Aug 30, 2009

Julie and Julia, movie vs book

Seems everyone in the theater enjoyed the movie and had a few good chuckles at Meryl Streep playing Julia Child. The stories of how Julia finally publishes Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and how Julie becomes a writer, mesh well in the film.

I am anxious to see how the book rates against the film! Any comments re this?

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Aug 29, 2009

My Life According to Literature

I found this clever meme on Books and Bards. You might like to try it!

Using only books you have read this year (2009), cleverly answer these questions. Try not to repeat a book title. It’s a lot harder than you think!

Describe Yourself: The Time Traveler's Wife

How do you feel:
French Pressed

Describe where you currently live:
Rooftops of Tehran

If you could go anywhere, where would you go:
Paris City of Night

Your favorite form of transportation:
Killer Cruise

Your best friend is:

You and your friends are:
Painting the Invisible Man

What’s the weather like:
Killer Summer

Favorite time of day:
Drawing in the Dust

If your life was a:
Perilous Journey of Love and Faith

What is life to you:

Your fear:
Crossed Wires

What is the best advice you have to give:
Bon Appetit

Thought for the Day:
I Cannot Tell a Lie

How I would like to die:
Man Overboard

My soul’s present condition:
Deceptive Clarity

It's fun. Try it!
Click on the titles to see the review of each book.

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Book Review: Paris City of Night by David Downie

Paris City of Night Paris City of Night by David Downie

My rating: 3.75 of 5 stars

Paris is known as the City of Lights but in this novel of suspense, Paris City of Night, journalist and travel writer David Downie shows us a seamier and more sinister side of the famous city where he lives and writes.

There are police everywhere in the city because of the constant threat of terrorism, many of the buildings are old, dusty, and fragile, and the troubling past is ever present.

Plot: The novel begins with an image of the past, 1950, with George Henri in a photography darkroom working to develop a picture of a man with round glasses in a raincoat and panama hat, leaning on the deck of a ship. We find out the man is Adolf Eichmann leaving France by boat for Buenos Aires.

Shift to Paris in 2007 and the image of an old woman in her 90s, having delusions, nightmares, and reliving the past fitfully. We find out she is Madeleine de Lafayette, a Resistance fighter in her youth during the war, and "a key player in the misguided Allied effort to fight Communism by smuggling Nazis to freedom." ( publisher's description).

Her protege, photographer Jay Grant returns from a trip and finds Madeleine has died and an item in her photo collection sold at auction. A daguerreotype he had made some years back was sold for an outrageous price, given it was a forgery. Frantic to recover it and others, to keep out of jail, Jay goes about tracing the unknown seller of the item. This begins a long and strange journey where his life is often in danger, several people are murdered, and secrets are revealed about his father "the spook", about Madeleine, and about the use of daguerreotypes to send encrypted messages during the war.

Comments: The plot is complex, changes direction midstream, and takes you to a different ending than the one you imagined. I would have preferred less detail about the history of photography, encryption, and daguerreotype. For a mystery novel, the amount of information was a bit overwhelming and I was sometimes impatient for the story to move from one scene to another.

Overall though, the book has a very good plot with a lot of fast action, chase scenes, and twists in the plot. There are excellent characterizations and descriptions of time and place to create a background atmosphere. In other words, I came away with a good sense of Paris as the City of Night.

Book received from the author for review.
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Aug 25, 2009

Teaser Tuesday: The Fruit of Her Hands

The Fruit of Her Hands: the Story of Shira of Ashkenaz,
Pocket Books, 2009.

"My heart ached for Papa. I forgave him for all the times he had yearned for a boy - times when I felt disappointed that I was not enough for him." p. 55

This story of Shira, the wife of Rabbi Meir in 13th century Europe is based on author Michelle Cameron's research into her family tree. In the book Shira grows up to meet and marry Rabbi Meir and raise a family in the midst of pogroms and anti-Semitism in the 13th century.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by Should Be Reading. Choose two sentences from your current read, and add the author and title for readers. Anyone can join in.

(Book received from the publisher for later review).

Book Review: Painting the Invisible Man by Rita Schiano

A memoir about a Mafia family written as contemporary historical fiction, Painting the Invisible Man by Rita Schiano is based on her own story of growing up with the memory of a father killed by the Mafia.

This is the second or third novel I've come across that is basically a memoir but written as fiction, to avoid claims of inaccuracies.

From the publicist: " In Rita Schiano's compelling novel, Painting the Invisible Man, (the author) explores her own past through fiction rather than memoir. She wanted to avoid the debacle that James Frey created over his memoir, A Million Little Pieces, where inaccuracies and exaggerations invalidated the telling of a true story....Painting the Invisible Man takes readers on a journey inside the world of a struggline Italian family on the fringes of the Mafia."

In the novel, the main character Anna Matteo discovers newspaper articles about the killing of her father two decades earlier. She sets out to find the truth behind her father's murder and the exoneration of the supposed triggerman. However, this is not a mystery novel, but a story of a father-daughter relationship, what the daughter discovers about her father after his death, and her reaction to those involved with his killing and the murder trial that followed.

This is a valuable insight, I think, into one family and the consequences of their connections to the Mafia underworld. It's also about coming to terms with one's family history and past.
"I'll never know if my father, in the last moments of his life, prayed for forgiveness, atoned for his past mistakes. I do know that in resurrecting his memory - and my memories - I have found forgiveness and have been forgiven."
The book is also about a writer and the muse she has adopted - another writer of family secrets, Amy Tan. It is also about pushing oneself to put down words on paper in the process of becoming a writer.
"Okay, Abba, focus," I tell myself.
Family secrets. Family sectets are skeletons in the closet, are 'ills that flesh are heirs to.' I write this down. Secrets are hurtful. Secrets cause harm. Secrets wound. I add this to the page."
I found the character of Anna Matteo intriguing. She writes about her gay relationships and her family history with equal candor. Remembering that the novel is both memoir and fiction, one can't help but wonder how much is truth and how much fictionalized. I recommend the book for readers interested in the Mafia, the writing of memoirs, and the emergence of a writer.

Rita Schiano is a freelance writer and author of the novel, Sweet Bitter Love, 1997.
(Received from the author/publicist for review)

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Aug 23, 2009

Movie vs. Book: The Time Traveler's Wife

I know The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger got many rave reviews so I chose to see the movie today although I had really felt like watching a light film about food, Julia and Julie, which is also in the theaters.

That may be the reason I didn't enjoy The Time Traveler's Wife. I found it depressing, not just sad. It also combines many different genres and is confusing as a result. It was a Back to the Future type of fantasy, plus a tragedy and a romance, in addition to being science fiction (with the seriousness of Frankenstein but without the horror aspects). I came out of the film feeling unsatisfied and a bit distressed, as I had been looking forward to an entertaining afternoon with the likes of Meryl Streep in a film about cooking.

I haven't read either book as yet. Maybe The Time Traveler's Wife has really excellent prose, and there may even be pathos in Julie and Julia, which I plan to read. I may skip The Time Traveler's Wife, but I know many readers will want to read it for the same reasons I didn't like it in the film.

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A September to Remember by Carol Bumpus: Review and Giveaway

  Premier Virtual Author Book Tours  presents A September To Remember by Carole Bumpus Posted on  January 27, 2021 A September to Remember:...