Monday, May 14, 2012

MonDaybook I

Finding inspiration and encouragement for the week ahead!

Excuse the gimmicky title and hastily-put-together picture - I might try to improve both at a later date.


A book I am planning to read this week: The Iliad, by Homer.

My goals for this week: to try at least 3 new recipes, and to clean my room.

Something I was blessed with last week: attending the library sale!!

Something I am looking forward to this week: (maybe) seeing Beauty and the Beast in 3D!

An inspiring picture/piece of music:

Very L.M. Montgomery. Very Anne Shirley, in fact! Picture found via Tumblr.

Your turn, if you'd like to join in!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

My $12 worth of books

I was lucky enough to attend a library sale a couple of days ago (thank Erin!). Books were $6 a bag (savvy bookworms brought large cloth shopping bags, and carefully packed as many books into each bag as possible). Childrens' books were free. I went armed with about 10 bags (just in case), and enough cash to fill them all (just in case). After spending the whole morning rummaging, I came tottering out of the building, carrying two VERY heavy bags crammed with books - together with a smaller third bag and my hand bag. I didn't know I possessed such strength! My biceps are still sore now. For the sake of books, even the weakest bibliophile finds strength and determination they didn't know was in them. I suppose I could have just been sensible and carried them out to the car one bag at a time. . . hmmm. . . yes. Too late now.

Moving on: it is time to show off my spoils! As I mentioned, I bought just the two bags of books, plus a third bag of free children's books, bringing my total expenditure to $12.

The big hardcover books: The Complete Phantom of the Opera, Myths and Legends of Ireland, A History of Movie Musicals, The World of Rubens, and Alpine Interiors.

The Dickensian books - a biography, Bleak House, and Our Mutual Friend. I already had a couple of copies of OMF, but I bought the extra copy for sentimental reasons as much as anything - it is the exact same copy that I borrowed from the library when I read OMF for the very first time. Besides, it's nice to have multiple copies of favourite classics. Also, I like the cover (which you can't see very well, I snapped these pictures late this afternoon when the light wasn't good), of Keeley Hawes in the 1998 adaptation.

The L.M. Montgomery books. A beautiful, hardcover, illustrated copy of Anne of Green Gables, and an as-new hardcover copy of Anne of Avonlea.

The James Herriot books: James Herriot's Yorkshire, All Things Bright and Beautiful, All Things Wise and Wonderful, and The Best of James Herriot.

The poetry books: Seven Centuries of Poetry in English, Romantic Period Verse, and Selected Poems by T.S. Eliot.

Miscellaneous children's books, including a copy of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

A couple of classics and a couple of children's books. Treasures of Snow, a book from the Chronicles of Prydain series (I still haven't read the first book in the series, but never mind. . .), Romeo and Juliet, and Animal Farm.

Miscellaneous others. The Book of Buildings: A Travellor's Guide, a biography of Frances Hodgson Burnett, Classic Knitted Cotton Edgings, a Francine Rivers book, and The Penguin Dictionary of Surnames - useful for researching one's family history, and for looking up the names of one's celebrity crushes and favourite fictional characters in order to research their family history. Not that I would ever do such a silly thing as that.

I also bought another 10 or so titles, mostly children's picture books - including a couple of Beatrix Potter volumes.

I exercised great self-restraint and didn't buy any National Geographics, much to my mother's relief. I was a little disappointed that there weren't more good books on offer - for every decent book, there seemed to be about 100 Jackie Collins or Dan Brown books. Still, that made finding the few gems even more exciting and worthwhile.

If you're still reading - thank you! Most of my family members, not being book-lovers, were not at all interested in my haul, so it's nice to share my excitement with others who are likely to sympathise with my delight in the treasures I found! :-)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Oliver Twist (1999)

As I've been working on my Period Drama Index, I usually write a brief review of each film or series. I try to keep each review to within a few sentences, but sometime they stretch into several paragraphs. . . such was the case here. I thought I might as well share it as a proper blog post, rather than let it hide away in my work-in-progress Index pages.

~Oliver Twist 1999~

Michael Kitchen as Mr. Brownlow with Sam Smith as Oliver

In my opinion, there has been no one truly definitive screen version of Oliver Twist, though there are several pretty good ones. The 1999 adaptation, a four-episode, six-hour miniseries, is the longest, most complete adaptation. It expands on the backstory of the novel in a major way. If you've ever been confused by any plot points of the story, this series should clear a lot of things up for you! The first episode - or two, I can't quite remember - deal solely with Oliver's origins, and where and how Monks comes into the picture.

It is a very adventurous adaptation, but in some aspects I felt it missed the mark. The portrayal of the Artful Dodger/Jack Dawkins was off. The backstory part of the series dragged on for too long - 30 minutes or so would have sufficed. And I had mixed feelings about how the characters of Monks and his mother were written. Here, Monks himself is a victim, while his mother is the true villain. It's an interesting interpretation, but I prefer my Monks to be more threatening and ambiguous - that is, after all, the point of his character.

On the other hand, this adaptation has the best, the scariest Bill Sikes ever (played by Andy Serkis, who definitely has a gift for playing creepy Dickensian - oh, and Tolkienesque - villains); and probably the most moving and disturbing murder scene of any Oliver Twist adaptation.

One other point of interest is the proliferation of talented actresses who starred in this series at an early stage in their careers: Isla Fisher as Nancy's friend Bet, 19-year-old Sophia Miles as Oliver's mother, and a 14-year-old Keira Knightley as Rose.

This Oliver Twist is definitely not for little ones, but for older fans of the book, or anyone looking for a good Victorian-era period drama, it is definitely worth a look. Stars Sam Smith, Michael Kitchen, Robert Lindsay, David Ross, Julie Walters, Marc Warren, Lindsay Duncan, Emiliy Woolf, Andy Serkis, Keira Knightley, and Alun Armstrong.

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars. Recommended for teenagers and up, and there are a few uncomfortable scenes that you may want to skip.

Charity's Place | Amazon | IMDb | Youtube

Photos - unfortunately most of these are very small, though there are a couple of bigger ones:

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