Monday, June 29, 2009

Cami's Selection for July

Cami has the selection for July and she promises that when she gets back home to her computer, she will write about why she made this particular selection. In the meantime she has asked me to post that she has chosen "Ella Minnow Pea" by Mark Dunn. (Skye, can you get that on the Shelfari thing? I don't know how to do it.)

It is described as progressively lipogrammatic epistolary fable. What that means is that it's written in letters and it loses some letters as it goes along. I've never read the book but according to Barnes and Noble:

Ella Minnow Pea is an epistolary novel set in the fictional island of Nollop situated off the coast of South Carolina and home to the inventor the pangram The Quick Brown Fox Jumps Over The Lazy Dog. Now deceased, the islanders have erected a monument to honor their hero, but one day a tile with the letter "z" falls from the statue. The leaders interpret the falling tile as a message from beyond the grave and the letter is banned from use. On an island where the residents pride themselves on their love of language, this is seen as a tragedy. They are still reeling from the shock, when another tile falls and then another....Mark Dunn takes us on a journey against time through the eyes of Ella Minnow Pea and her family as they race to find another phrase containing all the letters of the alphabet to save them from being unable to communicate. Eventually, the only letters remaining are LMNOP, when Ella finally discovers the phrase that will save their language.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Discussion for The Witch of Blackbird Pond

Everyone should be finishing up Hillary's choice for June. Be sure to leave comments!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Great Thoughts

Here are some great thoughts found in the June 2009 Ensign:
"As with companions so with books. We may choose those which will make us better, more intelligent, more appreciative of the good and the beautiful in the world, or we may choose the trashy, the vulgar, the obscene, which will make us feel as though we've been 'wallowing in the mire'." - David O. McKay

And to add to that:
"Let us show to the world that we have talent and taste, and prove to the heavens that our minds are set on beauty and true excellence." - Brigham Young

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Guide to Fantastical Reading Featuring the Top Five Picks of a Fantasy Fanatic

by Hillary
Fantasy is my forte, my choice for leisure reading, long trips, and rainy days. Even the occasional television show I watch is more at home on the Sci-Fi channel, than anywhere else.
But before I list my favorites I want you to know that these are my favorite fantasy books in general. If I were to list my favorite series it would be Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia. Though most of the books on my list are from series they can all stand alone and are great reads. Note that most fantasy books are written in series form because their plot lines are more Complex than the believable fiction. Fantasy is a broad genre so I like to divide it up into 4 categories to help understand the feel of the books.
First, Romantic Fantasy, two people in love but one is different somehow, either by magic or some sort of magical creature. Their relationship struggles, they are torn apart, they work it out in the end and live happily ever after. Example - anything written by Stephenie Meyer. The Romantic ones don't always have happy endings though, some times they end up more like Romeo and Juliette. Example - The Gemma Doyle Trilogy by Libba Bray.
Next, you have your Fantasy Adventure or your typical Good Vs. Evil plot line. Just when it looks like Evil is going to win, Good comes back and conquers all. This Category generally has a satisfying ending, even if it's not the happiest. Examples - Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling and Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien.
Then you have your Fairy Tales. Need I say more? Generally romantic, the lowly girl ends up with the prince or the princess marries the farm boy she's in love with. These stories are usually based on traditional European folk tales. Examples - Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale and Ella Enchanted by Gail Levine.
Last but not least you have what I call the Strong Stomach Category. Mainly because you need a strong stomach to get through them without vomiting. These books generally contain at least one, (rarely do they contain all) of the following: a large amount of explicit violence, dismemberment, evil creatures that eat children, graphic images, heavy sensuality, and copious amounts of nudity (generally for magical purposes). But despite all of these drawbacks, this category of books makes for very intense and exciting reading that will give you an adrenaline rush. Examples - The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan and The Sword of Truth by Terry Goodkind.
Now that we've established the different types of fantasy I'll explain my favorites.
1. THE GOOSE GIRL by Shannon Hale - Fairy Tale
Synopsis: When Ani's mother, the queen of Kildenree, found out that her daughter could speak with birds, she forced Ani to live a sheltered life. So after her father's tragic death, Princess Ani is sent to the neighboring country of Bayern to honor the arranged marriage between her and the Bayern prince whom she has never met. During the three month journey to Bayern Ani's lady in waiting, Selia, turns her entourage against her with the plan that if they kill Ani and Selia marries the prince it will be better for them. Ani manages to escape, and through the help of the forest folk she disguises herself as a local and gets a job in Bayern's capitol tending to the king's geese. As she is laboring in the city she learns through others that Selia is living at the palace claiming to be Princess Ani and the wedding date is set. Ani discovers that Selia is planning to start a war and take over Kildenree once she becomes queen. It's up to Ani and her new friends to stop the war before it happens. But the only way she can stop it is by facing her fear, and admitting who she really is, but what will her new friends think? Will they accept her for who she is? Will the prince she never met believe that she is supposed to be his bride, instead of the woman he has spent the last several months with? Is she ready to give up the new happiness she has found? A fun Novel with Romance, Comedy, Drama, and Action, everything you need to relax in a bubble bath on a rainy day. A promising start to a fun series.
2. THE CITY OF EMBER by Jeanne Duprau - Adventure
Synopsis: This book is more Sci-Fi than fantasy, but any fantasy fan will love it. Lina Mayfleet and Doon Harrow live in a dark world. Though the city they live in has electricity, they have never heard of cars or telephones, movable lights are inconceivable, to picture the sky any color but black is laughable, and they don't even know what animals are. As the generator that powers the great city of Ember begins to fail and the warehouses that have been eternally providing food are nearly empty, Lina and Doon realize that it is only a matter of time before the city will be left in the utter darkness of the world, and the people will starve to death. Yet they are the only ones with hope, the only ones who believe that there is a way out of the city and a safe haven for the people. But where is that place, what can be safe when you can't even see where your going?A thought provoking novel with a cliff hanger ending that somehow leaves you with that warm and fuzzy feeling.
3. THE EYE OF THE WORLD by Robert Jordan - Strong Stomach
Synopsis: This book is an exciting fast paced first installment to an epic 13 book series, The Wheel of Time. Rand, Mat, and Perrin are best friends who have always dreamed of adventure. When their town is attacked by viscous monsters they run away with a witch who says that they are the reason the monsters came. The world revolves around them (literally) and they are supposed to change it. A great book that seems to be loosely based on L.O.T.R. They have a lot of similarities anyway. A book that any Fantasy fan will love with everything from mystical creatures to magical weapons. It will definitely get your blood flowing.
4. ELLA ENCHANTED by Gail Carson Levine - Fairy Tale
Synopsis: A Cinderella story with a twist. This story explains why Ella always did what she was told by those wretched sisters. At birth a fairy gave her the "gift" of obedience so she had to do whatever she was told. But eventually she gets to the age when doing everything she is told gets her, and others, in trouble and pushes away the man she loves. She has to look inside herself and break the curse to find her happily ever after. A quick, easy, light read that will keep you laughing and riveted from cover to cover.
5. THE HORSE AND HIS BOY by C.S. Lewis - Adventure
Synopsis: This is one of my favorite fantasy books. Though it is part of The Chronicles of Narnia, it is a side story and a wonderful stand alone novel. When Shasta overhears his abusive, adopted father selling him to a soldier, he runs away with the soldiers horse, Bree, who is a talking horse from Narnia. On their Journey to Narnia and the North, they meet some unlikely traveling companions. A series of events unfolds that makes for an intriguing, thought provoking book, and will leave you craving an adventure of your own.
Fantasy is a great genre. One that once you start reading it, it is nearly impossible to stop. But I understand that some people have a hard time getting into it; understanding things that aren't real is hard for them to do. So if you would like to ease into fantasy I have two very famous books that I will recommend. The first is TWILIGHT by Stephenie Meyer (romantic fantasy). This book is a very fast paced novel about a girl that drives an old truck, struggles through high school, and faces the same dilemma that every teenage girl does: she falls in love. Doesn't sound like fantasy does it? Not until you find out the boy she falls in love with is a Vampire. More believable than any other fantasy book, but still just as unlikely.The second book is HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE by J.K. Rowling (adventure). This book also mixes the everyday and the impossible. As a bullied boy who lives with relatives he hates, Harry finds out that he is a wizard. Not only is Harry a wizard but he is also very famous in the wizarding world for defeating the most evil wizard in history when he was just a baby. Join Harry as he experiences the culture shock of going from the every day ordinary to the wizarding extraordinary.I hope this has been of some help to those who are looking for something new to read and are interested in broadening their horizon's to the fantasy genre.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Read the Book or Watch the Movie?: Angels & Demons

by Skye
Watch the movie. True there are little facts and tidbits and character quirks that you just can't squeeze into two hours, but taken as a whole, the movie was the better work. We love that Dan Brown knows so much about everything that he can't give the title of a mere sculpture without going into detail abut the history of the artist, the location, and the works written about it, but is all of that truly necessary to the action or plot of the story? Not really. I appreciated also that Ron Howard opted to leave out the anti-climactic death of the Arabic assassin, the biological ties of the Camerlengo and the Pope, and the ridiculous periled flight of Robert Langdon. That makes for a longer book, but also for a laughable scenario. You have to cringe, and giggle, at Robert Langdon using a small fabric scrap to survive a leap of death out of a doomed helicopter floating high above the atmosphere. Although, the sixth and most magnificent brand was disappointingly downplayed in the movie when they replaced it with the papal keys.
The book is still fascinating and those looking for thrills will find them but if you must choose one, go for the movie.

Book of the Month: The Witch of Blackbird Pond

This is Hillary's choice for the month of June. To participate in the discussion forum simply leave a comment under this post. Enjoy!