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Showing posts by: Kelsey Ann Barrett click to see Kelsey Ann Barrett's profile
Dec 13 2013 12:00pm

“The Tales and Songs Fall Utterly Short of Your Enormity...” The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug movie review

Kelsey and I went to The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug at midnight, and between our ice cream nibbles and a lot of shrieking managed to cobble together our general thoughts so you can find out what you’ve got to look forward to. And we have to say, despite some additions that weren’t too thrilling, if you’re going to miss one of these Hobbit movies, this one shouldn’t be it because HOLY SHIT DRAGON.

Ahem. Let’s get down to it.

[Non-spoilers to follow.]

Dec 11 2013 11:00am

Spiders, Bear Men, Bowmen, and Crises of Elvish Conscience—What We Might See in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Bard, Legolas, Luke Evans, Orlando Bloom

We don’t have to wait much longer for the next installment of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit. While An Unexpected Journey met with some very mixed reviews from die-hard Tolkien fans, it was a box office hit and pleased a lot of people. If nothing else, the adventure and action sequences of The Desolation of Smaug promise to be even more exciting.

The trailer is setting us up for a film that looks more action-packed and suspenseful than the first. Gone are the scenes of White Council debates, to be replaced by Bilbo sneaking through the spiders’ lair and sucking up to Smaug, and where we had dwarves running from goblins, now we’ll have of battles in which the elves gracefully slaughter them bad guys in droves. Helped along by Legolas’s flashy knife tricks. And what else are we likely to see?

[The Elvenking and Two Towers parallels…]

Jun 26 2013 2:00pm

Like a Riptide, S. M. Wheeler’s Sea Change Takes Readers Much Farther Than They Expected to Go

Sea ChangeI’m honestly not sure how to review S. M. Wheeler’s Sea Change (excerpt here). It’s a bit like trying to review a poem, or a piece of music; descriptions seem to fall short of the actual experience of reading it, and the themes are subtle and made to be absorbed slowly.

On the surface, Sea Change is the story of a girl named Lilly and her friendship with a kraken named Octavius. When Octavius is captured by traders and sold to a circus master, Lilly must embark upon a quest to free him. Lilly is told that she must obtain a magical coat to exchange for Octavius’s freedom, but the coat maker is dead and his (presumably magically) animated corpse is being held by bandits, so she must sell her services to the bandits’ captive witch in order to rescue him. Add in a troll from whom the price of directions is high indeed and the beautiful dark-wife who would consume the circus master’s soul—and Lilly’s to boot—and you have a recipe for one incredible story.

[But none of that tells you what the story is truly about.]

Jun 6 2013 5:00pm

A Choice Between Darkness and Light: Siege and Storm

Siege and Storm cover Leigh BardugoLast year, I ended my review of Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone by demanding that Bardugo hurry up and write me a sequel, and I am very pleased to report that she did. (Although I am sure it had nothing to do with me.)

Siege and Storm picks up merely a few weeks after where Shadow and Bone left off, and Alina’s role in the course of events has expanded to take a broader and more world-driven perspective, which allows the reader to see the plot unfolding on a global scale. With the truth about the Darkling exposed, he has become an enemy of the Ravka and has clear designs on the throne. Meanwhile, Alina must decide where her place is. Should she run, and try to hide herself in the mountains of some foreign country? Should she return to Ravka and serve the King in the fight against the Darkling? Or should she surrender to the connection between them, and take her place at the Darkling’s side?

[Read more]

May 20 2013 12:00pm

Believing in Magic is Believing in Yourself: Terry Brooks’ “Imaginary Friends” from Unfettered

Unfettered anthology Shawn Speakman Terry Brooks Imaginary Friends preorder

A special five story preview of Shawn Speakman’s epic fantasy anthology Unfettered will be released at Phoenix Comicon this Memorial Day weekend. This week, we’re taking a spoiler-free look at all five stories, many featuring new glimpses of our favorite fantasy worlds.

I read Terry Brooks’s Shannara trilogy when I was pretty young, and if I’m being honest, I don’t remember them all that well. But I do remember how much I enjoyed reading them. I remember liking Allanon best and imagining that he would appear at my house one day and tell me that I was descended from a magical line of elves. I remember being inspired by the idea that a magical world could be our distant future, rather than a mythic past, and using colored beads as my elfstones.

I wish I had gotten my hands on Terry Brooks' short story “Imaginary Friends” back then, too, because I would have adored it.

[Read more]

Oct 4 2012 12:30pm

As Beautiful as the Fey: Magic and Romance in Tina Connolly’s Ironskin

A review of Ironskin by Tina ConnellyI was actually already through two-thirds of Tina Connolly's Ironskin, before I realized that I was reading a fantasy version of Jane Eyre. Of course, to anyone paying attention, this fact is obvious; the story centers around protagonist Jane Eliot, who comes from London to a country house on the moor to become a governess to the daughter of Edward Rochart. I suppose I can only plead the fact that I was so caught up in the magic of Connolly's world that I hardly noticed anything else. The fey of this magical England are mysterious and imaginative, and if I have any complaint about them, it is that I wanted more.

[Read more]

Oct 2 2012 4:00pm

Red Eyes and No Eyes and Dreamboat Eyes in A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel

A review of A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel by Madeleine L’Engle and Hope LarsonI’ve always enjoyed seeing my favorite novels (or even pieces of them) portrayed in a visual medium. Normally that would be in movies or on television, but cover art, fan art, and other portrayals are also great for experiencing other people’s conception of the characters and places in the stories you love. I find it interesting to see how other people imagine things differently than I do, especially on the occasions when I am surprised by something that I actually like better than the way I imagined it. And while I knew I would probably not adopt Hope Larson’s depictions of Charles Wallace, Calvin, and Meg as my own, I couldn’t wait to see what she had done with one of my favorite books from childhood in A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel.

[Read more]

Aug 7 2012 5:00pm

A Boy, A Ghost, and the Blood That Binds: Kendare Blake’s Girl of Nightmares

A review of Girl of Nightmares by Kendare BlakeI was lucky enough to score an advance reader copy of Kendare Blake’s Anna Dressed in Blood at last year’s meetup and loved it, so I jumped at a chance to read and review its sequel, Girl of Nightmares, which comes out today! Girl of Nightmares is just as clever, thoughtful, and creepy as its predecessor, with the added bonus of extending the first novel’s mythology in interesting new ways.

[Read more! (Spoilers for Anna Dressed in Blood)]

Jul 25 2012 3:00pm

Five Possible Reasons that The Hobbit is Spilling Over into a Third Movie

Five Possible Reasons that The Hobbit is Spilling Over into a Third Movie

Okay, we know that The Lord of the Rings movies were long, especially with the extended versions, but Peter Jackson still managed to keep each single book down to a single corresponding film. So why, then, can he not even fit The Hobbit into two movies, but has to make it three? I have a few theories.

[Read more]

Jun 12 2012 5:00pm

Balancing Heroism and Great Villains: Shadow and Bone

When I picked up Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone, I never bothered to read the back flap or even half the prologue. I am generally not a fan of prologues, but when I finished the book and read the epilogue I had to go back and pick up what I had missed, because they bracketed the story so perfectly. And as Shadow and Bone surprised me with its prologue, so it surprised me with the skill of its narration, the endearing qualities of its characters, and the strength of its world. It seemed at first glance like the kind of book I would like, but it turned out to be the kind of book that I love.

[Two orphans, a boy and a girl]