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Everything posted by Ruth

  1. The last film you saw - 2014

    The Three Musketeers, from 1993. I'm trying to watch all the adaptations, because I recently read the book, and I also really liked the recent BBC1 series, based on the characters. I liked the film much more than I expected. Not sure that Chris O'Donnell was right for D'Artagnan (actually, I'm convinced that he was wrong for the part), but I really liked Keifer Sutherland and Oliver Platt as Athos and Porthos.
  2. Ruth - 2014

    Thanks, both of you It was the first book of his I've read, but I went out and bought all his others, because I liked it so much.
  3. Ruth - 2014

    Hatchet Job, by Mark Kermode For anyone not familiar with Mark Kermode’s work, he is the Chief Film Critic for The Observer newspaper, he presents The Culture Show on BBC2, and he is part of ‘Kermode and Mayo’s Film Review’ programme on BBC Radio 5 live. In this book, he talks about his role as film critic, and more specifically, the role of a film critic in today’s world, where the internet allows pretty much everyone to be a critic about pretty much anything. And you don’t need to have any specialist knowledge or qualifications to be an internet critic. (I’m well aware that as a blogger, I’m one of these people that he talks about – I’m not particularly qualified to write about books or movies or theatre, but I do anyway, although I don’t claim to offer anything other than my own opinion, for whatever that’s worth.) So with the growth of blogging, tweeting etc., the role of progressional film critic has come under some threat. Kermode eloquently makes the case for the necessity of professional film critics in such a world – he certainly convinced me, although to be fair, I agreed with his point of view in the first place. He also discusses how advertisement posters for films have now started using quotes from Twitter users as endorsements, and points out the obvious problems with this. For all this though, Kermode does seem to want to embrace the internet and the rise of online bloggers, is also quick to point out the advantages of it – both to himself and to others. The book is very well written and engaging, and often very amusing too. Each chapter is about a specific point relating to the main theme, but Kermode often goes off at tangents, and uses lots of anecdotes to illustrate what he’s saying – at the end of the chapter, everything ties up nicely. Overall, if you like Mark Kermode’s film reviews, you will like this book. If you don’t know anything about Mark Kermode or his film reviews, there’s a strong chance you will like this book. I don’t think you even need to be particularly cineliterate to enjoy it – my basic knowledge of any film extends as far as whether or not I enjoyed it. I started reading the book on a long flight, and usually when I’m flying, I end up listening to music, watching a film, or trying to sleep. However, I found myself not wanting to do any of those things, and instead just wanting to keep reading. So for me, this was definitely a winner, and I would recommend it.
  4. Ruth - 2014

    Thanks Thank you Yes, I've been lucky and read some crackers lately. I love it when you get a run of good books like that.
  5. Willoyd's Reading 2014

    Great review of The Great Gatsby I actually love that book - it's one of my very favourites - but I really liked reading your point of view, and will keep your comments in mind when I next (inevitably) re-read it. I quite like the sound of The Signature of all Things, and have added to it my library list.
  6. Ruth - 2014

    Too Much Information, by Dave Gorman These days, everyone is trying to tell us something, and as a result, we have trained ourselves to filter out the things that don’t interest us (click onto another website, fast forward through the adverts, change the channel). Dave Gorman casts his witty eye over the dross and nonsense that comes to us via the internet and certain news media, and asks what’s really going on? And why do we accept so much junk as just a normal part of life? As ever, Gorman is entertaining and amusing, and this is a really easy book to read (I read it in one day, on a long flight). But as well as all the humour – and yes, I laughed out loud several times – he does make some serious points. There are 40 chapters, so far too many to describe, but he talks about why a particular newspaper (it’s the Daily Mail, surprise surprise) doesn’t seem to know what ‘matching’ means in it’s numerous articles about couples, or parents and children wearing matching outfits; why television hosts always ask the same questions; why does the internet think Julia Roberts is Jesus? and so on. He also looks at some of the seedier parts of the internet, such as mass spamming on Twitter, people being paid to advertise on Twitter (but surreptitiously, so that others are not supposed to realise that they’re advertising) etc. Most of the chapters are a few pages long – a few are just one page – so it’s an easy, quick read, which will not only have you laughing, but also nodding along in agreement. Definitely recommended.
  7. Ruth - 2014

    Running Like a Girl, by Alexandra Heminsley In the first part of this funny, moving and frank memoir, Alexandra Heminsley discusses how and why she started running, and – more importantly – how and why she continued to run, despite occasional setbacks and bouts of self-doubt. She talks about how it brought her closer to family members, and made her feel better about herself, and along the way describes some of the races she has participated in. The second part of the book is given over to hints and advice to other runners, or people who are thinking of taking up running, whether as a casual hobby, or a serious enthusiast. The book also talks about the history of women’s running (and boy, did that chapter open my eyes; after reading about the journey that Joan Benoit Samuelson took to become the first female Olympic marathon winner, I watched some of the footage on YouTube, and was filled with admiration and tears). While Heminsley’s own story is very entertaining and inspiring, the second section of the book is very useful to new runners, offering tips on buying running trainers and equipment, and what you will need if you take part in a big race. It also highlights injuries that can be caused or aggravated by running, and the best ways to deal with them, and debunks many myths surrounding running. As a fellow runner, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, and identified with many of the feelings that the author described. Heminsley is very engaging and relatable, and also very funny. I don’t think you would have to be a runner to appreciate this book, but I am pretty sure that after reading it you would want to pull on your trainers and go for a trot around the block. I would recommend this book for everyone, but particularly people with even just a passing interest in running.
  8. Ruth - 2014

    Thanks Pontalba, the Burton book was brilliant, especially if you are a fan (but even if you're not, he had a fascinating life, so still worth reading). I do love Richard Burton, and the book was honest but very respectful. It made me cry at the end, as biographies of people who are no longer with us often do, despite the fact that I know how the book is going to end. I was the same when I read an excellent biography of Paul Newman I hadn't heard of Mr Knightley's Diary, but I'll look out for it I do have Mr Darcy's Diary, by Maya Slater, and Longbourn by Jo Baker, which tell Pride and Prejudice from Darcy's POV and the staff at Longbourn's POV respectively. I also have Joanna Trollope's updated Sense and Sensibility, but I think I'll have to give Austen's original S&S another read before I try that one.
  9. Ruth - 2014

    The Three Musketeers, by Alexandre Dumas Everybody knows the story of The Three Musketeers and their friend D’Artagnan, right? Well, if you’re like me and you were basing your knowledge upon the various screen adaptations of the story, then you may be amazed by how much of the story – and the characters – that you don’t know. D’Artagnan, a young man from the Gascony area of France, who goes to Paris with the aim of joining the King’s Musketeers. After a few initial misunderstandings, he becomes firm friends with the melancholy Athos, the rambunctious Porthos, and the foppish Aramis. The book follows their adventures as they become embroiled in trying to stop the evil machinations of Cardinal Richelieu, who is determined to bring down Queen Anne, wife of King Louis XIII. The book was a delightful and action packed adventure, full of humour, fighting and romance. I was surprised that there were chunks of the storyline that didn’t actually feature D’Artagnan or the musketeers, and also by the fact that, unlike the screen adaptations, the four servants of the main characters featured almost as heavily as the main characters themselves, and were very instrumental in the musketeers’ plans and actions. The plot moves on very quickly, and there are LOTS of twists and surprises, but despite this, Dumas still found time to establish each main character’s personality. It’s fair to say that at times they act in a less than gentlemanly manner, but despite this, I still found myself regarding each character with affection. It is also, in parts, a very funny story (there is one particular scene where D’Artagnan visits Aramis, who is constantly planning to leave the musketeers to become a man of the cloth, and finds him in consultation with a curate and Jesuit superior, which had me laughing out loud all the way through). The seductive but evil Lady de Winter, and Cardinal Richelieu are a substantial part of the story, playing the two main villains, with ‘MiLady’ always trying, and often succeeding to stay one step ahead of the musketeers who seek to bring her down. Overall, this is a hugely entertaining romp through Paris, and I believe that everybody should read it at least once. For me, it’s a keeper, and one I intend to re-read at some point.
  10. Ruth - 2014

    The Three Ooh, I've only just seen this post (had my head stuck into The Three Musketeers for a while!) Yes, I always find it interesting how one person can love a book, while another person loathes it. The first time I read Emma, I liked it but I didn't love it. Persuasion used to be my favourite Austen book, and I do still love it. But after reading Emma a second time I enjoyed it a lot more, and now I reread it every few years, and it's become my favourite. A lot of the characters are unlikeable, although Mr Knightley will forever be my favourite Austen hero
  11. The last film you saw - 2014

    Stalker, from 2010. Not brilliant, but not bad. It's a non-gory horror - I watched it solely because the delectable Colin Salmon is in it, but it did hold my attention.
  12. Catherine Ryan Hyde

    Thanks for the recommendation I'll give that one a whirl.
  13. Your Book Activity - August 2014

    I really liked Kiss Me First. The plot sounds ludicrous really, but I could see how Leila got sucked into such a thing (I'm not saying any more, because I don't want to give away any spoilers). I listened to the audiobook though, and I do think that helped my enjoyment, because the narrator really captured the personalities of both Leila and Tess. I am still reading The Three Musketeers. It's been a busy old month, so not as much reading time as I would have liked, but I am still loving the book
  14. What reader species are you?

    That's brilliant! I think I'm the following... The Book Worshipper The Hoarder Compulsive Book Buyer (I think this and The Hoarder go hand-in-hand) The Book Buster The Eclectic
  15. What magazines do you read?

    Just a couple of running magazines - Runner's World and Women's Running. But my husband reads Focus, and I'll usually have a browse through that.
  16. Catherine Ryan Hyde

    I've only read one of hers - Second Hand Heart. I liked it until about 3/4 of the way through, and I hated the last part. But I won't say why, because of potential spoilers. I think maybe it was not one of her best books, judging by some reviews I've read, so I might give some of the others mentioned on this thread a try.
  17. Depends how disturbing you want to get. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis has an entirely unsympathetic main character (in fact, almost all of the characters are very unsympathetic), but it's a brilliant read. Disturbing though (MUCH more so than the film). If you're after a classic, I'd always recommend The Great Gatsby. It's sad, and it makes you feel the characters.
  18. To be honest, the only place on the internet where I get reading recommendations is the reading lists/blogs section on this site. I don't always comment on people's lists, but I read a lot of them and often make a note of interesting sounding books. Apart from that, I tend to find books I want just from browsing in bookshops, or if I really enjoy a book by a particular author, I'll have a look and see what else they've written.
  19. Are you looking for fiction specifically? How about..... Blood Meridien, by Cormac McCarthy Call of the Wild, by Jack London A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway The Professional, by W.C. Heinz Flavorwire describes these and a few others as 'mighty manly books'. I didn't suggest all of them; I get the impression that Sherlock Holmes is not what you're looking for. And I wouldn't wish Moby Dick on anyone.
  20. Willoyd's Reading 2014

    I'll let you know, but I'll wait until Will has read it, because I might accidentally reveal a few spoilers!
  21. Best Book(s) of 2014 so far?

    These are my favourite reads of 2014: The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autopbiography, by Sidney Poitier (but I have to say that my enjoyment was enhanced by listening to it as an audiobook, with Mr Poitier narrating) Kiss Me First, by Lottie Moggach Rich: The Life of Richard Burton, by Melvyn Bragg The Biography of Martin Luther King Jr., edited by Claybourne Carson Emma, by Jane Austen (but doesn't really count, as I've read it before a few times) These are the books that I've rated 5/5. There are some that have come very close. Interesting (to me anyway) that 3 out of the 5 are auto/biographies.
  22. When you write book reviews...

    I rarely make notes while I'm reading, unless something strikes me as particularly relevant and I don't want to forget to mention it. I tend to write reviews as soon as I finish a book - or as soon as possible. Like VF, I sometimes wonder if that's best, and if a few days reflection might not serve me better. For instance, I loved Gone Girl when I read it, and wrote a glowing review of it almost immediately after finishing. But after a few days, I started to see the whole plot as a bit ridiculous, and had I waited a few days, I think my review would have reflected that.
  23. I have bought books by these (seriously, no Jane Austen or Charles Dickens???): William Shakespeare Enid Blyton Dean Koontz Stephen King James Patterson (only one book though, and I didn't like it) Jeffrey Archer John Grisham J. R. R. Tolkien Paulo Coelho Roald Dahl Anne Rice Lewis Carroll Ken Follett
  24. Your Book Activity - August 2014

    Well, I finished reading Melvyn Bragg's excellent biography of Richard Burton - it made me cry at the end, even though I knew exactly how it ended, as I am a fan of Burton. Now reading The Three Musketeers. I am only just over 100 pages in, but if it continues to be as good as it has been so far, it will definitely make my list of favourites.