Movie Review: Christopher Robin

I missed Christopher Robin when it was in theatres last year, but I watched it just last week at home.  If I did end of the year ratings of the movies I watched, this would be a serious contender for best of the year!

The movie begins where the Winnie-the-Pooh books end–they overlap with the first scene of the movie and the last scene of The House at Pooh Corner.  I always thought this was one of the saddest scenes in literature, as Christopher Robin is growing up and going away, and has to say good-bye to Pooh and his other friends.  The scene is faithfully and beautifully reproduced.  Bring your tissues!  The movie then goes on, Christopher Robin grows up, and somewhere over the years he loses his way.  He becomes, to borrow a phrase from J. M. Barrie who also wrote of children growing up, a “man who doesn’t know any stories to tell his child.”  But then Winnie the Pooh comes out of a tree outside Christopher Robin’s house in London, and wants to bring him back to the Hundred Acre Wood.

I have a soft spot for the Winnie the Pooh characters, and this was a charming delight of a movie.  The characters are beautifully rendered, in terms of portrayal and the excellent CGI for the stuffed animals.  They truly feel like Milne’s characters brought to life, and the details are all spot-on.  I notice when movie adaptations get it wrong, and this one got it so very right.

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Book Review: The Inimitable Jeeves

In my quest for more funny reads this year, I turned to P.G. Wodehouse and an audiobook of The Inimitable Jeeves.  I am happy to report much hilarity was found.

This is the thirdish Jeeves book I’ve read–the previous two were both short story collections and turned out to have some overlapping.  This one was more properly a novel, but still very much episodic.  The premise was much the same as it was throughout the short stories: English gentleman Bertie Wooster gets into some sort of social scrape–or has a friend in said-scrape, in this book frequently Bingo Wilcox, who falls in love a good half-dozen times throughout the book–and turns to his utterly unruffled manservant Jeeves for help.  Or, alternatively, he tries to go it alone because he and Jeeves are on the outs, probably because Bertie is making a firm stance around a flamboyant article of clothing which Jeeves disapproves of.  Either way, Bertie usually manages to make the situation worse before Jeeves ultimately solves it with an ingenious manipulation of human nature.

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Book Review: Through Lover’s Lane

Continuing my L. M. Montgomery reading for this month’s challenge, I finally picked up a nonfiction book that’s been on my shelf for probably a couple years.  Through Lover’s Lane by Elizabeth Rollins Epperly is a nonfiction book about Montgomery; specifically, her “photography and visual imagination,” according to the subtitle.

This seemed to have a new angle on Montgomery and her life by exploring her photography, which I’ve encountered only through the photos she included (and were subsequently included by editors) in her journals.  I’ve also learned that I’m more interested in literary criticism that focuses more on Montgomery’s life vs. the larger world around her.  And finally, I’ve read a previous book by Epperly, The Fragrance of Sweet-Grass, which explored romance in Montgomery’s novels and was well-done. Continue reading “Book Review: Through Lover’s Lane”

Book Review: The Story Girl

I’m interrupting my usual Friday programming to instead do a book review, because today is an interesting anniversary–at least, if you’re somewhat intensely interested in L. M.  Montgomery!  Her dearest friend and cousin, Frederica Campbell, died on January 25th, 1919, a victim of the post-WWI flu epidemic.  That makes today the 100th anniversary.

Montgomery mourned Frederica, nicknamed Frede, for the rest of her life, and her presence looms very large in Montgomery’s journals and life.  So much so that it seems very strange to me that she died a hundred years ago–but I can never quite feel that Montgomery has been dead for over 75 years either.  I’ve been rereading the second volume of Montgomery’s selected journals, which includes Frede’s death (which is why I noticed the anniversary date) and it’s quite moving.

So in a kind of acknowledgement, today I’m reviewing The Story Girl, which I read this month for the L. M. Montgomery January Reading Challenge, and which I didn’t remember was dedicated to Frede until I started it.  Kismet!

The Story Girl stands a little apart from Montgomery’s other novels, which almost all have one girl or young woman at their center (Rainbow Valley is the other exception).  Despite what the title would suggest, The Story Girl has an entire circle of children at its center: brothers Bev and Felix King, Toronto visitors to Prince Edward Island, their cousins Felicity, Dan, and Cecily King, neighbor and faux-relative Sara Ray, hired boy Peter Craig, and cousin Sara Stanley, the titular Story Girl.  The group romps through a PEI summer and autumn, brush up against tragedy real or imagined, laugh a lot, and listen to many, many stories from the Story Girl. Continue reading “Book Review: The Story Girl”

Book Review: How I Killed Pluto

I was recently feeling that there wasn’t enough science in my life (I don’t know, it was a feeling) so I did what I usually do when I want more of a topic–I found a book about it.  Specifically, I went to the library and looked up “astronomy” in the Dewey Decimal system and went over to that shelf to see what I could find.  And so I stumbled onto How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming by Mike Brown–and it was excellent.

Mike Brown is the astronomer who found a large object beyond Pluto, igniting the debate (or at least, seriously heating it up) about what exactly a planet is, and whether Pluto qualifies.  His book is a kind of astronomy memoir, about his work looking for large objects beyond Pluto, in the Kuiper Belt.  The one that caused the controversy, nicknamed Xena and eventually named Eris, wasn’t the first one he found, so the story is something of a journey through near-misses, other discoveries, Mike’s own engagement, marriage and birth of his daughter along the way, and finally the great Pluto controversy.  It was very readable throughout and really fascinating. Continue reading “Book Review: How I Killed Pluto”

Book Review: Level Up Your Life

I’ve had Level Up Your Life by Steve Kamb on my to-read list for many months.  January is always a good time to read books about goals and intentions, so I finally picked this one up.  And I’m so glad I did, because it was an excellent start to the year!

Level Up Your Life approaches life transformation from a video game, geek perspective.  Kamb tells his own story throughout, about his love of video games when he was young (and still), and how he used the game mechanics of video games, with a little guidance from the Hero’s Journey classic story arc, to transform his life into something far more epic.  Basically, he set audacious goals, assigned experience points for completing tasks and quests, and has set his sights on “leveling-up” to Level 50, which would mean living his best life, as his best self.

I feel like this is a great book for a person with a certain mindset–one shared by probably most people I know.  It would help to have some sci fi interests, as he draws heavily from superheroes, movies and video games for his examples.  I knew the movies, and even for the video games I only knew by name, it was easy to follow the points he was making.  You also have to like the idea of approaching your life and completing your goals as something you can keep score on and continuously improve.  Which I found to be a pretty cool idea, actually! Continue reading “Book Review: Level Up Your Life”

Mini-Monday: Tamora Pierce Revisited

I’ve been doing a lot of audiobooks recently, and I decided to revisit a few Tamora Pierce books–although rather than listening to favorites, I ended up revisiting a few I was on the edge about, to see how they’d feel on another read.  The results were mixed!

Street Magic

Tamora Pierce has two big, long-ranging magical series with subsets within them, Tortall and the Circle of Magic books.  While everything is good, I give a definite edge to the Tortall series.  However–Street Magic is my favorite of the Magic Circle books, and I was happy to see it held up well on a reread.

The Magic Circle books center around four young mages, Briar, Sandry, Daja and Tris.  The first four books develop their foster sibling relationship and the discovery of their respective magical gifts.  The next set of four books sends each of them on separate adventures.  Street Magic follows Briar, gifted with plant magic, as he takes on his first student, street kid Evvy, and tangles with the gangs interested in Evvy’s stone magic. Continue reading “Mini-Monday: Tamora Pierce Revisited”