Weekly Three

What I’ve Read

Image result for guide to petticoats and piracyI finished this a while back, but my blogging has been lax lately. The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy was on nearly every ‘favourite reading list of 2018’. Why? I am not quite sure. Everyone has different tastes, and while I thought this was a fun book, I wouldn’t say it was in my top ten for 2018. I enjoyed the first third of the book and then I kind of churned my way through it until I finished it. I would probably give it two stars, but it doesn’t matter that much what I think because this book was universally loved and has a four and a half rating on GoodReads – so what do I know? Personally, I found this book and The Gentlemen’s Guide to Vice and Virtue a little too much. Too much was jammed into both books and I couldn’t connect to any of the characters. I know we are meant to think that Percy and Monty are some great love story, but I didn’t connect with either of them. Many have written that Monty is hilarious and witty, but I don’t see it. So rather than go on disagreeing with other reviews, I will quote Spike Lee and say ‘it wasn’t my cup of tea’.

What I’m Reading

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On the morning of April 28, 1986, a fire alarm sounded in the Los Angeles Public Library. As the moments passed, the patrons and staff who had been cleared out of the building realized this was not the usual fire alarm. As one fireman recounted, “Once that first stack got going, it was ‘Goodbye, Charlie.’” The fire was disastrous: it reached 2000 degrees and burned for more than seven hours. By the time it was extinguished, it had consumed four hundred thousand books and damaged seven hundred thousand more. Investigators descended on the scene, but more than thirty years later, the mystery remains: Did someone purposefully set fire to the library—and if so, who?

Now this book is endlessly fascinating. I have LOVED reading this book. At first, I was fascinated because of the fire and who would start a fire in a library, but Susan Orlean talks of libraries in general and her love for libraries. She weaves the history of the Los Angeles Public Library throughout the book and the many different librarians the library has had, and it is all intriguing. She gives anecdotes, facts and trivia and there’s so much in this book for individuals who love books and libraries.

Warren was probably the most avid reader who ever ran the library. She believed librarians’ single greatest responsibility was to read voraciously. Perhaps she advocated this in order to be sure librarians knew their books, but for Warren, this directive was based in emotion and philosophy: She wanted librarians to simply adore the act of reading for its own sake and perhaps, as a collateral benefit, they could inspire their patrons to read with a similarly insatiable appetite.

I work as a librarian and I love books and I love reading. Believe it or not, I know of some librarians who don’t read. It would appear that being a librarian in the twentieth-first century, you are valued for other skills besides reading and your love of books. Do I wish I could go back in time and live in a different era – sometimes?  But then Susan Orlean tells the story of Mary Jones who was asked to resign from her job as city librarian. Why? Because the board believed it would be in everyone’s best interests to have a man run the library. Even though in the same year’s report it was noted what fine work Mary Jones had accomplished as the city librarian.

As I said, this book is endlessly fascinating!

What I Am Watching

I managed to stretch Schitt’s Creek out for as long as possible. For anyone starting this series, give it some time, it takes some time to warm to and first feels a little cliche, but it is anything but. I finished season four which in my opinion is the BEST season! Every episode is perfect. 

So I needed something to fill the void. Between all my reality television watching, I don’t have much time for other television but I like to watch something with a story every now and then. I have gone back to Felicity. I know some people didn’t like this series, but for some reason, I have always enjoyed this show.  I hated the last season. And this is probably my third time watching the show from season one, but I have found that I always stop watching before the final season because that season made me angry and frustrated. This time, though, I am going to watch every single season. 

Why do I like Felicity? The first few episodes make me cringe and shake my head, but I love Felicity because she is honest, naive and she looks at the world with awe. She makes me remember that this world that we live in is full of awe-inspiring moments and we should not take any of it for granted. I love watching Felicity have all her firsts – the first time she goes against her parents, first boyfriend and so on. I love watching a show before mobile phones and before social media and before the Internet took over the world. 

Also, this show reminds me that this is the reason that I fell in love with Keri Russell and how I have watched everything she has been in since. #obsessed

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Weekly Catch-up!

What I’ve Read

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A young bisexual British lord embarks on an unforgettable Grand Tour of Europe with his best friend/secret crush. An 18th-century romantic adventure for the modern age written by This Monstrous Thing author Mackenzi LeeSimon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda meets the 1700s.

Henry “Monty” Montague doesn’t care that his roguish passions are far from suitable for the gentleman he was born to be. But as Monty embarks on his grand tour of Europe, his quests for pleasure and vice are in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and travelling companion, Percy.

So Monty vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

Witty, dazzling, and intriguing at every turn, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is an irresistible romp that explores the undeniably fine lines between friendship and love. (Book’s blurb from Harper Collins)

I recently finished The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee. I have seen The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy on many top ten lists for 2018, so I thought I would see what all the fuss about. Everyone seems to LOVE these books.  I finished The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue and I am not quite sure what all the fuss is about. Yes, the characters are likeable and flawed – which makes them interesting and relatable. Yes, the book is well written and at times quite amusing. BUT there is so much going on in this book – from highwaymen to piracy to everything in between. I don’t mind ending a book on a note of hope, but it kind of felt like the whole book fell down with the ending. To be perfectly honest, I was tired of it before the conclusion – there was TOO much going on and it left me feeling quite exhausted. I am reading the next book The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy and I am hoping that it focuses more on the character of Felicity. Maybe my expectations were too high because I have seen these books everywhere. Perhaps I like books that develop character rather than lots of action. Let’s see how I feel after I finished the second book.

 

What I’m Reading

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Well, I decided to read the Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee. Why, after I found the first book so exhausting? I did enjoy the character of Felicity. She was feisty, witty and intelligent. I also find that time period when a woman wasn’t allowed to pursue medicine as a career fascinating. Any job was pretty much off-limits for women. I am curious to see where this book goes and if we learn more about how women cracked the world of medicine. Though I have read the blurb and I am thinking that it is going to be similar to The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue. In saying that, from the little I have read I have enjoyed.

What I’m watchingImage result for schitt's creek

After a lot of reluctance, I started to watch Schitt’s Creek and I have fallen in love with this show. The cast is gorgeous, eccentric and unpredictable. At first, I thought this would be tired and predictable, but it hasn’t been. There have been times that as a viewer I have been quite proud of these characters and their growth (and I’ve even shed the odd tear). Schitt’s Creek has told a very deliberately paced story. Episode one began with a family of newly broke millionaires arriving at their one remaining asset; a backwater town they bought for their son as a joke. And, as such, it was a mostly predictable comedy of contrasts. The family looked down their noses at the residents, who in turn sneered at the family’s lack of real-world knowledge. I love watching this show. One of the reasons I like it though is because it is so inclusive. It is breaking stereotypes without banging you over the head. It shows you people being accepting of others who are different, not just accepting but inclusive. Schitt’s Creek is heartwarming, funny and generous. If you haven’t watched it yet, you should.

What I love (and hating)

I have terrible feet and a few years ago went to a podiatrist who wanted me to wear orthotics. I haven’t resorted to the orthotics yet, but I did realise I had to wear “sensible” shoes. He explained to me the type of shoe I should be wearing. Before this, I had many, many, many shoes – shoes that I am now unable to wear. I thought I could wear them occasionally but I can’t. When I wear shoes that haven’t received a podiatrist tick my feet ache. It feels like I have a piece of glass in my foot. The thought of wearing sensible podiatrist ticked shoes filled me with dread. I ventured off to my local Ziera shoe shop and found that they actually have some lovely (and even cute shoes). I don’t have as many shoes as I did have because these types of shoes are costly (but worth every penny). The reason I write this is because everywhere I look I see Instagrammers/Bloggers spruiking Frankie4 shoes. I am not particularly fussed on Frankie4 shoes. I don’t think they are as comfortable as Ziera shoes. I don’t believe that they hold up as well and from my experience, I don’t think the level of customer service is as high. And I am kind of tired of women who don’t need podiatrist ticked shoes telling me how fabulous they are. Though I think I reached my peak when I saw someone who is always spruiking something spruiking Frankie4 and it just felt like she was looking for some sort of sponsorship. If you want stylish, comfortable and podiatrist ticked shoes, you can’t go past Ziera shoes.

DOCK Blush / Gold Brush OffAUTUMN Light Tan / Cream

 

Out of Africa

Recently, I was lucky enough to see ‘Out of Africa’ for the second time. The first time I saw it was many years ago. I was slightly apprehensive about seeing it for a second time, mainly because I have invited my partner to go see it with me. I hate recommending movies to people and then you feel anxious wondering if they liked it or not. ‘Out of Africa’ takes on more anxiety because it goes for a whopping 161 minutes (a quick calculation tells me that we are looking at almost three hours of movie).

Anyhow, off we trekked to USQ for Friday Night Flicks. Friday Night at the Flicks is advertised as ‘Toowoomba’s very own arthouse film night!’ and I would like to take this opportunity to thank the organisers of this great event. Over the last few years, we have had the opportunity to see some great films. Yes, we could watch them on Netflix or a similar service, but there is something about coming together with a group of people who love movies that makes this event quite special. I am yet to stay for the drinks and chat afterwards (being the notorious introvert that I am), but I appreciate this service to the Toowoomba community. The organisers always try and pick movies that will both entertain and challenge. When looking up this event because I was hoping to find the names of the guys who created this occasion; I came across this snippet of trivia on their website about the movie – Meryl Streep wasn’t the first pick to play the lead role of Karen Blixen, the role was originally offered to Audrey Hepburn as the director didn’t think Streep was ‘sexy’ enough. If you’ve seen the movie, you will know that Meryl Streep embodied Karen Blixen (particularly the Danish accent).

Out of Africa is the story of Karen Blixen, the Danish writer who was later to publish under the name of Isak Dineson. Blixen shares her story of when she lived in British East Africa, now Kenya, where she ran a large coffee plantation. It is also the story of her love affair with big-game hunter Denys Finch Hatton played by Robert Redford. But the real character of this epic story is Africa.

David Watkin’s romantic and graceful cinematography and John Barry’s lavish score indeed provides us with a feast for both the eyes and the ears. Sydney Pollack (director) made a beautiful film and the way he showcased Africa’s beauty is masterful. Even if you don’t enjoy the storyline, David Watkin’s photography is incredible – the landscapes, the shots of animal life. Finch Hatton’s biplane and the spectacular scenery will take your breath away. I am sure many who watched this movie fell in love with Kenya and were planning a trip to this majestic place.

There have been many criticisms of this movie since its release. Most criticisms were levelled at its length at almost three hours long and that it was boring and suffered from hostile pacing.  Personally, I didn’t find the movie too long. This is a movie that is a visual masterpiece and I soaked up every image that was presented to me on the screen.

The direction of the movie was gentle and sensitive. There is a scene in the movie where Robert Redford can appear to be narcissistic, but with the careful handling of director Sydney Pollack, as an audience, we are sympathetic to him AND to Meryl Streep’s character who wants so much more from him.

Out of Africa is a movie with the audacity to be about complex, sweeping emotions and Sydney Pollack doesn’t shy away from using his stars and their star power to his advantage and without apology. This is a movie that owns it stars – Streep, Redford and Africa.

 

 

 

Love, Simon – a new generational romantic comedy

Love, Simon is a delightful chaotic teen-drama full of emotional angst, crises and just the right amount of romantic tension. Think John Hughes (Pretty in Pink & Breakfast Club) for a 2018 teen.

The movie is an adaption of Becky Albertalli’s YA novel, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. The screenplay is by This is Us showrunners, Elizabeth Bergen and Isaac Aptaker and directed by Greg Berlanti. Love, Simon is the first major studio film to focus on a gay teenage romance.

At heart, this is a romantic comedy, and it employs some clichés typical to its genre, but it manages to feel fresh because it has a different spin than your usual romantic comedies. It feels new rather than tired and dull.

The movie focuses on some strong issues with lightness and humour. There are some genuinely funny moments in the film and the lead character Simon played by Nick Robinson is flawed, loveable and charming.

Love, Simon has a strong supporting cast, but their stories aren’t fully developed compared to Simon’s story, which is understandable given the length of the film. There are some awkwardly hilarious scenes in the movie which come about because the characters are complicated and imperfect.

Aside from Simon’s parents played admirably by Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel, the only other adult characters are Mr Worth (Tony Hale) and Ms Albright (Natasha Rothwell). Hale plays the awkward vice-principal and Albright, the long-suffering drama teacher. Both characters are comically over-dramatic and offer little more than comic relief, but for some reason, the over-the-topness works.

Love, Simon is a good-natured movie, and it is a modern take on a classic genre. The film is likeable, warm and idealistic and you know what considering the cynical and sometimes depressing world we live in there is nothing wrong with a little idealism. The movie ends happily, but it feels entirely deserving.

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5 reasons why I liked Peter Rabbit

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Like many classic children’s books, Peter Rabbit is dark, menacing and you never know what is entirely going to happen, and in all likelihood, it is going to be bad, not good. Beatrix Potter’s beautiful watercolours give the reader a sense that Peter Rabbit is quite charming but he isn’t, he is naughty. I have read a lot of negative press on Peter Rabbit, and if you believed everything you read, you would think that Will Gluck (director) took an innocent and sweet rabbit and made him rebellious and cruel, which isn’t quite the case, at all. If you were to ask a child what they know of Peter Rabbit they would say he was naughty and his father was cooked up in a pie because Mr MacGregor caught him in his garden. I’m not quite sure what is whimsical and sweet about any of that.

Aside from any of that, the movie is set a few years later in Peter’s life. I am assuming he is a teenager. Peter was a naughty and mischievous child, so one can only begin to imagine what Peter would have been like as a teenager with no parents to supervise him.

So why did I like the movie?

  1. James Corden perfectly captured Peter’s rebellious, naughty spirit.
  2. The brilliant soundtrack. All songs integrate into the movie surprisingly well and actually bring a lot of humour to the film and add to the story. The soundtrack is like another character and brings a lot to the movie.
  3. The live-action actors, Rose Byrne and Domhnall Gleeson who both brought a lot of charisma and love to their characters. It was refreshing to see Rose Byrne in a role where she smiled and was happy.
  4. It was surprisingly hilarious. The dialogue was cheeky and funny.
  5. It was beautiful. I want to live in Bea’s house. I want to sit in Bea’s garden and read and write.

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Photo: Lan Patrick