Tuesday, November 30, 2010

64. The Forgotten Garden

By: Kate Morton
Rated 4 Stars
Audio Book from Library

This is another do-over for me. I am ordering audio books from the library that I was disappointed in the first time to ee if I like them better in audio. This is definitely one I like better in audio format.

The only complaint I have about it is that the POV changes were not always smooth for me and I often found myself disorientated. It would take a minute or to for me to figure where I was in the story of a particular pov. Aside from that it was a very good story.

Publisher Summary

A tiny girl is abandoned on a ship headed for Australia in 1913. She arrives completely alone with nothing but a small suitcase containing a few clothes and a single book - a beautiful volume of fairy tales. She is taken in by the dockmaster and his wife and raised as their own. On her twenty-first birthday they tell her the truth, and with her sense of self shattered and with very little to go on, "Nell" sets out on a journey to England to try to trace her story, to find her real identity. Her quest leads her to Blackhurst Manor on the Cornish coast and the secrets of the doomed Mountrachet family.

But it is not until her granddaughter, Cassandra, takes up the search after Nell's death that all the pieces of the puzzle are assembled. At Cliff Cottage, on the grounds of Blackhurst Manor, Cassandra discovers the forgotten garden of the book's title and is able to unlock the secrets of the beautiful book of fairy tales.

63. The Dancing Years, #33

By:Cynthia Harrod Eagles

The 33rd installment in the saga of the Morland family begins in the year 1919.  I am very sad that this sagas coming to a close. What a wonderful literary soap opera this has been.   A pox on grasping publishers who never think enough money is enough. *sigh* One more book to go.

As the euphoria of the Armistice fades, the nation count the cost—millions dead or disabled, unemployment, strikes, and shortages—and attempt to build a new life. Teddy tries to recreate balance but then a trip to France to see the place where Ned fell has unforeseen consequences. Polly, grieving for Erich Kuppel, persuades her father to send her to New York, and despite Prohibition, the great city pulses with life and promises her a fresh start. Jessie and Bertie, detained in London by Bertie's job, long to start their new life together. Jack becomes a pioneer of civil aviation, but when the company fails he's faced with unemployment, with a growing family to support. As they all seek relief from their own memories, the Morland's witness a new world struggling to be born out of the ashes; and as long as the music lasts, they will keep on dancing.

64. Whose Body

By: Dorothy L. Sayers
Rated: 5 Stars
Audio Book
From: Download from Libravox

This is the only Dorothy Sayers book available at Libravox.org.   It's Sayers introduction to Lord Peter Wimsey. It was a fun read/listen. I love Lord Peter.

The stark naked body was lying in the tub.Not unusual for a proper bath, but highly irregular for murder -- especially witha pair of gold pince-nez deliberately perched before the sightless eyes. What's more, the face appeared to have been shaved after death. The police assumed that the victim was a prominent financier, but Lord Peter Wimsey, who dabbled in mystery detection as a hobby, knew better. In this, his first murder case, Lord Peter untangles the ghastly mystery of the corpse in the bath.

Henry V - DVD

By:  William Shakespeare
Rated 5 Stars
From:  Gift

I really couldn't add a thing to the amazon description I have copied and pasted below.  This is my favorite adaption of Henry V.

Amazon Description

Very few films come close to the brilliance Kenneth Branagh achieved with his first foray into screenwriting and direction. Henry V qualifies as a masterpiece, the kind of film that comes along once in a decade. He eschews the theatricality of Laurence Olivier's stirring, fondly remembered 1945 adaptation to establish his own rules. Branagh plays it down and dirty, seeing the bard's play through revisionist eyes, framing it as an antiwar story. Branagh gives us harsh close-ups of muddied, bloody men, and close-ups of himself as Henry, his hardened mouth and willful eyes revealing much about this land war. Not that the director-star doesn't provide lighter moments. His scenes introducing the French Princess Katherine (Emma Thompson) are toothsome. Bubbly, funny, enhanced by lovely lighting and Thompson's pale beauty, these glimpses of a princess trying to learn English quickly from her maid are delightful.

What may be the crowning glory of Branagh's adaptation comes when the dazed, shaky leader wanders through battlefields, not even sure who has won. As King Hal carries a dead boy (Empire of the Sun's Christian Bale) over the hacked-up bodies of both the English and French, you realize it is the first time Branagh has opened up the scenes: a panorama of blood and mud and death. It is as strong a statement against warmongering as could ever be made.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

62. All Clear

By: Connie Willis
Rated 5 Stars
Audio Book

I loved this book but it really did make my head spin. But it is si important to read"Blackout" before reading "All Clear" the latest novel by Connie Willis. It is not a sequel with explanations of what went on before, it's PART 2; it picks up right where the other left off. Together they combine to create a first rate suspenseful work in which many of the themes characteristic of her work - single-minded characters whose agendas interfere with the plans of the protagonists, the impact of technology on personal lives, the effort to cope with tragedy and loss - are on full display.

Even with reading them together I never did get all of it. This was a very complicated story. One charecter was in it twice, one as Mary in 1945 and as Polly in 1941. That kind of gave me a headache for a while intil I got a firm grip on it. I never did figuire out the Eileen-Colin link (???)  butI really liked the Vicar and was glad that worked out.

There was a I scene in the War Museum that I especially loved because I have been there and went through the Blitz exhibit. It was exactly like it was described in the book.

I was an amazing story and I felt it was a real tribute to the people of London. On day in 1984 when I was at Jenny's house in Scotland her elderly Aunt came up from London for a visit. On a cold rainy day while Jenny was away from home her Aunt and I spent a long afternoon together. I was lucky and came up with an inspired question and asked her if she lived in London during the blitz.She said yes and I asked her what it was like. It was like I had opened a spigot. She talked about it all afternoon and I was absolutely fascinated.  It was such a huge thing to have lived through and she obviously remembered everything about what she lived through. In my mind the book paid tribute to people like Jenny's Aunt Ciss.

I put those books on my hard drive and at some point I am going to listen to them again as one big book.  My brain has a hard enough time with them without a long interuption in the middle.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

61. Blackout - redux

By:  Connie Willis
Rated 5 Stars
Format:  Audio Book

This was a do over for me.  Here is my review from when I read it back in April.

My original review of Blackout

It was immediately evident to me that 1.) I read on an entirely different level than I listen, and 2.) mood plays a huge part in how I feel about a book when I read it.

There are so many characters at the beginning, that it's hard to keep them straight. The reader/listener is getting the viewpoints of three main characters, historians Polly, Eileen and Mike, all time traveling to WWII England for first person experiences during the London Blitz.  Polly as a shop clerk in London during the Blitz, Eileen as a maid in the north of England to observe child evacuees from London, and Mike to Dover to observe ships returning from the evacuation of British troops from Dunkirk. They all worry incessantly about every thing they do and whether what they've done has changed history.  This got so tiresome that if this had been a book I probably would have wall banged it at least once.  I would have picked it back up and continued to read it though. :) Also the number of obstacles the characters encountered every time they tried to so something felt contrived.   However . . .

But I gave a 5 star rating on this journal for my reread that was AFTER I real the sequel (?) All Clear.  These books do not stand alone.  It is all one book and Blackout ends in the middle of the story.  At the end of All Clear things made sense that annoyed the heck out of me in Blackout although I still thought that the characters agonized to much over every little thing they said or did.

These are great books but the plot is very complicated and multi layered.  Be warned.