Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Book Review - A Tangled Web by L.M. Montgomery

Rating: 9/10

A Tangled Web
is one of L.M. Montgomery's many novels. It is set on Prince Edward Island and tells the story of two families - the Darks and the Penhallows - who have always intermarried for a long time. Now, the most prized possession - Harriet Dark's jug - is about to be bequeathed to one lucky person. Who is it going to be? Only sick and dying Aunt Becky knows and she's not about to let it off easily.

I had much fun reading this book. First of all, it's a novel by L.M. Montgomery! I haven't read one for, like, a long time (two or three months is a terribly long time...). Second, it's an exciting read. L.M. Montgomery retained the playfulness of her writing since Anne of Green Gables. It's always nice to read her books and, after reading one, I feel this sort of lightness and happiness about life. :D

The only thing I didn't quite like is that I had a little difficulty keeping up with the history of the various characters. There were a lot of them that I haven't had time to take note of them all. :P

As for the stories in general, I liked the bit about Brian and Cricket. I was really heart broken when his uncle wrung the kitten's pretty little neck. It's like I could feel a part of what Brian felt, having the only thing that ever loved him murdered. It's really sad and it's the one scene in the novel that really stood out to me. I also liked the bit about Walter Dark's black cat falling in a gallon of gasoline and coming out white. I think it describes the entirety of the novel - that a seemingly unfortunate circumstance could come out as fortunate in the end, after some trial (gasoline = fire; that Eng 11 stuff from last semester really worked. Haha!).

All in all, I liked A Tangled Web (not just because L.M. Montgomery used my nickname...). :D

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Book Review - Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott

Rating: 10/10

Ivanhoe is set in twelfth century England, during the time of chivalry and the Crusades. It features unforgettable characters such as Wilfred of Ivanhoe, disinherited by his father because of his love for the lady Rowena; Richard Plantagenet, or more commonly known as Richard the Lion Hearted; the famous outlaw Robin Hood of Sherwood Forest and his band; and the valiant Templar, Brian de Bois-Guilbert. Ivanhoe is a story of love, corruption, discrimination and valuable courage.

I have, as a rule, always loved tales of medieval England and a knight's devotion to his lady love. In addition to this, I also love historical fiction. Well, Sir Walter Scott wrote a combination of the two resulting in Ivanhoe. What can I say? The first half of it was pretty much boring and quite unintelligible because of the language. But as it went by, the reader is caught in the hurricane of events and is, at last, able to feel the tension, fear, love and anger that the characters are feeling. The reader is able to love the characters (even Gurth, the loyal swineherd turned squire).

The story is beautiful and the topics it delves into are, I'm sure, quite familiar to us. There's the discrimination between Normans (French) and the Saxons (English) and these two against the Jews. The notion of slavery is also very much alive in the tale. Government corruption (and even inside the Catholic church) is portrayed. Love, I'm pretty much sure, is not a farfetched subject. Unrequited love, more so.

Now for the characters. The summary at the back of the book is not wrong in saying that Scott's characters are "a gallery of flesh-and-blood." Truly, they are these. Upon finishing the book, the reader cannot help but think if, somewhere in the world's history, a man such as Robin Hood lived or if the singular event of Athelstane's raising really happened. Scott's characters are so powerfully portrayed in this way.

Of course, I had my favorites. For characters there's Robin Hood (or Locksley), Friar Tuck, Rebecca, Richard the Lion Hearted, Wamba and Brian de Bois-Guilbert (towards the end, at least). Brian de Bois-Guilbert's character was especially endearing when he told Rebecca that "if I renounce present fame and future ambition, I renounce it for thy sake," (page 401). Yeah. I know. It's pretty much cheesy but isn't that something to come from an honored Templar?

Anyway, I really liked Ivanhoe and I don't regret buying it or spending a lot of hours reading it. It was fun. :)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Book Review - The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells

Rating: 8/10

The Invisible Man is the story of Griffin, a young scientist who discovers a way to turn anything transparent through the refraction of light. Realizing the drawbacks of his strange "power," Griffin moves to Iping, a small village in the countryside, to find a way to somehow reverse the process. But, soon, people begin to be suspicious of the bandaged stranger...

H.G. Wells, as before (The Food of the Gods), is a great writer; he certainly knows what he is talking about. The process of Griffin's transformation from flesh and blood to an invisible man is explained thoroughly. However, this could induce an eyebrow-raising event for the not-so-scientific reader (like me). I find the explanation technical (although I'm sure Wells tried to make it "readable").

That's about the only drawback in the book, for me. Everything is well crafted and well done. It's a nice book and it certainly set the stage for science fiction. :)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Book Review - The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

Rating: 10/10

The Martian Chronicles is a collection of short stories written by Ray Bradbury. It tells of how humans colonized Mars because atomic war is threatening Earth.

I really like this book (better than Farenheit 451, I think) because of the simplicity with which it was written. Ray Bradbury is a literary master. It's no wonder he's so famous.

[Do not underestimate the shortness of this post. XD]

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

STFAP stuff

So, STFAP results for the second batch run are out today and guess what? I'm still in Bracket B. AND so is my sister. I mean, what the heck is that? There are two of us in college now and we're in Bracket B?? Seriously. Last academic year, I was in Bracket C and my sister was still in high school then. What the heck?..

Movie Review - Dorian Gray (2009 film)

Rating: 6/10

This 2009 British film is a movie adaptation of Oscar Wilde's only  novel The Picture of Dorian Gray. It stars Ben Barnes in the main role. Dorian Gray is a naive, young gentleman who arrives in London because he is heir to his [cruel] grandfather's estate. Upon seeing him, society artist Basil Hallward decides to paint him in order to capture the youthfulness he sees in the young man. A corrupt lord, Henry Wotton, befriends Dorian and notes, upon seeing the finished picture, that the portrait will remain the same while Dorian ages. He teases him about bartering his soul to the devil in exchange for eternal youth. Dorian wishes this to be true, and so the story unfolds.

Ah, another book-to-movie adaptation. I'm not pleased. I find the acting a bit awkward and I have this urge to laugh whenever Ben Barnes cries or suddenly wakes up. But his gorgeous face is really right for the role. He looks innocent and faultless just like the book character. Despite all this, his true nature hides behind this pretty face (or, rather, hides in a portrait hidden in his attic). Colin Firth is a good actor, as always. Rachel Hurd Wood (she plays Sibyl Vane) turned out to be a pretty lady. :)

The film is boring at the beginning and I find the first 45 minutes to be very "slow." It's dragging in a sort of way. It's quite different from the book. I think the inclusion of Alan Campbell's role in the murder would add more horror to it. However, Henry Wotton's character is a sure winner. Colin Firth, I think, really captured the role of a corrupt lord who influences a naive gentleman to take on a hedonistic lifestyle while he himself is afraid to partake in it. He saved the film, I should think.

The scenes wherein Dorian delves into a hedonistic (pleasure-seeking) lifestyle are too many. I find it extremely gross. There also isn't much portrayal of the kind Dorian Gray, therefore the audience cannot rightly compare his light and dark sides.

The character of Emily Wotton is a good addition and Rebecca Hall is a fine actress. :)

All in all, Dorian Gray is a dark film that shows us that there are two sides [always] to a gamble; in this case, beauty or youth comes with a very huge [and strange] price. It's not a completely horrific adaptation nor is it good. It's just okay.