Thursday, October 23, 2014

Book Review: "The Paper Magician" by Charlie N. Holmberg

Charlie N. Holmberg's debut novel, The Paper Magician, is the first installment in a series that I will definitely continue to read due to its undeniable charm. Harry Potter fans will likely enjoy this story for its glimpses of another structured magical world, and fans of Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus will enjoy the whimsical romance element. The ease of read makes this a quick getaway when compared to something complex in terms of language like Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. So if you're looking for a story with some unique magic, romantic gestures, and the inherent darkness that accompanies power all steeped in a yet to be fully explored magical world, then this could be your next read.

Ceony Twill makes a compelling heroine in the story, showing up at Paper Magician Emery Thane's house to pursue an apprenticeship after graduating top in her class from a magical academy. However, Ceony's not too thrilled to be bonded to the element of paper as it was her dream to work with metal. And here is one of the most interesting parts of this world that begins to unfold: magicians magically bond with a particular object and from there on out their magic is worked through that object. Ceony begrudgingly makes her bond with paper, but her feelings toward folding, which is the paper magician's way of working magic, soon begins to change.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Book Review: "If I Stay" by Gayle Forman

The experience of what is so commonly referred to as 'coming-of-age' defines a time in life when your decisions carry more weight in designing who you are and who you are becoming. Your parents are no longer the prime decision makers in your life, it is up to you to mold your future - it is the true release of childhood and all the careless freedom it now comes to represent. Gayle Forman's If I Stay is a compelling coming-of-age story embedded in a present moment narrative of unfolding tragedy.

Seventeen-year-old, Mia Hall, wakes up on a snow day from school surrounded by her now-tame punk rock parents, that sound a bit like Northwestern hipsters, and her adoring younger brother Teddy. It's Mia's senior year of high school and she views her family's warmth and eccentricity as one of the things she will miss most if she ends up going to college at Julliard in a few months. The family decides to take advantage of their stolen day off from the responsibilities of life, like giddy children, and use it to visit with friends and family in their Oregon hometown.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Book vs. Movie "Gone Girl": As Good As The Book

It's rare that a movie stands up to the experience of a book, it's even more rare when a movie is capable of enhancing the experience of the book to create a truly fulfilling cinematic experience. I found this to be the case with David Fincher's Gone Girl. Gillian Flynn, the author of the best-selling book the movie is based upon (which I reviewed here) wrote the screenplay, so I know that has a lot to do with the success of the adaptation. However, it's what Fincher is able to squeeze out of the material visually that makes this movie something dark, suspenseful and likely to disturb audiences unfamiliar with the original material. Even from the opening credits, the restless pace of flashing locations, with names fading as quickly as they appeared was setting the pace for this twisted and fast moving thriller.

The film starts out with Nick Dunne, played to smug perfection by Ben Affleck, describing how when he thinks about his wife, he thinks about her head and cracking it open to try to understand what she's thinking. At this movie's core is a dark piece of relationship drama that anyone in a relationship can identify with: can you ever really know the person you are with? Think of all the trust it requires to lay your sleeping bones in bed with someone every night and believe that you know them and the love you share well enough to wake up okay the next day. Relationships often begin with each participant putting their best foot forward, living up to an image of the person they think they should be to keep the other happy. A lot of relationships end on a disastrous note due to this projection of falseness and the eventual discovery of who the person "really is."