Monday, June 09, 2014

Monday Malarkey - Books, movies, the view from the floor

I'm being thwarted by technology, again (photo loading-wise), but the books I've recently acquired mostly have boring white spines, anyway, so in lieu of a book stack photo you get a cat on glass.  After I took this photo, I realized it was going to be more difficult than I anticipated to get off the floor with scraped knees and a shoulder that can't hold weight, but clearly I eventually succeeded. Unless, of course, I'm lying to you and just writing from the floor beneath the breakfast nook table.  Hard to say from your angle, isn't it?

Recent Arrivals:

ARCs from friends:

  • The Plover by Brian Doyle
  • Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink
  • A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
  • Tell Me One Thing (stories) by Deena Goldstone
  • The Blessings by Elise Juska
  • Fabio's Italian Kitchen by Fabio Viviani

From HarperCollins for review (delayed by their move to a new building, I imagine - still not requesting anything):

  • The Hurricane Sisters by Dorothea Benton Frank
  • The Sextant by David Barrie
  • Daring: My Passages by Gail Sheehy

Last week's reads:

Books finished:

  • Half Bad by Sally Green
  • Solsbury Hill by Susan M. Wyler
  • The Hurricane Sisters by Dorothea Benton Frank

Currently reading:

  • Bark by Lorrie Moore - I've only read 2 out of the 5 stories, in spite of the fact that Bark has been my sidebar for a couple weeks. It's a slim volume so I'm stretching out the reading.
  • Time and Again by Jack Finney - Since this is a reread of a book I love, I can at least say it's not Jack Finney's fault I keep falling asleep reading. 

Films watched:  

During my almost-week off, husband and I watched the BBC movie version of The 39 Steps.  I've read the original novel by John Buchan, seen the play in London's West End (a comedy, completely different from the movie), and this movie starring Rupert Penry-Jones is a second viewing for us. We just happened to be in the mood to watch something we already knew we enjoyed.

I've just been reading the Wikipedia entry on the 2008 version of The 39 Steps and realized I've never seen the original. I've got a collection of the Richard Hannay stories (Rupert Penry-Jones plays Hannay in this production) and it's quite a chunkster but I've only read the one slender story.

Spies, guns, a scene reminiscent of North by Northwest, in which Hannay runs from a shooting plane (probably one of the historical anachronisms mentioned in the Wiki entry), romance.  It's a fun movie.

Page Eight is another BBC production, a movie starring Bill Nighy as MI-5 agent John Worricker, whose best friend and fellow agent, played by Michael Gambon, exposes information that could be damaging to the Prime Minister and then dies. The Prime Minister naturally wants to make all evidence of his wrongdoing disappear and Johnny has to make a decision.

Page Eight is absolutely marvelous -- smart with taut suspense without resorting to violence.  I watched the movie alone while Huzzybuns was away on business and then suggested it when he said, "We should watch a movie. You're reading badly." It's true, I kept putting down my book. My husband is terribly picky about movies but he thought Page Eight was excellent and we agreed that had Hollywood gotten hold of the storyline, it would have become all about guns and car chases rather than carefully-chosen words and clever ramping of suspense.

Yet another BBC production I watched while the spouse was away: Parade's End, starring Benedict Cumberbatch.  I have the book by Ford Madox Ford but have not yet read it.  The BBC production is a 5-part mini-series and it's absolutely beautiful. Gorgeous sets, excellent acting, Ben with a plummy, aristocratic accent, frowning a great deal (I've seen a meme comparing his facial expressions in Parade's End to Grumpy Cat - hilarious).

I particularly loved Parade's End for the explanation of the political maneuvering that led to WWI and the way the hero, Christopher Tietjens, goes from being admired for his brain to damaged and blackballed and then on to heroism and true love.  It took me a bit of digging but I located my secondhand copy of Parade's End and keep petting it, thinking its time is coming soon.

Other recent events in the boonies:

That comment about scraped knees and a sore shoulder has to do with a tumble I took while exercising.  It's a long story and pretty funny because of how and when it happened (painful, but even at the time, I saw the humor in it). I need to write it all down before I forget.

In other news, our old house is under contract only 3 months after we put it on the market. There is still much to be done before we can feel confident that the sale will go through but we're hopeful that we'll be finished owning two homes by July.  Very exciting!  Fingers are crossed that things will continue smoothly.

What's happening in your world?  Any wonderful books or movies you can't stop talking about?

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  1. A Monster Calls deals with cancer! Just FYI since I know that's a tough subject for you. It's a beautiful book, but will totally make everyone ever do the ugly cry.

    1. Andi,

      Yeah, the blogger who sent it told me it has cancer but it's "treated with respect," which admittedly didn't tell me what I needed to know. So, I decided I'll give it a go and just ditch it if it doesn't work for me. I just never know. There's cancer in A. J. Fikry but it didn't bother me at all because it wasn't about the cancer experience so much as it was about how illness changed the character's path. It's those that go into detail about the experience that I can't read, anymore. Can't bear to relive it.

  2. It sounds like you took quite a tumble. I hope you're healed up soon!

    1. Thanks, Kathy! I did, yes. Fortunately, I'm bashed but didn't break anything. I feel pretty fortunate. :)

  3. Ugh, so sorry about your tumble! Sounds like it was a doozy! Ouch :/ That photo is too adorable!!! And I have to say I laughed at your expense at your description of realizing that you then had to get up off the ground after taking that picture :p The lengths we'll go to to get a cute picture :p A Monster Calls is SUCH a good book! Hope you enjoy it!! The cancer stuff is handled respectively, but it's still a tear jerker of a book. I just love Ness' writing! They're in the midst of making that one into a movie too!

    1. I'll tell you about that tumble, some time, Chris. It was a hard fall but there are some aspects of it that are so freaking hilarious that one of my first thoughts was, "This is column material." I could seriously even see the humor in it when I was trying to figure out how to get up off the floor with fresh wounds (a much worse floor experience than when I decided to photograph the cat, haha). You're so right about the contortions we go through to get the photo. LOL

      Hmm, tearjerker cancer books really are difficult for me, so I'll just have to see. If it doesn't work, I'll just pass it on to someone else. I'm glad you and Andi have warned me. I'll enter the reading cautiously.

  4. I'm adding Page Eight to our Netflix queue. It sounds great. I just watched a film with Bill Nighy a week or so ago and thought it was wonderful. It's called About Time. I think you may enjoy it!

    I'm anxious to hear what you think of A Monster Calls. It's been on my list ever since Andi mentioned it on her blog.

    Fingers crossed for a final sale on that house!!!! If we ever sell, it's going to be As Is!

    BTW, were you traveling recently...?

    1. Bill Nighy is great. I'm pretty sure Kiddo and girlfriend watched About Time, recently. I'll have to ask. It might be one they rented from Redbox.

      I'll let you know when I get to A Monster Calls!

      Thanks. We had a hitch in the house sale but it still might go through. It's just not going to be as quick as we'd anticipated, since it looks like we're going to have to have a tree removed (one of our gorgeous oak trees).

      Yes, I went to NJ to visit and into NYC to take a writing workshop taught by Simon. It was every bit as fabulous as I expected and I had a great time hanging out with D, S and the grand-dog! :)

  5. Oh the BBC movies all look good. I think I'll have to get one or all. I used to watch that MI-5 TV series awhile back, which was very enjoyable, though a bit crazy and scary too. thanks for the reviews.

    1. I haven't seen MI-5, yet, although I'd like to. I love the BBC.


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