Friday Favourites: things we read and watched in November
By The Hodderscape Team
Posted on November 28, 2014 in Books, Film, Friday Favourites with tags
Here are some of the best things team Hodderscape read and watched in November:
Banished by Liz de Jager
There comes a time every now and then when I just need to hide under a duvet and read something featuring at least one handsome elf. Banished by Liz de Jager came up trumps, and in fact featured multiple handsome elves. But, it’s much more than that! The heroine Kit is a bad ass monster fighter (which fulfils my second comfort reading/viewing requirement) who gets herself into lots of scrapes, pitting herself against banshees and Elder Gods. Liz De Jager’s writing is pacey and full of snappy dialogue and I raced from this onto the sequel Vowed.
Also: the phrase ‘boss level cuteness’ needs to make its way into everyday parlance.
The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman
This month has been a bad one for finishing books. I have started at least four and none to completion. So I will say that the one that is providing me with the most pleasure is Neil Gaiman’s The Sleeper and the Spindle. I will put my hands up and say that I did judge this book by its cover. It was so gorgeous I had to buy it. The illustrations by Chris Riddell are gorgeous and the tale itself is just fantastic.
This month I went to see Christopher Nolan’s amazing Interstellar in IMAX at the Science Museum. Nolan goes all-out to inspire awe through eye-popping visuals and soaring Hans Zimmer organ music. Make sure you see this film on the biggest screen you can find!
Much of this is proper, old school sf that would make Arthur C Clarke proud, although there are some notable breakdowns in logic for the sake of keeping it moving as a Hollywood blockbuster. Like many sf stories, the human characters often play second fiddle to the ideas. But at the heart of it is a big idea about humanity and relationships, dramatised through the relationship between Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) and his daughter Murph (Mackenzie Foy/Jessica Chastain).
The film shows that any sufficiently advanced physics is indistinguishable from metaphysics, dealing with love, death and human destiny, as I explored in my Interstellar review on threadsuk.com. It’s not perfect, but it’s possibly the most thrilling and ambitious cinema this year.
I also started reading Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series… I may be gone some time!
The Basic Eight by Daniel Handler
My boss handed me this book a few weeks ago, with the instruction: ‘Read this – it’s like Heathers on acid.’ How could I not read it after that?
The Basic Eight takes the form of the retrospectively edited diary of Flannery Culp, recounting the events that led up to her being imprisoned for murder. The ‘basic eight’ of the title refers to the close-knit group of high-school friends which Flannery is a part of; the clique includes, among others, Jennifer Rose Milton, who is by name, nature and appearance so beautiful that Flannery feels compelled to refer to her by her full name at all times; V_, whose family is rich and high-profile and therefore has had her name expunged from the story, and Kate, the Queen Bee who liberally doles out relationship advice to her friends, based solely on the two-week-long relationship she had the previous year. The group engage in a wide range of activities from opera club to dinner parties to experiments in absinthe consumption. It is the latter that leads to the unfortunate incident (*spoiler* it involves a croquet mallet) that lands Flannery in prison.
Unsurprisingly, given the amount of absinthe drunk, the book gets seriously psychedelic. It is also gloriously sarcastic, biting, blackly hilarious (I kept laughing out loud, sometimes in disbelief) and like nothing else I’ve ever read. There were a few moments where it lost some momentum and it felt a bit too aware of its own cleverness, but in general it was pretty freaking awesome.
Oh, and Daniel Handler also goes by the name Lemony Snicket…
I watched Maleficent the other day – an alternative telling of Sleeping Beauty starring Angelina Jolie. I was surprised that I liked it so much, though that might have been partly due to the amazing CGI. Jolie was really well cast, and the scenes with a toddler-sized Aurora were particularly funny because I knew it was her own daughter. Apparently she was cast in the role because all the other child actors auditioned for the role were too scared of Jolie in her costume and make up!