Thursday, August 31, 2006

Pirates of the Caribbean 2 - Dead Man’s Chest

I used to love art movies, I really did. Betty Blue, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Mediterraneo, Bitter Moon, Il Postino.... In fact, “Three colours blue” I loved so much, I included it in my first novel as a major theme.

The last art movie I saw, and I do mean the very last one and never again, was a Spanish one about parents who’ve lost their baby girl. I think I must have suppressed the title due to the post-traumatic shock. Instead of being a therapy for my (hopefully irrational) fears, the film made me cry for days.

So I’m sure it’s no surprise to you that I haven’t seen the latest stuff about transsexuals, abused children, war, hostages and 911. Instead, I went to Pirates 2. I’m not ashamed to admit that I didn’t follow the plot at all. I simply enjoyed the eye-candy and almost 3 hours of mindless escapism.

I don’t know whether the movie itself was any good. Other reviewers gave the movie 3 out of 3. I doubt they knew what they were talking about, either.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Secret Lives of Fortunate Wives

By Sarah Stroymeyer

I started reading this book on http://www.dearreader.com/ (the deal is they email you the first few pages and then you decide whether to buy/borrow the rest). After the first instalment came in through email, I couldn't wait to read the rest.

The premise is simple: in the middle of nowhere Ohio there is a world where husbands are rich and wives are slim, sexy and shopping. The live by the rules (invented by themselves) and they are all happy… except for Marti, whose husband seems to be disappearing. He comes home long after she falls asleep and is gone in the morning before she wakes up, with only a Post-It note of instructions to her as an indication that he came home at all. As we read on, enter Claire, an outsider and an immediate rival, and we discover that Marti's story, intriguing as it is, is marginal.

It's not great literature by any means, but it's a fast fun read. What hooked me onto it, was not only the fun delivery style and punchy dialogues, but the dream of being a kept woman. Those of you who follow my blog will remember my un-PC desire to be a housewife. Some of you argued that it’s sad (or indeed insane). And perhaps they have a point: women who have no choice but play perfect wives, probably yearn for the freedom of a career. Well, I have an education, I have a career or three, and I say I’m willing to taste the grass on the other side.

So. All these women in “The Secret Lives of Fortunate Wives” have to do all day is look fabulous, be pampered and spend indecent sums of money. OK, so they can’t eat chocolate or chips or toast or meat or just about anything except yoghurt and celery sticks. That’s a small price to pay, if you ask me.

Friday, August 18, 2006

The Dark Backwards

Julia Buckley
Midnight Ink 2006

This one is a real cosy! You can't help loving the heroine, Lily Caldwell, who manages to be tough and vulnerable at the same time. I'm a bit tired of all the tough female PIs (e.g., Susan Grafton's), and more than a bit tired of the "too scared to touch a firearm" ones (e.g., Janet Evanovich's), but Julia Buckley manages to get the balance exactly right with Lily. Yes, Lily is almost too nice, her only vice being excessive grouchiness, but she is so, well, nice, that you forgive the author for this almost too perfect a character.

Did I just say it was a real cosy? Well, I take it back. The pacing is as good as any thriller, and the book kept me up way past my bedtime (I just had to make sure everything turned out well). Fortunately, it's a fast, easy read, so it only took me one late night to read it.

The first chapter of Ms Buckley's second murder mystery "Pity Him Afterwards" also reads well, and I look forward to reading the rest.

Now for the appetiser: Lily Caldwell dies. How's that for a quick read? LOL. Anyway, while "away", she sees the face of the man who murdered her. Naturally, when she returns from the dead, nobody believes her. And that includes her beloved husband and her fatherly boss. We meet Lily when she's as down on her luck as she can get (no job, no husband, a mysterious mugging)- and then she discovers somebody's bugged her house. To solve the mystery of her own murder, Lily must go back 17 years and investigate another unsolved murder...

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Fall of a Philanderer

I like Carola Dunn’s writing: it’s relaxing and pretty (in the most flattering sense of the word). And I like her amateur detective, Daisy Dalrymple. I mean, let’s face it, how many of us would be gracious about it if our spouse’s work encroached on our family holiday time? The 3-month pregnant Daisy, however, knew what she was getting into when she married a policeman, and she calmly goes about solving the murder mystery.

There is something about the "Fall of a Philanderer" that reminds me about Dorothy Sayers’ work: the time period, perhaps, or the cosiness of the plot. Yes, it’s still a murder mystery, but there is no gore, no car chases, no crack heads, no swear words. Instead, you have good solid characters and sparkling dialogue and an intriguing puzzle to solve. OK, and you do have the small town seduction artist (thus the title) who tries his luck on everybody, including Daisy. I’ll take that over incest, abuse and post-mortem descriptions any day.

A quick summary with no spoilers: The time period is Post World War I, the setting a small coastal town. Daisy is on holiday with her husband, stepdaughter and the stepdaughter’s friend. When they discover a body and the local police find out Alec is a Scotland Yard Inspector... now open the book and read on.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Swan Lake on Ice

Imagine two hours of ballet-like ice-skating performed by world-class figure skaters to one of the most beautiful of Tchaikovsky’s music creations. Add daring feats like skating while carrying 3 other skaters, or doing backward somersaults on the very edge of the stage. Add touches of fire rings and ultraviolet light and white feathers snowing onto the audience.

Imagine all that and you’re not even close to realising how beautiful it was.

That my 22-month old son sat through it all without protest, and that my 3.5-yo daughter burst into tears when it was over, may give you an idea.