Friday, September 30, 2011

What We're Watching: Jan

Fallen Angel
Directed by Otto Preminger. Starring Alice Faye, Dana Andrews and Linda Darnell.

This 1945 film follows a drifter, Eric, in a small town who falls for sultry waitress Stella. The waitress wants to marry a man with money. Eric marries unassuming heiress, June, for her bank account but Stella is soon found dead. The movie is a gritty whodunit with a twist ending. A significant aspect of the movie is that it is an example of American "film noir" - "black film" in French. This style, primarily of the 1940s and 1950s, often deals with themes of betrayal, failure and despair. There is frequently a con-man (Dana Andrews as Eric), a femme fatale (Linda Darnell as Stella) and a detective (Charles Bickford as Mark Judd). There are desolate streets and a distressing mood that is created by stylized cinematography - different from other movies of the time. The viewer feels pulled into a shadowy world with danger lurking. Film noir films of this period are oftentimes said to be a reflection of post-WWII disillusionment and the anxiety of the coming Cold War of the time. The DVD includes a commentary that provides much background on cast, location and technique. Fallen Angel is a fine example of film noir that includes other pictures such as Laura, Double Indemnity and Out of the Past.

Monday, September 26, 2011

What We're Reading: Tracy

Hooray for Fall! by Kazuo Iwamura.

Three little squirrels discover the changing colors of autumn in this beautiful picture book by Japanese illustrator Kazuo Iwamura. Wearing newly knitted red sweaters, the squirrels see red mushrooms, red berries, red leaves, and a fiery red sunset as they explore their forest. Soft lines, subtle colors, and a sweet story make this a perfect choice for a quiet bedtime book.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

What We're Reading: Cathy

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

Edie's favorite book as a child was "The True History of the Mud Man." It was written by Raymond Blythe who lived in Milderhurst Castle. His 3 elderly and reclusive daughters still live there. Then, by chance, Edie finds out that her mother was evacuated to the castle during WWII. Her mother can even recite the poems that Blythe wrote ..."the ancient walls that sing the distant hours." The place draws her and she makes an impulsive visit to the castle. She meets the daughters: Persephony and Seraphina, who are twins, and Juniper, who has lost her mind. Edie searches for the inspiration behind the famous book and also the mysteries surrounding the sisters' lives. She also finds that her mother isn't really the sort of person she'd always thought. Disappearances, murder, madness, war, guilt, fires - all play their part in the family's history. Oh, and of course, there are ghosts.

Monday, September 19, 2011

What We're Reading: Tracy

Foxy and Egg, by Alex T. Smith.

Foxy loves eggs. And chickens. So she is, of course, delighted when an egg rolls up to her front door. Dreaming of a wonderful breakfast the next day, Foxy feeds the egg to fatten it up, plays with it to make sure it is fit, and then tucks it into bed for a refreshing sleep. The next morning, Foxy is thrilled to see the egg has grown to enormous proportions. But then it hatches, and what's inside is most definitely not a chicken.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

What We're Reading: Edward

"Edge: a Novel"

by Jeffery Deaver

Six years ago, Corte listened over the phone as his mentor was tortured by Loving. Loving is an expert on getting the "Edge" on people to get make them give up the information that he needs. Corte works for a secret federal agency that is tasked with protecting high value targets. Loving is now after a witness being protected by Corte. Loving has a source inside Corte's agency and keeps a step ahead of Corte. But Corte loves gaming and keeps Loving from getting his target. Corte even finds Loving's childhood home to learn more about his adversary. Corte and Loving seem to be evenly matched. But only one of them can get the final "Edge".
Great thriller!
Sure to be one of my favorite reads of the year.

Monday, September 12, 2011

What We're Reading: Tracy

Duck Duck Moose, by Dave Horowitz.

Moose loves living in the Great North Woods with his friends Bear, Duck, and Other Duck. He loves the cool fall weather and the delicious breakfasts at the Pancake Hut. But then Pancake Hut closes for the season, Bear goes into hibernation, and Duck and Other Duck get ready to migrate to Florida for the winter. What's Moose to do? Take his first vacation!

What We're Reading: Edward

"One Summer"

by David Baldacci

"One Summer" is the story of Jack and his family. Jack is dying and his family is fracturing. Lizzie, Jack's wife, is making a run to the pharmacy when she is killed in an automobile accident. After Lizzie's funeral, Bonnie, her mother takes charge and farms out his three children to relatives and puts Jack into hospice care. Miraculously Jack goes into remission. After he returns to work, he reclaims his family. Jack manages to provide for his children's physical needs, but meeting their emotional needs is another story. Jack packs up the family and takes them to the South Carolina shore. Lizzie grew up there and dreamed of taking her children to visit the house she grew up in and its lighthouse. Jack starts fixing up the old house and lighthouse. Summer turns to fall and the family stays. Lizzie's attachment to the lighthouse is both a curse and a salvation. Will Jack and his children become a family again?

Reminiscent of John Grisham's "Bleachers"

Read this book before the end of summer!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

What We're Reading: Debbie

The Quickening by Michelle Hoover

Atmospheric story of two Iowa farmwives, neighbors, but with little in common but loneliness. Set in the early twentieth century, through drought and the Great Depression, the story is presented in chapters alternately told by the two women, Enidina and Mary. This technique of using each character to tell their version of events helps to explain the background behind some of their conflicts. The story is very quiet and lonely. I could almost hear the crickets buzzing in the dry, hot fields as I read the book. This might sound as if the book would be boring, but it really wasn't. It was an excellent novel, full of hardknocks, tragedy, secrets, and well developed characters. At just over 200 pages, it was a quick read. This was a first novel for the author. I'll be watching for more from her.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

What We're Reading: Tracy

Seymour Slug Starts School, by Carey Armstrong-Ellis.

Seymour Slug has just moved to a new town, and is worried about starting school. Will the other slugs like him? What if he has to write his name? He doesn't know how to spell yet. And worst of all, what if the teacher makes him play dodgeball? Seymour is terrible at dodgeball! Just when his anxiety reaches its zenith, Seymour's fairy slugmother arrives, promising to stay with him on the first day of school. Reassured, Seymour drifts off to sleep, but the next day, he discovers the zany and hyperactive fairy slugmother turns out to be more trouble than help.