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Posts tagged ‘Family’

A Monster Calls – Movie Review

a-monster-calls.jpgMovies of books, don’t always go so well and I firmly fit into the category of person who believes mostly books do it better. I like the way I create a movie in my head as I read and sometimes the films, for the sake of action and time, change things up that are, to a reader, just wrong.

Having said that, I really enjoyed this movie. Patrick Ness, the writer of the source material, had a hand in the film and I think that showed, not just in the storytelling but also in the tone.

As a book it was moving, intense as you would expect from the subject matter; broken family, mother critically ill, bullying. The whole tale is about some of the dark places life can take us and ways to cope through them. The film echoed that.

It is not a faced paced film, it is slow as it weaves a story in several parts; Conor’s real life, the interactions with the monster (voiced with gravitas that only Liam Neeson can bring), and the stories the Monster tells. It is an emotional tale, filled with painful truths, bought to life in a touching and very real way.

The cast did an amazing job. Lewis MacDougall (Conor) is vulnerable, defiant, broken and ultimately finds strength though the journey the ancient tree monster takes him on in the search of truth, Conor’s truth. Felicity Jones does a great job of playing a mother who knows she is ill but struggles to hide it from her son, whilst giving him the love he needs. Conor’s Grandmother (Sigourney Weaver) is stern, distanced from him but tries as she understands they are all each other has, she delicately plays that balance of love, sadness and frustration.

It is a film that pulls at the heartstrings. As a mother I identified on many levels. As someone who has intimate knowledge of bullying, it strums a note. As a reader who loved the source material it is a film that doesn’t disappoint.

If you get the chance go see the film, even if you don’t pick up a copy of the book, I highly recommend it.

 

The Dark Prophecy

the-dark-prophecy.jpgTrials of Apollo bk 2

By: Rick Riordan

Apollo is still a human, still Lester and has to find the second oracle. This one has a strong personal connection to him, one he is reluctant to look too closely at. This oracle is not only part of Apollo’s dark past, it also has the potential to drive him, or anyone who uses it, mad. To make matters worse this Oracle is guarded by the second member of the Triumvirate, a mad emperor who also belongs in the darker parts of Apollo’s past.

Accompanied by Leo and Calypso they find themselves at the Waystation, a place of refuge run by two ex-hunters of Artemis. Apollo has not just one thing to do in order to find the Oracle, he has several mini quests that need to be undertaken, one is rescuing a young girl who may be family. Along the way he reconnects with Meg and even though she betrayed him, it is clear the two are destined to continue forward together.

The action as always is swift and fun. Apollo himself gets a bit annoying for me, there is only so many times he can say how great is or was as a god, when really he was a bit of an idiot. Other characters do a great job of balancing him out. Leo is brash, like Apollo though he isn’t as pompous and is therefore more appealing. The relationship between Leo and Calypso is hesitant and lovely. Emmie and Jo who run the Waystation add weight to the story, that being told through Apollo’s eyes has a tendency to become rather flippant. These two characters weave humanity, love and family through the adventure. Meg is the perfect foil for Apollo’s pomposity. These books are a lot of fun, but I find Apollo a much harder character to enjoy following than either Jason or Percy.

All Fall Down

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By: Ally Carter

An Embassy Row Novel

Grace Blakely is back in Adria, where her Grandfather is US Ambassador and her mother grew up. Her mother is why she is back, and there are so many memories. And memories are a big part of the problem, because Grace knows three things with certainty; that she isn’t crazy, that her mother was murdered and she is determined to find the killer and make them pay. No-one else believes her. Her issues mean she has no-one to trust.

Into this comes Noah, her new self-proclaimed best friend, he simply won’t take no for an answer when he pushes his way into her life. To complicate matters, Alexei the Russian, has promised to keep an eye on her because her brother has asked him to. Then she sees the man she swears killed her mother. Who can she get to help to prove it? It’s all more complicated because everyone on Embassy Row has to constantly be aware of scandal and international implications of what happens between them. Every move, every little action can have big ramifications, even going through the wrong door can cause an international incident. How will she convince people she is not losing it?

Carter has created a city with a story centred on the complexities of growing up in a truly international street. The gravitas provided by the knowledge everything that happens could have impact outside of the small contained world these characters live in, gives the story a whole other dimension. Grace is a damaged character and whilst it is good to see things such as anxiety and the like represented I find the extremes a little too intense. The brief moments of relief somehow don’t seem long enough, even though it does make sense eventually. Even though I did have a few niggles with Grace herself the story was entertaining and I went straight onto the second book.

Publisher: Scholastic

Published: 1st February 2015

Key Words: Politics, Family, Conspiracy, Thriller

ISBN: 9781743628942

The Peculiars

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By: Stefan Bachmann

Bartholomew Kettle and his sister are different. They are Peculiars, that is they are half human, half faery. They live by the words, ‘Don’t get yourself noticed and you won’t get yourself hanged’. Bartholomew wants more, he doesn’t always listen to his mother, he tries to summon a house faery just to start. It gets worse though because Bartholomew sees a strange lady mysteriously disappear with the boy across they way, that is when he forgets the rules and gets himself noticed.

This tale takes the idea of the the fae, the not always nice creatures who have, in this world taken a place in it and in it’s politics. The world is complex with a very Victorian feel about it. Bartholomew is likeable enough and loyal beyond measure when something happens to his sister. The world is gritty and layered, nice little touches like mechanical creatures make for nice accents. The fae are as varied as humans can be so their is the element of the familiar mixed in with the different.

A good choice for those who like grittier tales and old mixed with new.

Publisher: HarperCollins

Published: 1st October 2012

Key Words: Faery, Steampunk, Family, Loyalty

ISBN: 9780007498857

 

Figgy in the World

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By: Tamsin Janu

Figgy is a determined young girl who has two very big problems. The first is her name, there is no one else in the whole country that has Figgy for a name, unfortunately that is a problem she can do nothing about. The second problem and the worst one is that her Grandmother is very sick and needs special medicine. Figgy thinks there might be something she can do about that. In America they have the medicine that will help her Grandma, so she sets out to get herself and her goat to America. She doesn’t really know how to go about it but that isn’t going to stop her. It turns out getting to America isn’t so easy and many things happen along the way.

Figgy is a wonderful, determined and loyal girl. She sets her mind to something and goes about trying to do it the best way she can. Life though is something that happens whilst you are doing things and for Figgy it becomes the most incredible adventure filled with loss and gain. Nana comes into her life and fills it in a way Figgy hadn’t expected, he opens his life to her and his actions tug at her loyalty strings. Figgy’s bravery speaks to those who come in contact with her and you cannot help but champion her along her way. A wonderful read set in a world of poverty and lack that many will have limited understanding of, this though gives the chance to open dialogue about things that really matter, or you can just read and be swept up into Figgy’s world.

Recommended

Publisher: Scholastic

Published: 1st June 2014

Key Words: Life, Adventure, Friendship, Family, Hardship, Ghana

ISBN: 9781742990453

 

Nightbird

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By: Alice Hoffman

Twig is isolated, she doesn’t really have friends. It’s not that she isn’t loved it’s just her family has a secret. Twig’s mother is the most beautiful woman in their town and is famous for her apple pies and honey butter, that doesn’t stop the talk and that doesn’t stop the mystery. Everything changes though when Julia and Agate move in next door. Twig has never had friends before and their influence brings her out of her shell. These girls are bound together even more so as the secrets reach the surface and lives will be changed forever.

Hoffman has created a twisting and enchanting tale. Twig pulls at the emotions as you want her to embrace these new friends but as you are drawn into the family story and it’s secret heart. It is a story that whilst removed from the familiar and the possible parallels in our world where difference is at the heart of so many problems. This is a story that can simply be read and enjoyed as it comes to its emotional and uplifting crescendo or you can look deeper into its themes and use it to springboard some solid discussion of weightier matters.

An enchanting read and recommended.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Published: 1st March 2015

Key Words: Family, Mystery

ISBN:  9781471124211

Bridesmaid in Training

I received this book from the publisher

bridesmaid-in-training.jpgBy: Meg Cabot

Notebooks of a Middle School Princess Bk 2

Olivia Grace is now in residence at the palace in Genovia where she is doing all she can to help out with her half sister’s upcoming wedding. There is so much to learn being a new princess, with all those table settings which one is for what or whom? Then to make matters worse she has to start school, during the last week, not something she wants to do at all. Starting a new school is hard enough, let alone if everyone at your school is a noble of some sort, and your distant cousin is doing all she can to make you feel uncomfortable. Let’s hope that everything for the wedding goes smoothly.

This is a fun story. Even being set in the world of princesses it remains very relatable, Olivia’s issues are ones that most kids can identify with; friends, new schools, learning new skills and an beginning interest in the opposite sex. (Not that Olivia is, really.) The story moves at a good pace, the text is broken up by occasional simple illustrations. A thoroughly enjoyable read.

Recommended.

Publisher : Pan MacMillan

Published : 21st April 2016

Key Words : Fun, Humour, Family, School, Friends

Age : 8+

ISBN : 9781447292487

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