Thursday, December 23, 2010

70. Face of a Stranger

By:  Anne Perry
Rated 4.5
From Library

This is a new series to me although it's been around a while.  I enjoyed it enough to request the next book in the series.

Publisher's Description:

After an accident in his carriage, detective William Monk wakes up with no memory; ashamed to admit it, he bluffs his way through recovery and returns to work, where he is assigned a particularly tricky investigation of a young nobleman's brutal murder. While tracking the last affairs of the victim, Monk traces his own history and dislikes what he turns up on both fronts. Uncovering unpleasant secrets within Grey's aristocratic family, he also finds his gradually revealed former self to have been ambitious, cold and perhaps cruel. Integral to Perry's rich, unpredictable plot is the Crimean War, graphically described by Hester Latterly, a forthright young woman of the middle class who nursed there with Florence Nightingale.

Monday, December 20, 2010

War of 1812

From:  Netflix
Rated 4 Stars

 Never had much of a handle on that war beyond that it started over the Brit's impressing American seamen and that they burned the courthouse in Gilford Co., N.C. causing me much inconvenience.  Yeah I know they also burned The White House but that wasn't personal as none of my ancestors records were kept there.

This would have been a lot more interesting if the disk had not been damaged and did a lot of skipping.  Still, I enjoyed it anyway.

Netflix Description:

This absorbing series compiles an impressive roster of documentaries that illuminate the history-making 1812 battle between the United States and Great Britain, a war that at first appeared to be a lost cause. But with Andrew Jackson as America's leader, the country emerged victorious. Programs include "First Invasion: The War of 1812"; "The Battle of New Orleans"; and "The Ironclads." Also contains a detailed biography of Jackson.

Friday, December 17, 2010

67 & 68 Bess Crawford Mysteries

A Duty to the Dead

By Charles Todd
Rated 4.5
From Library

The summary below that I copied from my library's website (and is not copyrighted) is so complete that I will only comment that  I thought the character of Bess got off to a somewhat rocky start.  She was coming across like a long suffering bore and I was sure I wasn't going to like her.  But after a while the authors got a handle on her I soon warmed up to her.

The mystery was excellent.  Even after I figured out whodunnit I was still in doubt whether or not everything was going to turn out alright.  I would have been very upset if it hadn't.

Publisher's Summary:

From the brilliantly imaginative New York Times bestselling author Charles Todd comes an unforgettable new character in an exceptional new series

England, 1916. Independent-minded Bess Crawford's upbringing is far different from that of the usual upper-middle-class British gentlewoman. Growing up in India, she learned the importance of responsibility, honor, and duty from her offi­cer father. At the outbreak of World War I, she followed in his footsteps and volunteered for the nursing corps, serving from the battlefields of France to the doomed hospital ship Britannic.

On one voyage, Bess grows fond of the young, gravely wounded Lieutenant Arthur Graham. Something rests heavily on his conscience, and to give him a little peace as he dies, she promises to deliver a message to his brother. It is some months before she can carry out this duty, and when she's next in England, she herself is recovering from a wound.

When Bess arrives at the Graham house in Kent, Jonathan Graham listens to his brother's last wishes with surprising indifference. Neither his mother nor his brother Timothy seems to think it has any significance. Unsettled by this, Bess is about to take her leave when sudden tragedy envelops her. She quickly discovers that fulfilling this duty to the dead has thrust her into a maelstrom of intrigue and murder that will endanger her own life and test her courage as not even war has.

An Impartial Witness

Rated 5 Stars
From:  Library

It is the early summer of 1917. Bess Crawford has returned to England from the trenches of France with a convoy of severely wounded men. One of her patients is a young pilot who has been burned beyond recognition, and who clings to life and the photo of his wife that is pinned to his tunic.

While passing through a London train station, Bess notices a woman bidding an emotional farewell to an officer, her grief heart-wrenching. And then Bess realizes that she seems familiar. In fact, she's the woman in the pilot's photo, but the man she is seeing off is not her husband.
Back on duty in France, Bess discovers a newspaper with a drawing of the woman's face on the front page. Accompanying the drawing is a plea from Scotland Yard seeking information from anyone who has seen her. For it appears that the woman was murdered on the very day Bess encountered her at the station.
Granted leave to speak with Scotland Yard, Bess becomes entangled in the case. Though an arrest is made, she must delve into the depths of her very soul to decide if the police will hang an innocent man or a vicious killer. Exposing the truth is dangerous—and will put her own life on the line.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

66. Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone

By:  J. K. Rowlings
Rated 5 Stars
Audio Book
From Library

Casting around for a lighter read I decided it might be a good idea to revisit this series before the last movie(s) come out on DVD.  Not that these books stay a light read but in the beginning they were and maybe by the time they start to get darker my mood will change.

On Bookflurries last night a poster was talking about how the series develops and that the books are even better read together, because you can see where she plants seeds that bear fruit in later books.  It will probably be a while before these last two movies are out on DVD but then I plan a leisurely listen to the series so maybe I won't be too out of sync with the movies by the time they are released.

Product Description on Wrapper of Audiobook

Say you've spent the first 10 years of your life sleeping under the stairs of a family who loathes you. Then, in an absurd, magical twist of fate you find yourself surrounded by wizards, a caged snowy owl, a phoenix-feather wand, and jellybeans that come in every flavor, including strawberry, curry, grass, and sardine. Not only that, but you discover that you are a wizard yourself! This is exactly what happens to young Harry Potter in J.K. Rowling's enchanting, funny debut novel, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

In the nonmagic human world--the world of "Muggles"--Harry is a nobody, treated like dirt by the aunt and uncle who begrudgingly inherited him when his parents were killed by the evil Voldemort. But in the world of wizards, small, skinny Harry is famous as a survivor of the wizard who tried to kill him. He is left only with a lightning-bolt scar on his forehead, curiously refined sensibilities, and a host of mysterious powers to remind him that he's quite, yes, altogether different from his aunt, uncle, and spoiled, piglike cousin Dudley.

A mysterious letter, delivered by the friendly giant Hagrid, wrenches Harry from his dreary, Muggle-ridden existence: "We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry." Of course, Uncle Vernon yells most unpleasantly, "I AM NOT PAYING FOR SOME CRACKPOT OLD FOOL TO TEACH HIM MAGIC TRICKS!" Soon enough, however, Harry finds himself at Hogwarts with his owl Hedwig... and that's where the real adventure--humorous, haunting, and suspenseful.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


By:  William Shakespeare
Directed by and Starring Kenneth Branagh
Rated 5++
From:  Gift from Friend

l loved this movie. When I first realized that it was 4 hours long I thought it was going to be tedius but when I saw it I was so enthralled that i didn't notice the passage of time. When I saw it a second time the only part that detracted at all was the performances of Lemmon (dull and somehow out of place) and Depardieu (way overrated in my opinion). Everyone fom Kenneth Branagh to Rufus Sewell, excluding Lemmon and Depardieu, gave truly amazing performances. Kate Winslet's performance as Ophelia  was unparalleled.  Nobody has ever done it better. Ever.  It was nice to see his use of old favorites from his previous films ,Richard Briers and Derek Jacobi, as well as some new blood. I really loved the Palace they used it added some interesting elements to the film. My three favorite scenes are the "play scene", the "May all my thoughts be bloody scene", and the "gravedigger" scene. This movie is easily my favorite version of Hamlet. Product Description:

It's the greatest work of literature, but nobody had ever filmed Hamlet uncut--until Kenneth Branagh went about the task for his lavish 1996 production. The result is a sumptuous, star-studded version that scores a palpable hit on its avowed goal: to make the text as clear and urgent as possible. Branagh himself plays the melancholy son of the Danish court, caught in a famous muddle about whether to seek revenge against his royal father's presumed slayer… the man who now sits on the throne and shares the bed of Hamlet's mother. (Or, as the song "That's Entertainment" summarizes the plot: "A ghost and a prince meet / And everyone winds up mincemeat.") As a director, Branagh (who shot the movie in 70 mm.) uses the vast, cold interiors of a vaguely 19th-century manor to gorgeous effect; the story might scurry down this hallway, into that back chamber, or sprawl out into the enormous main room. With its endless collection of mirrors, the place is as big and empty as Citizen Kane's Xanadu.

My Comments:

Sherman's March

History Channel
DVD from Netflix
Rated 4 Stars

Product Description

General William Tecumseh Sherman s scorched-earth strategy against the South helped end the Civil War and in the process changed military strategy forever. In SHERMAN S MARCH, THE HISTORY CHANNEL explores his brutal and effective campaign, which arguably saved the Lincoln presidency, the Union, and thousands of lives on both sides--and made Sherman one of the most hated and misunderstood figures in American history.

In November 1864, Sherman and an army of 60,000 troops began their month-long march from Atlanta to Savannah. Burning crops, destroying bridges and railroads, and laying waste to virtually everything in his path, Sherman moved relentlessly to the sea, crushing the South s will to fight.

Through cutting-edge CGI battle scenes and dramatizations based on contemporary sources, SHERMAN S MARCH mixes the sweep of large-scale military strategy with intimate stories of the women, the slaves, and the soldiers who fought on both sides. Shot in hi-definition, SHERMAN S MARCH is both a lavish documentary and a gripping portrait of the complicated man who coined the phrase War is Hell and came to be called the father of modern, total warfare.

DVD Features: Full-Length Documentary Sherman s Total War Tactics episode of Save Our History ; History in the Making

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Last Lion, Volume I: Visions of Glory 1874-1932

By:  William Manchester
Rated 5 Stars
Audiobook from Library

This audiobook is over 32 hours long! But this an amazingly well done history of the man and the times. Long, but never boring! We need more inspirational books like this to remind us of the struggles that are required to stay free in a world that is dangerous and full of those who would rule us as dictators. History in the name of a person - that's what this book is about. I am looking forward to Volume 2, Alone 1932-1940. 36 hrs 22 minutes. One could make a career of listening to this biography.

Publisher's Summary

Winston Churchill is perhaps the most important political figure of the 20th century. His great oratory and leadership during the Second World War were only part of his huge breadth of experience and achievement. Studying his life is a fascinating way to imbibe the history of his era and gain insight into key events that have shaped our time.

In political office at the end of WWI, Churchill foresaw the folly of Versailles and feared what a crippled Germany would do to the balance of power. In his years in the political wilderness, from 1931 to 1939, he alone of all British public men, continually raised his voice against Hitler and his appeasers. For over 50 years, he was constantly involved in, and usually at the center of, the most important events of his age. It was, however, his obduracy on matters of principle, his fortitude in the face of opposition, and his perseverance in standing alone that defined him.

Monday, December 6, 2010

65. Flanagan's Run

By Tom McNab
Rated 5+++
From:  Library

I don't know how one can call an audiobook a page turner with a straight face but this recording was absolutely riviting. I stayed up late to finish it because I couldn't bear to stop. The reader, Rubert Degas did an excellent job of bringing the characters to life and that made it even more exciting. It's been a while since a book pulled me into it this deep. I am sure that had I read this book I would have loved it but this is a book that is enhanced by listening to Rupert Degas turn these characters into real people in my mind.

I woke up thinking about the characters and what became of them this morning. It told you about the main characters but there were almost a thousand runners who finished. I had to keep reminding myself that this is a work of fiction because I really cared what happened to these people after they completed such a huge event. If a book pulls me in like this on did I sometimes have a problem separating fictional people from non fictional people. What a silly woman I can be.

But anyway, a delightful, exciting read that's for sure. I am not or ever have been a runner but now, in my heart I am one.

Product Description:

It is depression-era America and notorious huckster, Flanagan, plans the ultimate race, reeling in contestants with the promise of a glittering jackpot prize. Two thousand audacious hopefuls line up at the starting line from every walk of life and all ends of the globe, each with something to prove. As they run themselves ragged across America, they come up against numerous hazards, including the precipitous Rockies, shady mobsters and crooked officials. Their different stories, ambitions and dreams converge through a shared determination which will inspire you to push on to the finishing line.