Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Singular Adventures of Baron Munchausen by Rudolph Raspe
3 stars

The Beloved Baron Himself

The Baron Munchausen is quite a character. He can singlehandedly defeat great beasts, make ships fly, discover new lands (even those on the moon) and in general, always save the day. He reminds me a great deal of Don Quixote, actually. Although instead of Rocinante, he has a bevy of fine beasts: one horse whom only he could tame (and then of course ride inside for tea, because, why not?), some fabulously brilliant dogs who smell game even in the middle of the ocean (and I can't even get my dog to sit more than 2 seconds), a gigantic seahorse whose eyes he gouged out and then took to riding, and a pair of great eagles whom he rode all around with, and also enabled them to get very drunk on native fruit (such a good influence). Each story is more ridiculous than the next, but he does succeed in creating a welcome distraction from the real world. I recommend reading some of his exploits to escape with a light read.

Origins of the Baron
Unlike Quixote, Baron Munchausen is a real person. He was a German aristocrat who lived from 1720-1797. His main contribution to posterity was his love of telling tall tales, especially at dinner parties with his friends. The legend he built himself up to be was snatched by the literary presses in the 1780s. The first English version was published by Rudolph Raspe  in 1785. Not to be outdone, the tales were translated back into German the following year. 

The Baron has appeared in more than 100 different volumes to date. His exploits have been heard on the radio and seen on the stage. He has been a cartoon and part of a feature film. So it seems that he did achieve great things, just perhaps not what he intended to be known for, but has been an enchanting diversion to audiences for more than two centuries.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

I've always been a fan of Top Ten Tuesday, which comes to us from The Broke and The Bookish.

This week's topic is which books I'd like to re-read if we were in an ideal world where I actually had time for such things. Here are mine, but let me know yours as well!

1. The Entire Harry Potter Series. These books truly enchanted me and I love the immersive feeling of being a part of the wizarding world. Since I don't re-read because there are far too many books in the world, I have to content myself with re-watching the movies now and again. At least I have that.

2. Snow White and Rose Red by Patricia Wrede. This is an adult retelling of the classic fairytale and one of my absolute favorite books. It has been so long since I've read it and I long to return to the coziness of its beautifully woven story.

3. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Another one of my favs. I've watched movies but none can get it just right for me. The only thing I can do is return.

4. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. There are some pretty good movie versions of this one (ahem Colin Firth, soaking wet) but the book will always hold a special place in my heart.

5. The Witching Hour by Anne Rice. This one puts together an intricate and dark genealogy of the Mayfair witches, stretching back generations. I love how much love was put into each and every story.

6. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. Fabulous and dark, with so many twists I'm pretty sure I missed something in my first reading.

7. If on a Winter's Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino. I'd love to forget I've read this one and read it again from scratch. I had such a great time with this book! Note: If you haven't read it yet, go do it. Now.

8. Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami. Murakami is so beautifully layered that I am sure that if I reread this book it would be like reading it for the first time all over again. There are so many details that may only surface the second time around.

9. Jewels of the Sun by Nora Roberts. My first Roberts read and one that I truly loved. I would hope to recapture the magic it gave me the first time. I've read other Roberts books since this one, but none have quite reached this level for me.

10. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde. These books are true pleasures. They are so smart and witty and just fun. I'd love to go back to the beginning.

Well there's mine. What made your list?

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween Everyone!

Let's kick off this All Hallow's Eve by talking about our favorite books and movies with a spooky twist! Now I'll be the first person to admit that I have a fear tolerance of an eleven year old, so my favorites are not going to be nearly as dark as yours might be. But please share your Halloween must-haves here!

Favorite Halloween Movie: Hocus Pocus
This movie has everything I need in a Halloween flick: witches, magic, and Bette Midler. Seriously, I can never get tired of her fantastic rendition of "I put a spell on you." Pure genius. For those who haven't heard of this movie, Bette Midler. Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica Parker play 3 bad witches who are raised from the dead on Halloween night by a virgin who lit a special candle. Now they are out to suck the life out of the children of Salem, and only 3 kids can stop them! A fun, family-friendly, wild ride.

Favorite Halloween TV Show: It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
What's not to love? Linus' obsession with the Great Pumpkin, a Santa-like character who brings presents to good little girls and boys? The song he sings about waiting? All your favorite Peanuts characters in full animation? Yeah, this is a must for every Halloween.

Favorite Halloween Book
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
 This book is creepy, spooky, and awesomely written. I came across this book sitting on a display at Barnes and Noble, and it was like the book called to me and demanded that I take it home. So I did. I wasn't disappointed. This book centers on a dying, reclusive author who has finally decided to have her life story recorded. So she brings a young journalist to her home and unveils the story of the March family, and in particular the March twins, who have a bond that none can understand in its strange intensity. With myriad twists and turns, this book will consume your attention with every page.

Favorite Halloween Poem: The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe
I don't know what it is about The Raven, but it never ceases to send shivers up my spine every time I hear or read it. It is so deliciously gothic, so dark, yet so far above the typically fright fests you typically see around Halloween. I love that the whole thing is one big, creepy, mind game, told in a spectacularly haunted way that no one but Poe can emulate.

Favorite Halloween Song: Thriller by Michael Jackson
It just isn't Halloween until I hear Thriller. It has defined the holiday for more than one generation, and the zombie-filled video, catchy music, and most awesome Vincent Price poetry reading ever makes a song for the ages. Come on, you know you have the dance learned by heart!

So there you go, some of my spooky favorites for Halloween. Have a very happy holiday everyone, and keep your little goblins safe from things that go bump in the night! I'll be the one cowering under the covers with a pumpkin latte in my hand!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

I know, I know, it's been forever since I've last posted here. Sorry. Life happens. But I will attempt to take another stab at this blogging and reviewing thing and hopefully someone will read it!

The book that brings me back is a wonderful read courtesy of Book Club Girls, a program for book clubs from Harper Collins. You had to sign up forever ago, but if you have a book club and they allow more people to sign up I definitely recommend it!

Anyway, here is the book:
GI Brides: The Wartime Girls Who Crossed the Atlantic for Love by