Monday, March 30, 2009

We are back from Iceland nad had a fantastic time! I will be putting up pictures from our three days to give you an idea of what we did. We flew out on Thursday night and got to our room around 1:30am so went straight to bed. On Friday morning we got up and had a nice continental breakfast before going out to explore Reykjavík city centre. The photo below is of us in our tiny room where we only spent time sleeping.

This photo is of one of the mountains we walked past on the way into Reykjavík. None of them were very high and they all seemed to plateau out on the top like the one below.

This is me sporting my new hat complete with cat ears. It has a scarf attached with mittens (see photos from day 3 for a better look). I got any strange looks wearing it, but people didn't tend to forget me at least!

There was lots of amazing grafitti around the town. This is just one section. It was made to look like a moutain and the white on top sparkled in the sun. There were lots of different styles, bt it was the tree and the roots that caught my attention on this one.

We spent the afternoon horse riding. Iceland has native horses that have not been bred with others from different countries. They were beautiful, gentle beasts (no problems with walking behind as they didn't kick at all). Very shaggy and built for the cold weather. They were smaller than European horses and they have a fifth gait between walking and trotting called tölt. They were a pleasure to ride and I was told I sat very well and should go back for the advanced experience with lots of faster riding. Sadly we didn't have time but if we go back I will definitely give it a go.

The photo below is Alex with his horse. He had never been horse riding before and was a little nervous. His horse was choosen as it was quite slow although at one point it did take off really fast and his feet fell out the stirrups. He said if it hadn't stopped when it did he would have fallen out!

My horse was called Kevla (not sure on the spelling but that is how it sounded). She was a lovely fiesty ride and I really hope to take some proper lessons if I can find somewhere not too expensive.

Here is a close up of Kevla. As you can see it was snowing that day and it was so beautiful. The landscape is very barren with very few trees (only those imported from Serbia I think) and very few wildlife. We rode throgh a lava field which was quite rocky.

In the evening we went on a Quest for the Northern Lights. You need just the right weather conditions and we did manage to spend about an hour observing them play across the sky about an hours drive from the town. They were not as impressive as the photo below and were impossible to take a picture of on my camera, but stunning none-the-less. By the time we got back we were exhausted and went straight to bed.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Yes me and Alex are off on holiday tomorrow to Iceland for a long weekend. It's his birthday on 31th but this is more a holiday for me than him. I have been wanting to go for a little while now and am really looking forward to finally getting over there. Have my camera packed on top and lots of spare batteries so will hopefully get some good shots.

The picture above is from Valentines Day. We went to Orbital Manga in London where they had a special event where UK manga artists would draw you with your partner for £10. If you were single they would draw you with your favourite manga character. The above is me and Alex and I asked the girl very nicely to add our cats into the picture (I love that she drew Merlin chewing on Alex's hair!). I am away from home and can't find the artists website, but when I am home I will put up a link so you can see some more of her great work.

I can't tell you how much I love the picture and how great a day it was :)

Monday, March 23, 2009

I am so excited that Carl is hosting this challenge again in 2009. There are a variety of different quests and journey's to suit everyone's reading needs. Full details are here.

I have chosen quest the First : Read at least 5 books that fit somewhere within the Once Upon a Time III criteria. They might all be fantasy, or folklore, or fairy tales, or mythology…or your five books might be a combination from the four genres.

I am not going to put together a list but these are some of the books I hope to choose from unless I spot something else along the way:

The Young Merlin Trilogy - Jane Yolen
The King Arthur Trilogy - Rosemary Sutcliff
Ladies of the Lake - John & Caitlin Matthews
Deepak Chopra Presents India Authentic Volume 1
Scarlet - Stephen Lawhead
Isode Trilogy - Rosalind Miles
Fables - Bill Willingham
Leaping Beauty - Gregory Maguire
Troll Bridge - Jane Yolen & Adam Stemple
Angel - Cliff McNish
Betwixt - Tara Bray Smith
Making Money - Terry Pratchett
Firethorn - Sarah Micklem
Something by Charles de Lint
Something by Juliet Marillier
Something by Anne Bishop

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 405
Format : Fantasy Horror Novel
Reason for Reading : Book Awards II Challenge, 666 Challenge

Sunshine is the nickname of Rae Seddon. When she was younger her mother left her father and she has been raised to be her mother's daughter. This becomes more apparent as we learn her father was a sorcerer from the famous Blaize family. Sunshine works in a bakery where she is famous for making her delicious cinnanmon rolls among other pastries and deserts. Everything changes though one day when she takes a drive up to the lake and doesn't hear the vampires coming (well you don't do you).

She wakes up surrounded by the creatures and is taken to a house where she is chained to the wall to be food for another vampire Constantine who is an enemy of their Masters. Con is trying to beat Bo by not eating Sunshinee. Sunshine on the other hand knows that no one escapes alive from vampires. All she has to help her is a small lock knife tucked in her bra.

During her incarcaration she remembers time spent with her grandmother, her father's mother, when she was young after her father left. She taught her transmuting, how she could change an object into another eg a feather into a leaf. Although she has been raised her mother's daughter, she still has the powers of her fathers line and she must be prepared so they do not suddenly express themselves. This could be her way out of her current situation although what to do about the trapped vampire as it doesn't seem fair to leave him behind. After all he didn't eat her, but it is sunshine outside.

I think this has had mixed reviews on the blogsphere, but I have to say I enjoyed it immensley. I loved Sunshine and reading her thought patterns which were at times a little jumbled as they would really be. I also really liked the supporting characters of Charlie, Con, Mel, Yolanda and Pat especially. There are so many vampire books around at the moment and this really does give you a different twist on the genre. My only random note was that was a random nearly sex scene in the middle of the book that seemed very out of place, but it did set up some conflict in the story which worked well. There could definitely be a sequel which I would most definitely rush out to get and read.

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 51
Format : Children's Fairy Tale
Reason for Reading : 999 Challenge, one of my mum's favourite books

This book is now sadly extremely hard to find. It is written and illustrated by Grace Lodge (she did some illustrations for Enid Blyton) and tells the story of Molly and John. As children they find Puddledock Farm and say they will get married as adults and live there. True to their word they take over the farm despite the villiagers not helping out due to the stories that it is overun by fairies. They manage fine for a while, but the work becomes too much and they advertise for a farm hand.

Eventally out of the blue young boy Scut turns up to help them out. He wears a tall pointy hat and won't come into the farm house or eat with Molly and John. John finds him rude, but he does such a great job helping out around the farm that this is soon overlooked. Scut is very upset one day though when John comes home with 3 rabbits he has shot in Puddledock Wood. Scut says he can shoot rabbits anywhere but not the wood and bursts into tears. Only to Molly will he reveal the truth and his real nature.

This is such a charming book with beautiful illustrations and story. Scut is a lovely character and Jim Hawker is a mean villian in the story once Molly and John have a young son. If you see this secon hand, grab it I promise it is well worth it and will probably be a bargain.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Rating : 3.0/5
Number of Pages : 200
Series : #2 Vampire Doll
Format : Manga
Reason for Reading : 999 Challenge, alternative for the Manga Challenge, to continue with the series

Back into the weird and wonderful world of vampire master Guilt-na-Zan. He was exorcised and bound into a cross only to be let out and trapped again in the body of a female doll now known as Guilt-na. He can regain his powers by drinking Tonae's blood, but the effects only last for 10 minutes at a time... The story starts with a little about the exorcist Kyoji (Guilt-na's master) and his brother Kyoichi. We find out why the brothers first quarrelled and see them solve a mystery together, only to start squabling again making it all worthless!

There is a strange short story about Guilt-na and Kyoji teaming up against Tonae and Vincent (a bat-man) to see who can make the best ice cream and then there is a section at Halloween where Gilt-na has a chance to become Guilt-na-Zan for ever. First though he must find the Pumpkin King and make a choice. The final two chapters revolve around Hugho who taught Kyoji his doll making skills and his doll Dante. Dante is not like other dolls, he has a soul and was modelled on Hugo's best friend who died and he can barely remember. As Dante tells his story he pieces together the truth of Hugho's past.

There are some random bonu strips thrown in for good measure and Vampire Doll written as if it were different popular manga's. It's hard to review this as it is so wacky and off the wall! It's fun, but I don't think I could sit and read more than one at a time as there isn't a lot of continuity. It does make fun of itself and manga in general though which I liked and it's just so strange you can't help but adore it!

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 168
Series : #3 Crossing Midnight
Format : Graphic Novel
Reason for Reading : 999 Challenge, to continue with the series

The final installment in the Crossing Midnight Japanese drama. Toshi has been sent by the false Sword King Aratsu to kill Kai without realisig that he is her brother. She has now been upgraded to assassin and is looking for her first kill to really deserve the title. She is tracking Kai and uses Loretta's memories to find out he has been to visit former porn star Mimi Oguno who Toshi helped in volume two. It seems they are going around in circles, each trying to find the other, but for very different reasons.

Kai uses a key to track down Aratsu in his own palace, but finds the former Sword King Asiroamiro by accident instead. The truth about how Toshi and Kai got there powers is revealed and the history of their family. A traitor is made known who tries to find a way to redeem themselves before it is too late. A war begins between the two sword masters with one twin fighting on either side. Like any war, there must be sacrifice to win, but who will it be.

I am so sad this series was cut (no pun intended) short. Some of the main story arcs are tied up at the end but there is definite potential for more. Who knows, maybe some time in the future Carey (who brought us Lucifer, the spin off from The Sandman) will find another way to pick up the story. There is a quote on the cover summing up the series nicely, "like a Japanese Pan's Labyrinth".

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Rating : 4.5/5
Number of Pages : 160
Series : #2 Crossing Midnight
Format : Graphic Novel
Reason for Reading : 999 Challenge, to continue with the series

Kai is still searching for his twin sister Toshi when he befriends Loretta. She is a teenage schoolgirl leading a hidden life as a "reward date" being a paid escort and more to Japanese men. Her friends are slowly being killed and it seems to link to Tarimoku, a chimp prankster who appears to children and protects their innocence.

Meanwhile Toshi who is now Hasharito has a tool choose her, Uso-Tsuki the Liar in the form of a pair of scissors. After passing a series of tests she is sent out into the night to cut away people's dreams. She manages to upset the Gleaner (one of the five faces of Death) and her fortune takes a sudden turn for the worse. She does have superdog to help her though.

Another great collection seeing Hasharito trying to uncover her missing past and Kai learn some hard truths about the nature of the world. Lots of violence again with some amazing artwork. There is a section written by Carey at the end about "reward dating" which was interesting, looking at the different attitudes between different cultures and countries.

Rating : 4.5/5
Number of Pages : 198
Format : Teenage Fiction Novel
Reason for Reading : 999 Challenge

Peter is a wood cutter who lives with his father Tomas. They are fairly nomadic travelling from town to town and never really settling or being accepted. His mother died giving birth to him and he has been raised by his alcoholic father. He keeps hidden a box from Peter that he is not allowed to open or even touch. When they move to the villiage of Chust which houses no more than 200 people strange things start to happen. People are being killed along with animals and they are smeared with blood.

Peter starts to put the peices together trying to protect his girl Agnes. With the arrival of a group of gypsies more of the pieces slot into place and it turns out the town is being plagued by vampires. These are not your sterotypical vampires, but the old legends where they are more like zombies with none of the charm and swagger of todays popular urban fantasy types. Peter is able to slow them down by garlic, throwing millet seeds at them (they have to stop and pick them all up) and giving them charocoal (they have to write with it until it is all gone). These vampires (or hostages as they are referred to) seem to have greater than usual power leading them to believe the Shadow Queen has returned. It is up to Peter to figure out the meaning behind the song the Miorita and save the villiage.

This was such a great book. It looks at the origins of the vampire mythology and is set in Eastern Europe. Lots of scary moments and fantastic storytelling. Suited to anyone who loves vampires, teen fiction, mythology or a good story. I will definitely be reading more of Sedgwick's books in the near future.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Rating : 2.5/5
Number of Pages : 324
Format : Fiction novel
Reason for Reading : Library Discussion Group, Book Awards II Challenge

The 2006 Booker Prize winner set in the foothills of the Himalayas and part of the time in New York. We follow Sai the orphaned gradaughter of the judge she lives with. He treated his wife terribly and disowned his daughter, but his one love is dog Mutt who he completely spoils. Living with them also is Cook whose son Biju has been sent to New York to find a better life.

Sai has fallen in love with her maths tutor Gyan and he feels the same until their world is shaken up by the Nepalese community uprising. Gyan is Nepalese and is torn between his love and his loyalties. In New York Biju is struggling to make his own way as an illegal immigrant. Back home all anyone wants to do is get to the West where everything is better, they can make more money and get ahead in life. Sadly things are very different from the perception and Biju has some terrible experiences living in a cramped basement and changing jobs often to avoid being caught out.

To be honest I don't have too much to say about this. I enjoyed the style of writing, but I wasn't really taken with the story. I wasn't too involved with the characters except the charming Mutt and I spent most of the book hoping nothing bad would happen to her. Desai was the youngest woman to win the Booker Prize, but I am not sure I would make the effort to read more of her novels in the future.

Rating : 3.5/5
Number of Pages : 268
Series : #4 Daughters of the Moon
Format : Teenage Fiction Novel
Reason for Reading : 999 Challenge, to continue with the series

The Daughters of the Moon are back and this time Catty is the main focus of the story. She was found by her adoptive mother when she was 6 years old wandering alone in the desert. She thinks she is an alien and wants to keep her safe from government agencies. In the present Catty is able to move backwards and forwards in time, but has never been able to go back far enough to see her birth parents. Things are about to change when a phone call upsets everything.

The police call saying that her mother has been killed and they need to organise her furneral. The first question is how do they know it is her mother when Catty has no memory of her. The next issue is trying to evade the mysterious three men who appear also trying to claim the body. Catty is approached by a mysterious man whose identity is unknown and who hands her a scroll that is said to destroy the Atrox for good. It is also said to be cursed and unfortunately it seems to be Catty's adoptive mother who is suffering. The Daughters must battle a new type of foe and help Catty discover her past and the identity of the scroll bearer.

This was my favourite in the series so far. Catty is a great character and the story was fast paced and stood out from the previous three. It does seem however that none of them can date as the boys are rarely what they seem!

Rating : 3.5/5
Number of Pages : 160
Series : #3 The Sandman
Format : Graphic Novel
Reason for Reading : The Dream King Challenge, to continue with the series

The third installment in the hugely successful Sandman series sees a departure from the main plot arc. Instead it is four short stories that all involve Dream in some way. The first is "Calliope", a story about a muse who was once the lover of Dream and the mother of his child who has been trapped by a human to help him write more. She calls for help but it seems Dream himself has been imprisoned and cannot help her. The second tale is "Dream of a Thousand Cats" where a single cat is trying to get 1000 cats to dream the same dream at the same time. Once cats ruled the world and hunted humans as their playthings. Humans changed the world by all dreaming at the same time and the cats want to change things back to their proper order.

The third tale is "A Midsummer Night's Dream" illustrated by Charles Vess. It tells a tale of the first performance of Shakespeare's play in front of a very unusual audience consisting of the fairy folk from the tale on their last trip to our realm. The final story is "Facade" about Element Girl who just wants to die. She is a superhero after entering a pyrimid and being blessed with gifts. She sees it more as a curse setting her apart from everyone else. She has to make faces for herself but they don't stay for long meaning she is seen as a monster by others.

My favourite story was "Dream of a Thousand Cats". It was a great idea that humans changed the world and all concept of the world by dreaming the same dream at the same time. I also really enjoyed Facade and the welcome return of Death, another of the Endless. I look forward to reading more and getting back to the main plot arc.

Other Reviews:
Debi : Nothing of Importance

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Rating : 5.0/5
Number of Pages : 144
Series : #6 Black Jewels Series
Format : eBook, Dark Fantasy
Reason for Reading : 666 Challenge, to continue with the series

Hell's fire. Mother Night and may the Darkness be merciful! Anne Bishop is back with another Black Jewels installment. For this one it helps to have read The Invisible Ring beforehand as you learn more about what happened to Jared and Lia after the novel finished. In this episode we meet new character Lady Cassidy who is a light jeweled Queen who has been rejected by her entire court. Reeling from that she is asked by Daemon and Jaenelle to go to Dena Nehele which has been ruined by Dorothea's cruel pet Queens. There she needs to teach the Warlords protocol and bring back a sense of the land.

She first meets Lia and Jared's descendant Theran who does not realise that Jaenelle is Witch and has never met Kindred before. He only sees Cassidy's plain exterior and cannot see the woman beneath. Once she reaches Dena Nehele she meets Grey. He is Theran's cousin who is damaged from being tortured for years by people who believed him to be Theran. Together they must work together and hope that they can restore the realm and also uncover the hidden treasure left by Lia.

Interwoven in the plot are segments with Daemon, Jaenelle, Lucivar and Saetan. Deamon has problems with another woman trying to gain his favours which brings out the worst in Saetan. It leads him into the Twisted Kingdom and only his family can rescue him. One of the other great parts of the plot is the introduction of Kindred Sceltie Vae who keeps Theran and the other "follosh male sheep" in line.

One of the best in the series, definitely on a par with the first three. I read that she is already working on the follow up which I really hope is true. I really liked Cassidy and Grey, it was fun to spend some time with the lighter jewels. Fingers crossed there will be many more in the series.

Other Reviews:

Rating : 3.5/5
Number of Pages : 128
Format : Graphic Novel
Reason for Reading : 999 Challenge

A dark Batman graphic novel from DC Comics. The inmates of Arkham Asylum have taken over the institution for the criminally insane and the Joker is threatening to blind one of the young female staff if Batman does not go and meet them inside. It is April 1st and they all want revenge on the man who put them in there, Batman.

The collection covers how the asylum came to being by the brilliant psychiatrist Amadeus Arkham. It was origianlly his ancestral home, but when his mentally ill mother kills herself he begin rennovations to turn into the asylum. It has a reputation for being cursed and the truth about Amedeus slowly comes out along with his journal revealing the truth behind the man.

Batman must face his own demons and possible madness to restore order and find out how the patients got free. A real look at the nature of madness and Batman's character. THere is a great line where the inmates want to remove his mask near the beginning and see who he really is to which the Joker replies that his real identity is in fact Batman. There are also some great scenes with Harvey Dent/Two Face and the nature of choice. The asylum is trying to open up his choices from the two sides of a coin to the 78 choices in a tarot deck.

Dak illustrations throughout. A disturbing and violent read, it stnads alone and you don't need to have much knowledge of Batman besides the basics.

Friday, March 13, 2009

I know I know...

Yes I know I am very behind on reviews and am not blogging as much lately, but challenges are just too damn addictive! I haven't been paying enough attention to one of my favourite blogs sadly. I only just noticed Nymeth is holding a mini challenge in March:

The Try Something New Mini-Challenge

During the month of March, you’ll be asked to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. It can be something Dewey-inspired, like a comic aka graphic novel, a YA novel, a book on feminism, etc. But it can be something else too: poetry, a short story collection, manga, non-fiction, a cookbook, a book on knitting or other crafts, a book on social issues, a play, a horror book, fantasy, sci-fi, a collection of fairy tales or a fairy tale retold…you decide. It’s not mandatory that you have never ever read a book of the kind you pick before…all I’m asking is that you pick something that is still mostly new territory for you.

You sign up and are given a partner depending on if you are an odd or even number. I am an odd number so I think I will be partnered up with the next person to sign up (go on you know you want to...). You then collaborate with your partner about what you are thinking of reading and maybe getting advice from them. You then do a wrap up post together to complete the challenge and possibly win prizes! Sounds fun :)

The Vampire Challenge

Hosted by Kathrin at Secret Dreamworld of a Bookaholic runs throughout 2009. It's an easy challenge for me as the goal is to read 2+ books with vampires in 2009, that's it. They can be from any genre; romance, YA, paranormal, mysteries - anything, as long as there's a or two (or more) vampires in it. I have lots of candidates and can't wait to get started.

Reviews will be up here.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Yes I know I know, I am signing up for another 2 challenges. How could I resist they look great!

Hosted at Morbid Romantic with the following rules:

The 666 challenge is called so because the requirements are this:
1.) You must choose 6 of the categories below.
2.) For each category, you must read 6 books for each.
3.) You must read at least 6 different authors.

Do you have to read 36 books, though? No. Some books can certainly be put under multiple categories. For example, Twilight has both vampire and werewolves, so that can be put under both categories.

The categories are:

Human’s with special powers (like psychic, telepathy, telekinesis, etc).
Creatures from other worlds
Horror creatures/Monsters
Paranormal creatures/events

You can even come up with your own and submit them. I have put my categories in the right side bar and I will fill my books in as I read them.

This one is hosted by Not Enough Books and the challenge is to read at least one cozy mystery a month between 1/4/09 and 30/9/09. You need to sign up before 1st April (see the link above) and everyone who compeltes the challenge wins a handmade bookmark which is pretty cool. I am hoping to read more of the Bath and Body series as well as finally getting around to some Charlaine Harris.

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 144
Series : #4 Camelot
Format : Graphic Novel
Reason for Reading : 999 Challenge, to continue with the series

The latest installment in the Nightmares and Fairy Tale graphic novel series by Serena Valentino. It covers two stories associated with the sea. The first is "Harmony" which tells of a young girl only Gwen and her doll Annabelle can see and hear. She insists she isn't a ghost but can't explain what she is and why no one else can see her. Gwen is determined to unravel her story and find out the truth, even going against Aunt Beatrice's wishes.

The second story "Song of the Siren" is much more disturbing . A beautiful mermaid has been captured by the owner of a carnival. He began by raping her and tortures her by witholding their daughter. Being she is a mermaid it was the father who became pregnant and gave birth to their halfing child out of his side. He exhibits the mermaid as they travel around and she plots her revenge and how to get loose and return home.

Both stories were absolutley beautifully drawn by Camilla d'Errico and I loved "Song of the Siren" the most. It was violent, brutal yet so moving all at the same time. I really hope there are more in the series and that I can find them soon.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 183
Series : Rock 'N' Roll Fairy Tale
Format : Fairy Tale Novel
Reason for Reading : 999 Challenge

A modern re-telling of the Pied Piper of Hamelin that mixes the world of fairy with our own putting a new twist on an old story. Calliehas strict parents and is sure she will never be able to convince them to let her go and see ouring rock band Brass Rat. She manages to get a backstage pass to write an article on the band for her school magazine and it turns out her parents are actually fans of the band too. So Callie goes with her parents and annoying younger brother in tow. She overhears an arguement and some things she can't explain raising her suspicions of the band who seem to have been around a lot longer than their looks and physical ages imply.

The next night is Halloween and Callie stays home to write her article while everyone else is out trick or treating. Her parents rush home to find Callie is the only child left in the whole town. Callie starts to put the peices together and realises that the flute player from the band is the Pied Piper and as he was not able to colelct his money for the concert he has taken the souls of the children instead. She must now try to find a way to bring them all back, break an ancient curse and find her lost brother.

Lots of fun, Jane Yolen and her son Adam Stemple make a great writing team. They even included full song lyrics of Brass Rats songs at the end. I really liked Callie and like all the best fairy tales there is a bitter sweet ending and not quite a happily ever after for everyone concerned. I will definitely be reading Troll Bridge by the authors soon.

Rating : 4.5/5
Number of Pages : 154
Format : Young Adult Novel
Reason for Reading : 999 Challenge and I love Lois Lowry

Littlest One is the newest of her kind and the most curious. When spending time learning from others of her kind she is constantly asking questions about who they are, what they are and is always causing mischief. Littlest One has a good heart though and a fine touch like gossamer. Her role is to learn how to collect fragments from the houses of humans, put those fragments together and bestow dreams without waking the human or getting caught. They are also able to give dreams to animals.

Working against Littlest One's folk are the Sinisteeds who colletively form the Horde. Littlest One works in the house of an elderly woman and her dog Toby. A young boy, John, comes to stay with her brought by a social worker with an aggressive and volatile background. It is up to Littlest One to keep him safe from the Sinisteeds and try to bring some joy back to his shattered life.

This is such a beautiful little book that I highly recommend. Littlest One is adorable and I loved the others of her race, even the slightly grumpier ones. The way dreams are put together and bestowed on people was really touching and I find myself waking suddenly and checking to see if anyone is near by bestowing a dream on me or my husband. It was a lovely touch that Littlest One was also able to give dreams to animals as any pet owner could testify animals do look they are dreaming at times. A truely touching novel from one of the best children's authors around.

Monday, March 02, 2009

February Films

Director : Peter Sollett
Genre : Comedy, Music
Rating : 3.5/5

This is a lovely, quirly Indie film with a great soundtrack in the style of films like Juno and Garden State. Nick (Michael Cera) has recently been dumped by his girlfriend Tris (Alexis Dziena) and is pursuaded to go out to play a gig with fellow bandmates. He is mostly talked in to it as his favourite band Fluffy are playing at a secret location somewhere in New York. Norah (Kat Dennings) has been ssecretly keeping the mix cds that Nick has been making for Caroline which she was throwing away and is now also really into Fluffy. She goes out with her drunk friend Caroline (Ari Graynor) and ends up seeing Nick's band.

Norah doesn't realise who Nick is and in trying to fend off the verbal blows of Tris pretends he is her boyfriend. From there events are set in motion that take Nick and Norah on a journey through music and self discovery. Nick is trying to get over Tris and Norah also has an ex who isn't quite an ex who may just be after her music connections.

I really enjoyed this, it's just my kind of film. My one criticism is that I would like to see Cera play a different kind of role. This is the third film (Superbad, Juno) he has played the same type of character and I am interested to see what else he can do. I bought the soundtrack and the novel and am looking forward to the dvd release.

Director : John Patrick Shanley
Genre : Drama
Rating : 3.5/5

Set in the 1960s, the plot revolves around two nuns, Sister Aloysius Beauvier (Meryl Streep) and Sister James (Amy Adams) who suspect that Father Brendan Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is having inappropriate relations with a young black student and altar boy. It all begins when Father Flynn preaches a sermon about doubt and the head nun (Streep) tells the others to keep an eye on him and see what sparked this.

Sister James is quite naieve and innocent, seeing only the best in people. She comes to doubt what she sees when small things start to bother her. The boy is called to the priests quarters and returns smelling of alcohol, the priest is seen putting a shirt back in the boys locker etc. She reports it and Streep goes off in search of evidence. In the end she gets the priest to resign his post at their church and school and ironically he gets an even better position.

The performances from the three main actors are riviting. There is one scene in particular where Streep and Hoffman really battle each other verbally which I couldn't tear my eyes away from. The best thing about it was that at the end you are left with doubt. Did he do it or not?

Director : P.J. Hogan
Genre : Comedy
Rating : 3.0/5

Rebecca Bloomwood (Isla Fisher) is a shopaholic. She has 8 credit cards and has thousands of dollars worth of debt. When the magazine she writes for goes bust she pursues her dream of getting into fashion journalism. Things don't quite go to plan when the job has already been filled, but she ends up working for the same comapny on a different magazine, ironically writing about finance and how to be better with money.

Her boss Luke Brandon (Hugh Dancy) has a lot of faith in her, especially when her first article under the pen name "The Girl in the Green Scarf" about credit card debt becomes a worldwide success. As Rebecca and Luke start to fall for each other, can Rebecca fend off the debt collectors and keep her secret hidden as well as become the fashion journalist she has always dreamed of.

Sex and the City but with a reality check. I enjoyed this much more than I was expecting, great escapism, fun and with a heart. I am not sure if I will go as far as to read the novel, but I would be happy to watch the film again.

I am still doing really well with the 999 Challenge, but do need to get started on most of the others. I should finish at least one more Arthurian book in March and complete the challenge, although it seems highly unlikely I will read all 12 I wanted to. I aim to finish what I don't have time for as part of the Mythology category of the 999 Challenge as they are all on my Not Yet Read list anyway. Let's see how much my reading slows down now I am back toworking full time again...

Books Read = 19, Total = 37
Pages Read = 4504, Total = 8952
Manga Challenge : 1/6 plus 5 alternatives
Scott Westerfeld Mini Challenge : 0/3
Arthurian Challenge : 5/12 (6 minimum)
Book Awards Reading Challenge II : 7/10
What's in a Name Challenge II : 2/6
Challenge with Nymeth : 0/5
Challenge with Mariel : 0/5
The Dream King Challenge : 0/3
999 Challenge : 21/81
Graphic Novel Challenge II : 0/12
Guardian Challenge : 38/50