Caroline Davis

Archive for May, 2010|Monthly archive page

Awesome Female Protagonists

In Books, Movies on May 12, 2010 at 10:09 pm

My final project for this class was to create a mini-collection of 15 titles and present them online.  Feel free to go check it out at Awesome Female Protagonists!

Fearless by Taylor Swift

In Music on May 7, 2010 at 9:33 am

Summary: Taylor Swift’s sophomore album contains 13 tracks that describe the emotional highs and lows of high school and romantic relationships.  The country starlet sings about Romeo and Juliet in the lead single, “Love Story,” taking the star-crossed lovers and changing their fate.  Swift says of the song, “I just took my favorite characters and gave them the ending that they deserve.”  The song “You Belong With Me” captures the intense feelings of a crush on a boy dating someone else, and dreams that he will realize that they are meant for each other.  Swift wrote the sweet song “The Best Day” as a surprise for her mother, and the title track “Fearless” can be described as a thank-you letter to her fans (the music video contains footage of Swift on tour and interacting with her fans).  Fearless was the top selling album of 2009.

Highlights: This album is an encapsulation of the high school experience, and appeals broadly to those who are experiencing it, the tweens who are anticipating it, and the adults looking back sentimentally.  Swift, who writes all of her songs, knows what her fans are looking for and has a gift for writing catchy and relatable tunes.  The fairy tale imagery she uses in many of her songs will appeal to anyone who has dreamed of being a princess, and I think the message of having high standards and waiting for a deserving partner comes through.  While the subject is high school, younger teens (and pre-teens!) will love this song, and parents will be delighted that there is no objectionable content.  It will be exciting to see what Swift does next!

Extras:

Taylor Swift’s Official Website

Taylor Swift’s VEVO Channel

Other Reviews:

@ retroblog

@ FABTASTIC! Music

@ Holland, 2002

Here, There Be Dragons by James A. Owen

In Books on May 3, 2010 at 9:49 pm

Summary: Three Oxford scholars – John, Charles and Jack – are strangers to each other until an unusual murder brings them together, and sets them on a voyage into the Archipelago of Dreams, a world comprised of all the lands of fantasy and legend.  John is entrusted with the task of Caretaker Principa of a mysterious book called the Imaginarium Geographica, the only collection of maps that encompasses the Archipelago.  The three scholars and their companions find themselves opposing the evil Winter King, who literally sucks the soul out of lands and their inhabitants, encompassing them in shadow (resulting in their disappearance from the Imaginarium).  Can they prevent more worlds from being destroyed?  More importantly, can they keep the precious Imaginarium out of evil hands?

Highlights: This fun fantasy adventure will be especially enjoyed by avid readers who will recognize the literary allusions in the Archipelago of Dreams – from Avalon to Prydain to Atlantis.  There are references to Greek mythology, Arthurian legend, and even Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland.  Rather than finding it derivative of these sources, I found Here, There Be Dragons to be an original concept even as it nods to these inspirations.  There is much darkness and light in this book – there is real violence and death, but there are also many genuinely funny moments (it is rare to find a book that makes me laugh out loud – one of these moments explains how the Loch Ness monster legend originated).  The identities of the main characters, which I will not give away, are revealed on the last page and manage to give even more depth to the story.  I enjoyed this book and am not surprised that they are already planning a movie!

Extras:

Official Here, There Be Dragons Website

Interview with James A. Owen (Powell’s)

Interview with James A. Owen (AuthorHour.com)

Other Reviews:

@ Semicolon

@ things mean a lot

@ challenging the bookworm

@ Wands and Worlds

Animal Crossing: Wild World

In Video Game on May 3, 2010 at 9:03 pm

Summary: Start a new life in a new town with the Animal Crossing: Wild World game on your Nintendo DS.  Get to know your neighbors, decorate your house, work at the store to earn bells (money), catch fish, collect fossils for the museum, and more!  You can even connect with your friends and visit their towns by using the Nintendo DS WiFi connection.  Live your virtual life however you like in this fun and highly addicting game!

Highlights: The premise of Animal Crossing: Wild World may not sound like much on the surface – there are no objectives or mini-games, and the clock in the game passes in real-time (parents will be glad to know that the town shuts down after a certain hour, so there will be little incentive for late night gaming).  The basic story is that your character has moved into this town, and can expand their tiny house by working in the store and paying off their mortgage.  Perhaps not the most exciting plot, but it may come as no surprise that this game is very addicting – it combines the virtual life of games like The Sims with the real estate ventures of Monopoly, a potent mix!  I found that I enjoyed the freedom to do whatever activity I liked (my favorite is to wander around with a shovel, searching for fossils to dig up).  It gets a little monotonous to perform the same tasks repeatedly, but there is enough change in the game to keep it interesting (for instance, there are constantly animal neighbors moving in and out of town, and sometimes unexpected items – like a message in a bottle – wash up on the beach).  Very fun!

Extras:

Animal Crossing: Wild World (Official Website)

Animal Crossing: Wild World (Wikipedia)

Unofficial Fan Site

Other Reviews:

@ Game Revolution

@ One Duck’s Opinion

@ Ryanknight717’s Game Reviews

@ Save SMC

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

In Books on May 3, 2010 at 8:34 pm

Summary: Aleksander Ferdinand (who likes to be called Alek) is the prince of the Austro-Hungarian Empire – but when his parents are killed, his claim to the throne is threatened and he is forced to flee with a small band of faithful companions and a walking war-machine.  Deryn Sharp, raised in Scotland, just wants the chance to become a soldier, but as a girl she is ineligible to join the Air Service.  Can she fool everyone into believing that she is a boy named Dylan, so that she can have the chance to fly?  In this alternative history based on the start of World War I, the two sides are divided not only by existing alliances, but by the technology each side depends on.  The Austro-Hungarians and Germans are Clankers, relying on their advanced machinery for protection and defense.  The British are Darwinists, able to manipulate the life threads of creatures to produce living weapons and transportation – such as the Leviathan, an airship based on a whale that sustains a complete ecosystem.

Highlights: Scott Westerfeld, author of the popular young adult series The Uglies, takes on the alternate history genre in this steampunk novel for middle readers.  The two main characters are appealing, and even though we feel like we’ve heard their stories before (Alek’s plight reminds me of Prince Caspian, and there are scores of novels with young girls impersonating boys), we are drawn in and want to experience their adventure.  One of my favorite details were the subtle nods to the time period – for instance, one of the characters has a pet Tasmanian tiger, a species that went extinct in the 1930s.  The novel does a great job at contrasting the Clanker and Darwinist worldviews, and the open ending allows for sequels to continue the story of these two viewpoints (Westerfeld has announced that Leviathan is the first installment of a projected trilogy).  I know I’m excited to find out what happens next!

Extras:

Scott Westerfeld’s Blog

Book Trailer (Youtube)

Interview with Scott Westerfeld (Tor)

Other Reviews:

@ The Book Smugglers

@ the james review

@ Wondrous Reads