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


Monday, June 27, 2016

Movie Mini-Reviews

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Lately I've been watching a lot of films in lieu of reading (all the fault of my boyfriend, although he's reading Jane Eyre, so it's win-win!), and I thought it would be nice to jot down some thoughts on what I've seen for my memory's sake, and also to see if any of my blog readers have thoughts on these films.  I'll start first with the less recent watch -

The Girl (2012)
Starring: Sienna Miller and Toby Jones

I love Hitchcock's films, so I thought I would love this behind the scenes look at the making of The Birds and Hitchcock's relationship with Tippi Hedren.  Even though I knew they didn't have a good relationship.  But wow, this film did not shy away from showing a disturbingly perverted side to Hitchcock.  I'm not sure how accurate this is, but it's definitely not how I want to think of Hitchcock.  The film itself moves a bit slow too, which didn't help with my overall enjoyment of it.  Also there were plenty of moments that showed off how creepy Hitchcock was towards Tippi, and I wish there had been more of an explanation/reasoning on why she decided to do another film with him after The Birds.  And I would have been interested to know more about Hitchcock's wife and what she was really thinking during that time.




The Lost Boys (1987)
Starring: Jason Patric and Corey Haim

This is a film I've heard a lot about, but never watched, so now that has been rectified.  It's kind of surprising it's taken me this long to see it, given how much I love vampire stories.  This one reminded me a lot of Fright Night with the tone, and the stand-off at the end.  This is a very entertaining film - it has all the hallmarks of an exciting vampire film - an innocent resistant to becoming a vampire himself, an allure and danger to the vampires, a beautiful girl in need of rescuing, and a surprise villain in the end.  And it has some very humorous moments! It was surprising to see a young Kiefer Sutherland too - he's very well cast as the dangerous, seductive vampire in this!





Friday, June 24, 2016

Appreciating the Cotswolds

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,

The Cotswolds is an area in Southern England covering six counties that comprise of "rolling hills and grassland" and "thatched medieval villages, churches and stately homes built of distinctive yellow limestone."   It's inordinately beautiful, and on my trip to England last month, I visited the area for the first time.  (Well I've been to a couple towns that are part of the Cotswolds - Stratford Upon Avon and Oxford - before, but this time I really took in what makes that part of England unique.  Thanks to the driving of a dear friend since it's not easy to get around in that area by public transport.)

The villages I visited included Bourton-on-the-Water, Upper and Lower Slaughter, Blockley and Broadway.
Monday, June 20, 2016

Review: The Dark Days Club

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
The Dark Days Club
by Alison Goodman
YA Fantasy
Amazon  /  Goodreads

Plot Summary:


London, April 1812. Eighteen-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall is on the eve of her debut presentation to the Queen. Her life should be about gowns and dancing, and securing a suitable marriage. Instead, when one of her family's housemaids goes missing, Lady Helen is drawn to the shadows of Regency London.

There, she finds William, the Earl of Carlston. He has noticed the disappearance, too, and is one of the few who can stop the perpetrators: a cabal of powerful demons that has infiltrated every level of society. But Lady Helen’s curiosity is the last thing Carlston wants—especially when he sees the searching intelligence behind her fluttering fan. Should Helen trust a man whose reputation is almost as black as his lingering eyes? And will her headstrong sense of justice lead them both into a death trap?

In The Dark Days Club, internationally best-selling author Alison Goodman introduces readers to a heroine who is just as remarkable as Eona—and yet again reinvents an establlished literary genre, making it her own.

Review:

The Dark Days Club has a fun premise and delivers on a romp of a romantic adventure, with darker overtones.  While the story takes it's time to develop the characters and for the unique world of demons to be fleshed out, it was worth the slower pace to get to know these characters.

Lady Helen was a feisty character, typically unconventional enough to be open to embracing the darker world of battling demons, but she does struggle with changes to her world view, and I appreciated how realistically hesitant she was about embracing that.  I felt the ultimate conflict of this story was in whether Helen could take on her role, and the conflict of some greater evil rising will be further explored in the later books.  I may have had some moments when I felt like Helen was too naive or too indecisive, but it did feel right for the story that she was scared about the changes in her life.

The world-building was a highlight of this story for me.  The demons had a unique spin to them, and it was intriguing to find out more about their limitations and the balance of power that exists between them and the Dark Days Club who are supposed to protect the innocent from them.  Again, the realism to the fantasy was wonderful, and I think it set up what will be some fantastic plot twists in the next book(s).

There is a romance, and it is a nice slow-burn one - it doesn't take too much away from the action in the plot, and it presents Helen with some real options about what she wants from her life.  I like that she is presented with a choice  - one that is more normal than the other - and Helen has to wrestle with which one works better for her.  I, of course, was partial to the darker, sarcastic Lord Carlton, and I really enjoyed his interactions with Helen which was very antagonistic in the beginning.

The Dark Days Club is sn enjoyable read, with a unique take on demons, a great protagonist, lots of potential in Helen, and the beginnings of an epic confrontation to come.


Sunday, June 19, 2016

Suspense Sundays (200) Lazarus Walks

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.

"Lazarus Walks"
Air date: October 31, 1946
Starring Brian Donlevy
>>Episodes here<<

Dr. Robert Graham is contacted by a man, Roger, who was clinically dead for four minutes before being brought back.  Roger needs Dr. Graham's help because ever since that experience he's been able to "know" when someone is lying about something and is able to know the truth.  Dr. Graham wants to study Roger's case further, and during the course of that, Roger discovers that Dr. Graham wants to murder his wife.

With the way I summarized the story, I feel like the more interesting point of view would be Roger's, but this episode is from the point of view of Dr. Graham, and the suspense comes in seeing if Dr. Graham can outsmart Roger.  I feel like this has such an interesting premise, that it could have been a more absorbing story than it actually is, but Dr. Graham's side of the story was still pretty intriguing.

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I'm sorry to say that this will be my last Suspense Sundays post for now, it's been getting harder and harder to find the time to listen and write about these episodes.  Two hundred episodes seems like a good place to stop - or take a break, I might bring this back again someday! 
Friday, June 17, 2016

Review: The Course of Love

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
The Course of Love
by Alain De Botton
Fiction
Amazon  /  Goodreads

Plot Summary:


The long-awaited and beguiling second novel from Alain de Botton that tracks the beautifully complicated arc of a romantic partnership, from the internationally bestselling author of On Love and How Proust Can Change Your Life.

We all know the headiness and excitement of the early days of love. But what comes after? In Edinburgh, a couple, Rabih and Kirsten, fall in love. They get married, they have children—but no long-term relationship is as simple as “happily ever after.” The Course of Love is a novel that explores what happens after the birth of love, what it takes to maintain love, and what happens to our original ideals under the pressures of an average existence. You experience, along with Rabih and Kirsten, the first flush of infatuation, the effortlessness of falling into romantic love, and the course of life thereafter. Interwoven with their story and its challenges is an overlay of philosophy—an annotation and a guide to what we are reading.

This is a romantic novel in the true sense, one interested in exploring how love can survive and thrive in the long term. The result is a sensory experience—fictional, philosophical, psychological—that urges us to identify deeply with these characters, and to reflect on his and her own experiences in love. Fresh, visceral, and utterly compelling, The Course of Love is a provocative and life-affirming novel for everyone who believes in love.

Review:

I absolutely adored this book.  It was a refreshing, fast-paced and thought-provoking read, that delved into the nature of love - not just the first infatuation and romance, but long lasting relationships and marriage.  It was just fascinating for me, and interesting to see how the actions of the two protagonists were broken down by the author.

The structure of this novel is non-traditional, in that the author often inserts philosophical or thoughtful commentary on each stage of the romance, and the actual story lacks a real novel structure because it's more of an overview of how Rabih and Kirsten met, fell in love, and their progression with marriage and children.  I'm not yet at the stage where I have a lot of experience with this, so it was wonderful to get an impartial look at the emotions that run through these experiences and what it means for the person and for the significant other.  Even though the story is mostly from Rabih's point of view, the novel looks at the relationship in such an equitable way, that I felt like I could easily relate to both Rabih and Kristen, and all of their trials and successes.  It's a little bittersweet to read the progression of their relationship, with all the ups and downs, in such a truncated way, but revelatory to get such a unique overview of these two peoples' lives.

This is a book that I think will stick with me for a long time, because the experiences discussed in this book are so meaningful and timeless.  The thoughts and emotions are applicable to almost everyone, and the search or maintenance of a long lasting romantic relationship is certainly a major part of most people's lives.  This is a beautiful and fascinating book.
Monday, June 13, 2016

Jane Eyre 1956 - an early miniseries adaptation

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,

On my trip to England last month, I made a point of visiting the British Film Institute in London to see an early six-part (half-hour each) adaptation of Jane Eyre starring Daphne Slater and Stanley Baker.  Now, I'm definitely a purist when it comes to adaptations, and for an older adaptation, I was totally prepared to watch something over-the-top, overwrought and not very true to the story.  I was pleasantly surprised by this version however!  It was quite good!  There were a few stand-out aspects to the way the story was told, and I enjoyed Slater and Baker's interpretation of the characters.  I might have wished for a little more from them, but we can't always get what we want, haha.  For this post,  I'm going to go a little in depth with the whole adaptation, so this is another lengthy Jane Eyre-related post that I'm sure my blog does not have enough of!

The dialogue/script is a good jumping off point for my initial impression of the story.  It follows the general plot of the novel very well, but often veers off from using the actual dialogue in the book.  Which is interesting to me, because that can so easily go wrong, but in this case, I quite liked the script.  There were the odd missed moments - when it came to the more emotional scenes, it would have been nice to have Charlotte's beautiful words come into play, but the gist of the scenes, and the characters' emotions were there.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Suspense Sundays (199) A Plane Case of Murder

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.

"A Plane Case of Murder"
Air date: October 10, 1946
Starring John Lund
>>Episodes here<<

Randy Judson, until recently, was a prisoner of a concentration camp in the Philippines.  The only thing that got him through that terrible time, was thinking of his lovely girlfriend waiting for him back home.  But when he does get home, he discovers that Marian married a rich man, and now Randy wants revenge.  He manages to convince Marian that he's a rich man too, due to all the attention over his experience in the Philippines, and now Marian wants him back.  The only way she can get rid of her husband though is through murder.

The story does involve a plane, hence the heavy-handed stress on "plane" in the title and in the opening scene of the episode.  This is a pretty clever story, despite the general awfulness of both Marian and Randy, but like with most Suspense episodes, people get what they deserve.  I did also love the double cross, that you could see coming a mile away, but was still pretty satisfying.  
Friday, June 10, 2016

Movie Musical Challenge: Easter Parade

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
In Movie Musical Challenge, I'm watching 20 films I picked as great films or films I wanted to watch.  This post is about the 1948 musical Easter Parade starring Judy Garland and Fred Astaire.

Easter Parade is a charming film, but without a lot of substance.  Fred Astaire and Judy Garland are a great onscreen match though - they had good chemistry and a sweet romance ultimately. And of course their dancing together was excellent.

The film is a kind of a Cinderella story, with Judy's character Hannah, being primed by Astaire's character Don to becoming a big star of the stage.  Their ups and downs as a performing couple, and then as a romantic couple are shown, but it's strange that their romance was a bit of a surprise.  Although they had chemistry as performers, I felt like they didn't really show how that developed romantically until Hannah was suddenly sighing over Don.  Being such a fan of romance, I'm sure if that was developed gradually, I would have loved this film more.

The music is good, but surprisingly unmemorable to me.  I can't even pinpoint a great musical moment - the only one perhaps that stands out above the rest is "Stepping Out With My Baby" which features Fred Astaire, and some awesome dancing.  And an interesting slow-mo sequence of him dancing, while the back up dancers look to be dancing in real time.  It seemed a little odd for that bit of technical filming to be included in this, when everything else in the film was pretty straightforward, but it was cool to watch.

Originally Gene Kelly was cast in the male lead role, but had to back out when he broke his ankle, so a part of me is sad that I can't see what Gene would have done with the part, because while this is a nice film, it doesn't particularly stand out to me.  Perhaps the biggest draw is the fact that it features Judy Garland and Fred Astaire together, and for that I can recommend giving this a watch.
Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Review: Warrior Witch

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Warrior Witch (Malediction Trilogy #3)
by Danielle L. Jensen
YA Fantasy
Amazon  /  Goodreads

Plot Summary:


Cécile and Tristan have accomplished the impossible, but their greatest challenge remains: defeating the evil they have unleashed upon the world.

As they scramble for a way to protect the people of the Isle and liberate the trolls from their tyrant king, Cécile and Tristan must battle those who’d see them dead. To win, they will risk everything. And everyone.

But it might not be enough. Both Cécile and Tristan have debts, and they will be forced to pay them at a cost far greater than they had ever imagined.

Review:

The third book in this fantastic trilogy maintains the excitement and suspense that I've loved about this series since the beginning.  The cliffhanger in the second book was pretty dramatic, so finally getting a resolution and finding out more about the trolls and magic in this world was so satisfying.  I found this an intense read, but perfectly balanced in it's drama and the resolution for the characters.

The romance was always a major draw for me in this series, and Cecile and Tristan are so close and so perfect for each other, that I was wondering where their relationship could develop from there, but the author manages to take it to the next level, and develop them even further.  It was interesting, especially to see a different side to Tristan - one in which he is not so caught up in Cecile, and had to be a bit darker, with more of an edge.  And I love that the resolution of their story had some unexpected moments that made me feel so many emotions for the both of them.

With the war finally being played out in the story, there are some major consequences that made this book very emotional in so many ways, however.  There were times when I felt things were resolved a little too easily, but that was a minor thing for me, because the ending had a major obstacle that did not resolve the way I expected at all, and added a lot more gravitas to the story, and justified that there were serious consequences to the actions of some of the characters.

It was a completely fitting and engrossing end to a wonderful series.  Anyone who hasn't had a chance to start the trilogy, should pick it up as soon as they can - it's a fantastic binge read!

(I received this book from the publisher or author for a fair and honest review.  I was not compensated for this review.)
Sunday, June 5, 2016

Suspense Sundays (198) Three Times Murder

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.

"Three Times Murder"
Air date: October 3, 1946
Starring Rita Hayworth
>>Episodes here<<

Laura Morton decides to murder her husband and make it look like an accident.  Her husband loves to shave with his electric shaver in the bath, and even though she often berates him for it, he persists.  Of course something bad eventually happens.  The district attorney, Elmer, is sure that she did it, and nags her to confess.  When she is found innocent by trial, she finally breaks down in private and confesses to the DA.  But then she goes on with her life and marries another man who she is very happy with.  Sometime later she discovers that this man has a brother - the same district attorney who knows she committed murder.

Ooh this was a clever episode!! Interesting take on the femme fatale, because I did feel symapthetic with her, and it was interesting that Laura was very much in love with her second husband.  I was expecting that she would want to murder him too.  It is interesting that the district attorney is the one who really feels like a villain even though he did not commit murder.  But he is so unpleasant.  It's an interesting twist on a story that at first seemed pretty straightforward.