Her Royal Spyness

Her Royal Spyness
By: Rhys Bowen
(http://rhysbowen.com/)
Berkley Prime Crime 2008
A Historical Mystery Comedy Review

Her Royal Spyness

Being thirty-fourth in line for the British throne proves utterly unhelpful to Lady Georgiana (Georgie) Rannoch. Nothing but royal expectations for Georgie’s future, but she is without the money, tolerable husband candidates, or conventional disposition to meet them. In this stifling situation, striking out on her own to London seems a great idea…except for the fact that she has no servants, cooking knowledge, or the ability to light a fire. Georgie’s quest to correct these oversights finds her mixing with new circles, learning scandalous secrets, and struggling with a murder investigation. Letting a dead Frenchman bring down her family name would never do, but can Georgie straighten it out while still managing to avoid deadly accidents and marriage machinations?

Lady Georgie proves a marvelous combination of Elizabeth Bennet’s good sense and sense of humor, and Anne of Green Gable’s penchant for new experiences and getting into trouble. The novel’s quick pace reflects Georgie’s quick wit and bright spirits. The supporting cast balance strong personalities with expected English types. The world of 1930s London appears with enough scope to draw everyone in, but never drags down the tone or pace. The mysteries bob and weave gracefully through the plot, buoying the reader’s enjoyment and fascination with Georgie’s world even more without proving overly suspenseful.

In short, this is a quick, delightful read with a heroine you’ll love to cheer on and a way of making one want high tea. Recommended for the society of travelers, beach-goers, and at-home readers, Her Royal Spyness introduces a world I’ll be glad to read more of.

Top Ten Literary Characters I’d Want with Me on a Deserted Island

This is a rendition of Top Ten Tuesday (and a Day) by the thebrokeandthebookish.wordpress.com. I have chosen the following characters from a consideration of my own sanity, survival/escape on an island that may be deserted of people, but not necessarily other threats including varied environments, and because I feel we could work well together, or at least in small groups. And away!

Top Ten Literary Characters I’d Want with me on a Deserted Island

1. Will Parry from “The Subtle Knife” by Phillip Pullman
-This was the first name that jumped to mind as I found him an eminently worthy character who I’d love to work with and who possesses courage, improvisational skills, and the ability to work with anyone, I think.

2. Katsa from “Graceling” by Kristin Cashore
-How more obvious or perfect can you get than this kickass heroine graced with the power of survival?

3. Tiffany Aching from “Wee Free Men” by Terry Pratchett
-She not only comes with her own brand of magic and getting-things-done, but with the Nac Mac Feegle, who can travel worlds to fetch food, fight off most things, and provide hilarity all at the same time!

4. Legolas from “Lord of the Rings” by Tolkien
-Fighting, hunting, impervious to most weather if that’s an issue, and good eye-candy. I think he and Katsa would go from stand-offishness to becoming friends and it would be fun to see.

5. Fezzik from “The Princess Bride” by William Goldman
-Talk about a bodyguard! Not to mention, gentleness, rhyming games to pass the time, and warmth if things get chilly. On the set of the movie based on this book Andre the Giant would place his giant hand atop Robin Wright’s head to keep her warm when it got chilly, and I believe Fezzik would totally do that, as well. He would rhyme with the Wee Free Men, become close with Tiffany right away when she defends him from their initial charge in the belief he was a threat, and generally manage to provide a level of relaxation to everyone.

6. Benet from “The Magic Thief” by Sarah Prineas
-He would be Fezzik’s best friend though, as he is also an official bodyguard, but is also a master of his loved arts of knitting and baking. Warmth if we need it, more protection, and moreover, we really need a decent cook in this situation and his biscuits make my mouth drool. I imagine him trying to teach Fezzik how to make them and the picture is adorable as a cat and a rabbit cuddling!

7. Prince Lucian Kiggs from “Seraphina” by Rachel Hartman
-This character can keep everyone in line during the initial phase where no one knows each other, is highly reasonable for this situation, good fighter, and can solve any mysteries that may start happening if this island has any ideas of starring in another “Lost”-style thing. Plus, I suspect he’d be best friends with Will and he’ll be excellent company for

8. Seraphina of “Seraphina” by Rachel Hartman
-Not only do I totally relate to this heroine, but she is a wonderful escape plan. Telepathy with helpful folk for rescuing us and keeping us up on current affairs, an affinity with dragons who could come get us away, and a wonderfully diplomatic liar in case the deserted island, like so many literary ones, turns out to be not-so-deserted, after all.

9. Ella of “Ella Enchanted” by Gail Carson Levine
-Another one I’ve always wanted to hang out with, I suspect she, Tiffany, and I will become quite the gang and eventually, once Legolas and Fezzik thaw her out, Katsa will join, and it will be glorious! Besides, she’s smart, resourceful, an equally wonderful liar who can also pick up languages and with practice possibly hypnotize folk with her impressions, funny, and owns a magic book with constantly changing stories (who doesn’t need that book on an island???) and the ability to give us insight into the lives of our loved ones while we’re away. Perfect!

10. Howl of “Howl’s Moving Castle” by Diana Wynne Jones
-This wizard is my backup escape plan, in case Seraphina’s allies don’t have enough to go on to track us down. He comes with a moving house and Calcifer, who I adore, and who will manage to track him down with that house and provides basically electricity. Plus, Howl’s such a dandy that he’ll magic up something decent for people to stay in when he doesn’t want them all piling into the house right away, as well as other useful magical aids. Not to mention that this vain fellow would prove hysterical, in both senses of the word, if stuck on a desert island and I want to be there to see it. I suspect he’ll gravitate towards Legolas, but then become close with Benet for his biscuits and Will for strategic thinking. Tiffany will stare at him in disdain and then come hang out in my corner with Ella and her jokes or book, which she will enjoy wrangling with the Nac Mac Feegle about, and that is how our gang will begin.

I must say, now I’m really quite looking forward to this island vacation! When does it start???

1000 Cranes, 1000 Places

1000 Cranes, 1000 Places

1000 Cranes, 1000 Places

“Crane”
Inspired by: http://instagram.com/p/qkauPWO6RY/?modal=true

Quick, bright,
Over here, on edge of sight-
Sweet, subtle,
a hint of hope in life’s tall trouble
Symbolic finding,
What’s always there, but never binding
No need for more
than a bit of art that is in store…

My good friend http://instagram.com/bmmueting, has begun a project of creating 1000 cranes to hide, and hint, and share by leaving them in 1000 places as she goes. So go check her out and remember to keep an eye out for those surprise glints of color or beauty wherever you may be going!

The Puppeteer’s Apprentice

The Puppeteer’s Apprentice
By: D. Anne Love
Aladdin Paperbacks 2003
A middle grade historical fiction review

There seems to be no place in the world for orphan girl Mouse, abandoned as a baby on the steps of a medieval manor house. When things go from bad to worse, can a little courage and determination enable Mouse to choose her own way, to become…The Puppeteer’s Apprentice?
The book read like a sponge cake to me as the main character and her story seem a very solid base for a dessert, but a plain one. Love kept things simple and easy to grasp. From scullery maid to vagabond, Mouse comes across interesting people and curious customs that will engage young imaginations, in spite of lacking a bit of development for older readers. Most importantly, Mouse endures severe ups and downs, caused by both forces outside of her control and of her own making. This gives the story a warmth and believability. Most of Mouse’s journey covers only the important days, as if dipping the sponge in different flavors of frosting as Love went along. The mystery Mouse encounters becomes clear rather too easily, but she is easy to relate to and it’s a fun, quick read to follow along and see where she winds up. In short, I wish there had been a bit more depth, a little more flavor, but it was a solid, light read for the right age group.

Top Ten Literary Adaptations to Detest

The follow-up list is here! These cinematic incidents do not do justice to their books. Feel free to join in and grumble about those films that make you groan or shout, “That’s not how it goooes!”

Top Ten Worst Literary Adaptations:

1. “Ella Enchanted”
-I still remember staring at the screen in shocked horror as this Anne Hathaway monstrosity hacked away at Gail Carson Levine’s wonderful work.

That's not how it woooorks!

That’s not how it woooorks!

2. “The Dark is Rising”
-I still feel the whirl of anger and disbelief whirling whenever I think of this film that not only completely changed the whole point of the story, but randomly made the main character a twin! A TWIN! Will Stanton needs no twin! Arrrgh!

3. “The Other Boleyn Girl”
-This film took an intricate, sister-driven plot and boiled it down to….Henry VIII as an Eric Bana-shaped dick. Why bother?

4. “The Lightning Thief”
-This film simply pretended that a small tangent of the book’s plot was really the entire story. Not cool, although I did like Uma Thurman’s portrayal of Medusa.

5.”Eragon”
-Not even Jeremy Irons could save this movie from its massive stupidity.

6. The Masterpiece Theater version of “Mansfield Park” from 2007 with Billie Piper
-It was so boring.

7. The Masterpiece theater version of “Sense and Sensibility” from 2008
-Totally ruined Marianne’s character for me.

8. “The Little Prince” TV show from 2010
-”When the evil Snake passes through the galaxy and extinguishes the stars, the Little Prince leaves his asteroid to save the universe from doom.” The fox is always his pet and is there for comic relief and to reference the occasional French word! If they’d just made their own cartoon it wouldn’t be too bad, but whyyy drag Le Petite Prince into it, why??

9. The 1998 “Phantom of the Opera” or “Le Fantome de l’Opera” from Italy with Julian Sands
-This Phantom looks fine; his issue is that he was raised by opera rats and is telepathic with them and Christine. I know, it sounds so bad that you expect it to be hilarious, but it’s not even that! This level of craziness is still, somehow…boring. Really boring. I don’t even know.

See?  Rats!

See? Rats!

10, Sortof. This one breaks the rules as it is only an adaptation of a previous film instead of a book, but when talking about bad, flabbergastingly untrue works, I must mention “The Truth About Charlie,” 2002 remake of the Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant classic “Charade.” As those who will know me can attest I still can’t think of this film without hissing under my breath because it changes so many damn things. It’s absurd. I cannot properly explain without spoilers, but…NO! Nononononono. No.

Well, now that that’s off my chest, what about you guys?

Top Ten Literary Adaptations

This week’s Tuesday Top Ten by http://thebrokeandthebookish.wordpress.com/ is about favorite movies and TV shows. My rules are that they have to be literary adaptations of books that I have read, and they cannot be plays because that’s a different type of adaptation!

Top Ten Favorite Literary Adaptations:

Obviously,
1. is “The Princess Bride,” the first movie I could ever proclaim was truly as good as the book, as William Goldman wrote both.
Princess-Bride-movie_572

This is closely followed by the best miniseries adaptation,
2. “Pride and Prejudice” on BBC, with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle. How ardently I admire and love it!
lydialooney_mooney

Third comes my favorite movie trilogy adaptation,
3. “Lord of the Rings”-It does not come in pints, but I would gladly find you a box!
lotr

Then the longer television show based on a book series,
4. “Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot” series with David Suchet and his little gray cells.
poirot

Next, my childhood favorite,
5. “Winnie the Pooh” the old show with the narrator who introduces himself, because what’s better than pouncing and chasing honey?

This movie I wish I’d had as a child, but it still took me right back to it because I’m pretty sure this was my 11-year-old self’s spirit animal:
6. “The Golden Compass”-I know it’s different than the book, but I don’t mind things being different animals so long as it’s good, and this was gorgeous!

In another nostalgic favorite, we visit what I maintain is still the best “Emma” adaptation I’ve seen in
7. “Clueless”-and if you disagree, Whatever!
220px-Clueless

Another film noted for its great snarkery is
8. “Stardust”-This film I enjoyed more than the book-who’s not won over by Captain Shakespeare?

In 1989, this version of
9. “Phantom of the Opera” just hits all of the intense, wild notes in the book that Andrew Lloyd Webber leaves out. It’s insane, there’s time travel, face-stitchery, and whips…I just really like it.

Lastly, for me this miniseries really brought to life
10. “Jane Eyre”
janeeyre

So, what are your favorite adaptations? If you can only think of scurrilous representations that you hate, there shall be a follow-up list shortly!

Happy Bastille Day!

“Bastille”

Bastille-day-lady-e1310481946351

It might just be holding seven,
but it feels like ninety-two;
It may just be pieces,
but it overshadows you;
Been living as It pleases-
Tyrannical, it’s true.

Big and heavy and always there,
oppressive through and through.
Always there and never fair,
the discontent grew and grew-
The day has come to overthrow,
with red, with white, with blue!

Doesn’t matter what we liberate,
or how motley runs the crew,
the time has come when I can fight,
cut out the upper-crust few,
For see, the Bastille now will fall;
Now Victory’s for me and you!

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