William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope by Ian Doescher

This was a really amusing adaptation of the Star Wars: A New Hope in Shakespearean form. The author admits to finding iambic pentameter a natural. I wish I did, but this was enjoyable.

I think he did a good job of adapting the style and tone of both Shakespeare’s works and George Lucas’s movie. I did find there was a bit too much of the Chorus, but otherwise, it was a very cute and fun work.

While reading this book, I went to see a production of Twelfth Night and it made me wonder even more how Star Wars would be on the stage. I hope someone tries it one day and screens it for the world.

Read January 27-February 7, 2016.

Important: Blog Feed and Subscribe

Hello! It recently came to my attention that my Feedburner RSS feed was no longer updating. It’s been broken for months. I have tried to fix it myself to no avail and learned that Google offers no support for Feedburner. I have had to switch back to using my WordPress feed exclusively. I am very disappointed because I will lose some subscribers from this. However, I have done my best to change the links on my current blog to go direct to my standard blog feed.

I am back to updating this blog on a regular basis mostly with books and movies, but there will be a few more knitting, food, and stationery posts in the future.

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Monthly Movies – January 2016

Movies in Theatres:

For some reason, Wordpres didn’t save that last month I saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens on 29 December 2015. I enjoyed it. I really look forward to rewatching it on DVD and the next episode in the series.

Movies at Home:

Belle (16 01 2016) – Period piece. If you like Amazing Grace which is also another Georgian abolition movie, this is it. Honestly, gorgeous period details and wonderful acting. I liked Gugu Mbatha-Raw in “Doctor Who,” but she is deservedly breaking out in the last couple of years. She was just wonderful in this. All the rest of the cast were British and excellent. I like Sam Reid a lot as well and look forward to seeing more of him. Not enough Matthew Goode who looked fantastic in his navy uniform. I do wonder if Tom Felton will be cast in things other than as British Douchebag #1. Going to try and see Beyond the Pines for her.

Little Women (17 01 2016) – 1994 version. Lovely movie overall and a good adaptation of the book. It brought me memories of how I felt reading the book. Not enough Beth though. I was not really fond of the Amy/Teddy ship and watching the movie, even more so. Christian Bale was quite dreamy in that role though.

American Psycho (18 01 2016) – Darkly funny and engaging. Christian Bale is excellent in this. Unhinged and fully invested. A good cast too. I did get a bit tired 3/4 of the way through of the gore. The ending is almost a bit too subtle for people to realize the post-modern take on it. I definitely recommend it as a way to not be in life.

Gone Girl (22 01 2016) – See here.

Weekend at Bernies (22 01 2016) – I laughed once. It had amusing moments, but I didn’t really care for it. I found the two protagonists too stupid especially Andrew McCarthy’s Larry. He looked and acted really differently from when I first saw him in Pretty in Pink. I had to rewatch some of the latter’s scenes to remind myself how much cuter he was with Molly Ringwald.

Les Poupées Russes (23 01 2016) – I saw the first movie Auberge Espangole ages ago. Xavier is an idiot. I did like how these movies have so many varied settings and is multilingual. I loved the lines, “How can many sincere moments make so much misery?” and “I love you for your imperfections.” So French and European.

Casse Tête Chinois (24 01 2016) – The final movie in the Xavier trilogy. I think this was the best movie in terms of plot and character moments. Xavier was much less annoying and the setting of New York City worked really well. I’m sad he didn’t work out with his wife, but at least he ended up with one of his first loves.

Oz: The Great and Powerful (25 01 2016) – I went in with low expectations knowing that the reviews were bad. It was not too bad the first half and I really liked the Little China Girl. However, I really became bored when Mila Kunis became the Wicked Witch. I queued this movie in large part because I adore both Mila Kunis and Rachel Weisz. I wanted them to win, but they didn’t. The main protagonists were uninteresting. Not recommended really.

Napoleon Dynamite (28 01 2016) – Amusing and cute. It was strange and quirky. I enjoyed it but it’s not something I feel I need rewatch.

Rewatched Movies:

The Princess Bride (09 01 2016) – Always makes me smile and swoon and laugh. For my review of Elwes’ memoirs on making the movie, go here.

Gone, Girl by Gillian Flynn

This post will contain spoilers for the book and the movie. I generally do not do big spoilers, but the novel and the movie relies heavily on twists.

Overall, while the book and movie were not perfect in terms of storytelling, they were still engaging and interesting. I think there is a lot of commentary on the media and bad romantic relationships in general. I would not necessarily recommend either of them to everyone though I think lots of people would enjoy it or find it interesting.

Continue reading Gone, Girl by Gillian Flynn

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

This has been on my TBR list for a little while. It is highly rated on GoodReads and by one of my good reading friends too. I am only recently getting back into reading book series. I find the good ones really help with my reading motivation. I am more picky as an adult on the book series I continue though, but I will continue with this one.

While not exactly high fantasy, the uniqueness and strangeness of this world took me awhile to get into. While intelligent and talented I thought Locke’s personality was not easy to grasp at first. He is a con man so it does seem he keeps who he truly is close to his heart. However, it becomes clear how fiercely loyal he is. That helped. I liked his gang and I began to really enjoy him as well.

The book employs non-linear storytelling. I did critique this technique in a recent book review, but it does work if the author is good. In this case, Lynch is a really good writer. Even when I was not yet fully immersed in this world, I could tell Lynch is a good writer. There’s a certain speed and confidence to his prose that is found in many other thrillers and successful fantasy writers. The world building was on point, but so were the dialogue and characters.

The book is very violent and there is a lot of good time swearing. That actually reminded me of the Song of Fire & Ice series, but with a smaller cast and a smaller yet intense universe. It’s the adventure and many twists that you keep you engaged.

I do not find myself addicted to it the way some other reviewers are so I’m going to wait awhile before I read the next book in the series. I have them all on Kindle, but I put the next one on request at my library. There is a lot of stuff I’d like to know that has not been explained in this book, but Lynch has satisfied me enough for this adventure and held out to entice a reader further. Good stuff.

Read January 17-19, 2016 on Kindle

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

I have been waiting to read this for awhile and did make time for it this holiday season.

I know this subject well. I was familiar with some of the studies and academics cited in this book. I read a lot of sociology apparently. On a more personal note, I have tried more than one online dating site, Tindr, and speed dating. I quit online dating a year ago. Due to some personal experiences, I have taken a break from the whole dating scene altogether. One of the reasons was exhaustion and a general jadedness with the sites and dating in general. I hate the games being played. I could relate to a lot of the book talked about. I also felt and did things differently, but I’m still single so I guess that did not work either.

I digress. I liked this book. It was funny and informative. It also walked the line between being depressingly realistic, but also optimistic. I felt that Ansari delivered some harsh facts about dating in the modern age and around the world, but he noted the positives. He ended it on a high note as well. I generally read a lot of sociology and relationship books any way. This was definitely one of the easiest ones to read in terms of comprehension and tone. It was fun.

I recommend it since it does give a lot of insight on people today, not just about dating. I would even reread this book. Instead, I decided to get the audiobook.

Read January 1-2nd, 2016 on Kindle.

Audibook

I read this got rave reviews and I had heard excerpts from podcasts. I enjoyed it and in fact, for some people, I’d recommend it over the book. I think it is more entertaining and captures all the informational aspects just as well. It is more personal too.

Listened January 7-17 2016.

Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things by Randy O. Frost and Gail Steketee

This book is based on the authors work with hoarders and hoarding. I was actually hoping the work was more about the general relationship humans have with things and stuff. This one had more case studies about hoarders and hoarding behaviour.

I did find it interesting because it is true that everyone knows at least one person with hoarding tendencies or variations of excessive materialism. The book educates you on how hoarding itself is different from OCD and how it does not necessarily come from deprivation. It also seems to be a result of traumas and genetic or hereditary conditions. Hoarders can be very intelligent and experience world in a different way.

The book presents more extreme cases of hoarding and it did make me uncomfortable reading about people keeping and owning so much. In the last couple of years, I’ve been trying harder to be more minimalist. This is not easy for me because like most people, I do enjoy stuff and things. When I was growing up, I did not have a lot so since working regularly, I would buy and spend more. However, I realize how society is materialistic and wasteful.

Over the years, I also like to collect and amass things which I am not able to consume fast enough such as: Books, Yarn, Liquor, Handbags, Clothes, Pens & Stationery
Digital Media, Food (pantry goods), Money (probably), and Cookbooks. While I have been able to curb the collecting and buying of the aforementioned, I still annually buy cookbooks. Last year, I bought at least 5.

Currently, I’ve stopped myself buying and tried to sell or give away more things. I felt pity and also some vexation knowing how hoarders amass all these goods in their homes and subsequently, affect the lives of those around them.

It is not to say that hoarding is unique to our culture. Ownership and clutter are normal and perhaps essential parts to being human. I do agree that in the end, having experiences and being engaged with people are more meaningful than objects. I recommend this book as a way of learning about hoarding in general but also as a reminder how consumer society can be detrimental.

The antidote to this book would be The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Read Janary 11-16, 2016.

Sunday Salon: Cookbook Challenge – Reviews

I have decided to challenge myself to read and use cookbooks from my vast collection. As of this writing, I have almost 45 cookbooks. Many that I have not properly read or used. This ongoing personal challenge will help me assess my collection, evaluate authors, and possibly, give/sell some away.

I am going to make more of an effort on reviewing cookbooks. To help myself and anyone who reads these reviews, I have made some guidelines for myself and for anyone who is interested in these reviews.

Most of these cookbooks are owned by me. Part of the reason I have a collection is that I love hardcover cookbooks. Their photos, their weight, their feel.

Read most of the book cover to cover. This generally means reading all the non-directional aspects of the book including introductions to recipes. This can often be fun as some cookbook authors are good. When I have read a cookbook cover to cover, I will mark it as such on GoodReads.

I have tried at least two to three of the recipes before writing the review. While this is a small number, I think it serves as a good first review. I may review the book in another time. In any case, it’s a good evaluation of my relationship with the book.

Substitutions are sometimes inevitable. I will note that in my review if I made substitutions when testing some of the recipes I used. If not, I try my best to follow recipes as this follows the book closely.

I often convert to metric when making most recipes. Not an issue with many books in my collection which were printed originally in the UK.

Due to time and attribution, I will not generally take photos of what I make or copy a recipe. If I do replicate a recipe for the review, it is a more basic one because this way I am not violating copyright and supporting the author.

In addition to the recipes, I will probably review the prose, techniques, chapters and layouts, the book binding and quality, and the photography if it exists.

Overall, I try to get a “feel” of the book and how useful and inspiring it may be to me or not. I am generally fair even with cookbooks I do not like and will point out their merits. I use cookbooks to learn from, but also to be inspired by.

I am looking forward to it. Hope you come along for the ride. Cheers.

The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman

This was what I think most people call a beach read. It even featured the ocean. It had some decent prose, an interesting premise, characters with pasts they want to forget, lots of drama, and an overall, neat ending. I have read a couple of other Australian novels like this, and I suspect these kind of novels are what they are good at.

This novel started off with a great hook, but then the narrative went backwards in time. I have become aware that I’m not a big fan of non-linear story telling like this. In many cases such as this, it changes the pacing. I really want to get back to the actual hook rather than the long background that happens. I would not call it a literary pet peeve, but I do not find it that effective as a narrative device. It makes me want to skim through so the book can go back to the original “hook”. At least this book’s pacing meant that things moved quickly to the drama.

The middle and end had a lot of drama and angst to the point. It was a bit too melodramatic for me at times because I struggled to feel sorry for Isabel at times. They have adapated this into a movie with three actors I adore: Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander, and Rachel Weisz. However, reading the middle of the book made me anxious not to read it since it is very difficult on the all the characters involved. I’ll probably still watch it because I did like that the ending was neat. It had to be otherwise it would leave the reader very dissatisfied with the tumultuous middle.

All in all, a decent and quick read. I did not love it, but I can see why it is popular.

Read January 10, 2016.

This was my fifth book of 2016. It was January 10th which means I finished one book for every two days of the new year. Go me! I don’t think I’ll be keeping this up, but I think my reading mojo is back at least a bit.

As You Wish by Cary Elwes and Joe Layden

An actor friend of mine recommended this book to me. I am glad for the recommendation and I was going to read this book any way. The Princess Bride is one of my favourite movies.

For any fan of the movie, some of the stories here about making the movie are not new or a surprise. However, it’s still lovely to read the stories about this movie. It seemed like a great cast, crew, production, and all around great movie experience. What I liked most was the stories about André the Giant. He really exemplified his character more than any other as a gentle giant.

After I read this book, I immediately rewatched the movie and that always makes me smile. As Reiner and Elwes discuss in the book, the movie worked largely because the cast played it so straight and so sincere. There is straight forward story telling that comes off so well.

Read January 7-9, 2016.

Blood of Tyrants by Naomi Novik

The latest installment and book #8 of the Temeraire series. I’ve had some ups and downs with this series, but I think this one was one of the better ones.

It was long though and I ended up staying late trying to read some of it as well. It’s separated in three parts with the first one being rather annoying as I tried to rush through it. An amnesia plot is used which is boring. The second part takes place in China which is good. Throne of Jade was a nice book and Temeraire’s lover returns. The third part was basically War and Peace in setting and tone, but thankfully not length. More brutal and grim war settings.

I think Novik is improving. Laurence continues to develop and this novel had more of the characters I liked. The ending was a cliffhanger, but a darker one. In any case, I only need to wait five months until the release of book #9 which is apparently the last book in this series. I am finally glad we are coming to an end, but not sure how Novik will end it since there are so many threads and plots to tidy up.

Read January 2-3, 2016.

Monthly Movies – December 2015

Inside Out (03 12 2015) – I really wanted to see this when it was released in theatres. I knew I would like this film. I think I hyped it up, but I did get the emotional reaction that I hoped for. I’ve been having a rough couple of months. This past week, I’ve been particularly sensitive so I cried a lot during the Bing Bong scene. I did manage to laugh not too long after. I liked the world building of this movie and a sequel is something I’d like.

Click (17 12 2015) – The premise of this show would be even funnier and more endearing if it weren’t an Adam Sandler movie. Not to say this movie is without merit. It has a great cast, but the humor does not work for me. It feels like it could be so much more. Not awful, but not great either.

Ex Machina (17 12 2015) – An incredible film. I adore Gleeson and Vikander from other films so watching them in this was wonderful. Isaacs is chilling as well. I loved the writing and how it was shot. It’s a testament to all involved that it did so well on such a low budget. It was imaginative and well done. I’m glad Vikander is getting the accolades she deserves for this as she is one of my favourite young actresses. I am left unsatisfied with the ending, but it’s definitely a more British/European rather than a neat, hopeful Hollywood ending.

Anna Karenina (18 12 2015) – I only watched this for Gleeson and Vikander who were playing my two favourite characters from the novel. I never wanted to watch this film because I am not a fan of Joe Wright’s style. I find it more style over substance and it lacks a certain level of depth. It’s pretty, but that’s it for me. The cast was great here; there were amazing sets, costumes, and cinematography. Everyone works except I’m not sold on the Vronsky. Law’s Karenin even more sympathetic than he was in the book and Knightley’s Anna wasn’t sympathetic enough. Then again, I’ve never been a big fan of Knightley which is another reason I avoid of Wright. All in all, a good looking movie, but not one I’ll yearn to see again.

Frank – (21-22 12 2015) – The Gleeson marathon continues or rather, ends. This is the least likable of all Gleeson’s characters. This movie had many cringe worthy moments as a result of this blind protagonist. It’s a quirky film. Michael Fassbender is simply wonderful in it though. I wish he would do more comedies. The whole cast was good, but Fassbender as Frank carried this film with the pathos.