Archive for the ‘Ransom Riggs’ Category

[LISTENED TO: August 2020] Furthermore

The pandemic pretty much nixed our summer plans.  But we decided to look for someplace close by, in a low-infection rate area, for a short getaway.  It only amounted to a two night trip, but it was well appreciated.  We traveled to the Lake George region and that meant we needed an audio book.

I absolutely love Bronson Pinchot as a narrator.  I will listen to literally anything he reads.  He tends to read darker materials, so the only trick is trying to find something family-friendly.  Fortunately, he reads a lot of those as well.  I’d never heard of this book before (although I was vaguely aware of Mafi’s other series “Shatter Me”).  But as soon as I saw that Pinchot was reading it, I checked it out.

The only bad thing about Pinchot’s narration in this story is that there aren’t all that many characters in it.  Pinchot has an astonishing range of voices at his disposal.  So, to only show off 8 or so means you can’t fully appreciate how great he is.  But the voices he chose were outstanding.

And the story was really interesting.  Mafi has taken a fairly common idea–travelling to another world–and has infused it with all kinds of novel ideas and conceits.

First off, the original world that the characters start in is not our own.  Alice Alexis Queensmeadow lives in Ferenwood, a land full of magic.  Magic is so integral to Ferenwood, that it is a part of everything–including the people who live there.  And that magic is displayed through color.  Color that is abundant and vibrant and breathtaking.

Except for Alice.  Alice was born without color.  She is pale as anything.  Her hair is white, her skin is white–she is unlike anyone else in Ferenwood and she hates that about herself. (more…)

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bomarsSOUNDTRACK: SIGUR RÓS-“Ný batterí” (2000).

nyThe single opens with “Rafmagnið búið” a kind of brass introductory piece.  There’s lots of horns building slowly, growing louder but not really playing a melody.  By the end of five minutes, it segues into “Ný batterí” which opens with horns as well.  Then the bass comes in, a slow, deep rumble of simple melody.  After 4 and a  half minutes, the drums are a powerful counterpoint to the sweet melody.

“Bíum bíum bambaló” is a slow piece (aren’t they all) that is mostly percussion.  Apparently it is an Icelandic lullaby.  The final track, “Dánarfregnir og jarðarfarir” was a theme used for death announcements on Icelandic radio.  I love the way it builds from a simple melody into a full rock band version and then back again.  It’s very dramatic.

Both tracks were used in the film Angels of the Universe (and appear on the soundtrack).

That certainly makes this single less interesting than the first one (although I’m not sure that the soundtrack was readily available at the time).

[READ: December 1, 2013] Breakfast on Mars

This is a collection of 38 essays (and an introduction by Margaret Cho).  It also includes an introduction geared toward teachers–an appeal that essays do not need to be dull or, worse yet, scary.  The editors encourage teachers to share these essays with students so they get a feel for what it’s like to write compelling personal nonfiction.  The introduction proper gives a brief history of the essay and then talks about the kind of fun and funny (and serious) essays that are included here.

This was a largely fun and largely interesting collection of essays.  When I grabbed it from the library I didn’t realize it was essays (I was intrigued by the title and then looked at the author list and immediately brought it home).  I know it says essays on the cover, but I chose to ignore that apparently.  When Sarah saw the authors (she knows more of them than I do) she had to read it first.  This proved to be a great counterpoint to the very large novel that I was reading at the same time.

The essays each take on different topics.  And what I liked was that before each essay, they include the question that inspired the essay.  I have included the questions here. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: FLEET FOXES-Live at The Black Cat, Washington, DC, July 7, 2008 (2008).

I still love the Fleet Foxes debut album, and I listen to it quite often.  One of the most impressive aspects of the band is their amazing harmonies.  So how does a band that is so vocal-centric perform live?

In an interview included with the concert, Bob Boilen asks that question.  They explain that the bigger venues are a bit harder because they have to crank up their monitors.  They also try to stay close to each other to be able to hear the harmonies clearly.  Well, they did something right because the harmonies sound very impressive here.

The main problem comes because lead singer Robin Pecknold is sick.  As in, just getting over a major cold, sick. As in, he admits that their last few shows were something of a rip off for the attendees.  Tonight’s show, he says is half a ripoff.  And that is most evident in my favorite Fleet Foxes song, “Mykonos” in which Pecknold’s voice cracks with abandon.  I would feel bad for the audience if the band wasn’t so personable and friendly and generally cool.  They make the best of a rough situation, and again, the backing vocals sound fantastic.

There are also a ton of delays in this show.  Most of them seem technical, although there seems to be a lot of tending to Pecknold’s voice, too.  But as I said, the band is engaged with the audience, telling stories (someone in the band is from DC and he asks if anyone went to high school there), and generally keeping everyone entertained.  It’s probably not their best show ever, but it still sounds great.  You can listen and download at NPR.

[READ: March 27, 2011] Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Quirk Books, publishers of mash-ups like Pride & Prejudice & Zombies (as well as many other, well, quirky, titles) has published this fantastically exciting novel.

The cover depicts a creepy girl who is hovering off the ground.  But the girl herself is SO creepy that I didn’t even notice the hovering part.  She is just one of the peculiar children within the book.  And this picture is one of 50 included within the book (I’m only bummed that two pictures were not available in my copy).

So the story opens with Jacob Portman talking about his grandfather.  His grandfather (Abe) was a young boy in Poland during the 1940s.  When the Nazi’s invaded, his family was killed and he was sent to Wales, to the titular Miss Peregrine’s Orphanage (not widely known as a home for peculiar children).  But as details emerge from his grandfather’s version of the tale, things seem not right.

Abe talks about the monsters that chased him out of Poland–but he wasn’t describing Nazis, he was describing actual monsters, with multiple tongues and horrifying faces.  They followed him to Wales and were actually chasing him to that very day, in America.  And when he talked about Miss Peregrine’s house, he talked about the special kids who live there: the girl who could call forth fire out of thin air, the girl who could levitate, and the boy who had bees living inside of him.

Of course, that was all nonsense, just post traumatic stress from being attacked by Nazis, right?

That explanation works until the night that Abe is murdered.  He calls Jacob for help (they think he is going senile).  When Jacob gets to his house, he finds the screen door torn open and Abe missing.  The follow a trail and find Abe, bleeding in the woods.  Jacob thinks he can see the same kind of monster that Abe had always described lurking right nearby in the woods.  Although Jacob’s friend (who drove them to Abe’s house), didn’t see anything.

And now, Jacob’s dreams are plagued by scary monsters.  And he can’t get his grandfather’s cryptic last words out of his head.  Time to see a therapist, obviously. (more…)

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