Saturday, March 31, 2012

March 2012 Books and Movies

Bitter is the New Black : Confessions of a Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-Centered Smart-Ass, or Why You Should Never Carry a Prada Bag to the Unemployment Office : A Memoir
Jen Lancaster

Loved it! Where was I when this came out? I'm pretty sure I was heavy into the chick-lit back then. Although this book blows traditional chick-lit out of the water. First of all it's a memoir, so everything is real, albeit embellished, I'm sure. I had to keep reminding myself of this, especially when reading about some of Jen's crazier antics. She is laid off from her high paying job in the dot com crash, and her boyfriend then husband also is laid off a while later. They go from living the high life to not knowing where their next month's rent is coming from. It sounds depressing, but while being unemployed for almost two years, she discovers her penchant and talent for writing when she starts a website that I'm looking forward to checking out. People start taking an interest and finally a literary agent takes notice. Obviously a publisher did as well! Apparently she has two more follow up memoirs. Yay!

The Worst Noel - Hellish Holiday Tales

I was interested in this title because a) I don't really care for the xmas season and b) Marian Keyes had written a story for the collection. Unfortunately, it turned out to be quite a disappointment. The Marian Keyes story was a cute piece of fluff, but not up to her usual. I understand though, that she has been struggling with her depression, and potentially wasn't well when she was approached for this project. There were very few stories that really interested me. Some of the authors that stood out were (in case I want to look them up too, I need a record): John Marchese, Anne Giardini, Mike Albo Elizabeth Noble and Neal Pollack. It's not a bad read, if you like short stories, but if you are a real xmas lover, stay far away.

Alias Grace
Margaret Atwood

Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant! Where was I in 1996 that I didn't read this when it came out? Especially since I had already read and loved all her other books by then. Come to think of it, I haven't actually finished The Robber Bride yet... Anyway, back to this book. I LOVE historical fiction, and when it's about somewhere I know very well, even better. Every time a street name, or place was mentioned, my brain would ping. The story, based on the facts of the 1843 Thomas Kinnear/Nancy Montgomery double murder trial convicting Grace Marks, who eventually received a pardon, was far more interesting than I could have imagined. I absolutely felt as if I had been transported back to the 1850s. I even had to look up a few old fashioned words, the vocabulary was so accurate. Transferring back and forth between Grace's first person narrative and a third person narrative for the rest of the characters, you are never sure if Grace is lying or telling the truth. An absolute must read for any Margaret Atwood fan or historical fiction nerd. One of the best reads I've had in a long time.

Midnight in Paris

I'm not generally a Woody Allen fan (shocking to some, I know) but this one was pretty good. And that's saying a lot considering I don't much care for either Owen Wilson or Rachel McAdams (gasp, even more shocking, she's Canadian!) in most roles. What made this watchable was that it was historical fiction and even better yet, 1920s Paris historical fiction. It's just my thing. Gil (Wilson) meets up with the literary and artistic gems of the day (Kathy Bates is fantastic as Gertrude Stein) and the sets and costumes are absolutely stunning. Add the Parisian backdrop, and you have a cinematographic genius. Some of the present day dialogue and plot lines were pretty cliche, and the ending was totally trite, but stepping into the past made it watchable.

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