The Looking Glass Wars

Oxford, England. July 1863.

Alice in Wonderland was real, just not the way you always thought it to be. Alyss Heart is destined to become the queen of Wonderland, but horrible things happen and she has to flee to the world we know as our own. Years pass, and she’s unsure if her past is even real. Until it finds her again: she needs to save Wonderland.

It’s clear that Frank Beddor had lots of fun with this. The well-known characters and world get a spin, the plot moves fast and without any side-lining. It’s bright and colorful and silly, especially the “sound effects” used during battles.

And – a big plus in my book – it’s a stand alone story. Or can be read as stand alone. No super obvious open endings to plot lines that could have been rolled up pages ago, only neat endings. It all comes together in an enjoyable, speedy read.

The Looking Glass Wars, Frank Beddor, Egmont 2004

Cool Runnings

98 min.

Met films lijk je veel meer soorten klassiekers te hebben dan met boeken. Cult, per genre, per regisseur of per acteur. Cool Runnings heeft geen Oscars gewonnen en wordt misschien niet op de filmacademie behandeld, ze staat zeker bekend als bijzonder. En ze stond al heel lang op mijn To Watch lijst. Het gaat verdorie over een Jamaicaans bobsleeteam.
Walt Disney Pictures
Walt Disney Pictures
Derice is een sprinter, maar door een stom ongeval is hij niet gekwalificeerd voor de Olympische Spelen. Na een geïnspireerd moment met een ex-bobslee trainer, begint hij aan het samenstellen van een team en een training.
Natuurlijk is er veel onbegrip en hoon, tegenslag en teamleden die elkaar niet uit kunnen staan. En natuurlijk (het is de Disney-versie van het waargebeurde verhaal) zijn er wijze levenslessen en een happy ending.
Maar van begin tot einde is er zoveel lol dat het allemaal niet uit maakt.
Cool Runnings, Walt Disney Pictures 1993

A Delicate Truth

On the second floor of a characterless hotel in the British Crown Colony of Gibraltar, a lithe, agile man in his late fifties restlessly paced his bedroom.

As Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is by the same author (only watched the movie, didn’t read the book), there should be little surprise that I felt like putting A Delicate Truth in the same category of detective stories. This is not a detective like Bond, Bourne or even Holmes. A Delicate Truth got probably put into the detective category because of – well, detective work. With secret files, hidden conversations, hierarchies in hierarchies, doubtful authorities and a lot of talking and bluffing.

There is a very secret project, hidden so deep that the minister of the ministry it falls under, doesn’t even know about it. But no such thing as a real, deeply hidden secret in this age, and people both inside, outside and ex-government start pulling threads.

A Delicate Truth lacks (“lacks”) car chases, knuckle fights or seductive beautiful ladies. Honestly, there’s just a lot of reading. Story lines old and new to follow, with some double identities added for a bit of a challenge. Frankly, it feels like this is an ‘old school’, English Library Chesterfield couches detective novel. And that’s nice, for a change.

A Delicate Truth, John Le Carré, Viking 2013

Dorothy Must Die

I first discovered I was trash three days before my ninth birthday — one year after my father lost his job and moved to Seacus to live with a woman named Crystal and four years before my mother had the car accident, started taking pills, and began exclusively wearing bedroom slippers instead of normal shoes.

Amazing fun. Danielle Page gives the Wizard of Oz story a kick in the ass while adding YA clichés in an original way. This ugly duckling stays an ugly duck, the mysterious possible love interest isn’t that interesting at all. The world of Oz is a blinkering, two dimensional version of the version we know, making all of it creepy like early Tim Burton.

My only point on the anti-list is that the ending is so incredibly open that I would be very surprised if there won’t be a sequel. Everything gets sequels, after all. I would just have preferred to keep all the fun contained, instead of having to remember to wait up for part two.

Dorothy Must Die, Danielle Page, Harper 2014

The Holmes Affair

Arthur Conan Doyle curled his brow tightly and thought only of murder.

A nice start of the year for reading. How many books can there be about Sherlock Holmes and still come up with something entertaining? I don’t know because I’m not a detective, but The Holmes Affair is definitely entertaining.

There are two story lines, both with murders. One in the twenty-first century, a ‘Sherlockian’ testing his knowledge about fictional detective work with a real life murder, the other in the nineteenth century, with Arthur Conan Doyle .. doing just the same. Of course things are connected through time and Graham Moore weaves a pretty net.

Victorian England shows its grubby sides this time, but still manages to be more colorful and exciting than the travel through Europe and rich people’s houses in this century. Arthur is – even though he has some terrible ideas about women – also a more appealing character to follow. That doesn’t mean that the other side is lacking, there is a nice balance.

For an entertaining double whammy of (outlandish) detective work and some grubby Victorian England living, pick up The Holmes Affair.

The Holmes Affair, Graham Moore, Century 2011