Saturday, April 23, 2011

The King's Speech

The King's Speech
Best Picture winner, but I still would have voted (were I in the Academy lol) for The Social Network. This was very good, and excellent performances, but it just didn't catch me.

Confetti Confidential, by Holly McQueen

Confetti Confidential: A Novel Charming, light, funny and frothy English romance. GREAT match for Katie Fforde/Hester Browne etc, with a touch of Helen Fielding. Isabel Bookbinder's dream of being a top wedding planner seems within reach when she is mistakenly given the job to arrange the wedding of a pop singer, but all sorts of obstacles stand in her way.

Thursday, April 21, 2011



Excellent documentary (Best Documentary winner) by Josh Fox, about the impact of fracking to get natural gas. People are able to light their tap water on fire. This was so well done, and heartbreaking, and timely- yesterday, a major fracking spill happened in Pennsylvania, where Josh Fox lives and where he started his quest to find out what the environmental impacts of this hydraulic fracturing could be.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Salt (Theatrical Edition) Pretty good actiony spy-vs-spy thriller, featuring the always kick-ass Angelina Jolie.

The Recessionistas, by Alexandra Lebenthal

The Recessionistas Surprisingly interesting look at the financial collapse. Rather than focusing, as I assumed, on the spending cutbacks of hedge fund wives or such, this book actually featured female characters who WERE the hedge fund managers, and went into almost tedious detail about some of the technicalities of the shady trading that led to arrests. The Lehman fall and the non-rescue by the Fed was pretty much the main part, but it was all in all a good read, if somewhat misleading as to its nature.

Home to Woefield, by Susan Juby

Home to Woefield: A Novel Fun but still disappointing adult novel from YA favorite Susan Juby. She seems to have been going for the same kind of laugh-out-loud absurdity she brought into Alice, I Think, and so on, but it just slightly missed. Brooklynite inherits a run down farm- think 2011 Green Acres with more babbling about sustainability and heirloom radishes.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Lost and Found, by Shaun Tan

Lost and Found: Three by Shaun Tan (Lost and Found Omnibus) Haunting and melancholy short pieces from the trancendentally talented Shaun Tan. The first, The Red Tree, is a breathtakingly beautiful look at depression and hope. The second, The Lost Thing, is an even more powerful take on what is lost when children become adults, and what goes unobserved when perspective changes. The third, The Rabbits is an astonishing summary of colonial imperialism and the devastation of a society- Australia.
I don't know how he does it. Through these dreamy paintings and collages (and SO MUCH hidden in the backgrounds) Tan creates a world filled with threats and oppression, with the tiniest but most inspiring pockets of beauty.
Even the language in these stories went above and beyond what I had hoped for from someone I think of as an artist rather than a writer, and in fact had me weeping.
From The Rabbits:

"Where is the rich, dark earth,
brown and moist?
Where is the smell of rain
dripping from the gum trees?

Where are the great billabongs,
the river swollen lakes,
alive with long legged birds?"

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Sequins, Secrets and Silver Linings, by Sophia Bennett

Sequins, Secrets, and Silver Linings (Threads)
Fantastic YA. This was so much fun to read, but had a lot of depth, too. Fashion-mad Nonie becomes involved in the life of a wildly talented 12 year old designer and Ugandan refugee Crow. This hit an amazing balance between serious issues and frothy fantasy, with strong characters and a solid plot, and was a joy to read.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Spiral, by Paul McEuen

Spiral: A Novel Gory techno-thriller, in a Michael Crichton vein. Nobel prize winning Cornell professor has been hiding a terrible secret about bioterrorism since the end of WWII, but international developments between Japan and China raise the ghosts of illegal programs, and combined with new nano-technology, these long hidden vials of deadly weapons now threaten the world. Parts were pretty horribly gory, but the plot moved along briskly and well.

Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun, by Lois Winston

Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun (An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery)
Light and goofy caper cozy, reminiscent of early Evanovich or of Donna Andrews. Fun.

Cracks, by Sheila Kohler

Cracks Dark and disturbing book about girls in a South African boarding school. When Fiamma, a minor Italian princess comes to their school, the girls on the swim team are told to make her feel at home. Jealously, loneliness, and random girl evil add up to something quite awful. Shades of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, but crossed with  Lord of the Flies.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Crazy U: One Dad's Crash Course in Getting His Kid Into College, by Andrew Ferguson

Crazy U: One Dad's Crash Course in Getting His Kid Into College
Well done, funny, and fascinating look at what getting into college (and why, and how much it will cost) means to a family today. The meaninglessness of entrance requirements, the questionable value of the rankings systems, and the alarming rising costs all come to be overshadowed by this father's desire to help his son Get In.
Great read, with a lot to think about.

The Mother Daughter Book Club: Pies and Prejudice, by Heather Vogel Frederick

Pies & Prejudice (Mother Daughter Book Club)
Great installment in the pretty wonderful junior high-targeted series. This one has some of the members of the club separated, but shows the girls working to keep their friendship strong, and it is interesting to see how the books the club reads have built upon each other, from Anne of Green Gables to Pride and Prejudice.

Crooked House, by Agatha Christie

Crooked House
Fantastic Agatha Christie, and one that is apparently to become a new movie, according to The Independent.

Swept Off Her Feet, by Hester Browne

Swept off Her Feet Charming, light, real-estate porn romance. Antiques appraiser Evie goes to a castle in Scotland to...
yeah, not much point in going into the plot, but this was such a nice and fluffy read, and a wonderful unicorn chaser to the last UK romance I read, Katie Fforde's unreadable Love Letters.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Waiting for Superman

Waiting for "Superman"
Disturbing and very interesting look at public education in the USA, and the challenges ahead. Agonizing charter school lotteries and close looks at some children whose lives depend on being able to receive a decent education. Really well done.

The Social Network

The Social Network (Two-Disc Collector's Edition)
FANTASTIC movie. Best I've seen in a long time.

Black Swan

Black Swan

Intense and disturbing movie.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Sweet Valley Confidential, by Francine Pascal

Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later

OMG! So Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield are in a fight, and I heard it from Caroline Pierce, and Bruce Patman is all involved, and have you HEARD about Lila Fowler????
This was so funny, and such a kick to revisit ludicrous Sweet Valley, and tune in to the updated shenanigans- some really terrible writing and a plot that was just insane enough to make this time-warp fiction fun made this a one-sitting read that had me turning the pages as fast as I did when I was 10 and fascinated with the whole absurd series.

The Frugalista Files, by Natalie McNeal

The Frugalista Files: How One Woman Got Out of Debt Without Giving Up the Fabulous LifeThis was a fun look at how Natalie McNeal- an underemployed journalist with $20,000 in debt- took control of every aspect of her life, and turned it around.

While this reminded me very much of Karyn Bosnak's hilarious Save Karyn: One Shopaholic's Journey to Debt and Back, Natalie's story is much more recent, and while the events of 9/11 were something of a factor in Bosnak's story, Natalie accrued her debt and career issues in the recent recession.

A relaxed, conversational tone kept the slim book feeling very friendly and informative, and even bits of rather obvious advice, such as changing to credit cards with lower interest rates seemed much more do-able with Natalie's chatty urgings.

While the book starts with a bang, and Natalie's first February of spending only on bills and food was a great beginning, the book lacked the drama of yet another shopping-withdrawal memoir, Judith Levine's Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping, which took on that challenge for a year. However, that made Natalie's stuggles and achievements seem that much more relatable, and she never annoyed me as a reader, unlike Levine.

A sassy city girl's story of getting herself out of a rut and into the life she wants, this was a quick (one sitting!) and enjoyable if not life-changing read.