The First Monday Roundup: Some Things from The Last Couple of Weeks

This is my first Monday Roundup so it covers a couple of weeks. The purpose of the roundup is to catch up stragglers of things that I did and I meant to post about but didn’t. So here goes.

I read six books I didn’t review:

No More Dying Then by Ruth Rendell

Ruth Rendell is one of the masters of mystery and thriller writing in my opinion. She writes poetically too so I thoroughly enjoy her books. They are also very timeless, I find. If it wasn’t for the mention of the birthdays of characters I would not have noticed that it was a book published in 1971. I would love to write like Rendell, her description of the simplest of things add vibrance to the story with elegant language and round out the whole experience of the tragic circumstances in the thrillerby adding a touch of graceful and haunting beauty. Here are some examples of what I mean:

” frost had not yet bitten into blackness the crysanthemums and michaelmas daisies”

“it was a peculiarly graceful but unstudied movement”

the trees were taller, nature more rampant and more arrogant in her conquest, and yet it seemed to him that the ruin was personal, symbolic of his own.”

This one is an Inspector Wexford novel (the 6th, I think) but it stands perfectly fine by itself. It is a book I recommend and if you haven’t read Rendell then you aren’t yet a true mystery lover (challenge for you). I am searching out the first Barbara Vine (a pseudonym of Ruth Rendell) to see how they differ. I am sure that her talent could not be masked so I am looking forward to it.

Well I had never read Nora Roberts in the past. My Mum reads her books and had told me how good they are but I’m not that enamoured by romance novels and tend to get my chick fix from the humourous literature of such writers as Jennifer Wiener and the soppy stuff in the form of movies like The Holiday, The Notebook et. al. rather than reading. Anyway I saw The Hollow and had bought it to send to Mum and didn’t notice that it was book 2 of the Sign of Seven trilogy. I asked Mum if she had read the first one and she explained that she wasn’t really as interested in that genre. Well, I didn’t realise that Nora Roberts wrote different genres. I knew that she wrote under a pseudonym, J.D. Robb for a different type of story altogether and that she is incredibly prolific but it intrigued me to find that some of her trilogies have a “horror” theme to them. This appealed much more to me. Horror was my genre of choice as a teenager and Robert R, McCammon is still among my favorite authors today. So, I thought I’d keep the book and get book 1 from the library. Anyway, that is how I got to reading Nora Roberts. She is very talented and I was surprized at how much I enjoyed these books. They only take an avid reader with lots of time on her hands a couple of days to get through but they are beautifully written and have something for everyone. Some mystery, thriller and horror writers tend to blend in some passion and romance to their stories which I find fleshes out the characters and makes the story more real. Tami Hoag is wont to do this — her books are sometimes a little too sexy for my tastes and distract from the mystery in my opinion but I found that Nora Roberts does this pretty well There are six main characters in this trilogy and she develops them wonderfully. The trilogy is essentially about an escaped demon wreaking havoc in a small town and the six characters are charged with defeating it. The trilogy unfolds as a mystery, horror and romance all at once and the triumph is in the development of the relationships of the leads and their families. I was totally hooked and I am distressed that the final part is not to be published until december. To soothe myself I went ahead and found the Circle Trilogy (about Vampires) at Bookman. I got all three of them untouched at $4 each. Perfect. can’t wait to dig in.

I am sad to say that this is a book I judged purely by its cover! I was in Bookman and was drawn to the book because it was long and narrow with a yellow plastic cover and the mandril image on the front so I bought it. What a fortunate accident though. This was something different. Very well written, a mystery, spy, good vs. evil kind of book with a twist and a good dose of humour. I loved Ruff’s style and language. I started reading at 8 AM, out on the deck with coffee and breakfast and I couldn’t put it down. I had finished it by 1.30! Didn’t get much else done except the laundry but what the hell. Got to read as much as I can during the summer. Come the end of August and my classes will force me into academia for a few months. Anyway I thoroughly recommend it. I will be on the look out for more from him in the future.

I have seen this on best books lists for a long time now and I finally got around to reading it. It is fabulous. The Joy Luck Club is a collection of reminiscences (about their life in China pre-war) of four Chinese immigrant women and stories from their American-born daughters about the relationship they do or don’t have with their mothers and their chinese heritage. The vignettes are beautifully written and encapsulate perfectly a different culture and time that whisked me tantalizingly away from the white western ideals that surround us today. Chinese philosophy and its effect on the thoughts and actions of the women and their daughters is a potent charge that runs through the book and carries much of the appeal of the story as a whole. Amy Tan certainly produced a best seller that has become a classic and I recommend it to anyone who has an interest in diverse ultures around the world. I would think however, that it has more female fans than male. If I have one criticism of the book it is that the male characters in the stories are ghosts. There is very little development of any of the male characters in the book except to demonize them. The language is powerful though and the female characters are wonderfully portrayed. There are touching scenes and it is a sensitive exploration of mother-daughter relationships and their tendency toward misunderstanding on sometimes colossal levels. I did find it necessary to skip back and forth in the novel to keep up with which story belonged to which mother and daughter pair which is a little distracting but I still found it a quick read and a compelling tale.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

Another one that appears on lists of best books all over the place. It won the 2003 Whitbread Book of the year (now called the Costa Book of the Year awards) and another book that I enjoyed thoroughly and was better off for reading. I have close friends who have autisitc children. They are high functioning children and one has Asperger’s. I read a book a couple of years back called Animals in Translation by Temple Grandin written by an autistic woman and was fascinated by this look inside the mind of someone who views the world in a completely different way to me. This book did the same kind of thing. Mark Haddon is a childrens author and also writes childrens television. Haddon’s knowledge of autism comes from working with autistic people as a young man and he writes convincingly in the first person as the protagonist Christopher Boone, a 15 year old biy with Aspergers. The book is Christopher’s account of the “murder” of his neighbour’s dog Wellington, his investigations into the incident and the tragedy that unravels in his own life surrounding the incident. The story is saved from over sentimentality by being written from Christopher’s point of view which is stark, matter of fact and at the same time humourous in the telling. Christopher’s quest for truth leads him to a crisis that sends him on a solo journey to London from Swindon that has him running an incapacitating gauntlet of experiences that are terrifying to behold. This book manages to portray a significant array of human failure, faults and suffering in stunning detail but so lightly as to not be overwhelming. I will certainly pick up Haddon’s next adult offering.

I watched 6 Movies:

The Bank Job is a British bank heist film directed by Roger Donaldson based on the 1971 Baker Street robbery in central London, from which the money and valuables stolen were never recovered. A D-Notice (now known as a DA-Notice), or government gagging request, was issued (allegedly to protect a prominent member of the British Royal family) that prevented the story from being told before. Apparently (according to the producers), this movie is intended to reveal the truth for the first time, but it does include significant fanciful elements and it is difficult to determine which are the facts and which the fiction. Despite this it is a great movie. It is exciting, funny, and full of yummy Jason Statham so it really made me very happy indeed.

Excellent film. This is Peter Morgan’s screenplay adaptation of Philippa Gregory’s beautiful novel. I do feel having read several reviews of the film that it was harshly monitored in comparison to the book. It is not a mirror of the book and has been slammed for historical inaccuracy but the book isn’t accurate either and the history of Anne Boleyn is actually fairly sparse. I am not one who complains about art taking liberties in the interests of a good film so I was happy with this interpretation although the intricate details of the relationships that made the book outstanding were sacrificed in the interests of brevity and the story of Katherine of Aragon was significantly underplayed, if not almost ignores. In the book it is the lynch pin of the storyline and the Boleyn sisters’ relationship with the Queen are an essential ingredients. I was worried about the casting of the film at first, having formed my own image of the characters in the reading of the book, but all of them did a convincing job and my worries were proved totally unfounded. I thought that Kristin Scott Thomas’s portrayal of the mother was a great development of a neglected character in the book but I was disappointed in the underdeveloped storyline concerning the brother. Eric Bana made a very handsome Henry VIII but I do think that the portrayal, although well acted, was much too sympathetic for my own impression of the intemperate, harsh, unfeeling man he seems to have been. Natalie Portman was good as Anne Boleyn, but I did feel that she came off as a bitter and jealous sibling rather than the intelligent, scheming and wholly loathesome creature she really was. David Morrissey was wonderful as the appalling Duke of Norfolk and so was Scarlett Johansson as Mary Boleyn herself. She played the role sensitively and warmly and did the job of obtaining audience sympathy that was so key to the success of the novel. The stars of the show though wese undoubtedly the costume, makeup, scenery and cinematography that made this film so visually stunning. If you can’t forgive the movie for being different to the book at least enjoy the artistic quality of the outstanding work outside of the screenplay and acting.

The Dark Knight

Awesome, harrowing, action packed and well deserving of the great reviews it has received. Heath Ledger’s creepy but fantastic performance as the joker certainly proves what a huge loss to Hollywood and acting in general his untimely and tragic death has been. The acting was superb all round, actually. I love Christian Bale’s portrayal of Bruce Wayne and Batman. Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman are excellent in their small but significant parts and Maggie Gyllenhaal is a much improved Rachel over Katie Holmes. Aaron Eckhart plays the corrupted hero handsomely and Gary Oldman was happily back as the trusty Lt. Gordan. Great casting. Probably up for some well deserved Oscar nominations. Has anyone ever won posthumously I wonder?

I also enjoyed:

but Im not raving. I’m not tipping for Oscars or awarding a Golden Platypus. Just generally enjoyable, not too taxing and action filled movies.

This weekend I:

Hiked Waldo Canyon


Saw our friend in the yard again (twice in one day)

Saw a mother deer and her two fawns

Saw a new bird in the yard (Downy Woodpecker maybe?)

And finally stuff from today:

I am reading Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood and studying for my Worl Regional Geography final on Saturday.

This morning: I sliced my finger open on a serrated knife trying to access the hummingbird food. Then I splashed the bright red nectar all over my lemon yellow pajamas (perfect!). I am waiting for John to call so I can ask if he has any butterfly bandages stashed away. I used a hastily constructed tourniquet from thickly twisted lengths of that quilted quicker picker upper that does so many jobs so well, and then tried the BandAid sport plaster but it’s not taking care of business and my life essence is dripping away on the keyboard as a I type (lovely! Hahaha).

Then earlier I also had a little incident on the deck. I heard a bang and scuffle and looked up from my book to see Betty landing a somersault and instantly I got smacked square in the piehole by a large bug (don’t know what it’s called it is large flying insect that makes a loud clicking noise only when its flying). I think she almost caught it and its escape path was, unluckily for me, through my face! I pulled my neck a little whipping out the way. It seems that I am to be plagued with insect interactions for the rest of the summer.

That’s it for today folks. I hope you’re still awake! Thanks for reading.

2 thoughts on “The First Monday Roundup: Some Things from The Last Couple of Weeks

  1. Anonymous

    Yeh, I noticed them by the hundreds when we were over, make quite a noise. I think they are called flying cliker devil wing bats! Or maybe something similar?or something.Dadxx

    Like

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