Thursday, September 20, 2012

Review of The Princess Bride

A tale of true love and high adventure, pirates, princesses, giants, miracles, fencing, and a frightening assortment of wild beasts - The Princess Bride is a modern storytelling classic.

As Florin and Guilder teeter on the verge of war, the reluctant Princess Buttercup is devastated by the loss of her true love, kidnapped by a mercenary and his henchmen, rescued by a pirate, forced to marry Prince Humperdinck, and rescued once again by the very crew who absconded with her in the first place. In the course of this dazzling adventure, she'll meet Vizzini - the criminal philosopher who'll do anything for a bag of gold; Fezzik - the gentle giant; Inigo - the Spaniard whose steel thirsts for revenge; and Count Rugen - the evil mastermind behind it all. Foiling all their plans and jumping into their stories is Westley, Princess Buttercup's one true love and a very good friend of a very dangerous pirate.
[from Goodreads]
   
Rating:  3 out of 5 boxes
Target Audience:  Everyone
High point: The "good parts"
Low point:  The commentary
Reader maturity: 13+

I'd never read this book before. Actually, when I saw the movie, it took quite a bit of convincing on the part of my friends that there was really a book. Short version of this review:  Movie trumps book. But movie would not exist without book. Hmmm...

The Princess Bride (the book) is very much like The Princess Bride (the movie):  comedic, dramatic and with a distinct narrative style. Book Buttercup is much more annoying and selfish (I never really got that from movie Buttercup). Book Fezzik, however, shows a deeper, more interesting side than just being "the muscle" like his movie counterpart.

One thing I didn't consistently enjoy, however, was the author's technique of interjecting into the fictional Morgenstern's story. I found the commentary very distracting in its tendency to quickly veer off topic. Some of it was amusing, like informing the reader of certain things in advance so they don't get too worked up and the inclusion of Florinese "trivia," but some places seemed to take it a bit far.

It's a great story to be enjoyed by all. Some of the plot points and humor might go over the heads of younger readers, but that's what allows it to appeal to older readers as well as kids who want swashbuckling, Dread-Pirate-Roberts-type fun. If you've only seen the movie, you might be interested in checking out the origin of The Princess Bride.

Title:  The Princess Bride
Author:  William Goldman
Genre:   Fiction - Fantasy
Year:   1972
Book Source:  Purchased

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Supernatural Saturday Review: Cold Kiss

It was a beautiful, warm summer day, the day Danny died.

Suddenly Wren was alone and shattered. In a heartbroken fury, armed with dark incantations and a secret power, Wren decides that what she wants--what she "must" do--is to bring Danny back.

But the Danny who returns is just a shell of the boy Wren fell in love with. His touch is icy; his skin, smooth and stiff as marble; his chest, cruelly silent when Wren rests her head against it.

Wren must keep Danny a secret, hiding him away, visiting him at night, while her life slowly unravels around her. Then Gabriel DeMarnes transfers to her school, and Wren realizes that somehow, inexplicably, he can sense the powers that lie within her--and that he knows what she has done. And now Gabriel wants to help make things right.

But Wren alone has to undo what she has wrought--even if it means breaking her heart all over again.
[from Goodreads]
   
Rating:  2.5 out of 5 boxes
Target Audience: YA paranormal readers
High point:  N/A
Low point:  N/A
Reader maturity:  13+

I spent over a week trying to decide how to write my review of Cold Kiss. The problem is that I can't muster anything other than apathy.

The writing is on par for YA--not too flowery, not stilted. The main character, Wren, is standard YA material--average looks, special abilities, irresistibly attractive to inexplicably mature guys. Her mother is frequently absent; there are family secrets and a love triangle. Overall, it's very formulaic YA. It's good, predictability notwithstanding, but I was disappointed by the feeling of sameness. I had hoped for more from a zombie-ish novel.

Perhaps if I had read this years ago, before I got burned out on vampires and teenage heroines, I'd be more enthusiastic, but as it stands, I don't have strong feelings either way.

Title:  Cold Kiss
Author:  Amy Garvey
Genre:   Fiction - Paranormal
Year:   2011
Book Source:  Purchased

Friday, September 14, 2012

Kindred Review: Spoken from the Heart

Love of reading (and history) runs in the family! Today, I'm featuring one of my mom's recent reads. 

The intimate and startlingly candid memoir from one of America's most beloved and private first ladies.
In a captivating and compelling voice that ranks with many of our greatest memoirists, Laura Bush tells the story of her unique journey from dusty Midland, Texas, to the world stage and the White House. Her compassion, her sense of humor, her grace, and her uncommon willingness to bare her heart make Laura Bush's story deeply revelatory, beautifully rendered, and unlike any other First Lady's memoir ever written.
 [from Goodreads]

Rating:  4 out of 5 boxes

No one’s story is theirs alone.  In telling the story of her hometown, its people, jobs, economy, history and neighborhoods, Laura Bush told her story.  I enjoyed the way she described who she became by describing the influences around her.

The book appeared to be honestly written.  Ms. Bush did not leave out or glaze over her father’s drinking and gambling, her husband’s alcohol use, nor the tragic accident that took the life of a friend; yet, she was gracious in writing about those in the realm of politics for whom she did not particularly care.

I enjoyed the book and Laura’s story.  While reading it, I was disappointed each time I had to put it down and anxious to get back to it to see “what happened next”.  Perhaps it was partly because this is an All American Girl story.  She was the average girl growing up in the 50’s and 60’s, yet it was also an American Dream story.  She married the future President of the USA and was privileged to meet Kings and Queens and influence initiatives; yet she appears to still be grounded and grateful.

I would definitely recommend as a good read if you enjoy autobiographies and/or history whether you are interested in politics or not.

Title:  Spoken from the Heart
Author:  Laura Bush
Genre:  History, Memoir
Year:  2010
Book Source:  Borrowed