The Hobbit is the story of Bilbo Baggins and his adventures as a burglar on a dangerous mission to the Lonely Mountain with 13 dwarves. The Hobbit is...moreThe Hobbit is the story of Bilbo Baggins and his adventures as a burglar on a dangerous mission to the Lonely Mountain with 13 dwarves. The Hobbit is a charming and fun-to-read story teaching us all to "go our own way" in life (a most important lesson to learn!)(less)
Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire, gives new meaning to the old Kermit the Frog maxim: "It's not easy bein...moreWicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire, gives new meaning to the old Kermit the Frog maxim: "It's not easy being green."
Elphaba, sometimes Fabala or Elphie or Fae, and later, the Wicked Witch of the West, was born with skin as green grass, and with teeth like a shark. Her parents, Frex, a missionary man serving the Unnamed god, and Melena, his fractious wife, had no hope of understanding what a clever and perceptive little daughter they had been blessed with. And so, Elphie spends the bulk of her childhood hating herself for being such an obvious disappointment to her parents.
As a young girl, Elphie is sent away to a sort of finishing school/college in Shiz, where she becomes the roommate of the lovely Galinda - later to be called Glinda the Good Witch. It is at school in Shiz that Elphie really comes into her own, and makes the choices that will shape her future life.
Before she leaves Shiz, her sister Nessarose comes to the school. The future Wicked Witch of the East is a beautiful girl, born the "right" color, but with no arms.
Elphie, the WWotW is a great many things in this story: she is quick-witted and rational; she's a fervent animal activist; she's an anti-establishment revolutionary; she's a nun and nurse, ministering to the sick and dying. What she is not, as far as I'm concerned, is wicked.
Although I felt a real connection and had great sympathy for Elphie, that's about all I enjoyed about the book. The information about what Elphie does when she's working with the underground activist movement is ever alluded to but never explained - it's so frustrating! Days after finishing the book, I'm still wondering just what she was actually up to in Emerald City.
Just as the climax was building, the author changes his mind, and shoves Elphie into a situation that makes no sense. In the first 222 pages of Wicked, Maguire makes it perfectly clear the Elphie is a non-believer. Suddenly, she's in a convent? She's a nun? And she spends 7 odd years doing... what?
I also did not enjoy the way in which the author seemed to discard major characters. Elphie's friends at Shiz, especially Boq, were fleshed out and had real stories - then all of the sudden, their stories were over. Then some characters, like Fiyero's widow and her family, seemingly pointless to the story, were written about at length, making for some extremely boring reading.
The politics, tyranny, and wickedness throughout the land of OZ were disturbing in the extreme. I thought in the beginning that Elphie would have some glorious role - for good or evil - and would make a difference or serve some purpose - she didn't. She lived ever on the outskirts of the action, and basically "became" a witch quite by accident.
The idea behind the book was really good - it just went nowhere for me. Questions were never answered, nothing was resolved. (less)
Neglected by his father after the illness and death of his mother, ridiculed by his teachers, and teased by his classmates, Bastian Balthazar Bux is a...moreNeglected by his father after the illness and death of his mother, ridiculed by his teachers, and teased by his classmates, Bastian Balthazar Bux is a sad little boy. While being chased by some bullies, Bastain ducks into an antique bookstore and happens upon an old man reading a curious book, The Neverending Story. Bastian feels an irresistible pull to the mysterious book and when the man steps away to take a phone call, Bastain takes the book and runs away with it.
Bastian ends up taking the book to school and hiding away in the attic to read it. Upon opening the book Bastian discovers the extraordinary world of Fantastica - a marvelous parallel universe full of all kinds of sensational beings. Fantastica is being slowly destroyed by a mysterious Nothing, and it will take the cleverness and bravery of two little boys to save it from ultimate annihilation.
Written by Michael Ende and originally published in German in 1979, The Neverending Story was translated into English by Ralph Manheim in 1983. Of course, I have seen the original movie hundreds of times - it was one of my favorites growing up - but the book is different enough from the movie to keep the reader interested in the plot twists and extended storyline. The movie covers only the first half of the book, and there is a lot packed in to the last 200 pages!
The Neverending Story is just as breathtaking as I imagined it would be. Despite a few little hiccups that could only be attributed to translation issues, I simply loved the story! The Neverending Story is wonderfully imaginative, full of scrumdiddlyumptious detail, and really, just a beautiful and captivating tale, perfect for fantasy fans of all ages. (less)
The Last Unicorn is one of my all-time favorite childhood movies, but I didn't know until recently that it was based on a wonderful book by Peter S. B...moreThe Last Unicorn is one of my all-time favorite childhood movies, but I didn't know until recently that it was based on a wonderful book by Peter S. Beagle. Full of mythical creatures and magicians, The Last Unicorn is a complex and enchanting fantasy story that wraps the reader up in it's timeless magic.
The novel begins in the lilac wood of the unicorn, as she listens in to two hunters arguing over the existence of unicorns in the world. After realizing that she had not seen another unicorn in some time, she begins to wonder if she may in fact be the last of her kind. Thus begins her epic quest in search of other unicorns.
During her journey she meets an entertaining cast of characters: Mommy Fortuna, owner of the Midnight Carnival; the harpy Celaeno, a great bronze bird with the face of a hag and deadly, rending talons; Schmendrick, a fairly inept magician; Molly Grue, a woman-of-the-woods, living with a band of outlaws; and of course King Haggard and his Red Bull, the captors of all of the unicorns in the world.
The unicorn's quest is as much a voyage of self-discovery as it is a journey to find her people. She must face the truth about herself and her world - whether she wants to or not - and complete her pilgrimage to save the other unicorns. The story of The Last Unicorn is a beautiful tale of love and hope, what makes a hero a hero, and the accomplishment of a "happily ever after."
Peter S. Beagle's writing is brimming with dazzlingly descriptive language, prose and wit. His characters are extremely well-written, adding to the beauty and grace of the story. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire book - first sentence to last - I didn't want the adventure to end. Enchanting - captivating - intriguing - nothing goes quite far enough to describe this enduring fairy-tale. Whether you're a fan of classic fantasy, or you just need a bit of magic in your life, you should pick up Peter S. Beagle's The Last Unicorn. You have my personal guarantee - you won't be disappointed.(less)