October 22, 2014

Movie Review: Strangers on a Train


In one of Alfred Hitchcock's suspense classics, tennis pro Guy Haines (Farley Granger) chances to meet wealthy wastrel Bruno Anthony (Robert Walker) on a train. Having read all about Guy, Bruno is aware that the tennis player is trapped in an unhappy marriage to to wife Miriam (Laura Elliott) and has been seen in the company of senator's daughter Ann Morton (Ruth Roman). Baiting Guy, Bruno reveals that he feels trapped by his hated father (Jonathan Hale). As Guy listens with detached amusement, Bruno discusses the theory of exchange murders. Suppose that Bruno were to murder Guy's wife, and Guy in exchange were to kill Bruno's father? With no known link between the two men, the police would be none the wiser, would they? When he reaches his destination, Guy bids goodbye to Bruno, thinking nothing more of the affable but rather curious young man's homicidal theories. And then, Guy's wife turns up strangled to death. Co-adapted by Raymond Chandler from a novel by Patricia Highsmith, Strangers on a Train perfectly exemplifies Hitchcock's favorite theme of the evil that lurks just below the surface of everyday life and ordinary men.~Rotten Tomatoes



Let's get our Hitchcock sighting out of the way, here he is getting onto the train


How Farley Granger and Robert Walker play off each other is fabulous.  It is like having a devil and an angel on your shoulder.  Bruno, is creepy, and Walker portrays this nicely with his eratic ways.


Personally, I think Patricia Hitchcock steals the show.  Her quite yet astute demeanor leads her to figuring out the whole thing in five minutes.  In short, her character Barbara is awesome.


This is how I felt about the ending, it just kind of crashed.  It was as fast paced as a carousel, but then went off kilter.  If there could have been any better way of catching Bruno I would have grabbed at it but instead we get a runaway carnival ride pinching our crisscrosser, and while it all works out for Guy it left with a disappointing conclusion.  It was just too hectic and felt like I was having a seizure.  For such a strong picture it ended abruptly and seemed incomplete.

October 21, 2014

Movie Review: Dial M For Murder

In London, wealthy Margot Mary Wendice had a brief love affair with the American writer Mark Halliday while her husband and professional tennis player Tony Wendice was on a tennis tour. Tony quits playing to dedicate to his wife and finds a regular job. She decides to give him a second chance for their marriage. When Mark arrives from America to visit the couple, Margot tells him that she had destroyed all his letters but one that was stolen. Subsequently she was blackmailed, but she had never retrieved the stolen letter. Tony arrives home, claims that he needs to work and asks Margot to go with Mark to the theater. Meanwhile Tony calls Captain Lesgate (aka Charles Alexander Swann who studied with him at college) and blackmails him to murder his wife, so that he can inherit her fortune. But there is no perfect crime, and things do not work as planned. ~ IMDB


Hitchcock's Cameo -- a group photo of Tony Wendice's college days

I hadn't seen Dial M for Murder in several years and surprised me how well it has held up.  




Suspense, Hitchcock's trademark and hits it on the head in this scene in particular.  Tony having to listen to his wife's certain murder was brilliant.  I chewed my fingernails at the events happening on each side of the line, torn with disgust (on Tony's part and trepidation with Margo).  It was a great balence between the two.



My one complaint is how ridiculously stupid and naive Margo Wendice was.  The beautiful Grace Kelly acts it out to a t but still annoyed me.  I just wish she was a little more than a dumb blond with a pretty face.  Otherwise, it was a great thriller only jogging my memory with "I remember this" only seconds before it happens.  Hitchcock has a way of pulling you in, losing all track of time and place, with Dial M for Murder a thrilling film.















October 20, 2014

Book Review: Consolamentum

Author: Rebecca Hazell
Publisher: Createspace
Publication Date: August 8, 2014
Source: Author
Purchase: Amazon
Add To: Goodreads


In the finale of Sofia's memoir, Consolamentum, both dramatic and poignant, her dreams of home are shattered when her own family betrays her. Raising her child on her own, mourning the loss of her beloved knight, and building a trading empire, she seeks safe haven for her child and herself. Her quest takes her from Antioch to Constantinople to Venice. A surprise reunion in Venice leads her to France where she runs afoul of the newly established Holy Inquisition, possibly the greatest challenge she has yet faced. Can a woman so marked by oppression, betrayal, and danger ever find her safe haven, much less genuine happiness?


The first two books of The Tiger and Dove trilogy are filled with carnage, but Solomon's Bride ends on an uplifting note.  Although I warned myself, there is still one chapter left in Sofia's story she can't have her fairy tale ending yet.

Fond of:

  • Tragedy does not strike the same as it did in Sofia's other adventures.  It was more subdued, including natural disasters and hardships of a less gruesome nature.
  •  Like Downton Abbey, Hazell's trilogy is a soap opera of sorts.  Sofia is a less refined Mary Crawley.  Lady Mary's son is not yet a year old when she goes out on the rebound despite the fact that Matthew fills her mind.  I liked that despite the offers Sofia received stayed true to her heart with her knight filling her mind.  Note: as a Downton Abbey fan I realize that Matthew is dead where as there is a chance that Joscelin could still be living
  • I have found that novels including a lost love always have said lover return at the finish of a novel to create a happily ever after ending.  Rebecca Hazell summoned Sofia's beloved half-way (give or take) through the book, thus the reader got to experience their ever after and/or the trials that come with it.  I appreciated a fresh take on a plot that has been done to death.

Not Fond of:

  • At the start, Sofia is once again captured (if only briefly) and had a very Rapunzel locked in her tower vibe to it.  She is soon rescued but unlike the first two books the beginning didn't grab me the same way and instead had me sighing "not again."
  • My other negative is silly.  Everyone was getting married, having babies and happy.  That is great and all but it happened bing, bing, bing and got a little repetitive.


Final Thoughts:


With 25% to go the novel started to drag, it became feast after feast after feast and didn't think I would be able to take anymore ham hocks.  Just when I had given up hope bam, Sofia has a turn of events that not only shook the reader up but jeopardized everything our heroine had been striving for.  The conclusion to Sofia's memoirs was thrilling and well worth the wait.


With Consolamentum I was reminded of the final episode of the Mary Tyler Moore Show.  Mary and all her co-workers go in for a group hug, unwilling to let go, slowly making their way to the door where Mary turns off the light.  That is how I felt about the conclusion of Consolamentum.  I'd grown attached to Sofia and her crew and did not want to part just yet, but knew the light would inevitably turn off.




About The Author


Rebecca Hazell is a an award winning artist, author and educator. She has written, illustrated and published four non-fiction children’s books, created best selling educational filmstrips, designed educational craft kits for children and even created award winning needlepoint canvases.
She is a senior teacher in the Shambhala Buddhist lineage, and she holds an honours BA from the University of California at Santa Cruz in Russian and Chinese history.

Rebecca lived for many years in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 1988 she and her family moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and in 2006 she and her husband moved to Vancouver Island. They live near their two adult children in the beautiful Cowichan Valley.



Visit Rebecca:
Website | Goodreads | Facebook


Stop by the blogs below for reviews, guest posts, excerpts and giveaways!

Monday, September 29
Excerpt/Giveaway at Oh, For the Hook of a Book

Wednesday, October 1
Excerpt/Giveaway at The True Book Addict

Friday, October 3
Guest Post/Giveaway at Must Read Faster

Tuesday, October 7
Guest Post/Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection

Thursday, October 9
Excerpt/Giveaway at The Never-Ending Book
Friday, October 10
Review at Pen and Paper

Tuesday, October 14
Excerpt/Giveaway at Seize the Moment

Wednesday, October 15
Guest Post at Book Drunkard

Friday, October 17

Monday, October 20

Tuesday, October 21

Thursday, October 23
Review at Book Drunkard

Friday, October 24
Review/Giveaway at Create with Joy



October 17, 2014

Book Review: Until You're Mine

Author: Samantha Hayes
Publisher: Crown
Publication Date: April 15, 2014 
Source: Library
Purchase: Amazon|Barnes & Noble 
Add To: Goodreads


Claudia Morgan-Brown finally has it all. Pregnant with a much-wanted first baby of her own, she has a happily established family of two small step-sons and a loving husband with a great career. But she is also committed to her full-time job as a social worker, and her husband travels often. So when Claudia hires Zoe to help her around the house in anticipation of the baby’s arrival, it seems like the answer to her prayers. But despite Zoe's glowing recommendations and instant rapport with the children, there's something about her that Claudia cannot trust.

Moreover, there has been a series of violent attacks on pregnant women in the area, and Claudia becomes acutely aware of her vulnerability. With her husband out of town for work and her family far away, who will be there to protect her? And why does she feel unsettled about Zoe? Realizing appearances can be deceiving even in her seemingly perfect world, Claudia digs deeper into Zoe’s blurry past and begins to wonder – how far would someone go to have a child of her own

Initial Thoughts:

To be honest when I first picked up Until You're Mine the plot reminded me of a Lifetime movie I had seen involving a deranged nanny who desperately wanted a child.  I hate comparing books to Lifetime movies as it can quickly cheapen it.  That is never my intention.  Despite this judgement the plot of Until You're Mine the eerie descriptions of the main characters is what caused me to pick up Samantha Hayes' novel.


Claudia:

Claudia first comes off as the perfect has it all June Cleaver wannabe.  This is a thriller though and no one is perfect in a thriller novel.  Claudia reminded me of Phyllis Dietrichson.  She swooped in after tragedy via her job and by pure coincidence married inheriting a seemingly wonderful life, but something didn't feel right, a little off, and it wasn't pregnancy hormones. Because of this nagging I questioned her pregnancy, is it all in her mind?


Zoe:

If there was something wrong with Claudia than there's definitely something wrong with Zoe.  She was so obviously screwed up that it would be a dull thriller if her cards were shown so early.  The nanny is clearly hiding something but she is by no means the only one.  Her true identity was unexpected and deceptive. Zoe Harper 
was by far my favorite out of the three because she seemed to have the most layers to her onion and liked peeling away each one.

Lorraine:


Lorraine, well Lorraine was just doing her job and happened to have a few problems at home that loomed in the background, occasionally brought up if there was a lull in the story.


Final Thoughts:


 I really enjoyed that the novel was told by three different voices, obviously hearing the story from more than one perspective added a lot to the psychological aspect to the novel and their intersection created a destructive finish.  Until You're Mine had a twist ending.  I had an idea of where it could lead but when all three stories were put together a hint of suspesion was kept intact.   Samantha Hayes' novel was a great read and didn't realize how quickly I was turning the pages until I had reached the conclusion.

October 15, 2014

Why Early Hitchcock Movies Suck



After reviewing Psycho yesterday I thought I would address some of his older films.  My dad decided that he wanted to watch more Hitchcock films, as he remembered loving them as a kid.  While we were waiting for our selected movies through Netflix I went down to the library and checked out some of his earlier work, such as Murder! and  Lifeboat.  


Afterword, we both looked at each other and said "what the fuck?!" how did Hitchcock become so big?  The story lines were so confusing that I couldn't even give an adequate description, Murder! is about a jury voting to convict a murderer and has second thoughts.  Lifeboat, is of several survivors of a torpedoed ship. (and these I got from IMDB)  Granted, these are very early films but the dark footage made it hard to concentrate and the vocals were very muffled.  



We then decided to watch some of his more popular films such as Rear Window, Dial M for Murder and The Birds;  Rear Window did not transfer at all, all four members of my family fell asleep at different points, thinking it was boring and Jimmy Stewart came off as a perv.  The Birds was laughable, my mom warned my brother and I that it was going to scare the shit out of us and instead, didn't see the horror in it (you can see the strings on the birds for crying out loud!)  Dial M for Murder was still a stand-up movie although not  suspenseful as I remember it being, and therefore a bit underwhelming.  Overall, it was very disappointing and expected Hitchcock films to stand out a little more.