Saturday, July 30, 2011

Snapshot Saturday July 30

Snapshot Saturday is hosted by Alyce @ At Home With Books.

The Granary Burying Grounds in Boston, a little north-ish of Boston Commons. I love old cemeteries. They are my favorite sort of art museums. There are some fantastic sculptures to be found among memorials.

The second is the marker for Mary Goose. Some people think she is the basis for Mother Goose, but there is no evidence to support that.

I've been working on getting my Boston pictures set up in a nifty gallery, so if anyone is interested, they will be able to look through at their own speed, once it's ready.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Review: The Reign of the Nightmare Prince

Reign of the Nightmare Prince
by Mike Phillips
copy: Early Reviewers program at Library Thing

This book is set in a world that reminded me of a time before the Iron Age, or similar to some of the native American populations prior to European colonization of the contents. Metal wasn't had by all, but those who had it prized it. Their world is invaded by the Shaitani, a group who seem invincible and wield some strange magic the native populations can't defend against. The Shaitani slowly move through settlement after settlement, destroying the people who lived in them, and all they held dear (buildings, religious shrines, etc). Rakam, a descendant of the royal line happens upon the Shaitani, learns a little about them, and works to help his people defend against the invaders.

This book was difficult to read, but not because it was a heavy subject. It was difficult because it was very confusing. There were four or five different points of view in the first six chapters of the book, and the reader is thrust into each, without getting any of the background on some of the major themes that run through out the book. While I normally feel like I generally pick up easily the major points and settings of the books I read, in this one I felt I didn't get the basic background of one of the main groups (the Shaitani) until I was about three-quarters of the way through the book. While the main storyline would have been interesting enough if flushed out more, it was disjointed by what seemed unnecessary point of view changes, or information that didn't seem to pan out in the end of the book. I still am not certain how or who the title pertains to.

Additionally, the e-book was formatted poorly. There were no chapters in the contents section, so if you wanted to go back to something, you had to go all the way back to the table of contents page and use the links on it. But it also refused to show the bookmarks I had placed, so you had to keep track of that if you backtracked for something. Chapters seemed to start whenever on a page, and not on a new one. And there were a few pages that had from 1-5 lines on it only, but it wasn't an end of the chapter. The formatting just added to the overall frustration with the book.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Mundane Things

I feel like I've hit "The Wall" with reading. After I finished my last library book, I've had trouble making time to read.

So What I'm reading:
Eiffel's Tower by Jill Jonnes for Paris in July
Reign of the Nightmare Prince by Mike Phillips

I'm fixing to start rereading Sharpe's Tiger by Bernard Cornwell for a readalong in the Historical Fiction group at Shelfari, and Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell for a readalong at The Heroine's Bookshelf (link in the sidebar ---> ). I think my reading eyes are too big for my time available.

I also joined Paperback Swap last week. Had the great luck of two of my first 10 being on wish lists already, and a third grabbed right after posting. I poked around and found a few others wish listed that I own and might not care to keep, so seems to be promising (so long as the post office doesn't lose anything). I'll rotate things out and send to the library after a while. I should be getting Sarum and Midnight Never Come from others. If you use and want to add me or see what I'm offering, look me up as sawcat

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Movie- The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly or Le scaphandre et le papillon (2007)

This movie is based off the memoir (of the same title) of Jean Dominique Bauby, who was the editor for Elle magazine. At the age of 43, in 1995, Bauby suffered a massive stroke, which left him almost completely paralyzed. He couldn't speak, and he could only move any eye, and some slight head movements after a while. But his mind is working just fine, so the doctors diagnose him with Locked In Syndrome. After accepting his condition, Bauby begins writing his memoir of his illness, by dictating the novel. As he cannot speak, this is done by someone saying the alphabet (arranged by the frequency of use of letters in French) and him blinking once the correct letter is reached. The book was published just a few days before his death in 1997.

I have not read the book, but I was familiar with the movie by name, as it was nominated for several awards in 2008, including a few Oscars. It was a very interesting film. I would say, almost half of the film is told in Bauby's point of view. Not just him narrating, but seeing through his eye(s) as if you were him. You hear his thoughts, realizing they can't hear you. See his malfunctioning eye being sewn shut. We don't get a very good look of Mathieu Amalric, the actor playing Bauby, until well into the movie.

The dialogue was too quick, and my French too rusty for me to follow in French, so I was reliant on the subtitles. It got a bit disorienting when the communication with the alphabet started, since she'd say the French letters, and subtitles would be showing the equivalent positioned letter for the translated English word. Amalric did a fine job as Bauby, especially having to maintain the post stroke appearance.

I'm not usually drawn to biography's, but having seen this film, I think I may have to pick it up and give it a read

Monday, July 18, 2011

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday is being hosted by A Sea of Books during July

Lark Rise to Candleford by Flora Thompson
A Crack in the Edge of the World by Simon Winchester
The Magicians by Lev Grossman
Vivaldi's Virgins by Barbara Quick
The Concubine's Daughter by Pai Kit Fai
The White Queen by Philippa Gregory

Last three found at a yard sale, so at three for $1, it seemed a fair price to try the very mixed reviewed The White Queen. Others were clearance at BN, so win-win I say.

Future may be crazier. I signed up for Paperback Swap today. Then Borders made it official that they are closing all stores and liquidation sales start this weekend. Ours had survived the previous round of closings, so might be dangerous.

Movie- Triplets of Belleville

Les Triplettes de Belleville (2003)

I first became aware of this film in 2004 when it was nominated for two Academy Awards: Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song. Between the clip shown and the song performed, I had to check out this movie.

This is about a grandmother who is raising her orphaned grandson. He is depressed, and not much cheers him up, not even his puppy. But the grandmother discovers his love of bicycling, via a collection of newspaper clippings, so she buys him his first bike. Time lapse forward, and the little boy is all grown up and training for the Tour de France, with his grandmother serving as his loyal trainer. Next we see him, he's riding in the Tour de France, with his grandmother and dog following in the tail car. A couple large, dark men disable the tail car so they can take its place in a copied car. We later learn these are members of the French mafia, and they are kidnapping trailing riders to force them into an illicit stationary bike race gambling venture. The grandmother and dog set off across land and sea to rescue the grandson, who has been taken to Belleville. Broke, the grandmother and dog encounter the aged Triplets of Belleville, who befriend them and help rescue the grandson.

This is not your ordinary cartoon movie. Its not a movie for the kids, although if you skip the opening sequence, of the Triplets in the 1930s performing "Belleville Rendez-vous", you'll skip the bare breasts, and its mostly just gun fights afterwards. And it is an old fashioned animation, not computer animation. Hand drawn, and it has a grittier look, with a muted color palettes.

If you don't speak French, or haven't used what you learned in years, don't worry. There is no dialogue in this movie. Only the song lyrics, and a small political speech on the tv are in French. Anything else that is "spoken" are universal sounds, like laughing and 'no'. While you don't need to worry about subtitles, it is a visual movie, like the silent films of the Triplet's heyday.

Its a quirky type of humor it has. The sister who is in charge of cooking, her preferred method of "shopping" for ingredients is a WWII era grenade, fishing net and umbrella. The ending especially is fairly slap stick in style.

Its not a movie for everyone, but if you really enjoy good animation, and have a quirky sense of humor, I highly recommend this film.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Time travel trip to Paris on $15

Paris: Then and Now
by Peter & Oriel Caine
Thunder Bay Press
Published 2003

If you've been in Costco around Christmas-time or peruse the Barnes and Noble bargin shelves, you've probably seen a book from this series at some time. They have these books for several major cities. I coerced my parents into getting it for me one Christmas, but I've not really sat and read all the captioning until now. So I spent Bastille Day reading through this book.

The book begins with a short introduction, which briefly describes how Emperor Napoleon III began to clean up, rebuild and enlarge Paris by annexing outlying villages. This is around the same time as photography had gained popularity.

For the rest of the book, there is a historic photograph, with a blurb about the area, and what is happening in the photograph. On the facing page is the current (as of publishing) photograph of the same area, with a discription of how it currently is, and how it had changed since the historic photograph. While it includes pictures of the popular tourist sites, like L'Arc de Triomphe, and Sacre Coeur, but various stations, markets and streets as well. There were also little tidbits of history in it, that made me realize that I didn't know much about French history.

Found on the Guardian's coverage of the 100th anniversary of the 1910 flood

This is one of those in the book, of the Rue de Lyons, during the floods of 1910. The Metro also flooded at that time, and the caption says the "Water level had risen to twenty-seven feet" in the center of the city.

Its a nice coffee table book, and if you want a short pictoral getaway


I just got a Google+ account, so you can find me here. I've also made it so the buttons show on posts.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Flash and Bones by Kathy Reichs
Release: August 23, 2011
Summary from Barnes and Noble:
Just as 200,000 fans are pouring into town for Race Week, a body is found in a barrel of asphalt next to the Charlotte Motor Speedway. The next day, a NASCAR crew member comes to Temperance Brennan’s office at the Mecklenburg County Medical Examiner to share a devastating story. Twelve years earlier, Wayne Gamble’s sister, Cindi, then a high school senior and aspiring racer, disappeared along with her boyfriend, Cale Lovette. Lovette kept company with a group of right-wing extremists known as the Patriot Posse. Could the body be Cindi’s? Or Cale’s? At the time of their disappearance, the FBI joined the investigation, only to terminate it weeks later. Was there a cover-up? As Tempe juggles multiple theories, the discovery of a strange, deadly substance in the barrel alongside the body throws everything into question. Then an employee of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention goes missing during Race Week. Tempe can’t overlook the coincidence. Was this man using his lab chemicals for murder? Or is the explanation even more sinister? What other secrets lurk behind the festive veneer of Race Week? A turbocharged story of secrets and murder unfolds in...

My neighbor got me started on this series by loaning me several she had, since Tempe is an anthropologist, which is what I studied in school. I got so hooked on the series, I refer to it as my book crack. Its the reason I look forward to August- her new book always comes out in August.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday is being hosted by A Sea of Books during July, and was started by The Printed Page.

I acquired four books this week.


The Jenny Wilson Show (Featuring Henry VIII and his six wives) by Louise Birkett
From Smashwords: Welcome to The Jenny Wilson Show - post-life TV's first ever chat show with special guest stars Henry VIII and his six wives. Knowing what they know now would any of them marry him again? And why did no one realise that producing a TV show would release negative emotions into the post-life?

If you want to give it a try, check out this post at The Anne Boleyn Files for the coupon the author shared.

Her Dear and Loving Husband by Meredith Allard
From Barnes and Noble: James Wentworth has a secret. By night, he’s a mild-mannered professor at Salem State College in Massachusetts. He lives quietly, making few ties anywhere. One night his private world is turned upside down when he meets Sarah Alexander, a dead ringer for his wife, Elizabeth. Though it is years since Elizabeth's death, James cannot bring himself to move on.

Sarah also has a secret. She is haunted by nightmares, and every night she is awakened by visions of hangings, being arrested, and dying in jail–scenes from the Salem Witch Trials in 1692. As James comes to terms with his feelings for Sarah, he must also dodge accusations from a reporter desperate to prove that James is not who, or what, he seems to be. With the help of their friends, witches Jennifer and Olivia, James and Sarah piece their stories together and discover a mystery that may bind them in ways they never imagined. Will James make the ultimate sacrifice to prevent a new hunt from bringing hysteria to Salem again?

Lady of Hay by Barbara Erskine

For Review:

High on the Mountain by Tommie Lyn
As a boy, Ailean MacLachlainn dreamed of living an adventurous life and longed to be a celebrated warrior of his clan. Until a shy smile and a glance from Mùirne's blue eyes turned his head and escalated his rivalry with Latharn into enmity and open conflict.

When Ailean became a man, his boyhood dreams faded. Until Bonnie Prince Charlie came to reclaim his father's throne. The Jacobite loyalties of Ailean's clan chief involved the MacLachlainns in the uprising and set Ailean on a course toward a destiny of which he could never have dreamed.

What happens when a man's dreams turn to dust? And when a man loses everything, does he have what it takes to go on?

High on a Mountain is the stirring tale of one man's remarkable journey through life; a story of adventure and love...of faith, loss and redemption.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Saturday Snapshot

Saturday Snapshot is run by Alyce of At Home With Books

Harvard Yard

The Old Yard section of Harvard, right off the eastbound T station. April 2011.

I decided to post this since I'm reading Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks right now. At the time when I was visiting Boston, I hadn't heard of this book yet. My plan the day I stayed in Cambridge was to visit the Peabody Museum, which is famous in anthropology, because many of the early archaeologists worked for Harvard and "acquired" artifacts for the Peabody. The Peabody has a small exhibit about a dig that was conducted a few years back at the site of the Harvard Indian College, as part of the 350th anniversary of that school. As I started Caleb's Crossing, and reading that Caleb Cheeshahteaumauk was the first graduate of of the Indian College, it dawned on me the relation to the exhibit.

Now, in relation to the picture, I would have been standing in the vicinity of the Old College, and to the left would have been the Indian College.

If you'd like to learn more on the Harvard Indian College, the exhibit is Digging Veritas and is found at the Peabody Museum. Find more about visiting the exhibit, or viewing the online exhibit here. I'd highly recommend viewing the online exhibit if you've read this book.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday is being hosted by A Sea of Books during July, and was started by The Printed Page.

My Harry Potter series in French came in. Didn't notice on the other french books I got, but all the information on the spine is printed upside down to the way they are on the English books

Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks
The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen
Into the Wilderness by Sara Donati -- I sent this one back and put a new hold on it, because I had three unread holds due within 3 weeks already when Caleb's Crossing came in

For Review:
If You Go Into the Woods by David Gaughran
Reign of the Nightmare Prince by Mike Phillips
Concerto by Sandra Miller

I've almost passed my reading total for last year. What a difference a reader and easier access to library books are.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

C'est Juillet

Its July, so that means its time for Paris in July, hosted by BookBath and Thyme for Tea.

As far as books will go for the month, I'm going to start with this one:

Eiffel's Tower: And the World's Fair Where Buffalo Bill Beguiled Paris, the Artists Quarreled, and Thomas Edison Became a Count by Jill Jonnes

I was in the local Borders and found it on the clearance rack. Seems a fitting start. I love the Tower and have a bunch of them around my room, including my lamp. And my print of a series of photographs taken while it was being built. Anyhoo....

Later after I've dealt with the attack of the library holds, I will aim to tackle Memoirs of Hadrian by Marguerite Yourcenar, and I am Madame X by Gioia Diliberto. Though I may just do a post about the actual painting, and the Paris Salon. Also I may brave my first attempt at reading in French since reading Le Petit Prince in class over ten years ago. But I'm waiting for my Harry Potter to arrive before decide which to start with, as the Lord of the Rings is also a version edited for the teen-young adult reader.

A bientôt!