Friday, October 28, 2011

Book 13/15, "Off the Shelf" Challenge

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In an attempt to get another book out of the way for the Off the Shelf Challenge before the start of NaNoWriMo, I chose a small, quick read:  The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum.

I have always loved the story of Oz, and really enjoyed the classic film from 1939, The Wizard of Oz.  But the 1985 sequel, Return to Oz, was my favorite movie as a child, and remains one of my favorite movies to this day.  I also really love The Wicked Years series by Gregory Maguire:  Wicked:  The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West; Son of a Witch; A Lion Among Men; and Out of Oz.  I knew that Out of Oz was going to be released soon, but I thought it was sometime next year.  Just now, while looking it up for this post, I found out that the release date is November 1st!  Um, I know what I want for Christmas!!!  And how funny is it that I read this book and wrote this post right before the release of that book!  I've never seen the musical Wicked, which is based off of the first book from Maguire's series, but hopefully I can see it someday!

Anyway, I don't think I ever read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz as a kid, even though I was such a big fan of Return to Oz.  And, reading it now, I was surprised to find that it is so different from the 1939 movie adaptation!  I mean, I know that something is always lost when a book is adapted into a movie, but for some reason, I didn't think it would be that way with this book.  But there were plenty of differences.  First of all, there is much more to the story than in the movie (and of course that is to be expected).  Also, there is no mention of it all being Dorothy's dream.  At least, it wasn't in this book.  L. Frank Baum went on to write several more Oz stories, so some of the things in the movie could have been from those books.  Also, the shoes Dorothy gets from the Wicked Witch of the East were "silver shoes," not "ruby slippers."  I'm assuming that for the film, since they were using the new technology of Technicolor, they wanted the shoes to stand out, so they made them bright red instead of silver.

Also, I was pleased to see that some of the characters and things that Gregory Maguire used in his retellings were actually in this story, like the character of Boq, the Winkies, and the Quadlings.  I don't think these were mentioned in the film, and I always assumed that Maguire had made them up himself.  So it was really nice to see that Maguire had obviously done a lot of research before writing his novels.  I always assumed that he had done a huge amount of research, but I think he probably did a lot more than most people realize.

Overall, I enjoyed the book, and I'm glad I finally read it, although I really think that I like Gregory Maguire's stories better, and I'm looking forward to reading Out of Oz!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Book 12/15, "Off the Shelf" Challenge

NaNoWriMo is coming up (in one week!), and I wanted to try to get a couple of my books read for the Off the Shelf Challenge before heading into a month full of writing and not much reading. I still had 4 books left to read for this challenge, and the deadline is at the end of the year, so I really needed to get to it!

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I finally finished Harry Potter Film Wizardry by Brian Sibley, which I blogged about back in October of last year (you can see that post here - I was trying out a new meme called "I Want" Wednesday - boy, that meme really lasted on my blog, didn't it?).  I've had Film Wizardry on my Goodreads currently-reading list all year long, although I haven't been reading it all year.  It's not a hard book to read; it just isn't like a novel, where you can tear through the pages.  I (obviously) took my sweet time reading it.

Film Wizardry is a gorgeous book full of artists' renderings, photos, and inside information on what went into creating all eight Harry Potter films.  Since I'm a die-hard fan of the Harry Potter books, and a huge fan of the films, I found the book to be really fascinating.  It's crazy how much time and effort goes into everything in the films, from the storyboards and concept art, to the wardrobes and makeup, to the intricate set designs and special effects.

Another thing that I really love about this book is that there are several items included within the pages that you can actually remove from envelopes and hold in your hands:  a replica of Harry's acceptance letter to Hogwarts, catalogs for Borgin and Burkes and Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes (those don't actually come out - they're attached to the book), a program for the 422nd Quidditch World Cup (also attached), and my personal favorite - a fold-out copy of The Maruader's Map, among others.

This book is a great read for any fan of the Harry Potter films, and I'm glad to have it my collection.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Book 11/15, "Off the Shelf" Challenge

There are a couple of books that have been on my Goodreads "currently reading" shelf all year long.  I haven't actually been reading them all year; I simply set them aside while I read tons of other books.  I got both books late last year, and even though they haven't been on my physical book shelf for that long, they still count for the "Off the Shelf" Challenge, since they were on my shelf before I started said challenge.

The two books in question were the Harry Potter Schoolbooks Box Set (which actually has two books, but I counted them as one), and Harry Potter:  Film Wizardry.  I'm still reading Film Wizardry, so I'll leave that one for a later post.

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Last year, my book club had a Christmas party where, instead of reading a specific book that month, we had a potluck dinner and played board games and had a gift exchange.  We all bought a book under a certain amount, and the idea was to play Dirty Santa, where you can steal one another's gifts.  Apparently we're bad at that game, because not much stealing went on (I don't know if anyone stole anything, actually), and I loved the gift I brought so much, that when it was my turn to choose a gift to open, I opened my own!  And that gift was the Harry Potter Schoolbooks Box Set.  

The Harry Potter Schoolbooks Box Set includes two books that are featured in the Harry Potter novels:  Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and Quidditch Through the Ages.  J.K. Rowling wrote both and proceeds from the sale of the box set went to a fund for needy children through the charity Comic Relief.  

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was a book written by Newt Scamander that Harry and all the other first years were required to purchase in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.  It reads like a textbook, which is maybe why I didn't like it as much as Quidditch Through the Ages.  Several magical beasts are listed and described, complete with a Ministry of Magic rating as to how dangerous each specific beast is.  The cool thing about the copy of Fantastic Beasts in this box set is that it is supposed to be the one owned by Harry Potter himself, and has been written in by Harry, Ron, and Hermione.  There are also a few doodles of some of the beasts, but I wish there had been more, because it was hard for me to picture some of these strange animals.

Quidditch Through the Ages, by Kennilworthy Whisp, is a library book that Hermione has checked out in Sorcerer's Stone, which Harry then borrows from her.  So the book in the box set is made to look like a library book, complete with a list of students who have checked the book out and the date that it was due back.  The book tells the history of the sport of Quidditch, from its early rough stages in Queerditch Marsh in the eleventh century, right up to the late twentieth century.  It lists the rules, national teams, and famous moves.  This book was a lot easier for me to read than Fantastic Beasts, and I'm not even particularly a big fan of Quidditch.  I mean, if I was at Hogwarts, I'd go to the matches, but I'm with Hermione - it's just a game.  But I liked the book and it was really neat to see J.K. Rowling's extensive imagination at work in the way that the game was formed.

Overall, I gave this box set 4/5 stars on Goodreads.  I am a huge Harry Potter nerd and I think that others like me would love to have this in their collection.  And I'm glad I finally got around to finishing these books!