Tuesday 25 February 2014

Film Review A Winters Tale in New York


A burglar falls for an heiress as she dies in his arms. When he learns that he has the gift of reincarnation, he sets out to save her.

My Musings

I went to Winters Tale despite the bad reviews and I am so glad I did. Beautifully filmed with great acting from Colin Firth and Russel Crowe, the lynch pins of the film. This is an old fashioned romance set against a backdrop of myth and fairy tale. 

I went to view this with an open mind after , as I said, reading a dreadful review in the Daily Mail. 

I was totally transported which is what film is all about. The director was obviously moved by the book and its story and moved us in turn. Colin Farrell falls in love with a dying girl played by Jessica Brown Findlay of Downton Fame. Their romance and chemistry is gorgeous to watch. There is also a magical element in the shape of angels, demons and, my favorite, Pegasus. If you like horses this one is divine in the film, literally.
This is good versus evil on an epic scale.

I feel it is such a shame that these reviews in papers are written by cynical hard bitten hacks who only give 5 stars to hard hitting life stories or edgy art films. They are too jaded for this kind of film and then put off others from enjoying them. 
It is too romantic, too old worldly, too whimsical. And I really loved it. This is why I go to the cinema, to be transported to another world , to be lost , to be seduced. 
This film will not win any oscars and yes there are some holes in it but I applaud the director Akiva Goldsman in his first film for having the guts to take an epic story and put it on screen., I hope this won't be his last. (He was the screen writer for A Beautiful Mind, I am Legend to name a few)
Utterly absorbing and don't forget your tissues. Don't read dry reviews in the newspaper, give this a chance and you won't be disappointed.

Saturday 22 February 2014

Book Review The Bookstore by Deborah Mehler


Love doesn't always go by the book Ardent and Idealistic, Esme Garland has arrived in Manhattan with a scholarship to study art history at Columbia University. When she falls in love with New York blue-blood Mitchell van Leuven, with his penchant for all things erotic, life seems to be clear sailing, until a thin blue line signals stormy times ahead. Before she has a chance to tell Mitchell about her pregnancy, he abruptly declares their sex life is as exciting as a cup of tea, and ends it all. Stubbornly determined to master everything from Degas to diapers, Esme starts work at a small West Side bookstore to make ends meet. The Owl is a shabby all-day, all-night haven for a colorful crew of characters, such as handsome and taciturn guitar player Luke and George, the owner, who lives on spirulina shakes and idealism. The Owl becomes a nexus of good in a difficult world for Esme-but will it be enough to sustain her when Mitchell, glittering with charm and danger, comes back on the scene? The Bookstore is a celebration of books, of the shops where they are sold, and of the people who work, read, and live in them. The Bookstore is also a story about emotional discovery, the complex choices we all face, and the accidental inspirations that make a life worth the reading.

My Musings

I loved the premise of  Esme, a young British woman making her way in New York, discovering herself, the city and new people. Littered with literary and art references with a strong romantic vein what could be more perfect for a rainy weekend?
So why by the end of it did I feel it was more like a deflated souffle?
It seems to have delusions of grandeur. The writer obviously bright and cultured peppers the story with her knowledge of New York and its culture which I should have found fascinating but instead felt patronised. The characters are all interesting and mostly likable but the story never, for me took off. It had a bit of eroticism thrown in, although it seemed like it was thrown in for the sake of it. Esme's love interest, Mitchell at the beginning was suitably caddish and shitty but Luke, her 'friend',  needed to be developed a lot more. There needed to be more chemistry and tension between Esme and Luke to offset the ghastly way Mitchell keeps treating her. Also Esme's constant insistence on going back to Mitchell even when he and his family treated her so badly really started to grate.. I kept wanting more but it never happened. I never really engaged which is a shame as this is just my sort of book.

It's good but could have been really great. The writer needs to work on the relationships in her next book and be a little less self indulgent.

Reviews: RNA Shortlist 2014 revealed!

Well worth a look and don't be put off by it being the Romantic Novelists Association. They really do pick some great books and always worth a look!

The shortlist for the 2014 Romantic Novelists Association Awards 

Contemporary Romantic Novel

Helen Chandler - Two for Joy

Susan Elliot Wright - The Things We Never Said

Veronica Henry - A Night On The Orient Express

Lisa J Hobman - Bridge Over The Atlantic

Lisa Jewell - Before I Met You

Pippa Wright - The Foster Husbandc Novel

Jessica Blair - The Road Beneath Me

Mary Fitzgerald - The Love Of A Lifetime

Emma Fraser - When Dawn Breaks

Kate Lord Brown - The Perfume Garden

Jennifer McVeigh - The Fever Tree

Lucinda Riley - The Midnight Rose

Historical Romantic Novel

Charlotte Betts - The Painter's Apprentice

Christina Courtenay - The GiLiz Harris - A Bargain Struck

Joanna Hickson - The Agincourt Bride

Carol McGrath - The Handfasted Wife

Annie Murray - The Women Of Lilac Street

Romantic Comedy Novel

Jenny Colgan - Christmas At The Cupcake CafĂ©

Jenny Colgan - The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris

Margaret James - The Wedding Diary

Milly Johnson - It's Raining Men

Ali McNamara - Step Back In Time

Fiona Walker - The Summer Wedding

 See more on Chloe's Chick Lit Reviews: RNA Shortlist 2014 revealed!: The shortlist for the 2014 Romantic Novelists Association Awards  has been revealed! There are some fantastic nominations on there, and...

Friday 21 February 2014

Film Review Blue Jasmine


A New York socialite, deeply troubled and in denial, arrives in San Francisco to impose upon her sister. She looks a million, but isn't bringing money, peace, or love...

My Musings

You never know what quality of film you get with Woody Allen, Either I love it or hate it. Loved Vicky Cristina Barcelona but To Rome with Love was so dreadful I never got through the whole film. 

Firstly this is  Cate Blanchett's film and she deserves all the awards she gets. She is brilliant.
A neurotic socialite, Jasmine, who's lost it all and gone back to live with her put upon sister. It a lovely looking film, Cate's wardrobe is gorgeous and the flash backs to her rich lifestyle a treat if you like looking at how the other half lives. This is Woody at his observant best. His sharp script looks at how certain types of people deal with similar situations. How some cope and some don't. Jasmine is not coping at all without her money and status. it is cringing in places and heartbreaking. There is an underlying hopelessness about her which leaves you wanting to shake her. Woody stripes away all her hopefulness bit by bit and each time you hope she learns her lesson and can move on. This film is about how all that glitters is not gold. How selfish people become trying to keep up appearances what ever the cost and how they lose their values.
The end ( i won't spoil it ) at first left me a little deflated but it is so open ended you feel she could pick herself up again. Definitely worth seeing but is filled with angst and emotional trauma so make sure your in the mood!! 

Wednesday 19 February 2014

Book Review Unwrapped Sky by Rjurik Davidson


A hundred years ago, the Minotaurs saved Caeli-Amur from conquest. Now, three very different people may hold the keys to the city’s survival.
Once, it is said, gods used magic to create reality, with powers that defied explanation. But the magic – or science, if one believes those who try to master the dangers of thaumaturgy – now seems more like a dream.
Industrial workers for House Technis, farmers for House Arbor and fisher folk of House Marin eke out a living and hope for a better future. But the philosopher-assassin Kata plots a betrayal that will cost the lives of godlike Minotaurs; the ambitious bureaucrat Boris Autec rises through the ranks as his private life turns to ashes; and the idealistic seditionist Maximilan hatches a mad plot to unlock the fabled secrets of the Great Library of Caeli Enas, drowned in the fabled city at the bottom of the sea, its strangeness visible from the skies above.
In a novel of startling originality and riveting suspense, these three people, reflecting all the hopes and dreams of the ancient city, risk everything tor a future that they can only create by throwing off the shackles of tradition and superstition, as their destinies collide at ground zero of a conflagration that will transform the ancient city . . . or destroy it.

My Musings

This really captured my imagination as soon as I started reading it. I love Greek myth and was entranced by the description of the minotaurs, the ruthless city  Caeli-Amur and its characters. I love the kind of book mixing fantasy and myth. Davidson is obviously highly proficient and maybe that's the problem. The world he builds up became to dense for me. I mean it was weighted down with too much description and is so complex I found it getting int he way of the story. I loved the characters and their bid for survival but I lost them to the plot of the book which at times I found difficult t follow. Maybe I was tired!Its a shame as I did like his world a lot but felt the editor needed to have stepped in on several more occasions.He seemed to forget about his reader he was so seduced by the world he had created. I will try to read it again and will look out for others as he is a very talented writer with a distinctive style. Definitely not run of the mill.
This is what i would definitely call a diamond in the rough and still well worth a read. I am sure there are many who will love the whole premise
ps. loved this cover so I hope they stick with this it is so striking.

If you loved this you may like
Lord of The Rings by Tolkein
His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

Monday 17 February 2014

Review of Iron Man 3

Iron Man 3 Review


When Tony Stark's world is torn apart by a formidable terrorist called the Mandarin, he starts an odyssey of rebuilding and retribution.

My Musings

I enjoyed the first Iron Man but for some reason didn't fancy the second even with Mickey Rourke. However Iron Man 3 trailer seemed too good to miss so eventually saw it on DVD.

I am a self confessed Marvel Fan and I love Robert Downey Jr. The film started with Stark's house destroyed and a terrorist, The Mandarin played by Sir Ben Kingsley set to destroy the USA and the boss of evil scientist Guy Pierce. The cast is great and they really give it their all. What I really appreciated was the Gwyneth Paltrow, formally woefully underused as an Oscar winning actress. was really given a much meatier role and great action sequences which she you just knew she relished. Guy Pierce  and Ben Kinglsy both add weight as the baddies and I have to give an extra shout out to Sir Ben. I won't spoil it but at one point I was crying with laughter. He is a revelation in this.

Definitely up there with the best Marvel Films even if Iron Man is not one of my top favorites. If this is the last its gone out with a bang!

If you like this you might like

Any other Marvel film!!!

Monday 10 February 2014

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell


Cath is a Simon Snow fan.
Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . .
But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving. Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.
Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fanfiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.
For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?
Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?
And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

My Musings

When I first started reading Fangirl I will be honest and say I really didn't understand the fan fiction punctuating the book. I had never heard of it before and did find it slightly irritating and perplexing. I did try and read the Simon Snow story but got bored and was so taken up with Cath  and her story I just wanted to read about that and didn't want to be interrupted. I do feel guilty but I did skip these parts .... 
Anyway back to the main book. WOW. I loved it and really wasn't expecting it to be so good. The story is about twins, Cath and Wren. Cath is shy and Wren more confident and outgoing. It is their story about leaving home for the first time to got to college and how their different characters evolve.
 The main protagonist is Cath and her struggle with shyness and introvert nature How she deals with the growing distance beween her more extrovert sister.  Cath also worries about her dad on his own as he suffers from depression from time to time since their mother left because she couldn't cope. 
Cath's roommate Reagan, who I loved, is really moody, quirky but a non nonsense girl and perfect for bringing Cath out of her shell. Her boyfriend/best friend Levi  and the story of his and Cath's growing friendship is so beautifully written it gave my tummy butterflies. He is the sort of guy you yearn to meet. 
It is a book about growing up, falling in love and navigating the pitfalls with your family. You can't choose your family but you can your friends. It takes us on a journey as both girls mature and take responsibility but have fun along the way. I thoroughly enjoyed and LOVED the characters. A great book for anyone leaving home for university etc and who struggles with change. None of us like change!! But also a great read all round and the book I have enjoyed the most this year.
 Do read if you do or even if you don't like/understand fan fiction. It does not take away from it and if you do like that aspect you get 2 books in one!!

If you love this you might like

Sunday 9 February 2014

Film Review The Great Gatsby Director Baz Luhrmann


A Midwestern war veteran finds himself drawn to the past and lifestyle of his millionaire neighbor. But how did he make his millions? Why does he want to meet his cousin Daisy? 

My Musings

I was really looking forward to the visual extravaganza that was to be The Great Gatsby. I am a fan of Baz Luhrmann, I loved Moulin Rouge when it exploded onto our screens in 2001 and also contrary to many reviews enjoyed Australia. The only thing that stopped me from seeing it on the big screen was I have never been a fan of the tragic story. The exposure of human frailty, greed, obsession and survival at what ever the cost. 

So I eventually got watched it hoping it was going to be the visual feast we had been promised in the trailer. Unfortunately it started like an overexcited child that had been given too many sweets and gorged on them. Bas's sets were so enormous and opulent it was like he had a tiger by the tail he couldn't control. The film work was far too frantic and fractured. Yes beautiful and opulent but you couldn't really focus on the dialogue or actors which are Stella indeed. 

Talking of which Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan have great chemistry as Gatsby and Daisy. As the film slows down to focus on the story ( thank god) it really sizzles. On the outside Gatsby is aloof, sophisticated and rich beyond imagining but inside he is insecure, needy and obsessed with making the past his present. Daisy is giggly , shallow and spoilt but her love for Gatsby still shines through. Howver is it enough to woo her from her stable and accepted role of a respected society wife?

I appreciated Tobey Maguire more and more through filming due to the fact he is allowed to act rather than compete with his surrounding. 

I know many people have loved this but sorry Baz, this one wasn't for me. There were many elements I loved, the music, sets, costumes , cast but I just think it suffered from delusions of grandeur which, thinking about it was maybe the point!