Monday, June 24, 2013

Writer's Camp

Right now, I'm at writing camp - I'm having a lot of fun, and I hope I can manage to write more blog posts. I was planning to post pictures of my midwest trip, but I don't have my camera with me. Maybe I'll write a "this summer" post at the beginning of the school year, and post pictures of everything I've done.
I promised you a post with reviews of historical fiction and classics, but I haven't been able to read much lately, and no books immediately come to mind. Frankly, as I believe I've said before, historical fiction is not my favorite genre - so I don't read much of it. I like classics, though, and I think I'll be able to make a decent list later... maybe when I come home. I'm super stoked for a C. S. Lewis book I checked out of the library - not one of the Narnia books, I think it's more mature and philosophical. I'm also reading a sci-fi novel called Congo, which I also reccomend if sci-fi is your thing. 

Friday, June 14, 2013

Poll Results - Fantasy Book List

I haven't had the opportunity to write much, since I'm on a road trip with my family and it's been absolutely jam-packed with things to do. 
So far, I've been to Memphis, TN, and Saint Louis. Memphis was pretty cool, and Saint Louis was awesome. We saw penguins in the Saint Louis Zoo, and toured the arch. 

I've been paying attention to the poll results, and Fantasy is currently tied with Classics/Historical Fiction - so I've decided to make a fantasy book list.

A Great and Terrible Beauty - Libba Bray
I honestly don't know why I waited so long to read this book.  I'd heard good things about it, I'd seen it in the library, but I waited a while before actually reading it. It's creepy and wonderful, delving you deep into a magical world, and the secrets of a Victorian girl's school. 

Howl's Moving Castle - Diana Wynne Jones
When 18-year-old Sophie is cursed by the Witch of the Waist and turns into an old crone, she stoically decides to head out into the wilds in the hope of getting rid of the curse. Soon enough, she's made an agreement with Wizard Howl's fire demon, and gotten herself into a whole heap of trouble. It's the kind of book that you read slowly, because you don't want it to end. This book deserves to be a classic, 100%. I fully plan to read it to my children as a bedtime story. 

I finished the audio book just before leaving for my trip - I've read and re-read this book about about a zillion times, and I still love it. Diana Wynne Jones is pretty brilliant, and her old-fashioned fantasy style is reminiscent of  C. S. Lewis or Tolkien.* Actually, that's no coincidence - she attended lectures by both while she was at collage.

A scene from the movie - Howl's bedroom. Even though the movie is nothing like the book**, it's still terrific. I think this is maybe my favorite ever book-movie combo. I think animation is the perfect medium for fantasy movies, but I love animation in general. 

Terry Pratchett in General
Terry Pratchett is a satirical fantasy writer - one of the UK's best selling and most critically acclaimed fantasy writers before J. K. Rowling came along. I've only read three (Equal Rites, Small Gods, The Truth), but I've enjoyed all of them. 
I think The Truth is my favorite so far. The characters are the best thing about the book - Mr. Tulip and Otto the vampire have joined the ranks of my all-time favorite literary characters. I also like the concept behind the novels - they take place in a parallel universe, and the same characters pop up in different novels. The series is a lot of fun to read, and with 39(!) books in all, it'll take a good, long time to work though the whole thing. 

More fantasy books to come!

**As I believer I've said before, I don't mind if a movie doesn't follow a book, as long as the movie itself is good. So many people gripe about movies that don't follow the book, and when I ask them if it was actually a good movie, they look at me blankly and say, "Well, duh, no, it didn't follow the book!" 
So, you mean, a movie has horrible acting, bad directing, and 
*Speaking of Tolkien, have you seen the new Hobbit trailer?

Monday, June 10, 2013

J. K. Rowling on Female Characters

I just found this video - it's J. K. Rowling discussing female carecters in Harry Potter. It's terrific, and you should watch it. Here's the link:

I loved the video - I've read some criticism of Harry Potter, since a lot of the really powerful people in the series are male, but I've never thought any of it was well founded. In the video, Rowling explains why her female characters are the way they are, and shows how much thought went in to developing them. She talks about how she's always seen Mrs. Weasly as a really powerful female figure, not "just a housewife," and how much she drew on her own childhood for Hermione. It becomes clear how much thought she put in into her characters, and really, it flips everything around and it becomes clear that some of the most powerful figures in the series really are the women after all.