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villager90

villager90
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Member since: 12.02.2008

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    • BBC iPlayer / Multimedia / 27 Readings / 22 Ratings
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      31.03.2009 18:14
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      Student Essential!

      BBC iPlayer...A student must have!
      Living in halls of residence, i dont have my own T.V (due to licsence costs!).
      BBC iPlayer, aswell as itv catchup and channel4 on demand are essential for me to continue watching those programmes that i'd otherwise miss.
      Programmes like Shameless, Panorama, Question Time and the latest David Attenborough.
      The BBC service is fantastic, the quality that plays on my laptop is second to none and the streaming speed is fast and reliable with my connection.
      One disadvantage is that some programmes like Match of the Day are not put on iPlayer and this may frustrate some people.
      Despite having bullying letters from the liscensing people demaning i pay for a T.V liscence, i feel no need too. With Services like iPlayer and the like I can watch pretty much all the programmes i required for free of charge.

      Two fingers to the money snatchers!

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        30.03.2009 17:29
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        wonderfully written

        I came accross this book after reading a review for the film (which i saw after i read it). The book follows the story of a young boy who is the son of a commandant and is moved to a concentration camp along with his family. Where he befriends a member of that camp.

        There are numerous, numerous flaws in the history of this book. They boys innocence for one, surely such a high profile man would enforce his son into the Hitler Youth, his brain would have long before been washed against Jews and so on.
        However the innocence of the boy was captured brilliantly by Boyne. The simplistic language and structure made it seem a lot more believable. The thoughts and feelings were all felt by me and i found the book to be absorbing and another book i couldn't put down.
        The ending closed all doors and nicely finished of the story.

        Take the book as a piece of literature and not as an account of history and i think that the mistakes can be forgiven. The book is a tale of friendship from accross a divide and can be an example to millions of people accross the world at this time.

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        30.03.2009 17:19
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        literature at its best

        I decided to read the spare room after the MAN Booker long list was announced.
        No i'm not blind, and yes i can read.
        Helen Garner wasn't on it.
        But i wanted to read it because of the anger that appeared on the forums that it had been missed.
        So i thought id read it.
        Glad i did!

        The spare room tells the story of a woman, terminally ill with cancer. She seeks help from a friend to look after her. Putting immense strain on her. The dieing lady refuses to accept that her time is up and looks into therapeutic measures of treatment, furthering the strain on her friend. The story is a tale of friendship and how far would you go to assist a friend.

        The book is not a gripping tale, but i was absorbed and hooked. I couldn't fail to put it down. Depressing a topic it may have been it was a joy to read. Garner wove a an intricate tale and as the reviews say on the back of this book "She writes the best sentences in Australia".
        The book has brilliant imagery and you can really feel the sense of dread and fear and hopelessness that grips the friend who doesn't have the cancer.

        A book that is clear a lot of work and research went into, and I agree with the forums, this book should have not been overlooked. It stands on its own as literature that should be read. A adsorbing read!

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        • Valkyrie (DVD) / DVD / 16 Readings / 15 Ratings
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          30.03.2009 17:03
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          a brilliant film

          Valkyrie tells the story of the inside plot to kill hitler in july 1944. I detest Tom Cruise and was seriously surprised at my response to the film.

          Based on true events, true characters that everyone has clear depictions in their head it is clear that Valyrie will probably be one of those love/hate films. I'm not going to bore you with the plot of this film as it is clear that many will know what happens, obviously the bomb plot fails, you know this before you watch the film (although these educational depraved times who knows!?).

          My first comment about the film is how horrible Hitler appeared. Whenever he came on the screen (which was not often) an eary sense came over me and i really began to feel uncomfortable. His voice was chilling, his prescense was chilling and i highly commend his performance by David Bamber. In fact, many of the Nazi's came accross very well indeed. Making me feel that these actors are destined for greater, more leading roles in the future.

          Next was Tom Cruise's performance as the lead character. He proved a great choice and held the role very well. The apprehension, the fear and the determination excellently.

          The direction of the film was very focused with clear, defined points. The fighting scenes were well played and the effects were good. It was probably the fighting scenes that let the film down. The gun shots and general attacks at the beginning seemed a bit OTT,but didn't really affect my enjoyment.

          I watched the film with a mixed of males and females in the Trafford Centre (after a days shopping). The film was enjoyed by all, even though many went in thinking they were going to hate it. The film made us think about what people gave their lives for in World War 2. Let their legacy and sacrifice never be forgotten.

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            05.07.2008 14:49
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            fan of riverton read this!

            Kate Morton returns this summer with her second book; The Forgotten Garden. Morton became a bestseller last year when The House at Riverton won the Richard and Judy Summer Read aswell as other awards. This new book follows the similar style that her previous book had with a secret continuing throughout the story.

            This book is split into 3 time periods.
            1913 where a little girl is found abandoned at a port in Australia after being on a boat from England. She can only remember a woman called the Authoress, and the Authoress had promised to look after her but she had vanished.

            1975, An old Lady, Nell, travels to Cornwall to discover the truth about her parentage. Her quest leads her to Cornwall and a big estate called Blackhurst Manor, previously owned by the Mountrachet family.

            2005, on Nell's death her granddaughter Cassandra has a surprise on her inheritance, (Cliff Cottage on the grounds of the Manor). It is notorious with the locals for the secrets it holds. It is the forgotten garden, abandoned for years where Cassandra will uncover the truth about the family and why the young Nell was abandoned all those decades before.


            The Forgotten Garden was a book I did enjoy. I found the way Morton was able to create such memorable characters was something special. I was able to really feel sorry for the characters and desperately wanted to help, but as soon as the book progresses, sympathy leaves and then you resent a characters, and vice versa. Clever stuff from a really good author.

            The writing style is similar to the House at Riverton as is the general layout. I found the plot a little bit weaker than the House at Riverton and I wasn't completely hooked like i was but I still found the book a really good read. The Forgotten Garden is very descriptive. There is great imagery in her description of the Manor house, the garden and all aspects that the reader encounters.

            Again Morton manages to create early 20th century life in a spell binding way. The way she creates dirty London streets is really good and you can really feel the danger and air of suspense in the book.

            Like the House at Riverton, this book has a lot of characters which may become confusing if you haven't been concentrating. The book does flit about between time periods and some people are not keen on this style.

            The book i clearly about family and secrets, I think if anyone is really into Family history and genealogy then they will like this book. I enjoy family history and that was one aspect of the book i really liked.

            The book may have been a little hard to get into at first but after a few chapters I became engrossed in the story. I am sure a few chapters could have been deleted, a bit of unnecessary description here and there, but HEY! I'm nitpicking her.

            One thing I really liked about Morton is that in her acknowledgment page she thanked the Children's writers for opening a world of incomparable terror, joy and excitement. A very worthwhile thank you and without thoser writers many of today's authors would not be here.

            If you fell in love with The House at Riverton you need to read this. If you are a Morton virgin you should really lose it soon! But don't expect this book to reach the heights of Riverton, it so nearly does, but the book is still a wonderful read.

            Bound to be one of the books of the summer!

            amazon has the book for £3.86
            and WHSmith has the book on 3 for 2 special offer at the moment.

            The book is 644pages long.

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              05.07.2008 11:24
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              a really good read!

              This book is one of my favourite books I have read all year and I hope my review will do it justice.

              The secret Scripture is written by Sebastian Barry, author o A Long Long Way, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. He lives in Ireland and his knowledge of the Land and History shines through in his writing.

              The secret Scripture tells the story of Roseanne McNulty who could be nearly 100years old but nobody is that sure. Roseanne lives in the Roscommon Mental Health Hospital as a patient and she has spent the best part of her adult life living there, why; nobody is sure. The Hospital faces an uncertain future as it faces closure and she has a good relationship with her psychiatrist Dr. Grene. The story is told through respective journals, one by Roseanne in 1930's Sligo, this story is able to represent an alternative to the secret history of Ireland. The other story is by Dr. Grene mourning his wife; which leads to a complication and intensity of the relationship between Roseanne and her psychiatrist.

              The story in summary is a tale of life blighted by mistreatment and ignorance, but marked by love and passion and hope.

              The first thing i loved about this book was Barry's writing style. His metaphors and imagery and natural way with words really shines through in his writing. His ability to do all these things adds to the wonderful descriptions and he creates Sligo in your mind. His creation of such close, tense relationships stands him in good stead for the plot that he uncoils, of a journey of a woman, and interwoven in her journey are the problems that Ireland faced. The uncertain civil wars, the Black 'n' Tans, and the strict morals that the people aboded by.

              That leads me onto the second thing i loved about the book was the interwoven of history into the book. Those with an interest in Irish history and fiction will find this book interesting at the very least. I adored it partly because i knew the area well but also because of the history that it contained.

              The book may have been rather hard to get into at first but once the basic facts had been grasped I became hooked on the characters treatment and her journey through life. The language of the book, I found to be, very easy to follow and thoroughly enjoyed the book.

              Barry created some memorable characters, Roseanne herself, but also a Catholic Priest and Mother, who are both sinister and loving at the same time.

              With the story being told through Roseanne McNulty's perspective Barry has created a brilliant storytelling figure, as Frank McGuinness say, "Most haunting lament for loss, echoing through the ages...Barry's fiction is unique and it is magnificent"
              I could not agree more.

              The one niggle I had with the book may have been the ending of the book, bit of a cliche, but I forgive him. The ending was interesting if a bit melodramatic.

              I imagine this book would be liked if you have read other Barry books. Also I think that this book is quite similar to The Outcast by Sadie Jones, so if you were a massive fan of that book this one should be given a try.

              I really enjoyed this read, and if you like great fiction, have an interest in Ireland and love a good novel carrying a secret I am sure this book is for you.

              I just wish that this book would be highlighted so more people would be able to appreciate this great author.

              I finished the book and have put every other Sebastian Barry book on my wish list!

              The book is 300pages long in hardback; www.amazon.co.uk for the best prices!(or wait till its out in paperback!)

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              02.07.2008 16:07
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              Like a good book exploring different people; buy it!

              The Outcast by Sadie Jones has recently been highlighted due to having been included on Richard and Judy's Summer Read 2008. However many people have already read this book and voiced how superb they thought it was!
              The Outcast is Sadie Jones' debut novel and follows the story of a Lewis Aldridge who feels alone in the world during the 1950's after his father comes back from the war. Him, and his childhood friend Kit Carmichael endured growing up in the 1950's, with the rules and right and wrong that was "drilled into them" through various ways. Tragedy strikes the Aldridge family and this causes Lewis to feel even more alone, isolated and unloved. Socially inept and finding relationships hard Lewis must find his place in the world, and also his voice.

              The book opens in 1957 as Lewis is released from prison, however the book then moves to the beginning of Lewis problems when he was 3 or 4 and tells his story. An achingly beautiful story that is elegantly written by Jones. Critics have described the book as elegant, subtle and haunting. I couldn't agree more.

              At first the book may have been a little difficult to get into but once immersed in the tale and story of Lewis I was hooked and had finished it rather too quickly! Jones picks up the fifties period with great triumph and the period is depicted in my imagination and entrenched due to Jones. The way the characters were portrayed, the ruthless baddies; the meddlers; and the misunderstood was exquisitely done. Jones has created a novel where the characters will haunt you long after you have finished.

              I really liked Jones style of writing, not too descriptive, she hit the balance just correctly in my eyes. The description of relationships were really well done. The maturing of Lewis and his 'girl-friends' was very well done, and his relationship with father was also very well portrayed. The simplistic way of writing at some stages of the book was very well done and really helped me to pick up the frosty atmosphere that she was trying to create.

              One little thing that niggled me at times was the speaking parts of chapters. At times it was hard to keep up with who was saying what when it wasn't stated! But apart from that its all good with the outcast!

              Many books fall down at the ending, but the Outcast ends perfectly. The final sentence sums up Lewis' journey beautifully and allows the book to finish with a fine flourish of writing.

              Overall I really enjoyed this book, and I bet it is perfect to take on holiday! The book i felt had similarities to that of Notes on an Exhibition and others like that. Not a gripping tale of murder or anything, but you get gripped by the characters lives, feelings and relationships.

              Well done Jones.

              The book is 441pages long and published by vintage books.

              £3.86 off amazon at the moment!
              Jones was shortlisted for the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction this year with her book, The Outcast!

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                28.06.2008 18:25
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                Read if you worship Mosse!

                The bestselling author of Labyrinth returns with her new offering, Sepulchre. I was not that taken with Labyrinth and am not too sure why I wanted to try her again to be honest but I did. Having heard so much hype about Labyrinth I felt let down when i read it, so my expectations of this book were low, and I was glad to say that my opinion of Mosse as an author has improved.

                Like Labyrinth the book is set in the French area of Carcasonne. A historical novel in two time areas, 2007 and 1891 onwards. The story is one of family bonds, love and a bit of ghost for good measure.

                The 1891 story follows Leonie Vernier and her brother Anatole as they go to stay in the south of France in a mysterious House that the neighbours are fearful of. Leonie stumbles across a seuplchre and a mystery soon enfolds.
                In 2007 Meredith Martin is researching for a book she is writing, whilst looking into her own family and history; centered on a pack of tarot cards; also in the same area as Leonie Vernier.

                I found the book quite dificult to get into, I didn't get engrossed in the story as fast as I did in Labyrinth and found the subject matter of Tarot cards annoying and despised it (probably due to the fact that I refuse to believe in any of that rubbish.) However once i had read a hundred or so pages (out of the 700!) i felt i was really into the story and was able to 'crack' onto it and I did become hooked.

                A further thing I liked about the book was the short chapters! I don't know why but I cannot stand a book when it has long drawn out chapters that last for pages and pages; but I was pleased in Sepulchre that they were shorts, and I was able to pick up, read, put down in between Wimbledon Games and jobs with much ease!

                Criticism of this book leads me into the realms of unneeded description and events. I am positive that some things included in the book could have been cut out, left out and deleted. At over 700pages long the book, at first, seemed like I was never going to finish it. Unnecessarily packaged with unwanted descriptions of a Da Vinci Code fuelled chase for relics, which was totally not needed was only there in my opinion to try and appeal to the mass following the Dan Brown has.

                That being said, perhaps the inclusion of the whole Grail type quest would appeal to readers of Dan Brown, and for them I would recommend this book. Characters featured in Labyrinth return in Sepulchre, and events in Labyrinth are mentioned.

                However the pit fall I suffered with this book, and the same happened in Labyrinth, was the ending. I hate the way Mosse ends her books with a whole sort of 'supernatural' way. It doesn't sit right with me. I can't believe it, or get my head round it and find the whole way the book ended, indeed both books, confusing. Although the ending of this book was somewhat less.


                I think that this book was a easy read though. It was OK, nothing special really. A good book for the back of the car when travelling on holiday I think. If you are a fan of Brown, and a Mosse virgin try one of her books. If you really enjoyed Labyrinth read this book. If you loathed Labyrinth avoid this book! And, if you are like me, and were indifferent to Labyrinth, forget about Mosse, the book is nothing special.

                The paper back version I bought from Amazon for £3.86 and includes reading group notes and pictures and a 'tour' around the Carcasonne area.

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                • La Vie En Rose (DVD) / DVD / 36 Readings / 35 Ratings
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                  23.06.2008 12:32
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                  Worth a Watch to see Cotillard's performance

                  The Academy Award Winning film entitled La Vie En Rose was one that I very much wanted to see after getting such rave reviews for the music, the script and most of all the acting of Marion Cotillard as Edith Piaf, the little sparrow.

                  The Film tells the story of Piaf, from her humble beginnings in a brothel to the glitz and glam of the big apple. Edith found her voice and had to use it to survive. Through her lifestyle once famous and lovers she became famous for and was known throughout the world. But as her fame increased so did her problems and 'she flew so high the little sparrow could not help but get her wings burnt.'

                  The first impressive aspect of this movie is the acting. Cotillard is very simply the stand out performer. Featured in every scene, almost, the acting can be seen in her face, her eyes her movement. The character of Piaf just seemed to ooze out of her and she was the hidden gem of the film and is worth watching just for her.

                  The next aspect of the film is the makeup and styling. The character of Piaf changes from the poor, unclean girl at the beginning to the glitzy showgirl of the heyday, to the whithered ill woman at the end of the film. The makeup and transformation of this was amazing and I half wondered whether a different actress had been employed because the difference was striking.

                  A further thing i liked about the film was the fact that Piaf's voice was used. It was not changed to Cotillard trying to sing but it was Piaf. This was a great decision and enable the magic of Piaf to be felt in the film.

                  The film is in French, (very fast speaking) and at times I did find it hard to be able to watch the film and subtitles at the same time. The way in which the actors and actresses speak so fast i was having to race to stay on track with the film. A further difficulty for me was the characters names. All being foreign names and similar looking actors it was hard to keep up who was who in the men. This became particular difficult toward the end of the film when i was rather confused at what was being said and to whom it was referred to.

                  The script was well written and the audience are able to capture the wit and attitude of Piaf from the script. The scrip is very French as you expect and the whole culture of the period in the slums of Paris came to life and truly was an amazing thing to see.

                  The telegraph claims the film to be beautiful, big hearted epic; and the mirror claims of Cotillard as being as legendary as Piaf herself. However i would go onto to say that Piaf outshone the film in many ways. Shining in the role and if an actress of lower ability than Piaf had been playing the part, i believe the film would not have been able to rise as high as it was able to.

                  The song surrounding Piaf, Non, je ne regrette rien, is almost like the anthem of the film, rather than La vie en Rose, and much of the film through flitting about from time periods is about Piaf's star performance of the song, a song that without Piaf's voice being used would have been doomed i think.

                  Special features on the DVD include deleted scenes, the making of edith piaf in New York and Edith Piaf that Object of Desire.

                  I believe the film is worth watching for Cotillard rather than the actual film(unless you are fluent French and can follow it). Any lovers of Piaf will undoubtedly enjoy the film as would fans of previous biopics such as The Aviator etc. I personally will not rush to put the DVD back in my player at 134mins it is a long film. I would suggest get down to Blockbusters or livefilm.com and rent it out.

                  (Check the trailer out on youtube.com and see if you fancy watching it)

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                  • United 93 (DVD) / DVD / 70 Readings / 66 Ratings
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                    23.04.2008 18:32
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                    a film that everybody should watch once.

                    September 11th 2001 will be remembered by everyone who was aware of the news at that point, going down with legendary events as Diana dieing in 1997 and the assassination of JFK and Martin Luther King.
                    Thousands of people lost their lives that day as Western Society and America was attacked by Muslim militants. Four planes were hijacked, 3 met their targets, one did not. United 93 is the tale of that plane, set in 'real' time, this film is most definitely the most intensely emotional film I have ever seen. Based upon recordings that could be heard by other planes and transmission centres, united 93 tells of the Heroes of 9/11.

                    The film opens as 4 hijackers pray to Allah in the morning before they board that plane. The camera captures the care free attitude of the passengers as they bored the plane, chat away to friends, look back on a holiday, look forward to a holiday. These snap shop images don't just represent the people on that plane, but every American citizen who woke up with that care free attitude that day before they were cruelly forced to reflect.

                    United 93 not only features just the plane journey but also that of the people situated in Airport transmission centres, places monitoring air traffic control and also the army. In fact many of the people featured in these scenes are in fact those who were working on that day. These scenes get both praise and criticism from me.

                    I like the fact that during these scenes the surprise and laid back attitude of the monitors is shown. Airplane disappearing of signal and the sound of hijackers is greeted with open arms almost. "A Hijack?" We haven't had one of them for 20years!" I think the little captions like that give the film that 'real' edge that could have been lacking otherwise.

                    However the buzz of the techies going about the business nattering away in techno-gibberish was hard to follow. The amount of centres shown got me in a right muddle as i hadn't a clue sometimes what centre I was at or what the heck these guys were talking about. This confusion would be my only criticism of the film.

                    The film starts of slow and slowly builds up and up until a final crescendo. I can only liken the ending to titanic but a lot more intense. You know the out come but how does it get there. I was watching it drastically wanting the passengers to win to recapture the plane and land safely again. But as events played out that didn't happen.

                    It was emotional stuff as the passengers of the plane held there last minute conversations with their loved ones. Exchanging messages that will be remembered forever by them and also as the passengers realised what was happening as they learn about the twin towers; prompting them to die a hero's death and try stop these bastards from killing more/targeting America's Capital Building. The film captures the teamwork and spirit of the plane heroically and the spirit of the Air Hostesses was fantastically shown as they scrambled make shift weapons from hot water to bottles of wine.

                    I found this film gripping stuff with an emotional climax. The ending was at the correct point and any longer would have taken some of the rawness away from the film.

                    Paul Greengrass directed this film and i applaude him for what is a superb piece of cinema in which these people can be remembered.

                    If you like intense documentary style films you should rent this film out. Similar to titanic, its a film you know the outcome but desperately want to change it. For Hollywood to put its influence on the film make everything all right.

                    The film was widely seen as one of the must see of 2006 and generally should be watched by everyone who can stomach it!

                    This film is a terrific memorial to those who lost their lives on that plane. When I think of 9/11 it will be these people I remember that day as they started the war on terror and won the first battle. I think of these people as well just for a massive middle finger at the bastards that carried out those atrocities that day, since that day and those who will carry them out in the future.

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                      15.04.2008 11:23
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                      a bok that should be in any collection.

                      "Within its four walls lay a secret that would last a lifetime"
                      The House at Riverton is, as described on the back, a book of love, mystery and a secret history that are revealed. The novel is set in two worlds; the 'present' day and memories. Memories of a servant/maid who worked at Riverton, for the Hartfords, and is now at the age of 98with memories resurfacing of her early life due to the production of film about events that happened there.

                      "On the eve of a glittering society party, by the lake of a grand English house, a young poet takes his life. The only witnesses, sisters Hannah and Emmeline Hartford, will never speak to each other again." This is the blurb on the memories and secrets. Immediately you are aware of the events but not the route that the events took to reach that point. So Morton orchestrates the book to reach that finale. Starting in 1914 when Grace starts work at Riverton until the summer of 1924. Interspersed between memories are 'flashbacks' to reality. Magically done by Morton.

                      The characters of the book are written in an amazing way. By the time the catastrophic finale is reached my opinion had changed on some characters, for better and for worse.
                      The main character is Grace, a servant who worked at Riverton.
                      Other Characters in the book are the Hartford sisters. Strongly attached to one another, showing the bonds of family. These three are the principle characters, but many more appear. There is Grace mother, Alfred, more members of the Hartford family and other aristocrats. All woven together in a way that helps make this book one of the most memorable I have ever read.

                      The House at Riverton is a very descriptive book. Everything is described in a wonderful way. .."old memories-long consigned to the dark reaches of Grace's mind-begin to sneak back through the cracks." Just a very short example of how Morton uses words and phrases in a very elegant manor to describe such things. They way in which the house and gardens are described is done in a very effortless way, and the images that your mind constructs are vivid and memorable. The way Morton manages to describe and catch that 1920 feeling; through the jazz age in London to the Edwardian period of World War One is magical.

                      In the back of the book Morton tells where she was influenced for this book from. One caught my eye, Upstairs Downstairs, and this can be seen through the book. The relationship between servants and masters, the seen and heard to the 'invisible' are all very evident in this book. The social plight that the servants carried, how some yearned for more from life, how others were more conservative. Morton weaves together the tales of the Kitchen and the ballroom in a very elegant way. The relationships between servants and masters are shown clearly; loyalty, respect, unquestionable service.

                      Further social aspects are evident through the book. Scandal is depicted and the reaction and conclusion shown. The trauma of world war one and the death and misery it brought to millions of people is depicted. The arrival home of the troops, changed with shock is depicted. The book shows so much of the life of the the period (1914-1924) that it simply is a great eye opener and history lesson.

                      One trap that Morton perhaps falls into, is the introduction of so many characters. There are masses of characters. All having a part to play in the story. In places where a lot are introduced all at once can easily cause confusion, however you soon become accustomed to the new arrivals. The amount of characters does increase the reality of the book however. Over a ten year time span it would be ludicrous just to mention 6 or seven characters, but through the way Morton introduces them it creates continuity and a realistic edge over some other books.

                      In places the book does become slow moving and can lack the pace it did at the start. However this is soon rectified as you plough on and reach further into the story. The event that is told on the blurb, the poet's suicide, is only reached reached at the very end of the novel; and we see what happened through Grace's eyes. The fact that the book could be seen as 'eventless' would mean that it is not for everyone.

                      I did find the book easy to get into. Straight away the descriptive writing of Morton is evident and captivates the reader. The secrecy element starts straight away. Dare i liken the book to Lost? The way the more you read the more you ask, and the more you read the more answers you get, yet more questions. But with this book all does become clear in the end.

                      One credit that I think Kate Morton deserves is due to the fact that she was born, educated and lives in Australia. So what? Well the amount of research that she has had to put into to making this novel is unprecedented. Research the period, research the period and what was occurring in England, research all the social aspects, research the role of servant and master. An awful lot of work and effort has been put into this book and it shines through.

                      The book has been recommended for those who have enjoyed Atonement and Gosford Park. I have read/watched neither so cannot say. However I did get the feel in the book that it was similar to Atonement through the trailers I have seen and the secret element being carried throughout the novel. Those who prefer action packed books, thrillers perhaps should avoid this book as I don't think that it would be your cup of tea!

                      I found this book compelling, addictive, masterfully written, descriptive and an elegant read.

                      The book is 592 pages long.

                      Priced at £7.99 it is worth every penny and I am sure that those people who like a good novel will adore this book. Crowned the summer read of 2007 I am sure it is the flavour for 2008, I can't wait for her next book!

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                        08.04.2008 18:15
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                        If its on sale cheap buy it.

                        The Other Boleyn girl was one of those films that I desperately wanted to enjoy but knew that I would not. The Hollywood adaptation of Philippa Gregory's Novel of the same name, which i have not read, based upon the lesser known mistress of Henry VIII, Mary Boleyn, sister of the formidable Anne Boleyn; and this film explores the known theory that she bore him a child.

                        The film shows the moment when Henry VIII, played by Eric Bana, first met the Boleyn Girls and was instantly captivated by Anne and Mary. The Boleyn family who are desperate to be accepted and rise through the ranks of nobility begin to, as Elizabeth Boleyn (the mother) says, "trade their girls as cattle for the advancement of men." Thus beginning the story of 2 sisters, both trying to get the affection of the King, one innocently and forced, the other calculating and forceful. The film also explores the downfall of the Boleyn family leading to Anne's execution. The film very much focuses on the relationship between the 2 sisters throughout.

                        Mary Boleyn is played by the well known Scarlett Johannson. In the film version Mary is depicted as innocent and sweet, bullied into becoming the Kings Mistress before falling in love with him. I do think that Scarlett was the perfect person to be cast as this role, her face and presence fits this role very well in my opinion; despite her rocky English accent.

                        The more calculating sister is played by Nathalie Portman, previous films include the Star Wars films. Portman's role as Anne is also very nicely executed grasping the mind set of the character, her rise and expansion of her head, before she falls from grace and meets her end. The ending of the film is absolutely brilliantly acted by Portman, and she actually got me to feel sorry for Anne as the axe fell.

                        Eric Bana plays the rold as King Henry VIII, depicted in History as fat and ginger; Hollywood feel the need to sex him up a little, (make it more believable that he could 'get' such woman into bed.) I was less pleased with Bana's performance as the sisters portrayal. I didn't think that Bana fitted into the shoes as such a dominating character as Henry. I thought his voice and portrayal was too weak. It was also a shame in my opinion that English actors and actresses could not play the main roles of this very English story that shaped our history forever, with the split from Rome.

                        My major criticism of this film would have to be the first half. After the short introduction the film sets off. The scenes flitted about so much and so quickly the audience had very little time to absorb what was going on. I think that the director was trying to fit in as much as possible into the film.

                        A further criticism of the film was its failure to include an event, that in my opinion, would have helped improve the film. During Henry's stay with the Boleyn family he goes hunting with a big party. Here he has a fall which somehow was Anne's fault and causes her to miss out being his mistress and means the family have to change tact. Instead of showing this event, we saw henry ride off and come back on a stretcher hating Anne. I couldn't understand why that scene was not included.

                        During the second half of the film it did improve. The amount of scene changing decreased and the audience were able to get to know the characters of Anne and Mary more. Joining in with Mary's roller coaster of emotion, leading to a dramatic ending which left me wanting to change the past. All praise should be given to Nathalie and Scarlett for this, being able to execute such fine roles and portray their characters emotions so beautifully. As I said before, Anne did get some sympathy from me and I am normally a harsh *******!

                        Another thing that deserves a mention about the film was the backing music which was excellent. The music did help to add to the film and increase the atmosphere and sense of emotion.
                        Further credit must go to the Academy Award Winning costume designer, Sandy Powell. Brilliantly supplying Tudor garments for the actors and actresses to wear.

                        There are some historical inaccuracies in the film but they didn't really impede my enjoyment of the film, until the end. But i wont say what it is. That inaccuracy did make a great scene that proved to be too emotional for my sister! But i am sure that some historians would find the inaccuracies very annoying. The way Anne is shown to be dispatched to France was a major Hollywood amendment, but directors 'know best.'


                        This film carries some great themes of sibling rivalry and love; as Mary says even after the betrayal by Anne, She is her sister, and therefore she is one half of her. The lines like those help make the film more memorable, and the film did make me think over the events after the credits had stopped rolling. All credit to the script writers.

                        It does occur to me that the film has tried to cover too much in too little time. The break from Rome, a major turning point in our country, was covered very swiftly in my opinion, However I can see that this film is less of a historical drama but more of a film showing sibling bonds.

                        If you view this film as a soap opera then the film was o.k fulfilling its role. Add the historical context and the adaptation from the book then its begins to change. Having not read the book I am unable to comment on its representation, but I have heard that it isn't a great one!

                        Anyone who is a fan of The Tudor series on BBC2 I think would enjoy this film, likewise anyone who likes an 'easy' film to watch. I think the film is worth watching and you can make your own mind up about the film and what you think.

                        40% rating on Rotten Tomatoes isn't the best, but the critics don't always get it right-but they often do. I saw this film with 4 people, 2 enjoyed it 2 didn't.

                        When the DVD comes out www.amazon.co.uk will no doubt have the best prices.

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                          06.04.2008 17:10
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                          massive fan of Clarke then buy it.

                          The Ladies of Grace Adieu and other stories is written by the best selling and award winning author Susanna Clarke who wrote the critically acclaimed Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell.

                          This book, the ladies of grace adieu, short stories/farie tales that contain tales of princesses, vengeful owls, ladies who embroider, paths in deep woods and strange houses. Many heroes and Heroines occur in the tales including The Duke of Wellington, Mary Queen of Scots, the Raven King, a Jewish Doctor and Jonathan Strange himself.

                          As her previous novel, Susannah Clarke writes with that same style that mirror Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. When compared to Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, her more recent book contains less description of events and magic and focuses more on events and traditions.

                          The Book contains 8 short stories all varied in length and characters but they all occur in the same world, the magic world, as Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. Some of the characters that appeared as foot notes in her previous book are described in more detail her as well as their exploits.

                          The first tale is the title story, the Ladies of Grace Adieu. This story is the tale of 3 women that can carry out and perform magic. The story contains characters that many readers would have already met including Strange, Mrs Strange and her brother Henry Woodhope. Tale provides more insight into the life of the rector Henry Woodhope showing him look for a suitor for marriage.

                          This tale is a good starting point as it is similar to her previous novel and helps the reader to ease into the book. The tale is written in the accustomed style of Clarke and shows some of her humour and quick witted sense that I came to love in her previous story.

                          The second story in the collection is entitled On Lickerish Hill and tells the story of a mysterious hill where mysterious occurrences occur. This story introduces one of the main themes that re occur throughout the book of fairies. As this collection of stories is very much centered on those rather than magicians.
                          This story is again superbly written and introduces new characters and their customs and thoughts.

                          The third tale is Mrs Mabb and contains one of the occurring themes of marriage and suitors. I found this story rather long winded and dull, which was a shame after a promising start. The story just washed over me and i didn't really absorb it as well as I should. I didn't think that this tale had the Clarke spark that the previous ones contained.

                          The next story is called The Duke of Wellington misplaces his horse and is a very short story that can be read on Susanna Clarke's website. As the title suggest this story follows the previously met character the Duke of Wellington from her first novel. His prize horse, Copenhagen goes missing and enters the world of faerie. this novel in my opinion does contain that Clarke Spark as previously mentioned because this story contains what Clarke does best. She incorporates figures of good historical grounding into her works of literature and world of magic. This short story was one i thoroughly enjoyed.

                          The next story is called Mr Simonelli and is a totally different way of telling a story that Clarke had not used. The story is a collection of letters written by Mr Simonelli to a Mrs Gathercole whom he has an interest in her daughter. The story contains elements of magic in it through the Faerie that whisks some poor girl of to his mansion. As previously mentioned the marriage/love theme is evident also in this story.
                          this story was o.k but not as vividly recallable as previous ones. The story is quite long winded with no major events occurring. Perhaps after reading about other stories containing this element perhaps i found this theme tiresome.

                          The major thorn in this book however was the story entitled Tom Brightwind, How the Fairy Bridge was built at Thoresby. This was a long story that tells a boring story. Basically the clue is in the title, how a fairy built a bridge. This story is useful in providing insight into fairy folk lore and gives insight into how they view particular historical characters like Julius Caesar. But this was my least favourite story of the book due to its boring nature and very uneventful tale.

                          In contrast, the final 2 stories see Clarke return to her best. The penultimate tale called Antickes and Frets is a tale of Mary Queen of Scots and how she wanted revenge over her cousin Elizabeth. Again this is Clarke at her best intermingling prominent figures of history into her works of fiction. I found this tale very interesting and was rather annoyed that Clarke did not expand on this tale. In my opinion this story was the hidden gem in the book with wonderful descriptions and tales of events within this book.

                          The final story of the book refers to the Raven King John Uskglass and his meeting with a Cumbrian Charcoal Burner. This tale contained the quick wit and humour that Clarke can portray masterfully. The story combines religious events with magic. With the raven King being thwarted by a simple man who uses the Saints of he Christian church to help thwart Uskglass who has proved nothing but an irritant to him. A very interesting and amusing tale.


                          Overall my conclusion of the book is varied. There were parts of the book I really did enjoy and other parts where i felt like skipping onto the next story I was that bored. However when buying this book those who found Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell spell-bindingly good will probably adore this one. Those who were sat on the fence over her first novel will probably view his book in a similar way to what I did.
                          However the book is a good read for those few stories i enjoyed, the last 2 and the first couple.
                          Before you buy this book i recommend visiting her website and reading the Duke of Wellington's story and if you enjoy it then the book will be worth the buy.

                          http://www.jonathanstrange.com/copy.asp?s=1

                          Amazon as usually have the best most competitive prices, www.amazon.co.uk

                          Thanks for Reading.

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                            05.04.2008 11:51
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                            fan of heartbeat? you would love it.

                            Lark Rise to Candleford is the BBC's adaptation of the semi-autbiographical book of the same title by Flora Thompson set in the 1880's.

                            The series centres itself on the small hamlet town of Lark Rise and its dwellers and the neighboring town Candleford, with its more well-to-do folk and businesses. Lark rise is seen as clinging onto the past whereas Candleford is a town that is much looking forward to the future. The episodes are told through Laura Timmin's eyes played by Olivia Hallinan.

                            Over the course of the 10 episodes you come across a wide variety of characters, from farmers and the poor to postmistresses and gentry. The mix of characters is brilliant and when they cross each others path the outcomes can be very amusing.

                            Two of the characters that I felt helped steer the show in the right direction were the Pratt sisters, played by Victoria Hamilton and Matilda Ziegler. their acting was flawless and the attitude of the characters and the comments they came out with helped give the show some humor, which I felt was lacking in areas.

                            The main characters of the story focus on Laura Timmins, played by Olivia Hallinan previously of Sugar Rush. She portrays a young girl of good educational standard who moves to Candleford from the hamlet of Lark Rise to work in the post office. Her you see her exploits and friction with her family and love interests. Olivia portrays her nicely but one thing I found really irritating was the accents. I didn't think that she used it very well and think that perhaps Olivia would have been better speaking as she would do normally.

                            Lark Rise to Candleford also had many big names attached to it, including famous comedian Dawn French. She played Caroline Arless, a big and mouthy character with a large family that she raises on her own, with her husband out at sea. Caroline with the Pratts provides humour to the show as she finds herself in debtors prison due to not paying a brewer.

                            Liz Smith from the Royle Family also makes an appearence as an old housemaid in the Post Office. Rambling about old times and very unwilling to move into modern times. Liz plays the character as well as she does her many other appearance in shows. All credit to an 86 year old!

                            Twist, an old man who loves a song and dance, is also another memorable character from the show played by Karl Johnson. He is a resident in the Hamlet and provides an insight into the old ways. He is often found in the pub and gives his friend Queenie a hard time. As with many dwellers in the Hamlet, money is scarce, but they make the best of their situation.

                            With this mix of characters and skilled actresses/actors I thought that this programme was going to be something special. Succeeding Cranford as BBC costume adaption drama I think I placed my hopes and expectations a little high. I found the story line a little flat and boring in places and Lark Rise to Candleford lacked a certain spark in my opinion. Perhaps to have 10 episodes was a little ambitious.

                            However the programme was typical Sunday Night Television. Similar to the likes of heart beat in pace and events I can see why the programme is a love/hate series.

                            I, personally, would not want to watch the programme again, but if you find yourselves a fan of period dramas and Sunday night programmes like heart beat I think that you would enjoy this programme.

                            DVD box set is available for £25.98 on amazon and its rrp is £34.99. I would wait until the sales,but for your money you do get 10 episodes at an hours length each, so there is some volume to the box set.

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                              29.03.2008 14:37
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                              Must Read!

                              Having watched the film of Notes on a Scandal starring Judi Dench
                              and Cate Blanchett and having seen such rave reviews of the book written by Zoe Heller I felt that I should read it and see how the book compared to the film which was very well executed.

                              The book is written in the form of notes/diary written by the central character Barbara Covett, an old-school history teacher, past retiring age; who decided to keep notes on the relationship between her colleague and friend, Bathsheba Hart, and the scandal that she was embroiling herself into. The scandal the spread across a 2year span was the fact that a pottery teacher became embroiled in an affair with a 15/16 year old boy. The reader is made aware of these events immediately in the book before Barbara informs us of how the journey started and ended through her eyes.

                              Barbara has spent her life alone, friendless apart from her beloved Cat and one time friend called Jennifer who she fell out with. Barbara comes across as a deranged stalker in the book, and the book is written through her perspective and her opinions of people and events. Barbara proves to be very witty, and have great opinions on people. Her dry sense of humour comes through to the reader as well as her thoughts and feelings that are portrayed beautifully through the use of the First person.

                              Due to being Barbara's retelling of events, we see Bathseba [Sheba] through her eyes. Barbara is clearly fond and protective over he and becomes very jealous over Sheba's other relationships with Men and Women. Barbara takes great glee in insulting her husband, mother and lover and even Sheba in the opening chapters. These opinions are great fun to read and give the book a certain edge to it.

                              Contrary to popular belief, this book is not a retelling of steamy sex sessions that occurred between teacher and pupil but the story of their relationship. The issue of sex is brought up at times but only for Barbara to skirt over the issue, as she feels very opposed to the way a person she is infatuated in is behaving. The nervousness of how the affair started was made brilliant reading, with the young lad saying "Miss? Can I cum in you?" and other such quotes made the story flourish.

                              What I did enjoy about the novel but did not feel when i watched the movie, was how through the book the secret personal feelings of the characters were able to be portrayed successfully. Sheba's relationship between Daughter, Son and Mother were all able to be expanded upon in the book, showing how Sheba saw herself trapped in a family too young, and still liked to act the teenager.

                              One problem with the book could be the ending. It just ends with the affair uncovered by the School and Police {you knew this from the introduction}. Whereas in the film the ending was extended a bit to include Barbara seemingly like she was about to reek havoc again. Not normally a fan of Hollywood amendments to books, but in my opinion they ending in the film was far better.

                              However the storyline that Heller creates and the character of Barbara keep you hooked throughout the 244 pages and I really did enjoy reading this take of scandal and personal opinion.

                              I would absolutely recommend this book quite gladly to anybody. Funny, Gripping and Addictive. The book is easy to read and worthy of the Man Booker prize Nomination.

                              RRP: £7.99, think i bought mine for £5.99 off amazon.co.uk

                              Definite worth a read.

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