asakiyume: (Iowa Girl)
Today in church one of the altar servers was wearing red ballet-slipper-style shoes with sparkles.

red shoes

They were beautiful, and I was thinking, wow, church has come a long way since Hans Christian Andersen's time (different denomination, too, but let's sail by that issue), when the poor protagonist of "The Red Shoes" eventually HAS TO HAVE HER FEET CHOPPED OFF for the sin of indulging in vanity by wearing her red shoes to church. And then, even after she's repented and had her feet cut off, her bloody feet, dancing in the shoes, keep her from entering the church!

I have vivid memories of the illustrations accompanying this story from the version of HCA's fairy tales that we had when I was a kid--particularly the one of Karen, the protagonist, her hair a wild golden tangle, pleading with the executioner to cut off her feet. With much searching (a zillion people have illustrated HCA, including famous people like Edmund Dulac and Arthur Rackham), I found that the edition we had was called Stories from Hans Christian Andersen, illustrated by twin sisters, Anne and Janet Grahame Johnstone. They had an overly pretty, slim, stylized way of drawing people that I was fascinated by. I couldn't find the one illustration online, but I did find the one of her going into church all in white... but with the offending red shoes on. Unfortunately the person who took the photo cut off the feet (LOL), so you can't see the shoes, but you can see the glow from them:


(source)

If you click on the source link, you can get more of a sense of the illustrators' style. They had a great illustration for "The Wild Swans" of the prince who ends up still with one arm a wing, but I thought you might like this fairly hot (in an overly pretty way) picture from Tales of Greeks and Trojans:


(source)


asakiyume: (black crow on a red ground)
Have people read this? I had heard about it and was mildly curious because of the child protagonist, but not curious enough to overcome my dislike of zombie stories. Then I read Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone's comments on the movie (here), which really interested me--so I read it.

I reviewed it on Goodreads. I did indeed like Melanie, the young protagonist. As expected, I didn't much care for a lot of the mainstay things that you apparently need to have in a zombie/horror story, but I could just page on by.

The thing that got me was the ending--so this discussion should only be for people who've either read the book/seen the movie or don't mind spoilers.

Discussion about the ending )
asakiyume: (Em reading)






I have a good collection of things on the go/just finished.

Just Finished
The Boston Girl, by Anita Diamant. It's a novel in the form of reminiscences of an 85-year-old Jewish grandmother, Addy, talking to her granddaughter, Ada, in 1985. It was delightful. The voice reminded me so much of my own grandmother's voice, even though my grandmother was Italian, not Jewish. The picture of immigrant life in Boston in the 1910s and 1920s felt absolutely genuine to me because my grandmother has said similar things. I liked Addy tremendously. Here's a quote--she's reminiscing about a camp that she was lucky to be able to attend in her teens:

It was so quiet that I could hear the bees buzzing around the roses and a bird singing from far away. Someone upstairs called, "Has anyone seen my hairbrush?" In the kitchen there was chopping. Every sound was separate--like framed pictures on a wall. I thought, Aha! This is what you call peace and quiet.



Currently Reading

Breath of Stone, by Blair MacGregor
This is the second in the Desert Rising series, a fantasy of political intrigue in a harsh desert setting, where the rulers have dangerous charisma and some are trying to recapture godlike powers that had devastating effects in the past. It's *very* gripping. I'm at about the 40 percent mark.


Ruby on the Outside, by Nora Raleigh Baskin

This is a short, middle-grade book about Ruby, a eleven-year-old whose mother is in prison. She's been a loner, but this summer she's becoming friends with a new girl, Margalit, whose family--though Ruby hasn't figured this out yet at the point I'm at--is somehow connected with her mother's case. (Seems her mother was coerced by her husband--not sure yet whether this is Ruby's father [ETA: read a little further--he's not Ruby's father]--into something drug related.)


So far the details about prison visits ring VERY true to my tangential experience, and Ruby's tentative negotiation of this new friendship feel right too. I'm only about 20 percent in; when I finish, I'm going to leave it in the free books/libros gratis rack at the jail. There's always a varied assortment there; kids really do take them. I don't know who ordinarily stocks it, or if it's all by people like me: I try to leave new things for various ages now and then.

Iris Grace, by Arabella Carter-Johnson

I won this gorgeous hardback book in a Goodreads giveaway. It's the story of Iris Grace, a child in England on the autism spectrum, and her parents' attempts to help her adjust to and flourish in the world. Art turns out to be one way: Iris loves to paint, and the book is full of full-color reproductions of her paintings. I could look at them all day, and also the loving photos of Iris herself, taken by her mother, who is a professional photographer.


As for the text, I have complicated, but mainly positive feelings. Arabella does a great job at conveying both her love for her daughter and her feelings of being at her wits' end, of arriving at something that seems to be working only to push too hard and have a setback, and then be filled with remorse. All that makes me feel warmly toward her. I guess it's just that I have a wee bit of vicarious resentment on the part of all the parents of neuroatypical children who don't have the resources that Arabella and her husband have.

Didn't Finish

The Silver Curlew, by Eleanor Farjeon

I really loved what [livejournal.com profile] sovay posted about this book here, and [livejournal.com profile] shewhomust has a great post on the book, too. But, for me, the book had a large helping of whimsy of a sort that I never liked as a kid and can't manage to plow through even now, even though I know there's luminous beauty in the story too.



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