Friday, August 19, 2011

Three beautiful books set in the same fantasy world that weave stories of magic and hope. The first is The Safe Keepers Secret about a Safe Keeper (one who hears secrets and keeps their confidence) who is about to give birth. On the night she goes into labor, a stranger arrives and hands over another baby born that night to parents unknown. He whispers the secret of the child's parentage to another Safe Keeper and is found dead the next day so no one else can uncover the secret It is rumoured the baby could be of Royal birth, but without a Truth Teller who can say. Fiona and Reed both grow older with Fiona trying to follow her mothers footsteps and become a Safe Keeper and Reed not quite finding his place.

The Truth-Tellers Tale follows mirror twins Eleda and Adele, one a Truth-Teller (who always knows the truth and can never lie) and the other a Safe Keeper respectively. Eleda tells their story and the consequences of what happens when the local townsfolk and visitors mistake them for each other. For two very different girls, they are surprisingly close. Truth-Tellers often have trouble making friends as not many always seek to know the truth always so it's good that they always have each other.

The final book is The Dream-Makers Magic. In all the land there is only ever one Dream Maker. Their life is filled with misery and pain while they bring the fulfilment of dreams to those around them. It is a fickle power as the Dream Maker cannot chose which dreams to grant however. Here we meet Kellan, a girl brought up as a boy when her mother is convinced that's how she was born. She enters school and meets Gryffin, a crippled boy with a strong will and personality. They quickly become friends and their lives intertwine with each others until a Dream Maker changes everything.

I became quickly absorbed in each set of stories quickly and really felt I knew the chatacers by the end of each book. All three were excellent, but I think I enjoyed The Dream-Makers Magic a touch more than the other two. It left me with such a feeling of hope and joy by the end. Although each set of characters faces hardships in all three books, the message of strength and determination prevails.

These books are classified as YA fantasy, but they seem to me to be more like Alice Hoffman's magical reality as they are much more about people and relationships than anything fantastical. They would appeal to anyone who loves character driven stories and can be read in any order, please don't be put off if you don't normally read YA fantasy. I'm not sure who recommended these, but thank you whoever it was. If the rest of Shinn's books are as good as these I will be reading all of them!

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Saturday, August 13, 2011

I’ve been doing the Fairy Tale Challenge which was to watch or read 12 fairy tale inspired books or movies. I ended up watching quite a few films for this and thought I would do a quick review of them all here

1. Alice - A television drama shown on SyFy based on Alice in Wonderland

An original mini series where Alice is a young woman who follows her boyfriend into a fantasy world and discovers Wonderland is not what we remember from the children's novel. I thought this was really imaginative and I hope it's repeated again. It was a fun mix of sic-fi and fantasy and a new twist on a well known story.

2. Tangled - Disney film based on Rapunzel

The question is how to make Rapunzel a Disney Princess and this was achieved by having her stolen from her parents, the King and Queen, as a baby by Mother Gothel. Her hair has magic powers that restore youth and beauty which is why she was taken. Awesome film, I loved the humour and that Rapunzel is a heroine able to look after herself for the most part.

3. Fern Gully - Animated film looking at pollution in forests

Human Zak gets shrunk while cutting down trees in the forest and meets fairy Crysta and they band together to defeat the evil Hexxus (a monster made of pollution). Fairy magic must prevail I can't believe this was the first time I watched this. A delightful film and I love that Tim Curry is the voice of Hexxus.

4. The Last Unicorn - Based on the book by Peter S Beagle

My favourite all time film. Peter S Beagle wrote the screenplay too and it follows the last Unicorn in the world as she searches for what happened to the rest of her kind. Magician's, a Witch, mythical creatures, a Hero and an evil King. This has everything you need if you are a fairytale addict. Watch the film and read the book immediately.

5. My Neighbour Totoro - Ghibli anime about two young girls and a nature spirit

When Satsuki and Mei's mother is ill they move into the countryside with their father. Mei meets nature spirit Totoro and they have adventures on a Cat Bus. One of the most adorable films ever.

6. Red Riding Hood - Based on the fairy tale of the same name

Twilight director turns her hand to Red Riding Hood and puts her magic love triangle to the more traditional tale. The wolf is a werewolf that raids a forest village and when Valerie's sister is killed things really get going. I really liked it, it's dark and moody and I didn't figure out who the werewolf was which is very unlike me.

7. Beastly - Based on Beauty and the Beast

Terrible terrible modern take on Beauty and the Beast, Avoid at all costs!

8. Arrietty - Ghibli film based on The Borrows by Mary Norton

The newest Ghibli film which makes The Borrowers Japanese and English at the same time. The Borrowers are little people living under a house in the country and when Sho goes to stay with his grandmother (he is ill with a heart problem) he discovers them. Unfortunately he isn't the only one.