Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Awards Galore!

A random note to start: Jaime & Ryan - I'm more than willing to take you guys up on your Kool Aid offer. ;-) And if there's something British you fancy a taste of, I'll send it your way. hehe.


I've been neglecting a couple of awards I received so I'm taking this opportunity, on the last day of September, to pass them around. :-D Apologies again if you've already received these awards. You can have them a second time. ;-)

From Michelle at Michelle's Masterful Musings
(Thanks, hun. Your blog is one of my favourites.)


I'm handing this over to:
1) Lauren at Half Deserted Streets
2) Amanda at The Zen Leaf
3) Jaime at Revenge of the Book Nerds
4) Sarbear at My Life is an Effing Fairy Tale


From Sarbear at My Life is an Effing Fairy Tale
(Thanks so much hun. You're rock and are made of awesome!)

Being a recipient of this award affirms that this blog invests and believes in the Proximity – nearness in space, time and relationships.This blog receives this great award as a further way to re iterate that it is exceedingly charming, and aims to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement! Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers!

This goes to:
1) Mel at Melody's Reading Corner
2) Naida at The Bookworm


From Kath at Bookworm Nation
(You guys have one of my new favourite blogs. How did I go this long without you?)


This goes to:
1) Ryan at Wordsmithonia (Forgive me - this is a very girly award but I love your blog so consider it a hug from me to you)
2) Kristina at Kristina's Favorites
3) Susan at Well-Mannered Frivolity
4) Becky at Becky's Book Reviews


From Taschima at Bloody Bookaholic
(This girl is actually amazing. Fact. If you haven't, go check out her blog NOW.)
From Jess at Bookworm Nation
(Those girls are spoiling me.)

(The irony of this award is that I'm currently looking for a new template. But thanks so much anyway, hun. :) )

This goes to:
1) Vivienne at Serendipity (Never change your look, girl. It's mouth-watering!)
2) Joanne at The Book Zombie
3) Mary at The Sweet Bookshelf
4) Kay at The Infinite Shelf
5) Sandy at Pirate Penguin Reads


From Ryan at Wordsmithonia
(I can't get enough of this blog. :-D )

I wish I had one of those 'Top commenter' boxes on my blog now but, instead, I'm going to hand this award to every single one of you who've ever left a comment. Whether you've left one or a million, I really do appreciate every single one I get and it really means a lot that you've taken the time out to leave a little message. :) You bring a smile to my face. So thank you.

So, yeah, whether you've left one comment or a whole bunch, you're given this award. Take it and pass it on. :-D


That's it for now. New reviews up soon.

I've put a poll on the left hand side of the blog for your opinions on the new comment box. I just wanted to make sure that everyone could actually comment if they wanted to (I know some people have comment blocker) so I'd like to gather your opinions. :)

Hope you all enjoy the last day of September. I can't wait for October - it's my favourite month. :-D


Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Review: Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin

Title: Rosemary's Baby

Author: Ira Levin

Year: 1967

Rating: 4/5

Plot: Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse are a young married couple just about to move into the Bramhouse, an old Gothic-style New York City apartment complex with a disturbing history of witchcraft and murder.

After the suicide of a young woman living down the hall, Guy and Rosemary befriend their neighbours, Mr. and Mrs. Castevet, an eccentric elderly couple who invite themselves into the Woodhouses' lives more and more as time goes on.

When Rosemary's falls pregnant, she begins to suspect that her meddlesome new neighbours aren't quite what they seem when mysterious happenings begin to surround her and her new baby.

Review: This book has everything you could want in a quick horror novel. Though it's only a meagre 200 pages, Levin manages to draw up a full cast of well thought out, third-dimensional characters that take you through the story in the most intense, knee-knocking and nail-biting way.

Rosemary is a curious character. She's a young housewife who clearly dotes on her husband and longs to become a mother. But we always sense that there's much more to her. Though she spends her days setting up the house, there's a strength inside her that we catch glimpses of from the very beginning. She isn't afraid to speak to her new neighbour friend, in spite of the spookiness of their surroundings (in the basement); she voices her opinions on the strange elderly couple down the hall; she won't take crap from her husband.

It is this depth and honesty that makes us connect with Rosemary, and that is where the problem truly begins because we find that we can not bear to leave her alone to face the oncoming nightmare. Once Rosemary begins to suspect that her new friends are hiding something dark, Levin takes us deeper and deeper into the horror with every page, finding new and shocking ways to terrify us. With our new attachment to Rosemary, we can't help but feel just as trapped and claustrophobic as she feels in the confines of her new appartment.

This was a really remarkable book. I'd seen the film for the first time last year and, as I was reading the novel, found myself having to look up both release dates. The novel came first but it is so vivid and well-written that it's easy to believe Ira Levin saw his own version of this.

There's no big build-up to the suspense as the action starts from quite early on but each chapter's pace is steady enough to get sucked in to.

This is a must-read for any horror fan: It paved the way for the likes of The Omen and The Exorcist, and, unlike most half-hearted attempts at the genre these days, is well-focused on its characters and creating the terror around them by putting them in realistic situations.

I really enjoyed this. I'd read it again for a quick scary read. You should too. And then you should check out the film - it's a fabulous adaptation. (How ironic that I'm talking about a tale Roman Polanski directed during the week he's back in the press.)

This is the first book for my R.I.P. Challenge.  

Sunday, 27 September 2009

TSS - Books & Films

I've been exceptionally lazy with my blog this week as far as posting reviews goes. I've whizzed through a few novels and haven't yet gotten to the reviewing part. Shame on me. Especially because one of them was for my R.I.P. Challenge.

As some of you might have seen, I reviewed The Unbearable Lightness of Being which was the second book in my Classics Challenge. I was quite surprised to find that I enjoyed it as much as I did. I'd probably read it again, which is something I didn't expect to be saying. I haven't had that with a lot of the books I've read recently.

Rosemary's Baby was the next one. Very well written. I watched the film about a year ago and, while reading the book, found myself checking the release dates for both that and the film. Have you ever read a film-to-book book? One that's released to accompany a film? That's what Rosemary's Baby is like. In this case, the book did come first, so kudos to Roman Polanski (who I've just read has been arrested again) for doing a great job of the adaptation. It's a scary one. The one thing I learned from the book: Never ever ever befriend your elderly neighbours - they might be Satan's workers.

Then the other night I finally caved in and read something by Ian McEwan. Some of you may know that I have been a big fan of Ian McEwan for years. Then this year I read his second collection of short stories, In Between the Sheets, and was greatly disappointed. Not only were they not particularly well-written but you could tell that they a lame-ass attempt at getting something published to fulfill a contract.

That had kind of put me off him. But the other night I decided to take a chance and get back into reading his books. I took a chance on The Cement Garden, McEwan's first novel which was released the same year as In Between the Sheets. While it wasn't a masterpiece, I enjoyed it. It had all of McEwan's quirkiness and contained controversial subject matters that young writers are never afraid to take on. When you compare The Cement Garden to something like On Chesil Beach (which was written 25 years later) you can see the complete maturity McEwan's acquired as time goes on. I love reading writers whose writing changes and improves and it's exciting to be able to see that through the books. My Ian McEwan dry spell is over.


I'm currently reading Wicked by Gregory Maguire (at last!). This is a book I've been wanting to read since it was released and I'm finally getting down to it. I'm not going to say anything about it yet because I'm only a couple of chapters in but I will say this - I'm having to try and get used to the idea that this is a novel written for adults. I always associate The Wizard of Oz with childhood so to be brought back into Oz accompanied by talk of sex and bad language is quite shocking.

I swear like a sailor and don't mind reading hardcore porn but this is taking it's time to adjust. It's strange. Childhood and adulthood have totally come together in an unexpected way. Let's hope I get used to it.


A little excitement this weekend. The Book Bag is sending me this to review:

The Hollow by Jessica Verday!!!!

Now I've reviewed a lot of great books for that website and discovered authors I never would have thanks to them. But I've never seen a book that's on my Amazon wishlist before. :-D

Over-excitement? Yes but I don't care. Do you know how long my wishlist is? (Check it out here.) I haven't bought any new books for over a year because I'm determined to get through my TBR pile first. So yay! I look at it as a treat to myself.


Audrey Niffenegger's Her Fearful Symmentry is released on Tuesday and, I don't know about you, but I'm ready to devour the shit out of this book (told you I swear like a sailor! :P ). I'm willing to make an exception for my 'Read the TBR pile first' rule for this. Unfortunately, I has no monies! And hardback books are not cheap. Let's hope Cardiff's Borders knock off a couple of pounds - They usually do with new releases because Waterstones is right next door.


Before I end this post, I'm going to say this. If it's still in your local cinema, go and see (500) Days of Summer.

It's about relationships and it's such a beautiful story. So well-written and shot. And very well-acted. It doesn't overplay. And there's nothing missing. It's just simple and sweet. And it has the delicious Joseph Gordon Levitt in it who is all grown up. It's a little strange to hear his voice now - it's all deep and ... deep. I mean, he sounds like a real man.

He's older than me but I still think of him as the long-haired squeaky-voiced Tommy from 3rd Rock from the Sun.

I mean, I hate to say this but, (500) Days of Summer is everything The Time Traveler's Wife should have been. As much as I loved TTTW, I couldn't help but think that something was missing. So if you find yourself in the local film rental place and can't decide on what to watch, choose (500) Days of Summer. It's so worth it.

Anyway, that's it for my Sunday Salon. Lots to come this week. Lots of reviews and a Weekly Geeks to post.

Oh, and I finally changed the comment box. It's now a pop-up box like the majority of you wanted. :)

TTFN. xx  

Friday, 25 September 2009

50 Things That Should Not Exist

Because it's Friday and I'm too lazy to think of something original, I've decided to post this list I found of 50 Things That Should Not Exist because we all need a good giggle at the end of the week and most of these I couldn't agree more with.

I've put in bold which ones I particularly agree with. Fun!

1. Headaches.

2. Stupid, uncomfortable chairs.

3. People who sharpen their pencils slowly.

4. Stores that check your receipt as you exit, making you feel like a criminal.

5. Mean cats.

6. Soft Jazz.

7. People who cut paper slowly.

8. Disease.

9. Big scary bugs with many legs.

10. Tuna salad with celery.

11. Celery.

12. Food service employees who assume that when you said, "No tomatoes," you were lying.

13. Mysterious sticky spots on desks.

14. Mysterious warm sections in pools.

15. The phrase, "We need to give it 110%."

16. Long sales receipts that include a code at the bottom for an online survey, that, when completed, will enter you for a chance to win a gift card. (We never win, and yet we always get our hopes up.)

17. Blisters on the back of the ankle caused by new shoes.

18. Parody versions of the Happy Birthday Song.

19. Grass (Because you'd think by now it would have evolved and learned that if it grows, it will get mowed.)

20. Facial hair (For the same reason as grass.)

21. Tiny cups of coleslaw served at diners.

22. Remakes of bad horror movies.

23. Back-of-the-knee sweat.

24. Greeting cards with glitter.

25. Televised poker.

26. Splinters.

27. Wheat Pennies and Bicentennial Quarters (Because we never know if it's OK to spend them, or if we should save them.)

28. Wisdom teeth.

29. The Hills on MTV.

30. Poverty.

31. Fluctuating speed limits on long stretches of heavily patrolled road.

32. Popped collars.

33. People with tattoos written in a language that they cannot speak.

34. Hurricanes.

35. Teachers with coffee breath.

36. Ziggy comic strips.

37. DVD commentaries in which the commentators simply describe what is happening on the screen while congratulating themselves. (E.G. "OK, so then he's going to pick up the phone. This is such a great scene. Now, he's going to say something.")

38. Racism.

39. Park benches that are still wet from the storm that came through about two hours ago.

40. Anti-matter. (This isn't an annoyance, but instead, is something that should not exist.)

41. Product placement visible in most TV shows and movies.

42. Elderly relatives on social networking sites.

43. Bathroom stalls that don't have doors.

44. Any arcade game or toy vending machine that costs more than 50 cents.

45. Prickly bushes that are in close proximity to the basketball court or the bottom of sledding hills.

46. Waiting rooms with a TV smaller than 13 inches.

47. The fact that Shakespeare in Love beat out Saving Private Ryan for the Academy Award for Best Picture.

48. Traffic. (Especially if the cause of the traffic is a mystery even after the traffic jam eases up.)

49. People who tell you about the concert that you didn't go to.

50. The last 20 minutes of Peter Jackson's The Return of the King (other than the last part, it's a pretty cool movie).

I can't imagine many people having issues with any of those things on the list. The question is: What else would you add to the list? Leave it in the comments. :)  

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Review: The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera

Title: The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Author: Milan Kundera

Year: 1984

Rating: 3.5/5

Plot: A novel of irreconcilable loves and infidelities, which embraces all aspects of human existence, and addresses the nature of twentieth-century 'Being'.

Review: I've taken the above synopsis from Amazon's description because, as anyone who's read this novel will tell you, it's hard to summarise what The Unbearable Lightness of Being is about.

At the heart of the novel we have a group of characters whose lives entwine over a period of years. Tomas, the protagonist, is a surgeon living in Prague, renown for his womanising ways and light-hearted take on life. After falling in love and marrying the emotionally vulnerable and naive Tereza, he finds himself trapped between the ongoing desire to explore each and every woman he meets, and remain faithful to his wife.

It was hard for me to hate Tomas: In spite of his philandering ways, I understood his urgent need to take grab life with both hands and float around with it. Having been disappointed with an earlier marriage, he dedicates his life to making the most out of what he can get. Tereza, on the other hand, lives for Tomas: His unfaithful encounters drive her almost insane, and his 'lightness' is the stark contrast to how 'heavy' her love and relationships play a part in her life.

Perhaps it is my own naivety about the world, as I'm still a young adult, that made me empathise and understand Tomas so well - After all, in reality who would tolerate so much infidelity in one relationship? But I found Tereza to be such a pathetic character most of the time. She unknowingly binds herself into these relationships that hurt her (her mother, Tomas, etc.) but refuses to stand tall and discover her own identity.

In contrast to Tereza is Sabina, Tomas' favourite mistress. Sabina is almost the female version of Tomas in that she is the 'lightest' character in the novel: her willingness for freedom (something Tomas craves but can not bring himself to head for) makes her leave her great love, Franz.

While Tomas and Sabina take up the 'lightness' of life, Tereza's mind is 'heavy.' She suffers from nightmares every night, during which she must be soothed and coaxed back to sleep. The only time she finds any kind of identity, anything to be passionate about other than Tomas, is when she snaps pictures of the Communist soldiers during the Soviet takeover in Prague and hands her film over to the international journalists, but even those actions hold a certain naivety about the world.

While this is happening, liberal-minded Tomas openly objects the new government and, such is his lighthearted take on life, finds himself sinking into the lower rungs of society as the novel progresses.

It is Tomas and Tereza's relationship that explores the nature of existence. Through different classes, environments, and political standings in society, the pair are tested on their different outcomes on life. Tomas is eager to fly away with his freedom, but it is Tereza's heaviness that reminds him to stay. Ever since she turned up on his door, he's been left with an image of her as a child being put into a basket and sent downstream to him. It is her naivety and sorrow that attaches him to her, and he resents having the curse of 'compassion' on his shoulders.

While Tomas might have seemed like an unlikeable character to many, I couldn't help feeling my own 'compassion' for him. As I've said, perhaps it is my naive youth, or perhaps it is my history of depression, that has made me scorn Tereza as something I once was, and look at Tomas as something I'd want to strive to be. Though Tomas' exuberance is his eventual downfall (having to give up the one thing he cared about in the world - being a doctor), I'd rather live my life full of passion than full of regret.

I don't ever want to shrug my shoulders and say, with a heaving sigh, "Es muss sein."

I'd recommend this to anyone who likes to read a bit of philosophical fiction. It's far from light (as the title suggests ;-) ) but can work wonders for an internal investigation about your view on life.

This goes towards my Classics Challenge as Book #2.  

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Review: The Truth About Cats & Dogs (1996)

Title: The Truth About Cats & Dogs

Rated: 15
Release Date: 26th April, 1996
Country: USA

Director: Michael Lehmann
Starring: Janeane Garofalo, Uma Thurman, Ben Chaplin, Jamie Foxx

Rating: 5/5

Plot: Dr. Abby Barnes (Garofalo) is a quick-thinking, smart-talking radio veterinarian. After helping Brian (Chaplin) over the phone and on-air with his out-of-control dog, she finds herself asked out on a date by the man in question. Suffering from low self-esteem, she asks her beautiful, model neighbour Noelle (Thurman) to pose for her instead. With Brian falling for Abby's voice and personality over the phone, and fake Abby (Noelle)'s stunning good looks in person, he thinks he's found his dream woman. In the meantime, can Abby bring herself to tell Brian the truth before he falls deeper and deeper in love with her?

Review: I love this film. I really do. It's such a funny, cute, witty romantic comedy with a good message. While Abby has the brilliant mind, Noelle has the great looks. Together they make the 'perfect woman' but have very low self-esteem when it comes to Abby's outer beauty and Noelle's intelligence. The question on every viewer's mind is: Once Brian finds out, who will he choose?

To be honest I don't think Janeane Garofalo is unattractive. She has beautiful eyes, fabulous lips, and a great face. But the fact that it's mentioned quite a bit how low her self-asteem is makes up for the fact that Abby isn't exactly bad-looking.

Thurman plays the beautiful girl but manages to win over your hearts by being equally self-conscious about her intelligence. She knows she's not the smartest person in the world but doesn't play the character as a stereotypical 'dumb blonde'.

I love Ben Chaplin even though he had to leave a great TV show we had in Britain called Game On (about an agoraphobic man and his flatmates) to do this film. He brings so much charisma to the leading man role that we don't persecute him for being entranced with fake Abby's face.

So many romantic comedies follow the same storyline but this one's in a league of it's own. Garofalo is hilarious as always with her dry wit and cynicism, and Thurman is sweet with her charm and naivety. My mother and I even got my dad to sit down and watch it with us one day - and he enjoyed it - so it's not just for girlies. ;-)

If you haven't seen it, watch it. It's a must-see, feel-good film that'll make you laugh and cry.  

The Origin of Stupidity

I am not posting about this to offend anyone. I mean no disrespect whether you believe in Evolution or Creationism.

But this is really fucking stupid.

You don't even need to click on that link to watch the whole video because below is a video response by a fabulous YouTuber called ZOMGitsCriss. You don't need to have seen that original Kirk Cameron video to watch this response because Criss covers it perfectly.

I was going to post about my reaction to this 50-page introduction but Cristina pretty much sums up everything I wanted to say.

Ray Comfort has since announced that he's now giving away 100,000 books at 100 universities, Darwin's text will be left in tact, and he's now revising his 50-page forward to be more fair to evolution and atheists.

That smells too much like bullshit.

I'd love a free copy of The Origin of Species but I don't trust any edition given to me by the likes of Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron. Unaltered text? Yeah ... sure.

Here's the 50-page introduction in case you want to read it.

Unlike a lot of atheists, I don't think Richard Dawkins is the be all and end all of great thinkers. I mean, I believe that as long as religion and state is kept seperate, and religion isn't greatly affecting society and people's lives (which, when we think about, it is), they can believe whatever the hell they want. But I'm seriously considering starting an online petition to get Dawkins to do that 50-page intro to the Bible. Yeah, it's petty and childless and two wrongs don't make a right, but when people like Comfort who are scared shitless of logical thinking start throwing their creepy views around, someone's got to say something.

Rant over.  

Saturday, 19 September 2009

More Awards and junk :-D

Something miraculous happened this week - I discovered the wonders of Google Reader!

After observing BBAW from the sidelines and getting a zillion recommendations for awesome blogs every hour, I realised that the list of "Blogs I love" on my sidebar was getting bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger and, eventually, my blog wouldn't be able to take it.

Now, in the past, I've put all of my favourite blogs in the list to the right and arranged them so that the recently updated are at the top. That's how I'd keep tabs on who I visited. But, I realised this week, that that's now impossible.

Google Reader to the rescue.

But, bugger me, it's still so hard to visit everyone's blog in a day! I always prided myself on being quite a good commenter and reading and commenting on 90% of what people posted. Now, I just can't do it! I'm overwhelmed with fabulous blogs and have no time left in the day to do it.

How do you guys manage it? At the moment all of my 'book blogs' are in one category and it's hard to remember who is who by not seeing the proper design of the blogs. So, what do you guys do to keep up with everything and manage to visit your favourite blogs?

Oh, FYI - if your blog was in the 'Blogs I love' list to the right but has now disappeared, don't panic. I haven't gone off you. I just had to trim that list down majorly over the last couple of days and it doesn't mean I don't love your blog. I'm still visiting it. :-D

Anyway, moving on from that silliness . . .

Now that I've managed to tear myself away from religiously watching Summer Heights High and We Can Be Heroes (Seriously, Chris Lilley - you're a genius!), I have some awards to give out: (My apologies if you've had them before but you get them again :) )

From Faye at Ramblings of a Teenage Bookworm
(Her blog is soooo awesome - please visit it, I'm hooked and have a ton of books on my wishlist because of her.)
Here are the rules for this award:

1. Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends.

2. Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award.

3. Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to This Post, which explains The Award.

4. Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, we'll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives This Prestigious Honor!

5. Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.

My nominees are:

1) Tena from Crazy Book Slut
2) Susan from Well-Mannered Frivolity
3) Mary from The Sweet Bookshelf
4) Carl from Stainless Steel Droppings
5) Ryan from Wordsmithonia


From Ryan at Wordsmithonia
(A blog I've recently discovered and is *amazing*. This guy knows how to write reviews!)

My nominees are:

1) Taschima from Bloody Bookaholic
2) Kerri from BookEnds
3) Jess from Jessica Sheff


From Nikola at Nikola's Book Blog
(Another fabulous 'recently discovered' blog that's so cool.)

My nominees are:

1) Melissa from Shhh I'm Reading. . .
2) Jessica from Shut Up! I'm Reading
3) Jill from Rhapsody in Books

Hope you all have a good weekend peeps. And did any of you catch the new series of Peep Show last night? Good to know it still hasn't lost it's touch. :-D

Review: Once Were Warriors (1994)

Title: Once Were Warriors

Rated: 18
Release Date: 8th December, 1994

Director: Lee Tamahori
Starring: Rena Owen, Temuera Morrison, Mamaengaroa Kerr-Bell, Julian Arahanga.

Rating: 4/5

Plot: A family descended from Maori warriors is bedeviled by a violent father and the societal problems of being treated as outcasts.


Review: The plot summary above is taken from the IMDb and, in my opinion, doesn't summarise this film very accurately.

Once Were Warriors tells the story of an urban Maori family, the Hekes, struggling to make ends meet while living apart from Western culture in their close knit community. While Beth comes from an old-fashioned and traditional family, her huband Jake is an example of what some Maori have become. They have a family of five children: 13-year-old Grace, the eldest daughter daydreams about running away from her community to live a better life and reads and writes stories to her two youngest siblings; Mark 'Boogie' has been taken away from his family after a series of minor criminal offences; and Nig moves out to join a street gang who also embrace their Maori culture through a series of facial tattoos.

The first time I saw this film was a few years ago in college. In the UK, we barely learn about any other country's history, so I was not very aware of the Polynesian history in Australia and didn't truly understand the significance of this film.

Five years later, I've rewatched it and, having learned a bit more about the history, see this in a different light.

The film's a perfect example of how some of the Polynesian people of today have turned out. Statistics show that the Maori have, on average, fewer assets, live in higher deprivated areas, and are more liable to negative social outcomes.

Jake, the patriarch of the family, uses his fists to get his way, and Beth, in spite of her obvious inner strength, always succumbs to them. Having lost his job, he spends most of the time at locacl bars with his friends, getting drunk, and inviting them back to the house for all-night parties that his children are subjected to. While Beth enjoys joining in with her husband, she eventually begins to see how their lifestyle is taking its toll on their children as the family starts to fall apart.

This film touches on domestic violence, alcoholism, rape, crime, and old Maori warrior culture. In spite of its graphic and violent content, it has a clear and tragic message. You could almost set the family's lifestyle to how a British family lived nearly 60 or so years ago - the domineering man ordering around the domesticated wife. But the worst part about it is that its set in modern times and you know that this is a culture that still exists and is very real. All around the world there are families like this but Once Were Warriors shows us what happens to the minorities in our countries who were cast out a couple of hundred years ago and are now on the poverty line.

It's the fact that the cast of actors aren't 'Hollywood' pros that make the performances so gritty and realistic. We believe that this is a family, and we believe that this is their lifestyle. Temuera Morrison is terrifying as Jake, and I challenge anyone to look this man in the eyes after watching this film. Rena Owen shines as her character gradually finds the strength of her Maori background to stand up for what she believes in.Mamaengaroa Kerr-Bell is the heart of the film: Grace observes her family with an almost outsider's point of view, acknowledging that this isn't the way she wants to be living, but due to fear of her father is forced into silence.

While the two older brothers of the family seperate themselves from the home and explore more about their background (Boogie is kept in a state foster home where he is ruthlessly taught about his heritage), I would have liked to have seen it captured in greater detail. While the film is only 100 minutes long, we are only shown glimpses of what Nig and Boogie are uncovering and, as a result, aren't given the full lesson on Maori history, but are stuck in the modern Maori world with Jake and his friends.

Regardless of this, I do think this film's a must-see. It's very graphic with some horrifying scenes of violence but it's also a lesson in other cultures.  

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Review: The Eternal Kiss by Trisha Telep (Editor)

Title: The Eternal Kiss

Editor: Trisha Telep

Year: 2009

Rating: 5/5

Plot: Supernatural forces and desires come alive in these thirteen vampire tales. Like love, the adventures are never safe and hungers never die. And chances are taken. If you are seduced by the mystery of the heart, beating for a destiny unknown, you will helplessly follow the characters' in this collection - longing for one to call their own.

Featuring several New York Times Bestsellers, connect with the pulse of the talented Eternal Kiss authors . . .

Review: Do you love vampires but aren't sure where to go from here? Perhaps you've just read ... (click here for more)  

Review: Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer

[WARNING: This is a horribly written review because it was written over a period of three days and I've had other things on my mind. My apologies.]

Title: Eclipse

Author: Stephenie Meyer

Year: 2007

Rating: Undecided

Plot: As Seattle is ravaged by a string of mysterious killings and a malicious vampire continues her quest for revenge, Bella once again finds herself surrounded by danger. In the midst of it all, she is forced to choose between her love for Edward and her friendship with Jacob - knowing that her decision has the potential to ignite the ageless struggle between vampire and werwolf. With her graduation approaching, Bella has one more decision to make: life or death. But which is which?

Review: *****A Few Spoilers Included*****

Bella's back and in trouble ... yet again. Not that she shouldn't be expecting it. I mean, she has chosen to spend her free time with vampires and werewolves. You'd think she would have guessed that it wouldn't all be smooth sailing.

Because I didn't review the first two books, I'll sum up what I thought of them here so you can get a general idea of how I feel about the series.

I bought the first three books in a 3 for 2 offer at Borders around the time the film was coming out. The plot sounded interesting and 'Twilight' mania hadn't quite hit Britain yet so I was still curious.

Needless to say, I was greatly disappointed in Twilight. I didn't enjoy the way it was written: I found it very fanfiction-ish. It reminded me of being a teenager and writing fanfiction about the latest dreamhunks that were on the covers of Sugar and Big! magazine. All those kind of fanfiction are pretty much the same: you write about a girl who is a very thinly disguised version of yourself; She becomes the object of [insert hunk's name]'s affections.

That's how I found Twilight was written. Don't get me wrong, I know this is written for YA. But, considering the series has such a large following, I was expecting characters with a little more depth. And, the fact of the matter is, I don't find it to be the best written story in the world either.

Saying that, I have no doubt in my mind that if I was ten years younger, I'd probably think it was the best book in the world. Oh yeah. This shit was written for 12-year-old me. The me who'd spend hours in her room lusting over boybands and learning dance routines.

New Moon was a book I couldn't put down. I didn't know whether I'd just gotten used to Meyer's style of writing or it was the lack of sparkley vampires that intrigued me. I find Jacob Black to be a much more endearing character than Edward Cullen, and the Quileute tribe's stories were fascinating.

Eclipse is somewhere in the middle. While I didn't find it as intolerable as Twilight, I enjoyed it less than New Moon and I've narrowed it down to a number of factors.

First of all, the relationship between Edward and Bella puzzles me. I don't understand why Bella is in love with a man who is paranoid about where she goes, who she talks to, what she thinks about every second of the day. The man has some major trust issues and a bit of a one track mind. Is this really the kind of man young teens and 'tweens are hoping to end up with? Someone who'll pay his sister to kidnap you while he's away for a few days just in case you decide to go and visit your other friends (who are feeling pretty crappy)?

Also, I've never trusted Bella's infatuation with Edward. If memory serves, he gives a grand speech in the first book about how he's designed to suck you in to his presence; Everything about him is designed to be the most appealing thing in the world so that he can, y'know, kill you. Given the fact that Bella goes on and on and on about how beautiful and gorgeous and breathtaking Edward is, I do wonder whether it's real love or the fact that he's designed to make you feel that way.

Does she really love him? Or is it his vampirey design?

Yeah, so the whole Edward/Bella relationship bothers me.

The Bella/Jacob relationship is an interesting one. I'm intrigued by it because these characters seem to have had a more drawn-out romance that has resulted in real love. Towards the end of the novel, Bella realises that Jacob is her soulmate in the 'real world' and Edward is her soulmate in the supernatural world. This confirms my idea about the fact that Bella's love for Edward seems to come from the vampire design rather than a drawn-out romantic friendship (like she has with Jacob).

I think these relationships are probably what bothers me the most about this series. Of course it's not supposed to be realistic but I don't want to think about what kind of message this sends across to youngsters who've yet to experience their first romance.

Moving on from that, one of the most enjoyable things about Eclipse was more of the ancient tales of the Quileute tribe. I loved hearing about the tribe's history and how they came to be werewolves through spirits and souls and mystical creatures. Brilliant! It's everything the Cullen family are lacking - a history. We got a tasters of Carlisle's background in Twilight. Then Alice's in New Moon. In Eclipse we heard about Rosalie and Jasper. But what's missing is that Meyer touches on these backgrounds and then abrubtly drops them. The Quileute's history is ever present in the characters and affects who they are and what they say. The Cullens' history is written more as a series of flashbacks to a bad soap opera, and never really follows through with the characters except for a short series of whining.

I want to like the Cullens. I really do. But I don't.

As a character, I find Bella to be a little pathetic sometimes. She wants to have sex with Edward ... take their relationship to the next level. He wants to get married first. She doesn't want to get married - she's 18!! - but somehow gets peer pressured into an engagement. I want to shake this girl and tell her to get a hold on her life. Perhaps she's too weak to make real decisions and her mission in life was to be controlled by others?

I don't understand it. I understand that there are probably young girls out there who'd like that kind of stuff and find it endearing, but it's not for me. It's not the kind of relationship I'd want to get myself mixed up in, and that's probably why I've had a hard trouble with these books.

I've left it unrated because I gave Twilight a 2/5, and New Moon a 4.5/5. I go back and forth about giving Eclipse a 2.5/5 or a 3/5. Like I said, it was much more tolerable than the first book but the controlling aspect of the Cullens (which, I guess, is very vampirey) bothered and distracted me too much to really *like* the characters and empathise with Bella.  

Monday, 14 September 2009

A Eulogy for Jim

R.I.P. Jim Carroll

I've been trying to get a couple of reviews posted today and nothing more, but my mind is wandering elsewhere after hearing about the death of Jim Carroll. I didn't expect his death to affect me as much as it did and have tried to work out why.

I guess it's because Jim was my first real lesson in poetry. As a child you're given your first taste of poetry through the use of rhyme. The Cat Sat on the Mat. How clever. You're a poet. You go to school and learn about Shakespeare, Keats, Byron and Woodsworth. But they never teach you about anything hard-hitting. Anything that requires you to really think about the grim realities of the world and human emotion. You learn about the classical poets.

I came across Jim in my 'I love Leo' years at the age of 11 after seeing the big screen adaptation of The Basketball Diaries. The film taught me about a few things.

Perhaps one of the most important - Drugs. I didn't grow up in the nicest and safest town in the world - in fact, I've lost count of how many times the reaction to where I'm from has been an eye-popping, "Oh, eek!" (There are two drug dens in the houses opposite mine and, during my childhood, this town was #2 most polluted town in Britain and in the top 10 worst for criminal activity.) Somehow I was sheltered from it until I discovered this film, this book, this poet. I never partook in any of it but Jim actually opened my eyes to the real world. People I know and love have gone down these paths and, at one stage in school (aged 12-13), I was hanging around with future addicts and criminals, and could very well have done the same. I always wonder whether my early discoveries about the affects of drugs and crime - thanks to Jim's writing - ingrained themselves so deeply that they shaped who I am now, rather than who I could have been.

I already knew about the different ways to take heroin, and which pills in your parents' medicine cabinet would bring you up or knock you down, while my friends were daring to steal a quick sip of shandy from their older siblings. The knowledge made me curious, but it also steered me away from it.

From The Basketball Diaries (particularly the book) I got my first real lesson in poetry. I never knew that you could write about anything in the world that affected you. Jim Carroll's words were my first lessons that life isn't always about love and nature and prancing around the countryside with animals and flowers. Growing up in New York, he wrote about what he knew and lived a thousand lives before he turned 15. At last this was a man who I could connect with more than Marlowe's dream of "valleys, groves, hills, and fields."

Now that I'm an adult and have studied at university, I've found a much wider range of writers, similar to Jim, who I can connect to just as equally. But Jim Carroll will always be the first writer to help me 'think outside the box.' Outlaws like him have helped shape who I am today and told me that it's okay to ask questions. They've made me comfortable as a person and comfortable as a writer.

The few articles that have cropped up about Jim's death today have described him as a 'Punk rock poet.' That barely does him justice. He was a true libertine and an inspiration to many.

Rest in Peace Jim. We'll miss you.

(The Jim Carroll Band with ''People who Died'' - a song written about the countless number of people Jim outlived during his youth, and my first taste of punk music at the age of 11.)

Sunday, 13 September 2009

TSS - Recommendations

Gosh, these weeks are going by so fast, aren't they? Yikes. I can't believe it's Sunday already. Well, I hope you've all had a good week. This Sunday Salon I'll be going through my recent reads and also asking you guys to recommend a few books for me. :)

As some of you may have read, I started reading The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm last week and was unable to finish it in spite of it's meagre 100 pages. I can usually overlook and respect the fact that books will get dated but this was ridiculous and I felt like I was wasting my time reading it and gaining no real insight.

That's the second book this year I've not managed to finish which is a pretty good count for September.

Doctor Zhivago is still on hold and I've turned my attention to Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer. I can't imagine needing to explain what this series is about. Needless to say, so far I'm not a huge fan of the series. I kind of semi enjoyed the film - not enough to buy the DVD but enough to go and see it. I like Pattinson and I like Nikki Reed.

The first book I hated. I didn't like the way it was written, it was very fan fiction-y. None of the characters were that endearing and whenever Meyer brought up an interesting background for the supporting characters (like Carlisle) she closed it just as abrubtly.

I loved the second book. I couldn't put it down. But I have strong suspicions that may have to do with the fact that the glittery vampires are out of the picture most of the time. The werewolves' storyline is so much more interesting - I love learning about the tribe's background and old stories. I find Jacob a much more endearing character.

Now with this ... hmmm. It's okay. It's not as good as the second one but certainly much better than the first. I suppose the only thing I'm going to say about this is that I don't really understand the appeal in Edward Cullen. It scares me that pre-teen and teen girls are lusting after a character like this - a man who's very controlling and has those infamous stalker tendencies. What's attractive about a man who forces you into getting married at 18?

Anyway, I'm about 150 pages away from finishing. I'll save the rest of my thoughts for the review.

Yesterday I started my first e-book. Well ... I say, e-book. That's a lie. Somebody sent me a copy of Graham Greene's Brighton Rock in Word and, though I was unsure about how easy it would be to read in that condition, I'm finding it surprisingly easy.

That's about it as far as reading goes this week.

As far as personal subjects go it's exactly the same: I'm still relentlessly looking for a job. I've had to turn down three offers in the last week and a half because of location. I hate being in an awkward town and not being able to drive. :P

I've also been looking at university courses. I can't wait to go back and do my Masters and I'm determined to make it the best experience I've ever had. (Hence, dreaming the dream and looking at courses abroad ... Like I said, I can dream. ;-) ).

Before I end I wanted to ask you guys for any recommendations on the following:

1) Japanese/Geisha literature: I read Memoirs of a Geisha a few years ago and absolutely loved it. It really got me wondering about Eastern Asian culture and I realised that I knew absolutely nothing about it. Can anyone recommend any good reads? (You get a bonus for any more about geishas.)

2) Australian literature: I recently realised that I don't think I've read a single book written by an Australian ... or at least written about Australia/New Zealand/The nearby Islands. Whether it's contemporary and set there, or literature about the history, I'd love the recommendations.

3) Travel guides: Obviously this isn't fiction. I have plenty of books about 'First Time Travels', etc. and there're plenty of books about specific countries and places. I was just wondering whether anyone knew of any books aimed at people who have never travelled before and are looking for ideas about where to start. I've been to France quite a few times but that's just across the pond. I wouldn't know where to start for travelling - Are there any books that'll offer friendly suggestions about how to decide?

Thanks for any help you can give me guys. Will be trying to check everyone's blogs today - I'm so behind. :P My apologies.


Wednesday, 9 September 2009

The Wolfman (2010) trailer

I wasn't going to post anything today but I saw this over at Vampire Wire and couldn't resist. I'm not one for remakes but I love Benicio Del Toro and am genuinely looking forward to this.

My apologies for the recent heap of vampire/werewolf related stuff I've been posting about. I must be subconsciously readying myself for Halloween. :P  

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Review: The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm

Title: The Art of Loving

Author: Erich Fromm

Rating: Unable to Finish

Year: 1957

Synopsis: In this stimulating and thoughtful look at the theory and practice of love, Erich Fromm discusses romantic love, the love of parents for children, brotherly love, erotic love, self-love and love of God. Learning to love, he suggests, requires practice and dedication.

Review: I received this book second hand from a book swapping website earlier this year. I'd just read A Lover of Unreason and it mentioned that Sylvia Plath had read The Art of Loving while her and Ted Hughes were having marital problems. As a hardcore Plath fan who's always willing to dive into her mind, I knew this was something I'd want to read. If she read it, I'd read it.

A few weeks ago I was served by a guy at Borders who recommended reading any of Erich Fromm's works after we got into a discussion about humanism.

Now, I'm usually the first to point out to critics of old writing that opinions written in the past are bound to be different and less tolerant as we are now. Unfortunately, I couldn't stand it in this book and had to put it down this morning.

Fromm's preface begins:

"This book ... wants to show that love is not a sentiment which can be easily indulged in by anyone, regardless of the level of maturity reached by him. It wants to convince the reader that all his attempts for love are bound to fail, unless he tries more actively to develop his total personality..."

and so on and so forth. I took from that that Fromm meant in order to fully commit to someone, to love a person wholeheartedly, you must first try to love yourself, to be entirely comfortable in your own body to avoid projecting your own insecurities out on those around you.

And I'm pretty sure that's what he was getting at. Unfortunately, he didn't seem to ever actually get to that point.

This book is just over 100 pages long and I stopped about 54 pages in. I skimmed through to see if I would be making any progress soon but was dismayed to find that Fromm's focus is more on the 'types' of love (romantic love, the love of parents for children, brotherly love, erotic love, self-love and love of God) rather than the practice.

I know that lust and desire can be mistaken for love. I know that a parent's love is unconditional. I know that it's important to 'love thy neighbour.' And, as a result, felt as though I was wasting my time being told this over and over again.

Not only that but some of his ideas were dreadfully old fashioned:

"Sexual attraction between the sexes is only partly motivated by the need for removal of tension; it is mainly the need for union with the other sexual pole. In fact, erotic attraction is by no means only expressed in sexual attraction. There is masculinity and femininity in character as well as in sexual function. The masculine character can be defined as having qualities of penetration, guidance, activity, discipline and adventurousness; the feminine character can be defined as having the qualities of productive receptiveness, protection, realism, endurance, motherliness."

I think my sex life just went down the drain. I realise this was written in the '50s. I do. I really do. But I can't sit back and read a man describe a woman as being 'motherly' when it comes to erotic love. As a young woman who's very in tune with her own sexuality and (TMI!) quite 'adventurous' with it, I don't appreciate the old-fashioned ideas about men and women's traits.

More to the point, he mentions how sex is only slightly used as a way to relieve tension. What we really want is love. Yes, I'm sure we do ... eventually. But, as I've said, young people in the modern world want to experiment with their sexuality before finding the 'one' to settle down with and are proud of that and probably don't like being told that they're craving closeness.

Don't get me wrong, I'm in a long-term relationship. I'm in love and I enjoy what I have. But it's so wrong to assume that everyone does want the act of sex to be about love and closeness and intimacy.

Moving on from that, another example of his old-fashioned views on parenthood:

"Fatherly love is conditional love. Its principle is 'I love you because you fulfil my expectations, because you do you duty, because you are like me.' "

I know fathers like that. But they aren't all like that. If that had been the case, my father would have disowned by younger brother long ago because they're polar opposites. And I also hate the assumption that all mothers instantly feel that connection to their babies. I'm afraid it just doesn't happen sometimes, especially with cases of post-natal depression and ... some mothers just don't feel it immediately. It can take time.

I realise that I've only quoted some very old-fashioned views here (don't get me started on the 'homosexuals will never feel complete because they're the same sex' point Fromm makes) but the real reason I couldn't finish this book was, as I said, that the points he was making were points I already knew. I didn't feel like I was getting any deep insight into the human psyche and there was nothing remotely profound about what he wrote. Not to mention, his references to the New Testament and 'love of God' were something I couldn't actually connect with.

Maybe I'll give Fromm another chance one day with another book and another subject but I couldn't finish this one and will probably never pick it up again. I like the way I love my friends and family and everyone I meet. I don't need any coaching at the moment. Let's move on to the next book instead.  

Monday, 7 September 2009


I finished The Eternal Kiss last night and started The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm. The book's incredibly short and I should have it read by tomorrow morning so I'll be sure to get a review up for that. I'll also post a link to The Eternal Kiss review once that's up on The Book Bag's website :-).

In the meantime, I've also been applying to jobs, looking at university courses, and lazing about watching episodes of We Can Be Heroes and Summer Heights High - check them out, guys. They're both hilarious. Chris Lilley is a genius.

Anyway, to the point of this post - I've been given two more awards and I'm gonna hand them right back out. :-)

Sarbear from My Life is an Effing Fairy Tale awarded me the Me-To-You award. I love this one. It's so cute. Thanks so much, hun.

I find it so hard to choose nominees because there are so many wonderful bloggers but I'm going to hand this Me-To-You award over to a few peeps I've only recently discovered.

1) Back to Sarbear.
2) Mary from The Sweet Bookshelf.
3) Kelsey from The Book Scout.
4) Vivienne from Serendipity. (I get such a sweet tooth visiting her blog.)
5) Nikola from Nikola's Book Blog.
6) Rachel from The Book Wars.
7) Andreea from Passionate Booklover.
8) Pirate Penguin from Pirate Penguin's Reads.


The second one was the I heart your blog award from Faye at Ramblings of a Teenage Bookworm. Thank so much, hun. You rock.

I love all the blogs I visit but I'm gonna hand this over to some peeps whose blogs I've been visiting the longest.

1) J. Kaye from J. Kaye's Book Blog.
2) Eva from A Striped Armchair.
3) Violet from Violet Crush.
4) Joanne from The Book Zombie.
5) Amanda from The Zen Leaf.
6) Melody from Melody's Reading Corner.
7) Naida from The Bookworm.  

Sunday, 6 September 2009

TSS - Currently Reading & an August Recap

Hello, Hello, everyone. Wow, what a week! What a month!

I can't believe it's September already. Summer is most definitely over for us here in South Wales. You know it's Autumn when you have to wear a jumper indoors, and your right hand is freezing after sitting at the computer for too long.

Christmas and Hanukkah will be here before we know it - the Christmas cards are already available in shops. And I saw the first Christmas decorations up in a house this week. No joke! All the multicoloured lights on the house and Santa and his sleigh on the roof. My dad nearly crashed the car because I exclaimed in such a loud voice, "Christmas decorations!!!" when I spotted them. People are insane.

Anyway, rewind back to September.

I want to start by talking about my reading challenges. Let me just say that, Boy, do I suck. I was always the 'fast reader' of my group of friends, ever since primary school. But you guys are whizz kids at it! Bravo.

I can't seem to get enough read and, if I'm honest, am probably going to end up failing my classics challenge by the end of October. Why did I opt for the six book level? Oh, well, I'll learn next time.

How do you guys manage to read so fast? Have you always been a fast reader? Or does it just come with the more you read? Teach me your secrets ;-) . Pweez.


I've discovered a bag full of authors this week thanks to my reading of The Eternal Kiss edited by Trisha Telep.

I had to take a break from Doctor Zhivago - it's a fabulous story, so well written, but I struggle every now and again with it because I get the feeling I'd appreciate it more if I'd studied philosophy or even knew anything about Russian history. I will finish it but I need a break for now.

The Eternal Kiss is what I received from The Book Bag on Wednesday. It's compiled of thirteen short stories about vampires, and I've nearly finished it.

I was excited to read this because it had a few authors in it that I'd never really dared to buy their books but was curious about their writing style. Needless to say, thanks to this book, I've added a heap of books to my Amazon wishlist.

My favourite so far has been Holly Black with her story, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. I don't think it was the story as much as the style she wrote in. I like the idea of being inside the head of a girl who's going through the transformation of human to vampire, and using alcohol as a way to numb out any desire to drink blood. The ending of the story was superb too.

Kelley Armstrong didn't let me down with Kat either. I read her novel, Bitten, earlier this year and look forward to more from her Women of the Otherworld series.

Libba Bray has been fabulous - I adored her story, The Thirteenth Step, about a detox house with 'mystery' about how they get their addicts clean. (I don't want to give too much away.) And Sarah Rees Brennan and Maria V. Snyder are other authors I'm making sure to check out in the future.

Karen Mahoney is a new writer - her only publication to date is Falling to Ash in this collection. I'm really looking forward to seeing more from her and made sure to send her a message telling her that on her blog. She'll definitely be one to watch out for. :-D I can't wait.

The biggest surprise so far has been Cassandra Clare. Her short story, Other Boys, did not seem too original when I started reading it. In fact, with the way her female teen high school characters spoke, I almost had to stifle a roll of my eyes. However, talk about your twist!! The story was so unbelievably predictable until the last couple of pages when she gave us a completely unexpected twist and turned it on it's head. Well done, Cassandra. Your books are now on my wishlist. That was brilliant.

I've just got three more stories to get through by Nancy Holder & Debbie Viguié (co-writers of the fabulous Wicked series I read the other week), Lili St. Crow, and Dina James. Obviously not all of the stories I've read have been uber amazing - With all the teen vampire romance tales out there now I guess it's hard to think of something original.

Plus I'm not a teen anymore. And I've never really liked teen vampire tales too much - I'm more of an old school Anne Rice/Stephen King/Brian Lumley/Joseph Le Fanu/Stoker fan. :-)


Last but not least here's the books I read in August:

1) The Virgin's Lover by Philippa Gregory
2) Witch by Nancy Holder & Debbie Viguié
3) Curse by Nancy Holder & Debbie Viguié

Lame. Yep. I think that pretty much sums up my reading for this month. Lame. Three books = very bad. I'm trying really hard to get a much bigger number for this month.

I suppose the upside is that I discovered a series I really enjoyed (the Wicked series) which outweighs the fact that I was disappointed with The Virgin's Lover (in spite of having enjoyed all of Gregory's other books).


The films, on the other hand, is a different story. Here's my count for 'Films watched' in August:

1) Shattered Glass (2003)

2) Sixteen Candles (1984)
3) The Sure Thing (1985)
4) Say Anything ... (1989)
5) The Omen (1976)
6) Orphan (2009)
7) It Runs in the Family (2003)
8) The Time Traveler's Wife (2009)
9) Chopper (2000)
10) Disturbia (2007)
11) Funny People (2009)
12) Love the Beast (2009)
13) Muriel's Wedding (1994)
14) Meet the Parents (2000)
15) Meet the Fockers (2004)
16) Black Hawk Down (2001)
17) Speak (2004)
18) The Other Boleyn Girl (2008)
19) Practical Magic (1998)
20) The Craft (1996)
21) Babe (1995)

I love that I started the month out by watching a serious film about the true story of plagiarism at 'The New Republic' but ended my month by watching a childhood favourite. ^^

Anyone notice how Eric Bana mad I went after seeing The Time Traveler's Wife? Chopper; Funny People; Love the Beast; Black Hawk Down; The Other Boleyn Girl - those aren't accidents. ;-)

Oh, and I do urge anyone who is actually a fan of Bana to watch his documentary film - Love the Beast. Don't let the fact that it's about his car put you off. I know zip about cars. I couldn't tell you what the make of any car is - I distinguish them by colour (and license plate if I have my glasses on).

But Love the Beast actually made me tear up! It's a great love story about Bana's passion outside of acting - you can see how much racing and cars mean to him, and how tragic it is when ... well, you'll have to watch. Trust me - the way he shot it and put it together is beautiful (there's some fabulous shots of Australia) and really quite touching. He made cars - things that I've never held the slightest interest in - sound really quite exciting and I kind of wanted to know more. Think of how much books can mean to a bookworm? How passionate you are about talking about them and reading and how at home you feel in a library or a book shop? Well, that's your 'Beast.' His 'Beast' is his car. And racing.

I never thought I'd cry at a car-based documentary. :P Oh - and Jay Leno, Jeremy Clarkson, and Dr. Phil are in it for a few giggles. ;-)

Anyway, that's my Sunday Salon. Have a great week everyone. xx  

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Being Human - Series 2

It's official! They're coming back with a second series. I couldn't be more excited. :-D

For those of you who didn't watch this series, it's about a werewolf, a vampire, and a ghost living together in a house in Bristol.

Superb acting and so much fun to watch.


Weekly Geeks - Reviewing Books

Following Amanda's discussion on memes last week on her blog, I've had a good think about those that I participate in and how I present my blog. I think, as most people who replied to her have said, when I started this blog I jumped on the bandwagon to do as many memes as possible - what a perfect way to meet new people!

Now I realise that I'm just doing them out of habit more than anything and, to be honest, I'm getting quite bored with them. Not too many are thought-provoking. The only exceptions to this rule seems to be the Weekly Geeks meme and The Sunday Salon. From now on I think I'll stick to just these two. I'm sure there'll be further exceptions and one offs, such as the one Melody tagged me earlier this week, but these two will be the ones I'll concentrate on from now on.

This week's Weekly Geeks question is:

Shannon Hale (author of Austenland and The Actor and the Housewife, as well as many other books) recently posted on her blog about reviewing books. Take a moment to go read her post, in which she talks about going beyond saying simply whether or not you liked a book when writing a review.

For this week’s Weekly Geeks, we challenge you to respond to the questions Ms. Hale asks in one of three ways.

I'm going to be answering the six questions Ms. Hale put on the end of her post. (Option 3).

3. At the end of her post, Ms. Hale posed six questions for those who review books on their blogs or other sites. Write a letter to Ms. Hale explaining your position on each of these questions, then return to her post and leave a comment with a link to your post. And remember her request to speak freely, but kindly and respectfully!

- Do you find that the anticipation of reviewing the book has changed your reading experience?
Yes. I have an excellent memory when it comes to details and whenever I'd watch a film or read a book for review, I'd never take any notes. My mind had a way of remembering everything I was taking in and I could just look back at it later when it came to writing the proper review.

Now that I've started writing my reviews for this blog and The Book Bag, I find myself more and more worried that I'll forget things. I keep quite a few book journals and make sure I jot down everything that comes to mind while I'm reading. If I'm on a train or bus and have no book journal around, I'll write my notes at the front or the back of the book.

- Are you rating the book even as you read? Or do you wait until the end to sum it all up?
Yes. Obviously like everyone else if I'm reading a book I don't enjoy, I can imagine how I'll feel at the end of it - relieved it's over or disappointed that I didn't get more out of it. Though lately I've realised that I'm rating these books out of five in my head. Half way through reading The Virgin's Lover by Philippa Gregory I realised that it was a disappointing read and if it hadn't been for one particuloar character and for the fact that I usually enjoy Gregory's work, I would have given up long ago. As a result, I already knew that I was awarding it a 2/5 rating.

Of course, you can't really tell what you're going to think of a book until you've reached the end. I found Necroscope by Brian Lumley a very slow start buy by the end, I gave it full marks for how exciting and well-written the story was. I do think it's important to include your initial reaction in a review, though. If you enjoy a book so much but found it to be a very slow start, it's important to tell anyone reading your review that while the pace might lag at first, it'll be worth it in the end.

Does knowing you'll be reviewing it (or rating it) publicly affect which books you pick up in the first place?
Not at all. I don't always review the books I read (I've never reviewed The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger because it's my all-time favourite read and I find it hard to break down and put into words just why I love it). I read what I want to read and what I think I'll enjoy. Then I'll make the decision whether to review it or not based on whether I feel I can write a review for it.

Does the process of writing the review itself change how you felt about the book?
Not usually. Most of the time I'll know exactly what I want to write and what my opinion is.

What I do usually find, however, is that I'll look back on a review from a year or so ago and think, 'Surely it wasn't that bad?' or 'I remember it differently' and want to read said book again ... just to make sure.

What is your motivation to assign a rating to a book and declare it to the world?
It comes from my love of films. I'm a film buff to the extreme and love talking about films and what I thought of them and the process the directors, producers, writers, and actors went through to make it. I've always wanted to review films for a living.

When I went to university to study English, I realised that I could also review books if I wanted to - especially as I was already a bit of a bookworm. I suppose my motivation is that I'm a bit of a chatterbox and I'm a big believer in freedom of speech. Everyone's entitled to their opinion, whether you agree with it or not, and I love giving my opinion. :)

If you review a book but don't rate, why not? What do you feel is your role as reviewer?
I do rate my reviews because I feel as though it gives the reader a brief glance into what the tone of this review is going to be like. Perhaps they're not in the mood to read someone gushing over how great a read is, or perhaps they don't enjoy it when someone criticises a writer. My rating system gives them a quick insight into what's in store.