Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Lady in the Water

Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Genre: Fantasy/mystery/thriller
Rated PG-13 for some frightening sequences
Starring: Paul Giamatti and Bryce Dallas Howard

Cleveland Heep (Giamatti) is the janitor for The Cove, an apartment complex inhabited by quite a few eccentric characters. For the past few nights, Cleveland has been hearing splashing in the pool, but he has never caught anyone, until one night when he sees a young woman. A young woman who is afraid, but one who needs to help the human race before she can leave. Story (Howard) is a narf, a nymph-like creature from the Blue World, an ancient place of magic, and she needs to return there. Led by a fairytale told by old Mrs. Choi, will Cleveland be able to find the members of the guild—the Healer, the Guardian, the Interpreter, and so forth—in time to save Story and the human race? Gradually, each strange apartment dweller—the man who exercises only the right side of his body, the woman who loves animals, the man who seems to live in his bathroom, and more—becomes involved because, as Story says, “every being has a role to play.” But the parts they first fell into might not be the ones they stay with....
Lady in the Water is an amazing blend of aspects anyone can enjoy in a movie—wisdom, humor, sorrow, truth, and suspense—that will keep you enchanted throughout the entire film.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

No Shame, No Fear

by Ann Turnbull

“He’s not for thee,” Susanna Thorn’s mother tells her after she looks back at the handsome young man who made sure little Deb was unhurt after a fall on the road. But Susanna cannot keep his kind action and pleasing countenance from her head, even though he is clearly not a Friend. And William’s thoughts, as it turns out, keep turning to the fascinating, pretty maid whose gaze lingers with him still, though she is a Quaker. What a surprise for both Will and Susanna when they happen upon each other again at a Quaker meeting at the Seven Stars, an alehouse in Hemsbury. The bookshop where Su has begun work makes for a convenient meeting place, and the two fall quickly and deeply in love. But troubles arise in the town—new laws are passed which make it illegal for Quakers to meet, and prejudice against Susanna’s faith grows stronger. Meanwhile, Will’s father, a wealthy merchant, is much against his son finally showing his long-time interest in a different faith. With such strains added to William and Su’s relationship, will the words Susanna’s mother spoke be proven true or utterly wrong?
The issues of family, faith, and feelings that this exceptionally engaging book deal with make this love story one that can be enjoyed for the good writing and depth alone. Find out of if true love really does exist for Susanna and William in Forged in the Fire.

Romance That Won’t Make You Yawn or Gag

An Earthly Knight, by Janet McNaughton
Lady Jeanette Avenel is the second daughter, but she is the one who must marry a wealthy man because her elder sister is in disgrace. One day she meets a man in the woods, Tam Lin. He is said to be mad, but Jenny finds him to be gentle, kind, and handsome. Only Jenny is engaged to the king’s younger brother, Early William. Who will she choose? An excellent story based off the ballads Tam Lin, and Lady Isabel and the Elf Knight.

Crown Duel, by Sherwood Smith
The young countess Meliara, and her brother Bran recently inherited Castle Tlanth—right at the beginning of a civil war. Most of the romance appears in the second half when Mel goes to court, but the first part of the story is very well written and interesting.

Bride & Prejudice
Modern Bollywood meets Jane Austen’s classic Pride and Prejudice in this innovative, entertaining, and fun movie.

Thwonk, by Joan Bauer

A.J. McCreary dreams over the handsome Peter Terris at school, but he’ll never notice her. But then A.J. finds a headless cupid doll in the street, who comes alive, and whose name is Jonathan. He helps her catch Peter for her own, but does she really want him after all? An amusing story that really shows you should be careful what you wish for.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007


I’ve always liked imagining and reading about dragons—but not the kind that only purloin princesses and fight knights; they must have personalities and not be too silly.

The first such books I discovered was the Dragon Series by Laurence Yep. Dragon of the Lost Sea, Dragon Steel, Dragon Cauldron, and Dragon War tell the story of the outlawed dragon princess Shimmer, on a quest to restore her homeland, the Lost Sea, which has been captured inside a blue pebble by a witch. Along with two humans who have also lost their homes and the trickster known as Monkey, Shimmer journeys through a fantasy China filled with creatures and adventures of all kinds. These books are enjoyable for readers of any age because they are interesting and have well-developed characters.

Another very good, though sadly unknown, sequence of books is the Dragonbards Trilogy by Shirley Rousseau Murphy. Beginning with Nightpool and continuing in The Ivory Lyre, and The Dragonbards, Ms. Murphy creates an unusual tale that opens with a boy, Tebriel, living in a community of talking white otters. He is happy there, but he knows he must leave and fight against the evil that is taking over the land. While this series includes the classic element of a boy who is destined to save a country in its collapse, it is written in such a unique way that the story is not clichéd and instead draws you in very quickly.

Recently I picked up The Fire Within, the first in a series by Chris d’Lacey, which was recommended by a friend. The dragons in this series are made of clay, but they have feelings and individuality—which is a good thing, since the human characters are quite bland. The main attraction I find in these books—aside from the dragons—are the twisting plots; it is very hard to guess what is going to happen next, so it holds your interest. Icefire was just as good as the first one and Fire Star was also excellent, now I’m awaiting the releases of The Fire Eternal and Dark Fire.

For a more mature audience, there are Elizabeth Kerner’s Tales of Kolmar. They’re aimed at adults, but I’ve read the first two and did not find anything I thought inappropriate for readers about 14 or older. The first book, Song in the Silence, has also been published as an abridged version to make it fitting for readers 10 and up. The story of Lanen Kaelar is a beautiful one of deep understanding and love between a human and one of the legendary True Dragons, with a strong female heroine. Read more of Lanen’s story in The Lesser Kindred, and Redeeming the Lost. There is also word of a fourth installment with no known title or release date as of yet.

The Pit Dragon Chronicles by Jane Yolen are amazing books set on Austar IV, a planet with a wonderful blend of futuristic and medieval aspects that make Dragon’s Blood, Heart’s Blood, A Sending of Dragons, and the tentatively titled Dragon’s Heart (with a possible 2008 release) books that fans of both sci-fi and fantasy will enjoy. Jakkin’s determination to succeed and affection for his dragon, Heart’s Blood, will have readers rooting for him.

Flight of the Dragon Kyn, Dragon’s Milk, and Sign of the Dove tell the stories of three Elythian women who are connected to dragons. They can hear them speak in their minds, and find themselves opposing the country’s rulers and becoming rebels in their efforts to save the dragons from death. Susan Fletcher paints a brilliant picture of emotions and the world of Elythia.

Beginning with the unhappy and unconventional Princess Cimorene, seventh daughter of a king, Patricia C. Wrede’s Enchanted Forest Chronicles are appropriate for all ages. With Cimorene receiving advice from a frog and being “captured” by dragons, Linderwall is more of a fairytale kingdom than any of the previous books mentioned. Definitely on the sillier side, Dealing with Dragons, Searching for Dragons, Calling on Dragons, and Talking to Dragons are interesting, humorous, and original.

Then of course there is The Inheritance Cycle—Eragon, Eldest, Brisinger, and another book yet to come—which are also very well written books, despite their similarities to The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars trilogies. This is a popular series, but I enjoyed them so much that I want to recommend them to anyone who might be slightly interested.

And lastly, I am very excited about the coming release of Dragon’s Keep, the story of a girl born with a dragon’s claw in place of her ring finger, by the highly praised author Janet Lee Carey. It looks very interesting.

More Dragon Books for YA Readers:

Basilisk, by N. M. Browne
Dragon’s Bait, by Vivian Vande Velde

Dragon and Thief
Dragon and Soldier
Dragon and Slave
Dragon and Herdsman
Dragon and Judge, by Timothy Zahn

More Dragon Books for Younger Readers:

Backyard Dragon, by Betsy Sterman
The Dragon’s Boy: A Tale of Young King Arthur, by Jane Yolen
Dragon Rider, by Cornelia Funke
Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher, by Bruce Coville

The Dragon of Lonely Island
The Return of the Dragon, by Rebecca Rupp