wrong. This movie was a tour de force of great performances from everyone and was just GOOD. I put off seeing this for a long time, though for reasons unknown to me at this point, and was soooo glad I finally sat down and watched this!

In The Valley of Elah (Tommy Lee Jones, Susan Sarandon, Director: Paul Haggis) The title for the movie comes from the Bible; the story of the Israelites and Philistines, the valley where David and Goliath battle (The valley allegedly gets its name from the Elah tree, a type of oak or terebinth tree). It is the unfolding story of a Hank Deerfield's (T. L. Jones) search for his son who goes missing after returning from a tour in Iraq. I was not overly interested in the idea of watching a movie about U.S. soldiers in Iraq at this time, but got sucked into the idea of a Tommy Lee Jones movie. (I heart Tommy Lee Jones!) It was not a disappointment, both he and Charlize Theron did a great job. I really appreciated that the movie spoke to the problem with soldiers and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (the special features were great too! Some of the actors had actually served in the military and been in Iraq) which feels like an issue that the government is not doing enough for.

I found a great quote that explains how I felt about the movie, (A.O. Scott of The New York Times,) "An air of irresolution nonetheless lingers around it, a sorrowful, frustrated sense that the deepest mysteries cannot be contained within any narrative framework." Maybe it's supposed to feel like that...since the war in Iraq feels a little like that too!

Comments

Miss Cellaneous said…
Ha ha, glad Mamma left you with something you could use!

I know how you feel about Twilight. I'm the same way. My teens love it, but I think it's because of their mindframe. . Edward is such a typical stoic hero/savior figure that teenage girls yearn to just swoop in and love them, right? Sometimes I just want to slap some sense into Bella. . . and the books aren't even that well written, but they do suck you in (no pun intended).
Miss C,

Yeah, as far as the writing goes, it was mediocre and also did you find all the typos! That made me nuts! Fire that fool and hire me and I could do a better job!

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