Sunday, September 30, 2007

84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

This is short and delightful. It made me want to write letters, and some of it reminded me of blogging.

The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay

I loved this until the last ten pages or so, which seemed to undermine the entire message of the story. But it was excellent until then. Apparently it’s somewhat autobiographical, and there’s a lot of interesting stuff about South Africa during and after World War II.

The other movies I saw in August. (Yes, I know it's pretty much October now. I'm a little behind!)

Breach (2004)

This is about Robert Hansson, the FBI agent who was recently convicted for selling government secrets to the Russians, and it is excellent. Excellent acting by Chris Cooper, Ryan Phillipe, Laura Linney, and others. From what I can tell, it’s fairly accurate, too.

Miss Potter (2006)

Also very good and not just a feel-good movie like I thought it might be, this is about Beatrix Potter, the author of the Peter Rabbit books.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)

Watched this before reading the fifth book and enjoyed it, but now that I’ve read the books (okay, some books), I think the movies are much more fun. As demonstrated by ...

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)

The first Harry Potter movie I’ve seen in a theater, and I loved it. Even though it glosses over and leaves out much in the book, I thought it added something, too. Like the speakers blaring Professor Umbridge’s shrill voice after she’s finally completed her takeover of Hogwarts. Perfect!

Because I Said So (2007)

I liked that this was not just about young love, but also about middle-aged love. Also loved the daughter educating the mother about certain aspects of ... um ... relationships.

About a Boy (2002)

I think this is wonderful: quirky and funny, but also serious. (The language is potentially more offensive than in most other PG-13 movies.)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Price by Karl-Heinz Schnibbe

What an excellent little book this is. It's the story of sixteen-year-old Helmuth Huebener and his friends, Karl-Heinz Schnibbe (the author) and Rudi Wobbe, German LDS teenagers who listened to BBC radio broadcasts in Germany during World War II, then distributed anti-Nazi pamphlets (written by Helmuth) in mailboxes and phone booths. It's really an incredible story. Helmuth was beheaded as a traitor by the Nazis, and the other two went to prison. It's tragic but so important to know about those who were brave enough to stand up to an evil tyrant and the thousands (millions?) who supported him, whether enthusiastically or by doing nothing.

Different Places by Plastic Operator

The kids and I are listening to this right now. I haven't listened to a new album this much since Kate Bush's Aerial, and before that, it was years.

I'm calling it Fake 80s music. There are robot voices and other synthesizer sounds and a truly cheesy electric guitar solo. And I love it. It's fun to clean to.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

I'll get around to the others someday.

Until several weeks ago, I had only read the first Harry Potter book and wasn't that impressed with it. Then, while I was standing in line at midnight at our local Harry Potter release party for the seventh book, surrounded by people who'd read the entire series, I realized that I was spending nearly $30 on a book only one of my kids was going to read in the near future. I also realized how silly it was that I hadn't read them, when I read so much. So I asked around: would it be okay to see movies 2 through 4, and then start with book 5? It's totally against my book-reading protocol to do that, but I couldn't face that many pages when I had seen movies 1-4 and didn't feel like I had the time. So anyway, my friends reluctantly replied that I could probably get away with it.

So I read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and then Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, all within a couple of weeks, finishing the seventh one at 2:30 am on a Wednesday morning. I guess you could say I got happily sucked into the story, maybe even a little obsessed. They're really quite good! I know there are lots of people who've been saying that for a long time, but I was pleasantly surprised by how well Rowling keeps up the suspense. Now I'm making my oldest write an essay about similarities between Voldemort and the Death Eaters and Hitler and the Nazis. Fun!

Win a Date with Tad Hamilton! (2004)

Kind of a sweet romantic comedy. And no sex! Very unusual these days.

Elektra (2005)

I watched this expecting to roll my eyes a lot, but it was actually pretty fun. Not necessarily good, but fun.

Evan Almighty (2007)

Surprisingly sincere. I really liked this, and it was great for the kids, too.

Ratatouille (2007)

We saw this in the theater with my in-laws. The kids loved it and I thought it was more enjoyable than most kid movies.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

So Be It by Sarah Weeks

Heidi is 12 years old, has a mentally disabled mother who can't say more than 23 words, and knows almost nothing about her mother or her background. Where did she come from? What is her mom's name?

We get to follow the determined Heidi as she travels to find out who she is. It's a great little novel, mysterious, endearing, insightful. Juvenile Fiction, very quick read.

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

I love this novel. I think this was my third reading. We read this one for book club too. Or at least a couple of us did. I don't get why the others didn't try a little harder, since they all claimed to want to read an Austen novel. They did watch the movie (Emma Thompson's)so our discussion revolved around that.

I did go a little crazy after finishing the book and watched the movie, then watched it with Emma Thompson's voice over commentary which was really fun. Then read her journal she wrote while filming the movie. Tried to watch a BBC version but hated it, couldn't get through it. Loved all of it.

This is not a very intelligent review so I'll invite Erin to do that for me. Erin?

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

We read this for our book club (which we haven't had yet). It's a gothic mystery about the secret, tragic past of a world famous author, Vida Winter. There are some pretty ugly skeletons in this woman's closet, and it gets a little weird for my taste, but overall it was a pretty entertaining book. I couldn't guess the ending, which ties up most of the loose ends pretty nicely and surprisingly. Illegitimate children, insane woman in the attic, devastating fire, twins... lots of juicy stuff to keep you guessing until the very end.