30 June 2013

June Movies

Beasts of the Southern Wild: 7!!  this movie was really really good.  It is about a little girl, told from her point of view, about living in the bayou in Louisiana with her father.  A hurricane comes through, flooding the place and changing their lives.  It's definitely magical realism, or more like what life is like to you when you're 5 and everything is magical.  Highly recommended but be prepared to cry; B and I both were at the end.   

Easy A: I had to watch a teen movie for my YA lit class and chose this because i like Emma Stone and my friend D recommended it.  it's quite clever and worth a watch.  a 6. 

The Heat:  I am not normally big on comedies but D had free passes to a preview showing.  It was the weirdest movie experience i've ever had; the theater wouldn't let anyone in with a cell phone and was actually wanding people to make sure you didn't take it in.  Once inside and waiting for the movie, it was the loudest I'd heard in a theater in years.  As no one had a phone, everyone was talking to their neighbors!  The movie was funny.  Sandra Bullock is the straight-laced FBI agent while Melissa McCarthy is the freewheeling vice cop.  They have to team up to catch a drug lord.  I hope it does well. a 5.

Zero Dark Thirty:  Intense but not as intense as i worried.  Slow in parts and in other parts i was biting my nails.  a 6. 

21 June 2013

Murder as a Fine Art

I managed to squeeze in a print book for adults!  Murder as a Fine Art by David Morrell is a detective story set in Victorian England. Thomas de Quincey was an English essayist. I believe i had to read a bit of his "Confessions of an English Opium Eater" in school.  He wrote a trio of essays called "On Murder Considered as one of the Fine Arts" describing a double set of murders in England.  The premise of this new novel is that someone becomes obsessed with de Quincey and the murders and goes on his own killing spree.  de Quincey, still a laudanum addict, becomes a suspect but ends up aiding the police due to his familiarity with the original cases, his trippy insights and lateral thinking.  His daughter and caretaker Emily is a fabulous woman as well and uses her own brilliant mind to help her father and the police.  

It's a pretty good book.  While the mystery itself is just ok, the characters are great. de Quincey and his daughter, the Scotland Yard Inspector and his assistant, the cop that wants to be a detective, are all compelling and interesting to read about.  Pretty decent action and some really trippy set pieces make it a fun, fast read.  There are some weird infodumps of the sort that are ususally in sci-fi books which were a bit jarring but overall it was a good book.  a 5.  

FYI, Project Gutenberg has both Confessions of an English Opium Eater and de Quincey's other essays in various formats.

15 June 2013

Listened to Habits of the House

And I didn't really like it.  This novel by Fay Weldon is being compared to Downton Abbey and some things are similar: timeline, setting, money problems, perspectives from staff and the upper class family.  But there are characters on Downton Abbey that you actually like whereas the only person i cared for at all was Minnie O'Brien, the American heiress.  Everybody else rather sucked.  There was not enough actual story and then it ended abruptly with one character doing a complete 180 change in attitude that we don't get to see occur.  While writing this post up i found that this book is the first in a series and the second book is already out.  As this book was just released in January and the third comes out in December, it really makes me think there should have been a bit more time devoted to the first one to make it a bit better. a 4 from me. 

09 June 2013


Mary Roach is just so wonderful to read.  Her books make me giggle and call out trivia to B.  Gulp: Adventures of the Alimentary Canal is no different. Yes, parts are gross.  The gross bits are surrounded by amazing interesting bits and are interesting in themselves. If you're really likely to be grossed out, I can say most of the book is set in and above the stomach.  Who knew mouths were so cool?   I think i liked this better than her last one which was about the science of getting humans to live in space.  Roach is really a brand now; if you liked something she wrote previously you'll like this one, and vice versa.  a 6 from me. 

08 June 2013

Between Shades of Gray

Another school book done! This leaves me with like, 8 left.  They are fast reads though.  I finished Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys.  I has nothing to do with bondage but is a YA novel taking place during WWII.  In Lithuania and the USSR.  Lina is 15 when she and her family are taken by the Soviets and sent to work camps, not due to religion but politics.  The trek to the first camp is full of horrible happenings and the terrible things continue when they arrive at a camp.  The guards are vicious and capricious, the people are starving and freezing.  It's all so senseless.  Lina was a budding artist and expresses herself through the art she is still able to create. 

This is the first of my summer school books that I didn't love. I feel like I appreciated what the author was trying to say and it certainly gave me an sense of thankfulness towards my ancestors.  My double-great grandparents (from which I get my atypical last name) packed up their kids and emigrated to the US from Bulgaria around 1905.  Part of it is that there is a jump at the ending;  we are in Siberia then jump forward many years to Lithuania again and I wanted to know what happened in between.  Also, i hate to admit it, I kinda didn't like Lina.  I mean, i felt terrible for her, and i was certainly rooting for her throughout the novel.  But she seemed so naive for so long.  Perhaps it was a bit of a book hangover from Code Name Verity where the women are just so strong that Lina couldn't quite keep up.  It's a 5 for me but I do recommend it.  After you read Code Name Verity anyway.  

I do like the author's style in general though and her second book, Out of the Easy, takes place in New Orleans in the 1950's so I may pick it up sometime after this summer.