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Showing posts from May, 2010

Julie and Julia by Julie Powell

Julie Powell, while working for the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation in the wake of 9/11 as a secretary, began the Julie/Julia project.  She was going to cook her way through the 524 recipes in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking in one year and she was going to blog about it. Her sole purpose in attempting to slog her way through this classic recipe collection is to enliven her dreary life and who wouldn't feel the same? I would be depressed answering phone calls from the victims of 9/11 and people complaining about the LMDC's plans to rebuild the World Trade Center. This blog became the basis of her book and the movie entitled Julie and Julia, starring Amy Adams and Meryl Streep and serves to commemorate her process. She attempts to weave Julia Child's life in Paris into her memoir as it is during this time that Julia learns about French cooking in almost painful detail. Julie's blog is highlighted in the media, and this leads to a lucrative …

Books v. Movies (or Order of the Phoenix movie v. Order of the Phoenix book)

OK, so I know that I haven't posted in a while but there's a reason for that, I swear.  I broke my ankle and had to have surgery. For the first few weeks, I was in a lot of pain and because I am also pregnant, there wasn't a whole lot that I could take for pain management (sorry Tylenol Extra Strength, you just don't cut it for an ankle that's broken in three places). I wasn't reading a whole lot because I was in pain - I couldn't really focus on what I was reading - and then, when the pain became more bearable, I was a tad depressed. Not being able to really leave the house, drive anywhere and to be utterly reliant upon another person to care for you can get depressing. But I'm back on the wagon now and for my comeback post, I wanted to talk about books v. movies generally. The inspiration for this post was Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which I'm nearly done with reading and which I watched last night as a movie. 

After watching HP and…

Queen of Sorcery by David Eddings

This is the second book in the Belgariad series, written by David Eddings. Belgarath, Polgara, Garion and their companions are continuing their chase of the Orb of Aldur and it's thief. During the course of their search, they add members to their group: Ce'Nedra (the Tolnedran Imperial Princess), Mandorallen (a Mimbrate Asturian) and the Asturian archer, Lelldorin. The group begins by going through Arendia and then through Tolnedra. Eventually, the group winds up in Nyissa, a swamp like kingdom known for its snakes and its poisons. The troupe experiences setbacks and adventures that are expected in a novel such as this and Garion very nearly becomes a "man" very much before he or his Aunt Polgara intended him to.

The characterization in this novel is wonderful, as I noted before.  David Eddings has obviously put a lot of thought into who is characters are and how he wants to portray them to his readers.  The dialog is wonderful and makes it move quickly, even though …

Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings

I read Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings years ago - I think that I was in fifth or sixth grade.  I had a hankering to read it again now because I'm sort of laid up with a broken ankle that's healing and the thought of re-reading past books that I had enjoyed was comforting to me.  So I picked up this. I actually got the editions that are shown below the top one, because I fully intend to just plow right through the Belgariad and the Mallorean. So far, I've only gotten through Pawn of Prophecy and but I'm nearly done with Queen of Sorcery too, so be prepared for a review coming of that one shortly.

The novel focuses on Garion, a young boy in a world that has been around for thousands of years. He's a simple, normal boy at first blush - he plays with his friends on the farm, hurts himself occasionally, begins to notice girls and gets himself into the trouble that most young boys often do. We are introduced to his earliest memories - his Aunt Pol and the kitchen at t…

Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

I think that everyone knows who Anne Frank is/was. She is renowned for keeping a diary of her time in hiding during the Second World War. It chronicles her life in hiding in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, which extended from July 6, 1942 through August 1, 1944 (her last entry although her family was arrested and sent to concentration camps on August 4, 1944).

The diary begins before the family goes into hiding. Specifically, it starts with descriptions of her thirteenth birthday and the presents that she received - most notably the diary. Most of the early sections describe her mundane worries and life - grades, schoolmates and her relationships. However, she also talks about the changes that have come about in The Netherlands since the Nazis had occupied the country.The family, comprised of Anne, her sister, Margot, and her parents (Otto and Edith), opted to go into hiding when Margo received a call up for a work camp run by the Nazis.  About a week later, the van Pels family (referred …

Factory Girls by Leslie Chang

This book is the first real look at the everyday migrant population in China - the folks that work in the factories that usually make the products that we consume here in the West.  It specifically looks at female migrant workers and was originally conceived as a series of articles that would appear in the Wall Street Journal.

In this book, Leslie Chang journeys to Dongguan, China and follows two women as they attempt to rise through the ranks in industrial factories, starting with the assembly lines to management. In addition, she follows them through their journey into self-improvement and dating.Interspersed in between the stories of the two women that she follows, Chang also tells the story of her own family and their migration from farm to city and from mainland China to Taiwan to the United States.

Chang does a remarkable job painting this world.  It's a world where just about everyone  that has "gone out" to the city from their rural village is under 30 and where…

The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

This book was published in 2007, written by Dominican author Junot Diaz and takes place in both New Jersey, where Diaz grew up and in the Dominican Republic, where Diaz was born. It won the Pulitizer Prize for fiction among many other awards and other nominations for prizes.

The novel's namesake is an overweight (as in 300+ pounds) "lovesick ghetto nerd" who falls woefully inadequate in the wooing of the opposite sex.  The only things that he really likes and excels at are role playing games and writing his science fiction/fan fiction stories.  Oscar and his older sister Lola were born in the United States but their family has immigrated from the Dominican Republic.  Most of the family believes that they suffer from "fuku americanus," the curse or the doom of the New World and which seems to be passed down from generation to generation in this family.  The curse began with the family's patriarch, a successful doctor - Dr. Cabral - , in 1946 when he was curs…

With Honors starring Brendan Fraser and Joe Pesci

This movie is a comedy/drama that was released in 1994 (you can tell by the hair styles!!) and was directed by Alek Keshishian. I don't think that Mr. Keshishian had directed any movies prior to this - he was most known for directing music videos for singers like Madonna. It stars Brendan Fraser (as Montgomery "Monty" Kessler), Joe Pesci (as Simon Wilder), Moira Kelly (as Courtney Blumenthal), Patrick Dempsey (yes, McDreamy, as Everett Calloway) and Josh Hamilton (as Jeffrey Hawkes).

Monty, Courtney, Everett and Jeffrey are seniors and roomates at Harvard University.  Monty is dead set on graduating with honors in his chosen major - political science. He has opted to write his senior thesis on economics.  The thesis is decidedly conservative and espouses and subscribes to the theories put forward by Ronald Reagan during his tenure as president. One night, after returning from a long day of classes and research, Monty goes to work on his thesis but all of his data and the…

The Lovely Bones starring Mark Wahlberg

The Lovely Bones is a 2009 film directed by Peter Jackson, based upon the 2002 novel of the same name authored by Alice Sebold. The film stars Saoirse Ronan as Suzie Salmon (the lead role), Mark Wahlberg as her father Jack, Rachel Weisz as her mother, Abby, and Stanley Tucci as George Harvey. Susan Sarandon and Rose McIver put in appearances as Lynn (Suzie's grandmother) and Lindsey (Suzie's older sister).

In 1973, Suzie Salmon was fourteen, living in Norristown, PA, a nice suburban town and was dreaming of becoming a famous photographer. She lived with her mother, father, older sister and younger brother. The best parts of her life were the camera that she received for her birthday and the crush that she had on a boy that she went to school with (and who was appearing to return her affections). Suzie narrates the film - it's almost entirely in her perspective - and she tells of her murder by a neighbor (Harvey, played by Stanley Tucci) as well as the impact that it has on…

The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver

I was browsing at the library last week, before I broke my ankle, and saw this book. I picked it up because I adore Kingsolver - have ever since I read The Poisonwood Bible way back when (I think that I was in high school).

The Lacuna is Kingsolver's first novel in nine years!!!  I couldn't believe that it had been nine years since her last novel. Kingsolver's main character is Harrison Shepherd, a young man that has a Mexican mother and American father - as such, he's got dual citizenship with the States and Mexico. In 1929, when Harrison is 12, his mother takes him to live with her in Mexico, because she has fallen in with a wealthy Mexican landowner. Harrison is there, somewhat aimlessly and passively (which seems to be his theme throughout the whole book), and while there, swims and learns to cook from the staff. When he meets Frida Kahlo at the market, he opts to go home with her, where he becomes employed initially in the kitchen and then as a plaster worker for D…

Blade Runner starring Harrison Ford

So, one of the benefits (I guess that you can call it a benefit) of having a broken ankle is that you get to watch a ton of the movies off your Netflix queue that you wouldn't normally have the time to watch and, in my case, to do it in a relatively sober state because I can neither drink or take the "good" pain medications. 

Blade Runner is a 1982 science fiction/dystopian future type of film starring Harrison Ford and directed by Ridley Scott. Ford plays a semi-retired Blade Runner in LA in 2019. Blade Runners are police officers whose sole job is to chase down and "retire" (a synonym for kill) replicants. Replicants are humanoids that are visually indistinguishable from adult humans, created by the Tyrell Corporation, but which have been banned from Earth due a violent uprising that occurred in the years before the events in this film. They are now limited to off world colonies, doing dangerous work that humans can't or won't do. At the beginning of B…