Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

retsuko: (girl & her dog)
In Books:

The History of Us, by Leah Stewart: Two thoughts about this book vied for supremacy in my mind as I read it: 1) this is a book about whiney white people and their pathetic little problems, and 2) aw, crap, I know people exactly like this, and it's so true. I was immensely pleased when, towards the end, Stewart deftly acknowledged my number one problem by having one of the whiniest of the characters acknowledge her privileged position in life, and that she and her siblings had had it pretty good. After that, the number two issue took over, and I was very glad that I'd read the book, which features some rather damaged people making poor decisions and then dealing with the fallout, all set around the central issue of house and home. I share some choice quotes beneath the cut. )

Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle, by Fiona Carnarvon: From my GoodReads review, While it could have used a bit more editing in the middle (the section about the First World War drags on and on, although I suppose that's how the war must have felt to those who lived through it), there is no doubt about the current Countess of Carnarvon's sincere admiration of her ancestor's efforts and spirit. If you are looking for juicy gossip, Downton Abbey-style, you may be disappointed, but if you're looking for a well-researched historical portrait of the time period, the house, and a few of its occupants, this book should be satisfying. It's not a work of amazing high literature, but it's interesting and well-researched, and I enjoyed it more than I expected to.

Snaps, by Rebecca Kraatz: What a neat graphic novel--almost too short in some ways, but exactly perfect in others. Kraatz spins a narrative of characters' lives interwoven with each other and the second world war, all based on an old photo album she bought years ago at a flea market on Vancouver Island. I really liked this.

At the Movies:

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters: Holy moly, Anthony Stuart Head was a centaur! OK, so, obviously, there were other things going on in this film, but every time he was on-screen, I couldn't get that fact out of my head. It was just so odd; a voice in my brain kept insisting, something is WRONG with Giles!. Anyway, there were things wrong with this movie as a whole, too, although it was certainly an improvement on the first one in the series. I think the main problem was that Luke is not a particularly scary nor compelling villain; in fact, his main threat appeared to be blanding the main characters to certain... inaction. Or something. I did love the scenes with Nathon Fillion and Stanley Tucci (who gets a terrifically funny line about Jesus being a better God than any of the Greek ones because of his skills with water and wine), and the mechanical bull monster scene at the beginning had a lot of proper excitement in it. Also, the kid playing Tyson, Percy's half-Cyclops half-brother, was perfect for the role, and his acting made the other actors do so much better that when Percy mourned his Tyson's apparent death, the movie lifted itself out of "average" and into "compelling." But overall, it didn't feel like it had much of a soul, which is sad, because the books are brimming over with soul, fun, and personality, and I hate to see that narrative drained.

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