Thursday, May 22, 2008

Quick Book Review Update

As with movies, I've read a lot of books in the last month during baby feedings. I'm a month behind on reviews with the new baby so I'm going to do a quick summary of what I've read in the past month to catch up! I'm going to list the books I've read from the most recent to the one I had finished right before the baby was born!

Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell. I loved the Masterpiece Theatre mini-series and also read the book over the past few days. The book does not include any stories about Doctor Harrison or Lady Ludlow - they are separate novellas, which I didn't realize at first! The book is a charming picture of life in a small village during the Victorian era. I enjoyed it.

The Virgin Blue by Tracy Chevalier. This book was recommended and borrowed from my good friend Elina (she has been recommending books to me since 4th grade!). This book was about a woman who has relocated to modern day France and becomes obsessed with tracing the story of her ancestors. Her ancestors were Hugenots that had to flee France to Switzerland to avoid prosecution in the 16th century. Half of the story is about her ancestor Isabelle and the dark secret hidden in the family. It was a good book and very interesting to learn about the era.

Princess by Jean P. Sasson. Princess was also loaned and recommended to me by Elina. The book was a first person account of a Saudi Arabian Princess named Sultana for the book's purposes. It was a vivid account of life under the veil and rule of men. It gave good brief background to the history of the region and of Islam. It was a good book to read to understand women's issues in the Middle east althought it was written directly after Desert Storm so it is a bit dated. It's hard to believe that women live such restricted lives in our modern age.

The Lady and the Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier. This is another book borrowed from Elina. I enjoyed this novel a lot! It tells the tale of a beautiful unicorn tapistry and how it was designed and woven. The lives it intersects are fascinating. I highly recommend this novel to fellow lovers of historical fiction.

Time and Again by Nora Roberts. This novel is actually a combination of two older novels by Nora Roberts. They both involve handsome men traveling back in time from the 24th century and meeting the love of their lives. They were entertaining novels, but not among Roberts best.

The Perfect Summer by Luanne Rice. This book was a Mom's Club book club pick. The story is a romance/mystery involving a woman, Bay McCabe, who's unfaithful husband has disappeared, and who's teenage crush has reappeared. I enjoyed this light read, except for the excessive mention of the "boardwalk" that Bay and Danny worked on in their youth.

Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult. I thought this novel was riveting and thought provoking (although I figured out the "surprise" ending right away. It involved a murderer who was on death row and wanted to donate his heart to his victim's family. The murderer may also be performing miracles in jail.

Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner. I enjoyed this book although it's surprise ending was a tear jerker, especially after you've just given birth. I think Ben thought someone had died when he saw my tears! This novel is a follow up to Good in Bed. I thought it was a good sequel and enjoyed getting back into Cannie's story.

The Strongbow Saga Book Three: The Road to Vengeance by Judson Roberts. This novel was another first look review from Harper Collins so the novel actually comes out in June. I enjoyed the novel. Although I hadn't read the first two in the series, I was able to grasp the story quickly and go with it. If you enjoy Viking adventure tales, this book is for you.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Quick Movie Update

I had my second son, Daniel Thomas on April 24th so I've gotten a bit behind on my blog again. I have been doing a lot of movie watching and reading, but it's usually while feeding a baby at midnight so it's hard to get to the computer and update my blog. The more I get behind, the harder it is for me to catch up so I'm going to do a couple quick postings to catch me up and then go from there! This posting is all about recent movies I've watched not including my Turner Classic Movies and Masterpiece Theatre obsession. I love old movies!

Michael Clayton. If I had to describe this movie in one word, it would be confusion. I watched this is with Mom and Kristi the day after I came home from the hospital. We were very confused at the beginning and thought it was just us so we watched it again and decided it was the movie! It was an okay movie and I liked George Clooney and Tom Wilkinson's performance, but I'm still unsure why Tilda Swynton won an Oscar. This movie didn't move or inspire me

Eastern Promises. Viggo Mortensen. Naked Fight Scene. I'll admit, I had less then pure motives for wanting to watch this movie. The movie was disturbing, yet very good. I found myself thinking about it a lot over the days after I had seen it, but I also don't think I ever need to watch it again as the violence was just too disturbing. So disturbing that I couldn't enjoy the naked Viggo Mortensen fight scene and actually closed my eyes to block out the violence. It was a very good movie though and had excellent performances. I recommend watching it, but be aware that it gets very violent and graphic.

Atonement. Atonement was an excellent movie and I highly recommend it. I loved the novel and the movie does an excellent job bringing the novel to life. It followed the novel very well and I especially like how it would show scenes twice at times with how Briony interpretted it and what really happened. I cried at the end. It not only is a great movie about two star crossed lovers, but also about perception and the horrors of war.

Rush Hour 3. This movie does not belong in the same category as the previous three, that's for sure. I found it rather tame and formuliac. It was definitely not as good as the first version. As I told Ben, if you don't watch it, you didn't miss much.