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Showing posts from February, 2010

sunday salon: e-book pricing

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I've had a Kindle for two months now, and I still love it. There have been huge changes in how and what I read since I got it, and I've been following the news about e-book price wars, delayed e-book releases and the general wackiness of the publishing and retail industry quite closely.

A Book Borrower Turned Book Buyer
Before I got my Kindle, I rarely bought books. I have the benefit of both the university library and a fantastic local public library system. On the rare occasion I can't get a book through either library source, I would usually wait six months and request it through interlibrary loan or obsessively enter blog contests to win a copy. I've lived in four states in four years, and I'm tired of moving books, so I didn't feel the need to collect them. As a book blogger, I also have the luxury of review copies to entice me, so I do acquire books. Despite not being a book buyer, I adore my Kindle. I don't mind paying for books with the convenience …

children's book review: The Birthday Ball by Lois Lowry

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The Birthday Ball is the latest novel by Lois Lowry, but it bears little resemblance to the Lowry novels I've read before. One of Lowry's greatest talents as a writer is to break new ground and somewhat defy categorization. 
The Birthday Ball is a delightful fairy tale of sorts. Our heroine, Princess Patricia Priscilla, is a feisty princess who longs for a normal life. She soon devises a plan to swap clothes with her nursemaid and begin attending school. The story is a funny, wacky fairy tale. I was absolutely transported to this land of magic. For Princess Patricia Priscilla, the kingdom and its riches were ordinary, and she was transported to her fairy tale: being a peasant girl in school able to help make dreams come true. For her nursemaid, she was given days of leisure to read Alice in Wonderland, a wacky fairy tale in its own right.
Perhaps the best part of The Birthday Ball was it's humor. Some jokes may go right over the heads of the younger readers, but if parent…

movie review: A Single Man

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A Single Man is one of many films more deserving of a Best Picture nomination than The Blind Side or Avatar. It's the first film by Tom Ford (yes, the fashion designed Tom Ford). It stars Colin Firth, who is rightly nominated for an Oscar and won a BAFTA for his role.

The film is absolutely riveting. Colin Firth is phenomenal, and if I were voting for the Academy Awards, I would pick him over Jeff Bridge. Yes, I adored Crazy Heart and Jeff Bridges' performance; that's how good Colin Firth was. Colin Firth is a British English professor living in L.A. in the 1960's. His lover died recently, but he is present in flashbacks. Julianne Moore stars as Firth's best friend, who also emigrated from England. She's a delightful alcoholic with her own problems.

As a director, Tom Ford shows immense promise, even if it felt he tried to hard visually at certain times. There were a few overly long extreme close-ups that did not add much to the scene. He was clearly trying to …

Waiting on Wednesday: My Wife's Affair by Nancy Woodruff

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Jill at Breaking the Spine hosts Waiting on Wednesday, which encourages you to highlight a not-yet-released book you cannot wait to read. My pick this week is My Wife's Affair by Nancy Woodruff. I first read about  My Wife's Affair in Publisher's Weekly. I tend to read only the first and last sentence of their reviews because I don't like to know too much. Here's the first sentence: "Woodruff (Someone Else's Child) leaves not a dry eye in the house in this gripping ode to theater and the love it can command--and crush." And the last:
"It's brutal and lovely." Sold. The gorgeous cover seems to complement the review perfectly.

My Wife's Affair is also from the fabulous Amy Einhorn imprint. Beth Fish Reads is hosting a perpetual Amy Einhorn reading challenge to read every book this imprint publishes.

My Wife's Affair will be published April 15, 2010. You can preorder it in hardcover or Kindle format from Amazon.com. Can't wait? T…

movie review: The Blind Side

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I put off seeing The Blind Side for months. Even after hearing all of the Sandra Bullock Best Actress hype, I waited. After she won the SAG award, I decided to see it, but it still took a Best Picture Oscar nomination to finally coax me into the theater. I went in with an open mind, and I enjoyed parts of the movie. The problem, however, is that it's not a great movie. It's less deserving of it's Best Picture nomination than Avatar is. Hear me out.
I know people love this movie, and that's fine. Loving a film does not make it great. Yes, I teared up a few times during this film, which plays upon the viewer's emotions numerous times. The problem with this movie is that it doesn't play to the viewer's intellect at all. The Blind Side is a better than average sports movie. It's an average movie. It lacks nuance and intelligence. It's a tearjerker without much substance. It's an oversimplification of a true story.  On a continuation and plot note,…

movie review: The Messenger

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I saw The Messenger several weeks ago, and my initial reaction was strong, both emotionally and intellectually. To attempt to do this movie justice, I wanted to wait to fully compose my thoughts about it's brilliance. It's no secret I adored An Education (here's my review of it), and I almost like The Messenger as much. 
The Messenger is the story of Staff Sergeant Will Montgomery, played by Ben Foster, a wounded soldier who has returned to the base and is placed on the notification team until the time of his discharge. Colonol Dorsett, played by Woody Harrelson in his best performance to date, shows him the ropes. The two are an unlikely duo, and despite both being combat veterans (Dorsett in Desert Storm), this assignment provides a very different stress. The two soldiers are on call every hour of every day. When a soldier dies, they race to notify the family before they hear about their love one's death somewhere else. Given their unique jobs, they spend more and mo…

Sunday Salon: Empire State Book Festival

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I've been looking forward to the FIRST Empire State Book Festival for almost a year now. It's conveniently happening right here in Albany on April 9 & 10, 2010. Even better: it's FREE. The New York Library Assocation has done a fantastic job putting this event together. I was already excited, but this week I discovered the list of authors who will be attending, and now I'm even more excited. In an attempt to lure you other northeasterners to Albany (during the read-a-thon, no less), here are the highlights: Karen Abbott, author of Sin in the Second CityBrunonia Barry, author of The Lace ReaderAndy Borowitz (one of the funniest people on Twitter, among tother things).David Ebershoff, author of The 19th WifeMasha Hamilton, author of 31 HoursAnn HoodMarilyn Johnson, author of the fabulous This Book Is Overdue! Sally Koslow, author of The Late Lamented Molly Marx (one of my favorite reads last summer)Gregory MaguireJulie Metz, author of PerfectionElizabeth NobleCathlee…

movie review: Young Victoria

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Young Victoria is the story of Queen Victoria's early years. Emily Blunt stars as Queen Victoria, and she was nominated for quite a few Best Actress awards, most notably, the Golden Globe.
The film begins a year before Victoria becomes Queen and continues through the first few years of her reign. I was not terribly familiar with Queen Victoria's early life, and I found the film fascinating. Emily Blunt shines as Victoria. She plays her with a beautiful mix of energy, youthfulness, spunk and properness. This Victoria is caring, idealistic and eager. Part of the story focuses on Victoria's desire for love and uneasiness about finding a partner who will love her for her rather her throne. Through a modern lens, it's both a beautiful and frightening love story. It's a quick courtship, and it works for them, but the modern skeptic in me cannot imagine a courtship of mostly letters, especially when you're the Queen of England and have so much to protect.
It is a love…

book review: This Book Is Overdue!: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All by Marilyn Johnson

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As many of you know I'm a librarian (or someone who has worked as a librarian for two years and is now six credits away from my fancy official degree). I don't remember where I first heard about this book, but I think it was either Estella's Revenge or Bibliophile by the Sea. As it was conveniently released the week of my wedding, I pre-ordered it for my Kindle for wedding reading. 
What I didn't know, but perhaps should have inferred from the book's title (This Book Is Overdue!: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All) is the author, Marilyn Johnson, is not a librarian. The book isn't necessarily aimed at librarians, although I think there are things all librarians, readers and citizens could learn from this book. Ms. Johnson's first book is about obituaries, and she discovered librarians had absolutely fascinating obituaries and focused her next book on us. Awesome, yes? As I often confess, part of the allure of librarianship for me is being in aca…

Waiting on Wednesday: Every Last One by Anna Quindlen

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Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine to highlight an upcoming release you can't wait to read.  My pick this week is the new novel Every Last One by Anna Quindlen. I've only read one Anna Quindlen novel, Rise and Shine, which I really enjoyed. The publisher's synopsis of this new novel sounds fantastic. Anna Quindlen creates an unforgettable portrait of a mother, a father, a family, and the explosive, violent consequences of what seem like inconsequential actions. Mary Beth Latham is first and foremost a mother, whose three teenaged children come first, before her career as a landscape gardener, or even her life as the wife of a doctor.  Caring for her family and preserving their everyday life is paramount.  And so, when one of her sons, Max, becomes depressed, Mary Beth becomes focused on him, and is blindsided by a shocking act of violence. What happens afterwards is a testament to the power of a woman’s love and determination, and to the invisible…

dinner and a movie: Me & Orson Welles

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Welcome to my Monday morning recap of my Sunday night (this week!) dinner and a movie date with myself.
I had high hopes for Me & Orson Welles. It's directed by Richard Linklater, who is one of my favorite directors. Before Sunset may be my favorite movie ever (and of course, it's precursor, Before Sunrise, is near the top of the list.) Together, the two films are magical for me. I also adore Dazed and Confused, which is my favorite high school film. I wish more people would watch SubUrbia, his version of the criminally under-appreciated play that defines Generation X (which is not available on dvd for some reason.) I adore Slacker, his offbeat first film, although I don't enjoy rewatching it as much as the others. Still, he's a director who has somewhat of a signature but also veers into more mainstream material from time to time (Bad News Bears andSchool of Rock). 
The story takes place in New York City in 1937. Richard Samuels, played brilliantly by the magneti…