Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Book Review: The Horse & His Boy and Prince Caspian Part I

I have been reading my way through the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis a little bit at a time. I've had a little bit more time over the winter break to read; I think I've read about three books in three weeks. Two of the books I read were "The Horse and His Boy" and "Prince Caspian", books 3 and 4 respectively.

"The Horse" was good. The main characters are two talking horses who are longing to go back to Narnia, the land of the talking animals, and where they are truly home, and two youngsters, Shasta (a boy) and Aravis (a girl) from their original land of Calormen, which is south of Narnia. The humans are running away from Calormen; Shasta to escape from the cruelty of his father and Aravis from her impending marriage to a much older man. They join up and escape to the land of Narnia. Their journey takes them across a dessert and up through mountains into Narnia, while escaping marching armies and chasing lions.

My favorite part of the book was where Aslan reveals himself as a traveling companion to Shasta. Aslan has actually been the lion that has chased them throughout the story. It seems that without a chasing lion, maybe the characters would not have moved so quickly into the safety of the promised land or perhaps they would have given up and turned around and tried to make do in the "comfort" of what they knew in Calormen.

That doesn't sound identifiable at all, does it? :)

But my favorite line is what Aslan says to Shasta when Shasta asks Aslan why he wounded Aravis, "But what for?"

"Child," said the Voice, "I am telling you your story, not hers. I tell no one any story but his own."

This line has really made me think about what is my business, and what is not. I'm naturally curious, alright nosy, about what God is doing in the lives of those around me. Sometimes I would like to know why God is allowing someone to go through something. Or why it seems that some people can't seem to learn a lesson and be released. But the truth is that it's NONE of my business and Christ reveals to the individual what that person needs to learn. Not to me. Never to me, unless that person comes to me directly.

The next book was "Prince Caspian" which you probably know from the recent movie. I enjoyed reading the book and thought that the film did a good job with the content.

"Prince Caspian" opens with the four Pevensies being taken back into Narnia from their current world of London. We find out later that they were summoned by Prince Caspian through Susan's horn because the Narnians needed help to win the war against a Telmarine king who had taken over Narnia as his own. (If you have neither seen the movie or read the book, I know you're confused. But I really don't want to go into the whole story. Read the books. They are very short.)

Anyways, what I loved about this book was again the encounter with Aslan and how with the coming of Aslan, nature is put right again. You see, all Creation is supposed to live in harmony with each other. In Isaiah 11 we can get a glimpse of what the world will be like when Christ returns. Starting in verse 6,

“The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”

That’s how I picture Narnia with Aslan present. In “Prince Caspian”, Aslan has been away for a while and some beasts have turned back to their primitive ways; they have stopped talking and have turned vicious. Furthermore, the trees aren’t talking as they once were. It was when Aslan reappeared that the trees and beasts awakened to what they were really supposed to be, living in harmony with all of God’s creation.

Won’t that be beautiful? To live in such harmony with all of creation that not even snakes or scorpions will scare us!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Alice in Wonderland

Yesterday I watched "Alice in Wonderland" with my daughter Matilyn. Initially I really wanted to see it, but then I heard a few bad reviews and it was moved to the back of the list.

Forgive me, but I actually liked it. I do not consider myself to be an Alice purist which may be why I could stand to watch it. I think that for a remake, it was interestingly done.

Now, I love the original Disney "Alice". It was wonderful hand-drawn animation, beautiful original score, and followed the book pretty well.

The new "Alice", in my opinion, should not be compared with the original. I think the newest "Alice" movie should be seen more as a continuation of the story by Carrol. Now, I have not read "Through the Looking Glass" and the movie did deal more with the Jabberwocky so I may be speaking out of turn. However, I found that this more grown-up Alice was kind of charming and endearing while she dealt with questions of identity and calling. I really liked how the absurdity and irony of the "Real" people juxtaposed with Alice's seeming-weirdness. I liked how she escapes one absurd world into another, but this other world has more purpose, it seems.

Artistically I found it amazing, yet typical Tim Burton. Isn't it something that the talents and vision of Burton have become somewhat routine? He's pretty amazing, and yet, predictable. Anyways, I thought the costumes and makeup were great.

So, on the whole, I think this film was okay. I did have concerns with seeing it with my almost-five year old, but she was okay. And she did lose interest by the time the Jabberwocky showed up.

I probably could have lived my entire life without seeing this film, but I was glad that I did all the same. What did you think of it? If you haven't seen it, why have you avoided it?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Weekend We Could Have Been Shot

This past weekend we were in Tucson celebrating the love that has endured and grown in 10 short years between Erik and me.

We stayed at a nice Hilton off of Oracle and Ina. A great location, really. It's newer Tucson and my sister-in-law is from there so we're pretty familiar with that area. We got to Tucson on Friday and had a wonderful dinner at Wildflower, which is a Fox Restaurant Concept (the creator of Culinary Dropout, Blanco, Sauce, etc is a UofA graduate, and Wildflower was his first restaurant concept.) Anyways, we loved our meal at Wildflower. I had the fish special, which was Lane Snapper and it was DIVINE. On a side note, I usually get the fish special at good restaurants. For one, I don't make fish all that often and when I do it's pretty typical (sauteed in garlic or fried...) Getting the fish special allows me to try something that I would never think of doing with fish. Secondly, when I'm at a good restaurant, usually the chefs are great with fish. I have never regretted getting the fish, fyi.

Anyways, dinner was fabulous. Erik had the NY Strip and then to finish off we had Creme Brulee with coffee. Yum-yum.

The next day we woke up late and decided to go see the 11 o'clock showing of "The King's Speech". It was about 9:30 when we decided this and of course I need to eat, so we drove to the Einstein's on Ina and Oracle. We're talking, loving that we can talk without our children around, and I see a couple of cop cars whiz by, and then about 4 ambulances start passing. Erik points to the opposite corner of where we're headed and says, "Kevin said that 'Beyond Bread' restaurant is really good for breakfast." And I suggest that we check it out the next morning before we head up to Phoenix. And the as we're pulling into the parking lot of Einstein's, three helicopters are landing in the parking lot across the street.

We figured it was either a bomb threat, a bank hold-up, or a shooting.

Anyways, we get our bagels and coffee, eat, wonder what is going on outside, and then we leave. I mean, Colin Firth was waiting. Hello. By the time we left the entire intersection was blocked off and we went around the block to head to the theater.

The movie was great. I highly recommend it.

As we were leaving the theater, Erik checks Facebook on his phone only to discover what had happened. I was sick. How could you hear about this and not be sick? What kind of sicko does this?

So, happy anniversary to us. We could have been shot. And we may never go to Tucson again... Okay, most of that is facetious. Obviously we'll go to Tucson again. I hope you will continue to pray for the family's of the victims and the continued recovery of the ones still in the hospital.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Book Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

This month's book club selection is "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo". I picked it. I really wanted something to escape with because I have a bit of a reality problem in that it seems like I have a lot of reality going on right now. So, it seemed perfect to escape to Sweden for a nice mystery.

There is a lot of talk going around about this book. The author Stieg Larsson died very suddenly in 2004 and his books were published posthumously. He was, apparently, the second best selling author in the world in 2008 behind Khaled Hosseini.

Initially I didn't really want to read this series; they seemed like a hyped up series, you know, like the Twilight series. And I just don't like to read a lot of things that are mainstream. I'm a snob. You can say it. I'm not offended. But this book intrigued me because several people that I like have read it and they really liked it. I decided to give it a shot.

I bought it on my Nook. And it was so great to read it that way, but that is an aside.

I tore through that book in one week, maybe less. It was great. I have heard that it may take a while to get into because there is some backstory. The main characters don't even meet until half-way through the story.

The story follows two people, one a magazine publisher and writer who is convicted of libel, and the other is a woman who has serious emotional issues and is a brilliant private investigator. He is hired to write a family chronicle for a wealthy old man, solve a mystery of a missing/murdered woman. She is hired by him to help solve the mystery.

Now, I want to warn you: this book contains some very violent situations that won't soon leave my mind.

However, the book is really good. Although the beginning does tend to get weighed down by a bunch of names and characters, once you get into the meat of the story, the introduction of a bunch of random Swedes doesn't really matter and can be forgotten. Probably this means that the author should have edited it down. I couldn't identify with the characters, they were involved in things that I couldn't even imagine doing, and they were in a country that I can not even picture. All things that made it the perfect escape book!

There was one political point in the book that I found absolutely fascinating. The girl in the story was a ward of the state. At an early age she was declared mentally unstable, but functioned enough in society that she was able to have a guardian. This guardian was responsible for the girl's finances, and had weekly meetings to determine how life was going. I just found the whole thing interesting. Socialist yes, but interesting nevertheless.

I can't wait to read the next book in the Millennium series, "The Girl Who Played with Fire". If you can stomach it, I recommend this book!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Hello 2011!

2011 is a BIG YEAR for us here in the Wilhelmsen camp.

First and foremost, the wonderful Erik and I will celebrate 10 years married on Thursday! We are going away for the weekend to the beautiful city of Tucson where we will sleep, go to at least two movies, and eat out. No Kids allowed! So glorious. The only thing that would be better is if I wasn't a million months pregnant for the second time in two years... I really want to see the new Harry Potter film and The King's Speech.

Secondly, I'm all set to have our fourth and final (Lord willing) child and also to tie up my tubes. The only resolution I'm making this year is that I'm resolved to not having any more children. Bud-dum-bum! (Or however you spell that onomatopoeia.) Honestly, if it weren't for the probability that I need the hormones, I would love to just take out the whole shebang...

Third, I have a new love and his name is Nook. I know, I know. How could it be? He's the complete antithesis to the debonair Erik... He's short. He's fits in the palm of my hand. But what he lacks in the physical he totally redeems himself in portability, convenience and sleekness. But to be more accurate, I should say that Nook has come between me and books, not me and Erik. E-books rule. I never thought I would say it, but I'm not sure I'm going to miss physical books. For one, the Nook doesn't have bookmarks that my crumb-crunchers can take out and lose my place. And for those of you who love the smell of books, which admittedly I do, the smell of my leather carrying case for the Nook makes up for that. I'm looking forward to reading a lot in 2011.

And that's about it. Reading and raising goals for 2011!