Reading and watching. February 2012

Books read/finished (as usual, E denotes e-book and P denotes print version)

3Feb P Fat-free Indian – Shehzad Husain and Manisha Kanani. Useful. Some interesting low fat cooking techniques, and a good, helpful overview of ingredients. Some nice new recipes, too.

9Feb P My Grammar and I (or should that be ‘me’?) – Caroline Taggart and J. A. Wines. I bought this for a friend who keeps saying she recognises correct language but doesn’t have the vocabulary to explain it to others. And I bought a copy for myself. It’s good – concise, up-to-date and written in a humorous style that makes points really memorable. A useful resource.

11Feb P The Book of Night with Moon – Diane Duane. A long fantasy novel. I loved the cat characters and the world/language builiding but thought the overall plot was rubbish.

13 Feb E Crystal Halloway and the Forgotten Passage – Seanan McGuire (short story). Fabulous, in every sense, like all this author’s work, and desperately sad. How and why young adults forget the dreamworlds of childhood.

13Feb E Uncle Sam – Seanan McGuire. A short horror story, purporting to explain why American women go in groups to public restrooms. Truly creepy.

14Feb E Calvin’s Cowboy – Drew Hunt. A sweet m/m romance (suitable for Valentine’s Day). Believable characters in a Texas and then a New York setting. Slightly flawed by too many euphemisms in the sex scenes; I counted five in one paragraph.

15Feb E Caught – A.B.Gayle. Well written m/m romance novella set in Sydney. Daniel tries to rescue Taylor from what he thinks is a suicide bid. Lighthouses, disabled landladies, professional photography, kung fu, cross dressing and tropical fish all contribute to this intriguing story.

17Feb P The Unbearable Lightness of being in Aberystwyth – Malcolm Pryce. Rather pretentious spoof detective/horror. I read it because it was lent to me and people were insisting it was good. I didn’t enjoy it very much.

18Feb E Publish Yourself E-book – J M Snyder. Extremely useful guide to formatting and distribution.

19Feb E Smashwords guide to publishing and style guide to formatting. Scary but well put together and I might be beginning to understand.

20Feb E Arcane Sampler – ed. Nathan Shumate. Anthology of short horror stories, cheap to enocurage readers to buy later annual anthologies. There were one or two good stories but the quality was mostly poor (though the editing standard was high) and I shall not buy any future issues.

26Feb E Stormfront – Jim Butcher. I had heard so much about the Harry Dresden ‘files’ and I was bitterly disappointed. Flat writing, far too much extraneous description, boring demons and ‘overkill’ in the fight scenes. Plus, scorpions are not insects.

27Feb E Sullivan’s Yard – Chris Quinton. A delightful m/m novella in which the m/m protagonists fall in love with a house, which they hope to turn into a hotel. Lots of detail about various cultures – New Orleans French, American Spanish, Andalusian Spanish – something quite hard to get across in the short format and very praiseworthy since Chris is Brit.

i seem to have gone in for horror in February – something I don’t often read. I think maybe the books about formatting fall into the horror category too…

Films (and TV Series)

10Feb We Were Here – documentary film about the height of the AIDS epidemic in San Francisco. Harrowing, beautifully produced and very informative.

16Feb Inception. Sci-fic adventure… Boring. Very very boring. I’d rented it from LoveFilm, partly because I had just finished a beta of a long fanfic which included some of the Inception characters and I wanted to put faces to them. I quickly realised it wasn’t for me but decided to get my money’s worth – but kept reaching for a book. As the book I was reading was The Unbearable Lightness (see above) I had a less than interesting evening.

21Feb The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. A Terry Gilliam film. Heath Ledger and Christopher Plummer with guest appearances by Johnny Depp, Jude Law and others. Visually stunning plus remarkable acting. Convoluted plot along the lines of Faustus but with the daughter’s soul as the bargaining chip.

24Feb Transamerica. (Felicity Huffman). Really good. This is the one that lost out to Brokeback Mountain in the Oscars. In my opinion it should have won. Stanley is about to become Sabrina when he finds he had a son, Toby, an underage hustler. ‘She’ bails him out of NY police custody and agrees to take him to LA. Together they travel across America and through aspects of their lives until Toby finds out that Bree is his father.

I ought perhaps to note that I subscribe to and read a number of magazines (cover to cover) every month.

Writing: a useful resource with interesting articles

Searchlight: the magazine of the anti-fascist research group (European focus)

Good Food: recipes, techniques and food-related news

Cardmaking: papercraft ideas, techniques and resources

Saga: travel and lifestyle for the over 50s – some interesting articles

And some more that I skim weekly.

Radio Times: weekly listings and reviews plus interesting interviews with actors and directors

The Week: current events UK and worldwide. This is a trial subscription and I won’t continue it. I get as much from Google.

The Economist: another trial subscription. Mainly, as the title implies, finance.

Have you read or seen any of these and if so, what did you think? What have you been reading and watching?

10 thoughts on “Reading and watching. February 2012

  1. I’ve seen only ‘The Imaginarium’, and noted it as a case of the movie I find quite good, but not fitting into favourite ones. The atmosphere, for me, is its best merit. Nevertheless, I didn’t ‘believe’ it, if you get my meaning. Some time later, when I’ve seen Burton’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’, I said that in the visual department AiW has what ‘The Imaginarium’ has but ‘Avatar’ lacks, and what ‘Avatar’ has, but ‘The Imaginarium’ lacks. But then, I don’t like AiW’s plot. Heh, looks like I’m hard to satisfy…

    • I haven’t seen Burton’s Alice. I like Burton’s films but I wondered if this one had to be seen in the 3D version to work? Also, my first experience of Alice on film was the first film I ever saw at the cinema. I was about five years old – some teenaged friends of the family took me and I spent most of the time hiding under the seat. However, perhaps I ought to try it…

      I enjoyed Imaginarium but I’m with you in not adding it to a list of favourites.

      • Funny, but now I can’t recall if I watched Alice in 3D or 2D… Most probably the latter, and I was satisfied enough. Alas, it got also the plot. Narnia-like saving the world, the Great Crucial Battle and all that jazz… I loved some elements (March Hare!!! *g*), but there were some things which disappointed me (The White Queen!!! All the time I waited when she’ll at last do something what her wonderfully creepy appearance promises, and what I got, you think? End credits, that’s what. *grumble*) And there’s really a love or almost-love thread indispensable in any, just ANY movie these days? It could be a fine movie, really could, if not that it was made into a wannabe-blockbuster for “everyone”.

      • Transamerica doesn’t try to have a love interest thread. There’s a rather sweet flirtation in the middle but it doesn’t go anywhere. Otherwise the emphasis is on the parent/adult child relationship and on perceptions of people (that’s where the flirtation comes in). That’s one of its strengths, I think, but possibly why it didn’t get anywhere when up against Brokeback!

        Inception, too, is not a romance, it’s an adventure, but then I didn’t like it anyway.

      • Oh, and that’s a beautiful memory for the first time in cinema, even if under the seat. *g* My own was in a travelling cinema, I was four years old.

      • I can remember it very vividly – and being terrified when at the end the pack of cards/courtiers fell down around Alice. They shouldn’t have taken me, probably – some stories are always ‘sold’ as suitable for children when they aren’t, in many ways. I was taken to the theatre when I was 4, to a pantomime, and stood on my seat to scream at them to ‘take the nasty witch’ away, to the mortification of my parents. Audience participation?!

  2. The Imaginarium was on Foxtel last night so I did watch it from the beginning this time! Interesting and well done! But I agree it’s not a film I would list as my all time favourite. Even more interesting for me was to see they filmed a lot of it in Battersea Power Station;) I’ve started watching The Walking Dead, an American zombie series based on a graphic novel I believe. It’s very gripping!

    • I’m glad you managed to see it from beginning to end! *g* I wouldn’t deliberately set out to watch it again but if others were watching and I was in the same room I could maybe concentrate on some of the details and the background rather than the story. You must have enjoyed the power station bits! I think I knew, but didn’t find it obvious.

  3. That book on grammar sounds great! I really struggled for years until I started specifying I was doing history and my academics critiqued me through the uni roof. I may buy a copy? Do you reccommend it for story writing purposes?

    • Yes, I think I would recommend it. It’s concise, it covers all the basics, and it’s never patronising or too jargon-filled. You might get more detailed advice from a weightier tome but you’d be less likely to consult it. This little gem could just about be memorised! *g*

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