Monthly Review: September 2010

Currently Reading
  1. The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson
Books Read
  1. The Bad Seed by William March 
  2. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon 
  3. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
Movies Watched:
  1. The Letter
  2. Bride and Prejudice


    Bride and Prejudice

    Maybe it's because I've become accustom to Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy, but I had difficulty with Bride and Prejudice.

    Bride and Prejudice is an Indian retelling of Pride and Prejudice complete with bolly dancing.  Will Darcy is like Paris Hilton, a somewhat self-centered party animal leading a life of leisure due to a family-owned hotel chain.  Jaya, our Elizabeth Bennet becomes disgusted by his behavior but is constantly thrown  into situations involving him.

    Now we come to my pet peeves.  For starters there are only four daughters instead of the five named in the book (Mary always gets the short end of the stick)  It bothered me that they left out a character even if she was minor compared to others.

    Their cousin Collins was extremely annoying and was grossly exaggerated, being portrayed like a white guy who wants to be a black gangster.  He also had a laugh which could only be compared to the braying of a donkey, acting like nails on a blackboard.

    I think if this hadn't been a Jane Austen adaptation and just advertised as a chick flick I would be more lenient or accepting but as a take on Pride and Prejudice, it left me eye-rolling.

    The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo


    The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium, #1)
    The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo begins on the steps of a courthouse in Sweden after Mikael Blomkvist has been found guilty and sentenced to three months of prison for defaming the Wennestrom Corporation, Wennestrom is also his rival and competition for his magazine Millennium.  After his conviction and his career as a serious journalist in the hole he is approached by Henrik Vanger the CEO of Vanger Enterprises asking Mikael to help him solve his forty year obsession, the unsolved murder of his niece Harriett.  Against his better judgment, Blomkvist accepts the job.      

    Lisbeth Salander,  a goth and introvert rarely, if ever talks about her past. She is a  exceptional hacker and after preforming a background check on Mikael Blomkvist enlists herself to help in unraveling the families secrets.

    Lisbeth Salander is the Nancy Drew for adults, she's quick on her feet using her intellect to solve crime and revenge those who have wronged her.  She may not be as attractive as Nan is described with her piercings and tattoos but is beautiful in her own way. I see Lisbeth  Salander as a hip heroine who like Nancy  Drew will not easily be forgotten.

    Believe the hype, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is riveting! This thriller had me reading late into the night, holding my eyes open with toothpicks when necessary.  There are so many twists and turns that I never saw coming with each member of the Vanger enterprise having more secrets than the last.   Harriett, Mikael and Lisbeth's stories cleverly interweaves  bringing what can sometimes be a confusing plot to a remarkable semi happy ending.   The first in the Millennium Trilogy is a novel that will stay with you long after the cover has been closed.


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    Outlander


    Outlander
    Frank and Claire Randell have been married for eight years but have been separated by WWII.  At the war's end the two take a second honeymoon to Scotland.  During an early morning walk Claire gets time warped to the 1700s.  There she runs into Frank's Great-great-great Grandfather Jonathon Randell.  The two do not strike it off very well leaving Claire to play hide and go seek.  During their game she runs into Jamie member of the Mackenzie clan.  More out of convince than love the two marry like an Alien trying to stay in the United States.  Of course the two fall madly in love after their vows and go on crazy adventures throughout Scotland and make love in their spare time.

    I'm going to make this short and sweet.  I did not like this book.  At times it felt more like a harlequin romance rather than historical fiction or fantasy.   Hype can be a good thing but in this case it set my expectations too high so I think that was part of my dislike toward Outlander.  To be perfectly honest, I couldn't wait for her to go back to 1945.


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    Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon


    As of recently, I've barely been home over the weekends and after becoming aware of Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon thought that would be a great way to kick-off being a homebody again.  The Read-a-Thon is on Oct 9, 2010 starting at 7am (central time) 

    I participated in April's read-a-thon and really enjoyed it so was super excited that my calender was clear for this one too!

    The Bad Seed

    "Later that summer, when Mrs. Penmark looked back and remembered, when she was caught up in despair so deep that she knew there was no way out, no solution whatever for the circumstances that encompassed her, it seemed to her that June seventh, the day of the Fern Grammer School picnic, was the last day of her happiness, for never since then had she known content or felt peace."
    This paragraph opens The Bad Seed and immediately sets the tone of the novel:   An unthinkable tale of deception.

    William March's The Bad Seed examines the root of all evil.  Are persons born as a "bad seed" having it genetically in their blood or is it environmental?  The novel examines this hypothesis through a fictional account of a young girl, Rhoda Penmark. 

    Rhoda is eight years of age and already a very independent child quite capable of taking care of her needs.  She has an old fashioned appearance, always wearing dresses as they are thought to be more ladylike and pigtails ironically drawn up in precise hangman-nooses.

    Because of her efficiency in everything Rhoda does she is very upset when the coveted Penmanship Medal is  awarded to Claude Daigle.  Later, during the Fern picnic Claude is found dead, supposedly falling off the forbidden wharf having drowned with the penmanship medal missing.  While named as a very unfortunate affair, suspicious circumstances are brushed aside including Rhoda being seen skipping  off the wharf.

    As the story progresses both her mother, Christine Penmark and the reader become more convinced of her association in the matter and fear for those around her while watching the Penmark's world unravel.   

    This book was hard to put down while reading about this devilish girl.  The novel unfolds with skilled slow suspense of this chilling tale about the original Reagan.

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    1940s The Letter

    The 1940's film, The Letter is the original Fatal Attraction.  The film opens in Malaya when Leslie Crosbie, played by Bette Davis shoots a gentleman caller, identified as Geoff Hammond a family friend.   After having her husband summoned and a police officer arrives she confesses to killing Mr. Hammond after he tries to make love to her grasping for the revolver to protect her honor.  Leslie is immediately brought into custody with little protest as though she was going to a day at the beach.  Each time Leslie is questioned her story never changes and is repeated word for word that, neither  herself or her husband had seen Geoff for many months until he appeared on her doorstep.  This is until a incriminating letter surfaces, written in Leslie's hand to Geoff Hammond on the day of the murder asking him to come to her home.  Of course this changes everything, following lies and deceit with a confession that can only be compared to Glen Close.

    Two words could complete this review, Bette Davis.  Although that sounds cheap and undeserving for such a film.  It goes without saying that she is phenomenal, her emotion oozes like she is putting her entire being into the character giving the watcher a better connection to the story, even if you haven't killed your lover. That is not to say that Davis is the only one to give a heart wrenching performance, Herbert Marshall, who plays her devoted husband Robert Crosbie, pulls at your strings after finding out what a sham his marriage is and his life is in ruins.  Here he cries openly without restraint and I really felt for him.

    I've always enjoyed William Wyler as a director because like Hitchcock he has a very different way of looking at things.  Speaking of Alfred Hitchcock, in his Rebecca while Maxim de Winter is stating how he killed the first Mrs. de Winter the camera flows about the room as if following a pantomime and feel like  you're seeing it through the killer's eyes.  Wyler does this too and I think it really adds something.

    I hadn't watched The Letter in a very long time and forgot how stupendous it is.  This film puts me in the mood for Bette Davis and W. Somerset Maugham who's play it was based on.

    Book Club: Second Meeting

    In my last post I brought up choosing books for future meetings by assigning "homework" to it's members and coming up with a few titles themselves.  Well, we didn't do that, this isn't because the meeting didn't go well, because we did get three new members but the last three from the previous month where no-shows, whether this is because they got busy/didn't finish/or lost interest so we are giving it a third (which is usually a charm) chance to make that call and get a better idea who will participate on a regular bases.

    That being said I think it went really well; we read Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris and five out of six loved it.  Two hadn't read a book from start to finish in years both being because of children/grandchildren and not having the time.  I actually, felt really good that in however small a part motivated someone to read.

    Everyone who enjoyed the book (including myself) appreciated Sedaris' shocking sense of humor and where laughing out loud.  The one person who disliked the book was a more elderly woman who just didn't get his writings, drug references and the F word just weren't her thing.  I totally got that, my grandparents, while a little older where from that same generation/mindset and wouldn't dream of farting outside the bathroom let alone talk about unclogging a toilet.  Nevertheless, I admired her for showing up because it would have been very easy to say oh fuck it.  

    In general, I think it is going well and am succeeding in meeting like-minded people.  We'll see how the next meeting goes but the optimist in me is looking up.

    October's Book:  Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt 

    Book Club: Choosing Books

    Tonight is the second meeting of our book club, and depending on how it goes i.e. the turnout we'll open for compling a list for future picks.  

    If all goes well at the end of the meeting we'll give "homework" to the group by choosing  a few book ideas to bring to the next meeting.  Because November and December can be such hectic months a novel will probably be chosen at our October group but the club will not reconvene until January, I think two months is a reasonable time for the season.  Or should we begin at the new year and chose a book then?

    Lastly, our only restrictions for book club contenders is:
    1. Paperback only! easier to handle and a little cheaper for those who buy or borrow through the library
    2. Must be under 500 pages (trade paperback) 300 and under was debated but there are so many good books over that number we didn't want to box ourselves in.   
    Let me know if you have any thoughts or suggestions.  Second and third voices are always appreciated.

    Monthly Review: August 2010

    Currently Reading
    1. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

    Books Read
    1. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote 
    2. Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin
    3. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

    Movies Watched
    1. Emma
    2. Jamaica Inn  
    3. Persuasion


      Me Talk Pretty One Day


      David Sedaris's short stories have me laughing out loud with people turning the heads to look.  I can just hear them saying/thinking "What's wrong with that girl?"  Nothing is off limits for this author, his parent's dog replacing their children, being taught to play guitar by a midget so his father can put a jazz bad together, unclogging a toilet and his father's thrifty ways.  

      It's hard to pick a favorite story but I really enjoyed "I'll Eat What He's Wearing" in which he recounts his father's ability to save food/clothing etc long past the expiration date with the excuse of "it's fine".  As stated in his book, you could say this accounted for the depression, but it's not and I quite agree as my grandfather is very similar.  (I've actually seen mold grow on bacon).    I think because I could so relate to this it made it ten times funnier.

      David Sedaris can be incredibly politically incorrect, sometimes hilariously so and other times you're unsure whether it's proper to laugh or disapprove.  I saw him speak a  few years ago and he told a story about flying on an airplane over Christmas time.  He went on to explain how rude and pushy people could be at airports and upon arrival of said destination the stewardess came on wishing "everyone sitting down a Merry Christmas, and to everyone standing up, Happy Hanukkah."

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