I've moved bookishwhimsy.com to tumblr! This blog is now an archive of my past posts.


Sunday, November 29, 2015

Suspense (175) Out of Control

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
Suspense was a radio series from 1942 to 1962.  I have a fondness for "Old Time Radio" as we call it now, and Suspense is my favorite show.  It sets up weird, dark, scary, or intriguing stories with a plot twist in the end, and all in half an hour.  For Suspense Sundays I'll give a short review of an episode.

"Out of Control"
Air date: March 28, 1946
Starring Brian Donlevy
>>Episodes here<<

A detective, who is blind, overhears a conversation between a woman and a man who is trying to blackmail her.  He hears her offer to pay him off, but to stay at her cabin in the woods so that her husband won't run into him.  The next day the detective hears from the woman that the man got into an accident and was killed.  The woman might be under suspicion except the man was killed minutes before she got the phone call, and the woman was with the detective the whole time.  The detective puts his uncanny reasoning and hearing ability to work.

When I was in high school I particularly remember reading one of those five minute mystery books where you can try to solve it at the end, and the solution to the mystery presented in this Suspense episode takes off from one of those stories.  I don't know why I always remembered the solution (which concerns ice).  I think it's really clever, so I suppose this episode has that going for it, even if I thought the whole "blind" detective a little heavy handed.  The detective kept mentioning how because he was blind, he did not succumb to the apparently extraordinary beauty of this cunning woman.  You'd think not all seeing men would be so dumb?


Thursday, November 26, 2015

Making Waves (11)

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,

Making Waves is a weekly question feature created by the Waterwitch Babes (part of Susan Dennard's Truthwitch Street Team). Every Thursday, we’ll have a fun question that all are welcome to answer on their blog. The questions will be random and/or relate to the upcoming book Truthwitch by Susan Dennard. A linky is provided so that everyone can link up their post and participate in the fun! 

To participate we do ask that you use the Making Waves banner in your post and link back to the Waterwitch Babes blog.


Question 11: Susan Dennard Gratitude Post - Why do you appreciate Susan as an author or her work?

I think I first became aware of Susan Dennard through her close friendship with Sarah J. Maas.  I remember the first time I saw Sarah at a book signing for Crown of Midnight, someone gave her a photo with Sooz and Sarah's faces imposed over jaeger pilots from the film Pacific Rim, and Sarah could not have been more delighted.  It was so cute.  And then I heard more and more about their silly, fun, and loving friendship and as so many people have said on social media - friendship goals.  So when I heard that Susan was looking for Truthwitch street team members, I read about the book, thought it sounded AMAZING, and decided to sign up.

Since doing that, I've gotten to know so much more about Susan Dennard.  I finally read Something Strange and Deadly (the rest of the series will be read soon!), I've pored over her website which is chock full of goodies for readers and writers, and of course I've seen her on social media.  And for her work, I just love how dedicated an author she is - how she imparts that to other aspiring authors with her advice and her encouragement.  And having read both Something Strange and Deadly and Truthwitch (the review of Truthwitch will go up around the end of December - I'm still tweaking it!) I think she's an amazingly talented writer with such a knack for creating complex, fun characters who act very dynamically together.  And her stories are full of suspense and adventure.  I think she's awesome through and through!

Next week's question:
Share your song playlist or pinterest board/ tumblr aesthetic for Truthwitch


Link up!
Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Review: Glamour in Glass

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Glamour in Glass (Glamourist Histories #2)
by Mary Robinette Kowal
Historical Fantasy
Amazon  /  Goodreads

Plot Summary:


Mary Robinette Kowal stunned readers with her charming first novel Shades of Milk and Honey , a loving tribute to the works of Jane Austen in a world where magic is an everyday occurrence. This magic comes in the form of glamour, which allows talented users to form practically any illusion they can imagine. Shades debuted to great acclaim and left readers eagerly awaiting its sequel.

Glamour in Glass continues following the lives of beloved main characters Jane and Vincent, with a much deeper vein of drama and intrigue.In the tumultuous months after Napoleon abdicates his throne, Jane and Vincent go to Belgium for their honeymoon. While there, the deposed emperor escapes his exile in Elba, throwing the continent into turmoil. With no easy way back to England, Jane and Vincent’s concerns turn from enjoying their honeymoon...to escaping it. Left with no outward salvation, Jane must persevere over her trying personal circumstances and use her glamour to rescue her husband from prison...and hopefully prevent her newly built marriage from getting stranded on the shoals of another country's war.

Review:

After reading Shades of Milk and Honey, and being so enamored of the world and the romance the author created, I was eager to dive into this second book.  And it continues the story from the first, but in tone and plot, it's a very different kind of story and series.  Where Shades of Milk and Honey is a wonderfully told romance and character piece, Glamour in Glass is more of an adventure, with intrigue and a war looming.  I loved the change in tone, and seeing the protagonists - Jane and Vincent - as heroes who can use magic to defeat their enemies.  It's such an interesting change to the dynamic of the series, but it totally works for me because Jane and Vincent are still these wonderful people I enjoy getting to know.

I will say though, that with the first book, I just adored Jane's good sense and practical nature, but in this, there were times when Jane veered a little from that side of her.  It's a little disappointing, but it did seem necessary to move the story along.  However, Jane is still a strong character, and I love that she feels like a realistic feminist character for the time.  She embraces the role society places on her, but she always does what needs to be done, no matter her restraints.

When it comes to characters though, Vincent was the subtle stand out.  The reader only sees him through Jane's eyes, and in the second book we get to know him better, just as Jane has gotten to know him.  He really didn't figure prominently in the first book, but here we delve more into his character.  And I absolutely love him.  He's reticent, socially awkward, but he has manners when he needs to use them, an enthusiasm for his work which is catching, and for me, a compelling brooding quality which I love to see in all my favorite male characters.  And the way Jane and Vincent act together as a married couple is sooo romantic.  It makes my sappy romantic heart soar.

This book encompasses a little revised history, intrigue, danger, and a very suspenseful conclusion, along with these wonderful characters. This is now becoming a favorite series of mine.  I still haven't finished the series, but with the romance and suspense, and the setting of Regency Europe, I'm utterly bewitched by this series!
Monday, November 23, 2015

Gene Kelly: The Legacy

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,

You may have seen from posts in the past, that I'm a huge fan of Gene Kelly.  His musicals uplifted me during a time when I was feeling very fed up and stressed with work and to come home to watch one of his musicals was such a relief.   At the time, I needed to escape into something happy, light-hearted and beautiful, and Gene Kelly's films were that for me.  So yesterday, when I want to see the one woman show Gene Kelly: The Legacy which was presented by Patricia Ward Kelly,  Gene's widow, it was such a momentous and moving experience.  Her show is a brilliant encapsulation of all that Gene has done in his career, and the intimate setting of Patricia Kelly presenting clips and talking about Gene's behind the scenes experiences made her portrait of him so very poignant and touching.  Gene Kelly's legacy is undeniably incredible.
Sunday, November 22, 2015

Suspense Sundays (174) Crime Without Passion

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
Suspense was a radio series from 1942 to 1962.  I have a fondness for "Old Time Radio" as we call it now, and Suspense is my favorite show.  It sets up weird, dark, scary, or intriguing stories with a plot twist in the end, and all in half an hour.  For Suspense Sundays I'll give a short review of an episode.

"Crime Without Passion"
Air date: May 2, 1946
Starring Joseph Cotten
>>Episodes here<<

Lou Hendrix is having an argument with his "girl" who is angry at him for giving her the brushoff.  Lou is no longer interested in her, and is amused at how furious she is.  Until she starts throwing things at him and Lou gets angry too.  So angry that he hits her with a candlestick.  He's appalled at murdering her, but because he's a well-to-do criminal lawyer he immediately works on creating an alibi.  He sets up that he was in a movie theater - he talks to people to let them know how he was unavailable during the time the murder happened because he was in a theater.  And he makes it seem like the girl was seeing someone else besides him.  All that is undone in a moment when someone says they saw Lou enter the movie theater just before the movie finished.

Well Lou is quite the nasty character.  He seems very urbane, but underneath that he is just so calculating and cruel.  This episode was intriguing just to know how Lou's work would be undone (because of course, he can't get away with his dastardly plan!) but it was really a surprise when another twist turned up in the end, with the ironic justice that was due.  I really enjoyed this episode!
Thursday, November 19, 2015

Making Waves (10)

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,

Making Waves is a weekly question feature created by the Waterwitch Babes (part of Susan Dennard's Truthwitch Street Team). Every Thursday, we’ll have a fun question that all are welcome to answer on their blog. The questions will be random and/or relate to the upcoming book Truthwitch by Susan Dennard. A linky is provided so that everyone can link up their post and participate in the fun! 

To participate we do ask that you use the Making Waves banner in your post and link back to the Waterwitch Babes blog.


Question 10: Are you participating in NaNoWriMo?  How has your experience been so far?

I'm not participating, because I find writing very painful LOL.  Although there is a book that I've been lightly toying with writing - only because it's the kind of book I would like to read, and I haven't really found it yet.  I would love to do a modern update on Jane Eyre (surprise surprise, it would be an update on that book).  I want it to be pretty faithful to the original, but also believable which is so hard to do.  I think that's why there are so many misses for me in some of the modern JE retellings.  It's Mr. Rochester's secret that is so hard to get down.  I'm still trying to think of a believable way that keeps him from divorce.  Oh well.

I hope everyone who is participating with Nano is doing great - there's still so much time left in the month, so I wish everyone luck in reaching their writing goals!  As everyone should know, Making Waves is a feature that came about because of being a part of Susan Dennard's street team, and I think it's perfect here to mention just how helpful her blog and newsletter is for writing advice.  You can find a lot of her advice by visiting her website here.


Next week's question: 
Susan Dennard Gratitude Post - Why do you appreciate Susan as an author or her work?

Link up!
Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Movie Musical Challenge: The Wizard of Oz

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
In Movie Musical Challenge, I'm watching all 25 picks for AFI's Greatest musicals starting from the bottom.  Number 3 is the classic film The Wizard of Oz starring Judy Garland and three lovable character actors.  Oh and a dog!

It's been a very long time since I watched The Wizard of Oz.  And you know what I realized watching it again now?  It's really good.  I forgot!  Not like 'better-than-The-Sound-of-Music-good, let's not get crazy, but totally deserving of the number 3 spot.

I want to take a moment to talk about Judy Garland.  When I started my Gene Kelly obsession a few years ago, I also started seeing more of Judy Garland since he did three films with her.  (Summer Stock is my fave of the three he did with her btw).  And also with this challenge, I've seen Judy in two more films, so I felt like I was pretty familiar with her as an actress, but I never really fell in love with her in a way that made me want to see more of her films.  But now watching The Wizard of Oz again after so many years, I get the obsession with her.  It's first of all startling to see her so young and innocent, but then again she's also so perfect in the role.  So effervescent and yet quintessentially Judy.  And her voice is amazing.  I got chills when "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" started.  It's perhaps most intriguing now to watch this and look back on her other films to see how she developed as an actress.  Of course there's a lot of tragedy there too, but with The Wizard of Oz at least, you know that she is what she seems on screen.  And all of that innocence and sense of wonder is glorious in the film.  Judy is just captivating as Dorothy.

I remembered that the three farm hands in the beginning would make an appearance in Dorothy's "dream" as the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion, but I forgot how much it's foreshadowed by their dialogue and actions in Kansas.  I thought that was fun - and it reminded me of how they do a similar thing in the musical Wicked.  Great tie-in to the film, Wicked!  The three actors (despite all the agonies that apparently went on with the costumes and the filming) are exceedingly likable and really provide so much heart to the story.  It's been even longer since I read the Baum book, but from what I gather, they really simplified the story of the film to make it about Dorothy's self-discovery about the importance of home, and the three characters as her companions and friends were just so sweet.

Probably if I had to pick a favorite scene it would be the Somewhere Over the Rainbow sequence, although I have a very soft spot for the Tin Man's "If I Only Had a Heart" song.  I've always liked his version of the song the best.  It's the romantic in me I guess.

This film is lyrical in it's construction, wonderful in all it's technicolor glory, with some truly inspiring performances from the entire cast.  I can't believe it's taken me so long to rediscover my appreciation for this lovely film, despite how deeply embedded it is in pop culture.

Now it will be even more interesting to watch the live musical of The Wiz that NBC is putting on next month.  (I've never really liked The Wiz though)
Monday, November 16, 2015

Review: Shades of Milk and Honey

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Shades of Milk and Honey (Glamourist Histories #1)
by Mary Robinette Kowal
Fantasy/Historical Romance
Amazon  /  Goodreads

Plot Summary:


Shades of Milk and Honey is an intimate portrait of Jane Ellsworth, a woman ahead of her time in a world where the manipulation of glamour is considered an essential skill for a lady of quality. But despite the prevalence of magic in everyday life, other aspects of Dorchester’s society are not that different: Jane and her sister Melody’s lives still revolve around vying for the attentions of eligible men.

Jane resists this fate, and rightly so: while her skill with glamour is remarkable, it is her sister who is fair of face, and therefore wins the lion’s share of the attention. At the ripe old age of twenty-eight, Jane has resigned herself to being invisible forever. But when her family’s honor is threatened, she finds that she must push her skills to the limit in order to set things right--and, in the process, accidentally wanders into a love story of her own.

This debut novel from an award-winning talent scratches a literary itch you never knew you had. Like wandering onto a secret picnic attended by Pride and Prejudice and Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Shades of Milk and Honey is precisely the sort of tale we would expect from Jane Austen…if only she had been a fantasy writer.

Review:

I have been meaning to read this book for so long, and now that I have finally gotten to it, I can't believe I didn't pick it up sooner, because it is wonderful.  It is so much like a Jane Austen novel with the time period, and the intimate way the reader looks into the life and emotions of the main character Jane Ellsworth.  And what a character Jane Ellsworth is.  I so identified with her hopes and dreams and her down to earth, practical nature.  She's caring and devoted to her family, and to make up for her 'plainness' she has a talent for glamour that makes her stand out.  But she is always proper and honest and humble.  She is my favorite kind of heroine.

There are times when I read stories with heroines who have to make a decision and they make the wrong one, for reasons that are somewhat supported, but it's one of those moments when you want to shake the heroine for doing something stupid.  Things like not telling someone something important for instance.  And in every case where Jane could make that kind of a silly decision in this book - where she's afraid to say something because she's scared of the reaction or the consequences, she did not make the stupid decision.  Even if it was difficult for her to do what was right, she did it.  And it made me love her even more, because she felt so logical and real.  And that kind of a character very much appeals to me.

The romance aspect was the strongest part of this book, and it was glorious for me because it was a slow burn.  And it was unclear who exactly was interested in who.  When a romance starts with obvious attraction and hints as to who is going to get together from page one, it does get a bit predictable for me, I like a little more plot to be introduced beforehand.  But thankfully this was not the case with this book.  There was the character growth we needed to see from Jane to start, and then lots of romantic entanglements so that it was difficult to know how it would all end.  But it was resolved perfectly, with so much sighing and smiling on my part.  Jane Ellsworth deserved someone special and she got him.

This book is very light and entertaining.  The beauty of it is in the characterization and in the emotion.  While I think the rest of the series gets more exciting and adventurous, this first book is quietly sincere and a touching, lovely tribute to the magic of an Austen story.  With actual magic!
Sunday, November 15, 2015

Suspense Sundays (173) The Name of the Beast

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
Suspense was a radio series from 1942 to 1962.  I have a fondness for "Old Time Radio" as we call it now, and Suspense is my favorite show.  It sets up weird, dark, scary, or intriguing stories with a plot twist in the end, and all in half an hour.  For Suspense Sundays I'll give a short review of an episode.

"The Name of the Beast"
Air date: April 11, 1946
Starring Vincent Price
>>Episodes here<<

James Dorrance is an artist who is keen to further his art.  He goes to a seedy bar and gets a model for his latest work.  The man sits for Dorrance, and then goes back home, with a promise to return again the next day to continue.  When he doesn't show up, Dorrance hunts him down and discovers that Elmer has committed a murder and is holed up in his apartment.  Dorrance is happy to help him get away with it, if he continues to sit for him.  Because Dorrance sees this as a great opportunity to paint something he's always wanted to capture on canvas - evil.

What I synopsized in the first paragraph is just a small tidbit of where this episode goes.  I already know I've come across a good Suspense episode when Vincent Price is starring (love him!), but this story takes some really weird and unexpected turns.  The artist is already off his rocker for wanting to paint a murderer - to the extent that he is willing to help him get away with it, and then Elmer is a piece of work himself.  But the big twist in the story revolves around someone else!  This was a very twisted story, with an ironic, and tragic twist.  It seems that Dorrance doesn't recognize evil when he sees it.
Friday, November 13, 2015

Move Musical Challenge: The Sound of Music

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , , ,
In Movie Musical Challenge, I'm watching all 25 picks for AFI's Greatest musicals starting from the bottom.  Number 4 is the bestest, most glorious and awe-inspiring movie musical ever - The Sound of Music, released in 1965.  (Who me, biased?)

If you have not seen this movie before, there is nothing more important in your life than to go immediately to Amazon, or your local Target or wherever and pick up a copy.  You should buy it because you are going to love it.  It's 100% my favorite movie musical, and an amazing achievement in the genre.  Here's why:

--- Julie Andrews = BOSS ---
The character of Maria is the most important aspect of this movie.  Maria is the catalyst who every character falls in love with (well maybe except for the Baroness).  She has to carry the whole film on her sunshine-y shoulders and Julie Andrews is captivating.  She's full of determination, compassion and grace.  And loveliness - it's such a perfectly pitched performance - not too saccharine, because she knows when to fight back against the Captain, and yet she is the sweetest most understanding governess.  And what an amazing voice!  Her diction is so crystal clear, and her high notes are effortless.  It's enough to make me cry.   Julie Andrews is perfection in this film.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Making Waves (9)

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,

Making Waves is a weekly question feature created by the Waterwitch Babes (part of Susan Dennard's Truthwitch Street Team). Every Thursday, we’ll have a fun question that all are welcome to answer on their blog. The questions will be random and/or relate to the upcoming book Truthwitch by Susan Dennard. A linky is provided so that everyone can link up their post and participate in the fun! 

To participate we do ask that you use the Making Waves banner in your post and link back to the Waterwitch Babes blog.


Question 9: Have you visited the new website TheWitchlands.com?  What are your impressions of it?

I've been a part of the Truthwitch Street Team for about... three months now, and it's been glorious to be a part of the launch of this book.  Just a couple of weeks ago, the official website for the series was revealed and it is my pleasure to gush about it to everyone.  ("Lots of gushing" is something I do on a daily basis, so it's not really a hardship.)

The layout of the site is wonderfully simple, but there are lots of fun things to explore.  I especially love the map, which has pop-ups of information about the different provinces (cities?) and there is also a quiz to see from which part of the Witchlands you hail from.  (I'm a proud Nubrevnan.)  There's a very special list of inventive curse words that Safi (the main character) uses, so obviously that is useful.  And the website design takes off from the gorgeous U.S. cover of the book, so of course it looks beautiful

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Movie Musical Challenge: Cabaret

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
In Movie Musical Challenge, I'm watching all 25 picks for AFI's greatest musicals starting from the bottom.  Number 5 is the 1972 musical Cabaret starring Liza Minelli and Joel Grey.

Confession - when I was in college, I was obsessed with the Broadway revival of Cabaret which starred Alan Cumming as the emcee.  I listened to the soundtrack lots, I may have acquired some footage of the production, I just loved it.  The tone, the approach, the update on the music, all worked for me, in a way that made, and still makes unfortunately, this movie musical a disappointment to me.  It's just too "seventies", I guess, to appeal to me as a realistically, gut-wrenching portrayal of these people who cling to their craft and their lifestyle in the face of such horrors.  And ultimately pay the price for it.  So everything in my review most likely reflects my inner comparison between the revival and this version.  But it was interesting for me to watch this movie, knowing I love the story and the music, but I just don't really like how they brought it to life in the movie.

The casting of this movie was great generally though.  Liza Minelli, Michael York, and Joel Grey bring the characters to life wonderfully.  I do kind of wish there was more for Joel Grey to do too - he's really a wonderful actor.  The part where I'm a little iffy on this movie though, is in the editing.  It's very abrupt, there's lots of weird close-ups, and an artsy way of shooting people who are completely, unnaturally still.  I think a more realistic take on the story, would have been much more effective.  The songs that are sung in the cabaret sometimes reflect what's happening in the plot, and the rising tension with the Nazis, so that is very clever, but again, I wasn't thrilled by how the scenes would move back and forth between the stage performance, and some shots of what was happening outside.  The story takes a nightclub and makes it a microcosm to reflect what is happening in the real world, but it all felt too choppy and artificial.  It was hard to really sympathize with the characters because of this.

In my mind, I'm also comparing this to Chicago, which I think also takes that sort of vague premise of looking at the world through the eyes of a performer/performance.  And Chicago is just so much slicker and full of more emotional impact for me.  I think this Cabaret is very much a product of it's time.

So in summary... meh.  I would really like to see a new version of this musical as a movie.  Preferably with Alan Cumming as the Emcee - I think it would come off as so much more devastating and darker if it was done now.  And it would be brilliant.  This is a great musical, but I really don't have a lot of love for the film.
Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Movie Musical Challenge: Mary Poppins

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
In Movie Musical Challenge, I'm watching all 25 picks for AFI's greatest musicals starting from the bottom.  Number 6 is the 1964 magical musical Mary Poppins starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke.

So many reasons to love this film.  For me, there are lots of sentimental ones of course, but objectively how can anyone not like this magical movie?  It's full of joy and heart and whimsical, clever songs.  Julie Andrews is utterly bewitching (and practically perfect) and even if people have a few disparaging words for Dick Van Dyke's accent, he's perfect as Bert - so charming, funny, relatable and kind.

Rewatching this film, I have a new appreciation for the children too - how wonderful are they in this film?  They are too cute, and mischievous and self-interested and so believable.

The reason that Mary Poppins is a film that resonates is that beneath the fantasy trappings, and the whimsical humor, the story is driven by the need for Mary Poppins to fix this family.  And there's such utter satisfaction and heart-warming joy in seeing how it all unfolds, even with the melancholic tinge of Mary leaving when her work is done.  I'm also a little obsessed with the dynamic between Mary and Bert which is so full of understanding as to be romantic, but they seem just the best of friends.  I'm glad there is ambiguity to it, because it makes their interactions all the more interesting.

As for my favorite scene - I really do love everything about this movie, but the scene that fills me with joy every single time is Jolly Holiday.  You guys, I love it so much!!  The song is just glorious, and the romp through an idyllic English countryside is everything I want my life to be!  Hmm, I wonder if this film had an bigger influence on me than I thought, as I am now always happy to go visit England...  I need to say though, that Feed the Birds is also a huge scene for me - the fact that it is about being kind, is so touching.  I love how it is worked into the film too - just to realize that Mary Poppins planted that song in the children's head to start a chain reaction of change in their father's life - oh my goodness.  This story is brilliant.

This film is absolutely deserving of a high position in the top 25 list, and everyone needs to have watched it.  Preferably when they were young, but it's never too late to let this magical film into your life.
Monday, November 9, 2015

Movie Musical Challenge: A Star is Born

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
In Movie Musical Challenge, I'm watching all 25 picks for AFI's greatest musicals starting from the bottom.  Number 7 is the 1954 film A Star is Born starring Judy Garland and James Mason.

I initially had not heard of this film when I started this challenge, and knew nothing about the plot, so a quick google later, I found out that it is about a girl's rise to stardom, and her famous husband's decline.  So from that I knew that the story takes a darker turn in the end.  Which was important I think, because when I first started watching this, I couldn't see why this film was in the top 25, but by the end it is much clearer why.

I'll start at the beginning though.  Judy Garland and James Mason were so perfect in these roles.  Of course Judy would be - she has all the talent to portray a hard-working singer looking for (and deserving) a big break, but James Mason was such a stand out as well.  He's so charming and rakish, and unfortunately beset by alcoholism and issues of pride.  I wish there was a little more about why he was the way he was, but I suppose there are too many instances of men with these kinds of weaknesses, that the audience can fill in the gaps.

The story begins in a very heartwarmingly, romantic way, with Mason's character-  Norman Maine - captivated by Judy's character's (Esther) singing, and determined to give her a chance at the big time.  His belief in her, and his charm, makes it easy to see why she would fall in love with him.  And as for Esther, she is so kind and open-hearted and talented, that it was great to see Norman fall in love with her.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Suspense Sundays (172) The Clock and the Rope

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
Suspense was a radio series from 1942 to 1962.  I have a fondness for "Old Time Radio" as we call it now, and Suspense is my favorite show.  It sets up weird, dark, scary, or intriguing stories with a plot twist in the end, and all in half an hour.  For Suspense Sundays I'll give a short review of an episode.

"The Clock and the Rope"
Air date: May 9, 1946
Starring Jackie Cooper
>>Episodes here<<

Henry meets a nice girl and makes a date to go out with her later.  When he goes to pick her up, she's having an altercation with a brutish man who doesn't want her to go out with anyone.  The man starts to beat up on Henry because he's his rival, but Henry fights back and ends up killing him.  He only finds out about that later though when he's picked up by the police for murder.  Henry claims self-defense, but Henry's witness - the nice girl - is no where to be found, and Henry realizes he didn't even know her name.  Henry is convicted of murder and his only hope is the girl.

This is a pretty straightforward suspenseful story about whether or not Henry will be saved from execution in time.  There are multiple moments when things looked bad for Henry, including the very unlikely instance of the warden having a stroke at just the wrong time, but there were no real twists to the story to make this one stand out.  For me, I felt this was just an ok story.
Friday, November 6, 2015

Something Strange and Deadly Readalong - Discussion #2

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,

I'm participating in the Readalong for Susan Dennard's novel "Something Strange and Deadly." I finished and reviewed it earlier this week, but for this post I'm answering a couple discussion questions for the last half of the book.  If you haven't read the book, I don't recommend reading this post!

Spoilers Ahead!!!


Question 1: What was the biggest twist in the story for you?

The twist with Eleanor's brother Elijah was a close call as my answer to this question, but  the identity of the evil spirit was the bigger one for me.  I did kinda suspect it though, because I had the misfortune to read something that made me think it was the return of Joseph's nemesis.  But the reveal was very powerful, and such a great moment (as it should be!) that it had more of an impact.  And then I already did suspect Elijah was the one behind everything. :)

Question 2: What would you do if you were in the same situation as Eleanor and her brother?

Well, it is so difficult for Eleanor, because of course she loves her brother, but to find that he's the root of all the horrible things that's been happening is such a blow.  Normally I hate when protagonists have a weakness to not do the things they are absolutely supposed to do, but in this case, because it's her brother, I totally understand Eleanor's attempts to reach him, even though it seemed very unlikely that she could.  From the start, this book sets up how strong their bond is as siblings, so it makes sense that Eleanor hesitates so much, even when so many lives are at stake and what he is doing is so horrible.
Thursday, November 5, 2015

Making Waves (8)

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,

Making Waves is a weekly question feature created by the Waterwitch Babes (part of Susan Dennard's Truthwitch Street Team). Every Thursday, we’ll have a fun question that all are welcome to answer on their blog. The questions will be random and/or relate to the upcoming book Truthwitch by Susan Dennard. A linky is provided so that everyone can link up their post and participate in the fun! 

To participate we do ask that you use the Making Waves banner in your post and link back to the Waterwitch Babes blog.


Question 8: What video games do you like to play?  Or which book would you like to see as a video game?

I'm actually not much of a gamer - at least for the big, immersive games that needs a system like an Xbox or something.  I do like to have games to play on my iPhone though, and the one I'm really into at the moment is Disney TsumTsum.  I think I mentioned this before....  It's a match 3 type game where you connect the cute Disney tsum tusms and make combos.  You also collect the different characters in the game and they all have different skills.  It's so cute and fun!

There are two versions of the game - the 'International' one, and the one that was released before this in Japan (so called the 'Japanese' version.)  I started with the International version of course, but grew envious of how the Japanese version seems to have more 'events' (special limited time tasks) and since it has been around longer, it also has more characters.  So now I play both versions, with a focus on trying to improve my score/character count/skill level on the Japanese version.  It's all very serious. :)

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Review: Something Strange and Deadly

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Something Strange and Deadly (Something Strange and Deadly #1)
by Susan Dennard
YA Fantasy
Amazon  /  Goodreads

Plot Summary:


Sixteen-year-old Eleanor Fitt’s brother is missing. And when she discovers that the Dead are rising in Philadelphia and wreaking havoc throughout the city, she knows that her brother is involved.

So Eleanor enlists the help of the Spirit-Hunters. This motley crew, hired to protect the city from supernatural forces, is after the necromancer who has been reanimating corpses. Their skills can save her brother. But as Eleanor spends time with the Spirit-Hunters, and their handsome inventor, Daniel, the situation becomes dire. Now not only is her reputation at risk, but her very life may hang in the balance.

In Something Strange and Deadly, the first book in a trilogy, Susan Dennard weaves together vividly imagined scenes of action, adventure, and gorgeous Victorian fashion to create an entertaining steampunk tapestry of humor, horror, and romance. Readers who love Cassandra Clare’s Infernal Devices series will be intrigued from the start.

Review:

It's taken me awhile to pick up this book because I'm really not a fan of zombie stories, but being a fan of Susan Dennard now, I had to try this one out.  And I'm so happy to find that the zombie aspect didn't bother me because was on the characters and the villains of the story were not really the zombies, but the necromancer.  So the story felt full of more danger and higher stakes than a story with just zombies out to get you.

There's some mystery too because it's not clear why the Dead are rising, and what the necromancer's purpose is.  Eleanor is forced to find out why when she finds out her brother is being held by them, and that suspenseful aspect of how Eleanor can save her brother, made this an even more engaging read.  And then enter The Spirit Hunters.  A group of three very different, eclectically matched people who are trying their best to solve the problem of the Dead, with a lot of distrust and ill will surrounding them.  The whole group are underdogs and it's always great to root for underdogs.

While the story seemed at first more fun and adventurous with a side of the Dead being chopped up, the story progressively got darker as the stakes were raised, and that building of peril made this story really stand out for me.  As well as this story being an examination of how Eleanor, a woman constricted by society, can realize her own independence.  The romance aspect, with prickly Daniel, was so sweet as well - just enough to make you want more, but it never overpowers the main issue in the story, which is how to keep the Dead from taking over.

This is a wonderful read, with humor, suspense, romance, and a dash of adventure.  I look forward to reading more about Eleanor and the Spirit Hunters.
Sunday, November 1, 2015

Suspense Sundays (171) My Dear Niece

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
Suspense was a radio series from 1942 to 1962.  I have a fondness for "Old Time Radio" as we call it now, and Suspense is my favorite show.  It sets up weird, dark, scary, or intriguing stories with a plot twist in the end, and all in half an hour.  For Suspense Sundays I'll give a short review of an episode.

"My Dear Niece"
Air date: January 24, 1945
Starring Mae Whitty
>>Episodes here<<

Mrs. Rogers is penning a letter to her niece, in which she explains how, since the death of her husband, she decided to take her niece's advice to place an advertisement as a private secretary for hire.  Mrs. Rogers receives an offer of employment from Mr. Bruce, a publisher who needs Mrs. Rogers to work from home, for any side projects he may have.  Mr. Bruce sends her a paycheck every week, but Mrs. Rogers has not been asked to do anything.  When Mrs. Rogers finally resolves to resign her commission, Mr. Bruce has a job for her.  He wants her to let a promising author stay at her house for a while to finish his book in peace and quiet.  When the author, Mr. Stevens comes to town, he's run down by a car, and the murderer pretends to be Mr. Stevens so that Mrs. Rogers will hide him in her home.

Oh it's too bad this private job with a publisher did not work out for Mrs. Rogers - it seemed like a great gig to me.  Obviously there is something fishy about the whole thing though, and the tense standoff between Mrs. Rogers and the murderer made this an engaging episode.  As well as the surprise of finding out who the murderer was.  Even though Mrs. Rogers was a kindly old lady, I was impressed by how she dealt with such a scary situation.  And there is a very good twist in the end too, when you find out the significance of Mrs. Rogers writing this letter to her niece.