Thursday, July 31, 2008

Piece of My Heart - Peter Robinson

Piece of My Heart - Peter Robinson (2006)

Well it appears that this English author has been around and published a fair body of work, so I feel a bit foolish starting with one of his latest novels. I had picked it up at the library several times and read the blurb about a young girl being found stabbed at a rock festival in 1969.

So the arrival of study notes is one sure way to make sure I need a novel on the go. I enjoyed most of the book, it dragged out like many a thriller/murder mystery does and could have have lost a good eighty pages on the way, but on the whole I liked the two story format where Chief Inspector Banks is investigating the murder of a London rock journalist. While I was having a shower one cold morning and thinking about the book, I figured out what was going to happen which was a bit annoying as I had only reached page 185.

Will I read more of his, well I think I will give them a try. However the study might have to come first for a while. 3/5 for this murder tale.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Flight - Bryan Malessa

The Flight - Bryan Malessa (2007)
I had picked this up in a bookshop two weeks ago, and drawn by the cover read the blurb telling of a German mothers escape from the advancing Soviet army in World War Two. Determined that I wouldn't buy any more books, as my book mountain was at its highest peak ever, I slid it back onto the shelves.

A week on, while waiting for a plane , I couldn't resist the urge to treat myself. The last two times I have been to the airport, I have made an effort to be early as I hate arriving too close to the checkin cutoff point and both times the flights have been delayed. Luckily our local airport has a large bookstore to fill in the time.

I guess this is a story that is not often told, the plight of a poor German family who live in rural Prussia close to Polish and Russian borders. Twelve million ethnic Germans became refugees abandoning their homes to escape the Soviet armies advancing into German territory. Ida lives with her three children, left by a soldier husband, she does what she has to do to survive and protect and feed her children. It certainly made me greatfull for a warm bed and a full belly of food. 4/5.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

To Each His Own Cinema

To Each His Own Cinema (2007)

Second of the film festival viewings, this was held in a cinema that I had never been too in town. Odd seats, but plenty of loos and jelly tip ice creams made it bearable.

This was an odd little film, and as I had chosen it it was all my fault that it was such a strange cinematic experience. In 2007 the Cannes film festival comissioned 36 directors to produce three minute movies about what it felt to go to the movies. So there were lots of French ones with beautiful blind women crying in the cinema (totally pretentious), Eastern European ones which were just odd and stupid I am too cool for school directors like David Lynch. We decided that the theatre must be filled with people in the business as there were far too many black outfits and expensive glasses and deep sighs after some of the directors names were shown on the screen.

The small films I enjoyed best were those that gave us a glimpse of different cultures, the middle Eastern, Chinese and Asian films were often the most entertaining and were able to tell a complete story in three minutes and left you wanting more. Even the two men in Brazil outside their local run down cinema singing with their tambourines made you want to follow them and find out what else they were up to.

I am going to give you a 2/5 little funny film.

Married Life

Married Life (2007)
This was the first movie that I viewed last night in our cities 37th annual international film festival. Always a welcome addition to bleak winter days and nights, the best of international films and documentaries are shown throughout the local art house cinemas. Competition to book early and get the best seats is fierce, and after last years disaster where even our short knees touched the seats in front of the horrid row R (and I am short!!), we were relieved to be sitting in row J, a large leather/vinyl seat with the a name on a brass plaque.

The movie, was so so, I am afraid I nodded off at several stages, and I may have missed some thrilling moments. A look at the the entwining relationships of a married couple in the late 1940s, it was saved by the tones of Pierce Brosnan narrating. As often occurs at this festival the director Ira Sachs had traveled from the US and introduced his own movie and stayed at the end to answer questions. I cringed inwardly at the end as about 3/4 of the audience rudely left the theatre. As we had 45 minutes before our next movie and proper manners we stayed to hear about his experience shooting the movie in Vancouver. However it is hard to not clench as the time ticks by, and with 10 minutes left we had to skedaddle down to the next cinema to catch the second show of the evening.

1/5 from me.

Comfrort Food - Kate Jacobs

Comfort Food - Kate Jacobs (2008)

I was attempting to start another book, but struggling at page three I put it down and relegated it to the "not for me pile". Picking up Kate Jacobs book, Comfort Food indeed felt very comforting and was a much better start to a novel on a cold winters night.

Gus is a widowed mother of two grown girls who has established herself as a celebrity tv cook. Howerver forced by the rise of the young and hip tv chef, changes are made to her show and she is forced into a new format with the help of friends and family.

I don't know it felt a bit forced and formalaic to me, and although easy reading I found I struggled to stay interested and by about page 150 I was willing it to end (page 100 is a cutoff for me - if I haven't liked it by then I give myself permission to discard).

Kate Jacobs earlier novel "The Friday Night Knitting Club" was more likeable, so I am afraid Comfort Food you will only get a lowly 2/5 from me.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Child 44 - Tom Rob Smith

Child 44 - Tom Rob Smith (2008)
Set in mainly 1953s Russia, at the time of Stalins death, Leo is a member of the Ministry of State Security. Investigating anyone for anything, at a time where even an accusation will lead to your executionl. Scary to think how many must have been killed at this time for the littlest reason.

After becoming involved in the search for the murderer of a small boy, Leo discovers that there are other children throughout Russia who have been murdered in a similar brutal fashion. Then Leo and his wife are punished and sent to a small town in the Ural mountains, where they search for answers.

This book kept me up late for quite a few nights. It was fluid and the suspense was evenly paced throughout the book, without the ending being given away too soon (which happens far tooo often with so many thrillers). I didn't enjoy the subject matter of child murders though, and that was almost enough to make me shelve this book and not continue.

I am going to say it was a gripping 3/5, but only read if you are a fan of the thriller genre.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

The Last Concubine - Lesley Downer

The Last Concubine - Lesley Downer (2008)
Lesley Downer introduces us to the world of the Shogun court in Japan in the mid 1800's, a world about to embark on an era of great change. Sachi is a village girl who ends up becoming a concubine to the the last Shogun. Living a life in the womens palace, war interrupts her sheltered life and she is forced to face her families secrets and to fight for her life before she can find happiness.

Started on holiday, this was perfect winter reading I am going to give it a 4/5 for keeping me interested all the way throughout and for making me more curious about Japanese history.