This is a beautifully illustrated homage to the Jim Henson series, with several excellent adapted folk tales. The unproduced screenplay by Anthony MinThis is a beautifully illustrated homage to the Jim Henson series, with several excellent adapted folk tales. The unproduced screenplay by Anthony Minghella very obviously maintains the original pacing of the show, if only being one of the darker stories that would have been made (which is totally fine, since the show didn't necessarily sugarcoat its source material, like other production companies). Only a few stories ever felt phoned-in, or otherwise failed to capture the feel of the show, but some favorites were "Old Fire Dragaman," "Puss in Boots," "Old Nick and the Peddler," and "The Frog Who Became Emporer." All these stories seemed very much to hold the original show's alternating senses of humor, fantasy, and serious storytelling. This was an excellent extension of the show overall, and I hope there will be future installments. ...more
While not the most engaging examination of teens questioning faith (there is little that speaks to the wider world of people who may genuinely strugglWhile not the most engaging examination of teens questioning faith (there is little that speaks to the wider world of people who may genuinely struggle with their parents' religion), this was still an entertaining story with well-written narration. I enjoyed Jason Bock's interior monologue through the story; Pete Hautman writes his segues into imagination extremely well, seeming to know himself what it must be like to grow up bored in non-descript rural America. The ending was a little abrupt, leaving more closure to be desired in Jason's personal quest, but otherwise this was an easy and fun read. ...more
Just started reading John Green's books after being a long-time fan of his YouTube work. His writing reflects the same thoughtfulness and openness thaJust started reading John Green's books after being a long-time fan of his YouTube work. His writing reflects the same thoughtfulness and openness that he employs in his ventures online. Looking For Alaska is a beautiful-awful book, full of the selfish post-adolescence that all get to "enjoy" and reflect on. It is hilarious most of the time, and truly frustrating and angering at others. I had to put the book down for several days once the "countdown" was reached, but still had to work up the nerve to finish it. It is not cathartic or sap-happy in its conclusion, and in that way it feels very real....more
Beautifully illustrated and sometimes hard to follow (which is good, so that more time is taken to analyze this largely visual work), this is a nice mBeautifully illustrated and sometimes hard to follow (which is good, so that more time is taken to analyze this largely visual work), this is a nice medium to bring an early Jim Henson script to life (we are talking pre-Muppets here). The story is a pretty heavy allegory, and somewhat middle-of-the-road in terms of catharsis, but may have been pretty ahead of its time had it actually been produced as a film when it was written. Regardless, it's just really cool to see more work produced by this incomparable legend. ...more
I loved the sheer imagination and inventiveness of this book. The world of New Crobuzon and Bas-Lag is amazingly rendered; I loved the organic, rottinI loved the sheer imagination and inventiveness of this book. The world of New Crobuzon and Bas-Lag is amazingly rendered; I loved the organic, rotting, and scrapped together nature of the city, as well as the hints of more insane horrors existing in further-off continents. The various creatures and events in this book were truly marvelous, and to read such an unhinged-from-convention book in such detail was a breath of fresh air.
China Miéville seemed to constantly challenge himself with his material, creating fresh and astounding feats of fantasy that he even took the time to attempt, in some form or another, to explain. It was refreshing to see something like crisis energy in his book have a semi-rational explanation or quasi-scientific mechanic. It was not hard to see why he got an Arthur C. Clarke award for doing so.
There was only one point in the story where a conventional plot element threatened to take hold (involving a gangster taking a hostage), and it was only apparent then that Miéville needed to add more outrageous creatures and plot elements to keep the reader's fascination intact (this was done very quickly, as though he did sense convention weighing him down into our world, and not his own).
The only major complaint about the book was a perhaps excessive use of description about New Crobuzon. There was hardly a missed opportunity to describe its rotting, stinking, decaying amalgamate of alien culture. It is possible that this was necessary for atmosphere, lest the reader forget that we aren't dealing with a strictly normal Earth city's brand of rotting decay, but it got to be a bit rambling at times.
Otherwise, this was truly awesome. I will definitely be picking up the sequels set in the same world. ...more
With a very engaging narrative format (somewhere between a screenplay and a novel) and a solid basis in historical fact, Day of Tears is a quick yet eWith a very engaging narrative format (somewhere between a screenplay and a novel) and a solid basis in historical fact, Day of Tears is a quick yet emotionally stirring book about the largest slave auction to occur in the pre-Civil War south. I wasn't sure if I would like it at first, as the characters seemed slightly repetitive and the language slipped occasionally between having southern dialect and not, but the arresting scenes of the auction and the shifts between perspectives was truly moving and rightfully angering. It was hard not to feel and sympathize in different ways to the various and complex points of view (from the views of a slave girl not unlike a big sister or surrogate mother to the white daughter of the plantation owner, to the master himself, wracked by guilt selling his slaves to pay off gambling debts, almost acknowledging the human lives he is devastating). Overall, this is an important novel to supplement history lessons in school, as it provides the element that the textbooks sorely lack: the ever-engaging human element. ...more
On the whole, these stories tend to be depressing, as they are mostly about guys getting taken advantage of, grappling with their own inferiority or iOn the whole, these stories tend to be depressing, as they are mostly about guys getting taken advantage of, grappling with their own inferiority or inadequacy, or otherwise getting beaten down by some relationship or other. But Keillor's sense of detail and humor is very much evident, as he creates incidental information about his characters that are hilarious and incredible to imagine. He is a true storyteller, creating whole and realistic worlds around character that could be considered throwaways.
Crown jewel of The Book of Guys? The story of "Zeus the Lutheran," where Zeus takes the form of a Lutheran pastor vacationing in Greece so he can get with his wife. By cruel and legally binding magic, he is stuck in that form and has to accept the fate of living the life of a Midwestern middle-aged man with four kids. His only companion is the pastor, who he stuck in the body of an alley dog, and helps him cope with his new existence, including leading a congregation of established Lutherans. Hilarity and and a touching conclusion ensues.
There is a genuine sadness to be understood while reading this series. I've found myself very much dealing with the post-read depression that occurs dThere is a genuine sadness to be understood while reading this series. I've found myself very much dealing with the post-read depression that occurs due to having immersed in Ari Berk's beautifully envisioned afterlife, where wrongs can be set right and the restless dead can find meaningful closure. Mistle Child is again no exception, and in this immersive sequel, one becomes lost in the mystery of Silas Umber's expansive ancestral home, Arvale, as well as the horrors buried and forgotten beneath it. Well-researched medieval ballads paint a sorrowful backdrop to the story of the Mistle Child, and an awesomely exciting cliffhanger make waiting for Lych Way, the sequel, that much more unbearable. This is excellent storytelling, all around; very much H.P. Lovecraft for the YA reader. ...more