Throwback Thursday: The Third Magic

The Third MagicI’ve been reviewing since 2001, when I was employed at the local newspaper and my reviews appeared in their arts section on the third Thursday of the month.  When I started this website in 2011, I was amazed (and somewhat horrified) to realize that I had a decade of reviews to archive!  I’m still working on it to this day, and so my version of “Throwback Thursday” will feature some of those old reviews.  Just for fun, we’ll jump back to ten years ago this month.

Today, have a peek back at Molly Cochran’s The Third Magic.  Click the cover of the book to read the review.

A Barricade in Hell by Jaime Lee Moyer

A Barricade in Hell(Description nicked from B&N.com.)

“In Jaime Lee Moyer’s Barricade in Hell, Delia Martin has been gifted (or some would say cursed) with the ability to peer across to the other side. Since childhood, her constant companions have been ghosts. She used her powers and the help of those ghosts to defeat a twisted serial killer terrorizing her beloved San Francisco. Now it’s 1917—the threshold of a modern age—and Delia lives a peaceful life with Police Captain Gabe Ryan.

That peace shatters when a strange young girl starts haunting their lives and threatens Gabe. Delia tries to discover what this ghost wants as she becomes entangled in the mystery surrounding a charismatic evangelist who preaches pacifism and an end to war.  But as young people begin to disappear, and audiences display a loyalty and fervor not attributable to simple persuasion, that message of peace reveals a hidden dark side.

As Delia discovers the truth, she faces a choice—take a terrible risk to save her city, or chance losing everything?”

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Tuesday Teaser, July 22

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser:

“A man crouched down behind a car, staring at us.  I gave Ari a push and we ran for my building.”

–From page 123 of J. C. Nelson’s Free Agent, coming out July 29.

Monday Musings, July 21

Walter MittyToday’s musings aren’t about a book, exactly.  It’s about a film based on a story, and about the structure of the movie’s telling of that story.  I’m talking about The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, out at Christmas last year and starring Ben Stiller.  I liked this movie, but I would have liked it more if the structure had been a little bit different.  There’s a section that I would have cut out, and in my humble opinion, the story would have been better for it.  Basically, I think that the story lost its momentum when Walter goes into the Himalayas to find Sean O’Connell, the character played by Sean Penn.  Needless to say, there be spoilers ahead.

Up to this point, we’ve seen Walter portrayed as a man who did some cool things as a kid and as a young man, but who somehow lost his way and confined his reality to the mundane while dreaming of high adventure.  He has the same “dream sequences” as the literary character, and like that character, he has never stepped out to do anything unusual.  The movie underscores this by having Walter try to make an eHarmony dating profile and getting called up by a representative from the company when he leaves it unfinished.  This guy Todd (played by Patton Oswalt) talks to Walter several times, urging him to think about what he’s done that’s exciting.  He functions almost as the voice of Walter’s imagination, the child in him yearning to get out.  When Walter starts his quest to find Sean’s lost negative, he comes to a point where he has to just act, without doing his normal worrying and brooding over it.  From the moment that he jumps into the helicopter on the spur of the moment, his adventure unfolds and he’s swept along in it, barely having time to process one event before the next one looms before him.  That, I think, is the tone that fits the movie, and the story, the best: it shows Walter’s journey from someone living inside his head too much to someone who can actualize his dreams, even if it takes a literal leap of faith to get them started.

I really thought there were some beautiful moments during this sequence: his imagining the girl he’s attracted to singing “Space Oddity” to him as he runs to the helicopter; Walter skateboarding down a road in Iceland with his arms out and smiling; Walter talking on his cell phone as the sun sets behind him.  All of these moments typify how Walter is bringing his young self back to life (there are mentions of him skateboarding as a young man and hoping to travel with his dad).

The place where I thought the movie lost that sense of wonder was when he returned briefly to the States and then set off into the mountains to find Sean.  For me, this part of the story felt too planned and contrived–rather than going with the flow as Walter did in the first half of the movie, now we see him planning and consulting maps, trudging through a featureless wilderness.  The joy, the wonder, and the magic were all gone.  When he does find Sean, he nearly walks right past him, because he’s so consumed by the mundane that he can’t see what’s right next to him, quite literally.

His short time with Sean is where I’d pick up the movie, so essentially, if it were up to me, I’d keep Walter’s adventures to a single continuous sequence, and let him grow and expand in that time.  The break lost the momentum that had been built up to that point.  It certainly didn’t ruin the movie for me, but I couldn’t help but do a bit of creative editing in my mind as the film progressed.

Has anybody else seen this movie?  Got any opinions on the matter?  Leave me a comment!

End of the week wrap-up

Spring OwlcatThis week on the Purrfect Prose blog:

There were also two reviews:

Throwback Thursday: Lord of Snow and Shadows

Lord of Snow and ShadowsI’ve been reviewing since 2001, when I was employed at the local newspaper and my reviews appeared in their arts section on the third Thursday of the month.  When I started this website in 2011, I was amazed (and somewhat horrified) to realize that I had a decade of reviews to archive!  I’m still working on it to this day, and so my version of “Throwback Thursday” will feature some of those old reviews.  Just for fun, we’ll jump back to ten years ago this month.

Today, have a peek back at Sarah Ash’s Lord of Snow and Shadows.  Click the cover of the book to read the review.

 

Omega Days by John L. Campbell

Omega Days(Description nicked from B&N.com.)

San Francisco, California. Father Xavier Church has spent his life ministering to unfortunate souls, but he has never witnessed horror like this. After he forsakes his vows in the most heartrending of ways, he watches helplessly as a zombie nun takes a bite out of a fellow priest’s face.

University of California, Berkeley. Skye Dennison is moving into her college dorm for the first time, simultaneously excited to be leaving the nest and terrified to be on her own. When her mother and father are eaten alive in front of her, she realizes the terror has just begun.

Alameda, California. Angie West made millions off her family’s reality gun show on the History Channel. But after she is cornered by the swarming undead, her knowledge of heavy artillery is called into play like never before.

Within weeks, the world is overrun by the walking dead. Only the quick and the smart, the strong and the determined, will survive—for now.”

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