Sunday, February 28, 2010








we can make fun of ourselves and THAT --- on top of our class, our sportsmanship, our quiet but exceedingly important role on the world stage---- is the key to our brilliance...


not only do we have the BEST literature and music, a gripping history, an amazing future and a wonderful spirit--- we have more OLYMPIC WINTER GAMES GOLD MEDALS than ANY OTHER COUNTRY EVER

and our men's hockey team kicks ass.

Dear Vancouver 2010, I will miss you....

CANADIANS --- keep the pride. The ball is rolling, the momentum is building... let's be loud and proud EVERY DAY OF OUR LIVES!


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Blogging through Foyle's War: with Rachel and Jess

So, Foyle's War isn't really a book ---- but who cares because it is written by Anthony Horowitz who is brilliant AND it gives you the same experience as reading a really thoughtful and complex novel because it is a fabulous and engaging character piece. Perhaps, I would say, some of the best writing in television. EVER.
So, Jess and I are coupling our insane infatuation with the show from a.) a fangirly, giddy standpoint b.) a reverence for wonderful writing, characters and mood and pulling them together in one conversation.

We are both simultaneously watching from the beginning of the series and chatting afterward ( note: Jess lives in Colorado and I live in Toronto )

Rachel: Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.

There is SO much in this episode--- it almost makes my brain explode. It is a pivotal episode in the series; sets the mood and setting of the show and establishes all sorts of character background and relationships.

It is marvelous. Anthony Horowitz says in an interview that he always writes like the rings of a tree. I find this fascinating and every carefully plotted, well-executed, overlapping story line is proof of his genius in this method. For instance, you know that every plot thread in Foyle is somehow going to connect: whether overtly, or slowly knitting together.

I really want to start The German Woman with a few key notes of the beginning of the series:
First, I think it is very interesting that the series begins with a pastoral shot: beautiful, lush England, a picnic setting, two people having a wonderfully romantic time, the camera panning and then, at the last, the shot of the barb wire trapping them into this world we will soon learns as Hastings and this war that we will soon see all contained ( with a few exceptions) in this community and suddenly all idealism is shot. It’s rather fabulous. I also think that we should draw our attention to the relevance of the title and its dichotomy: there are two German women in the story line and one could argue both were murdered: one in the traditional “revenge”-type plot --- with direct criminal intent; the other as a result of the harrowing prospect of internment—a woman victim of horrible circumstances. Both murder, in a sense, just in different ways.

Next, I enjoy how the series begins with our lead character wanting out of his surrounding. The main premise of the story is DCS Foyle’s work as a policeman in a world overthrown with chaos ….. the detective story begins with the detective wanting out of his surrounding and, ironically, wanting to do more for the war effort.Interestingly, after that introduction to Foyle and his world, we will see the series unfolding with Foyle being a very important part of the war effort---- just in a slightly different way. What he does in the micro-world of Hastings often ends up effecting the macro-world of England and the war.

Jess: Wow. I'm not sure what else to add to that incredibly insightful introduction to the series. I guess I'll just have to go personal, rather than academic.
What always strikes me deepest about this series is how thoroughly they set up life in WWII England. Just how everyday people lived during the war. Not the soldiers, but the soldiers' families back home. All the fear and prejudice and hope and opportunism andkindness and struggle wrapped in surviving, in waiting to see if your country would be invaded, if your loved one would come home, if your rations would hold out.

To your point about there being two German women, that's kind of true. The second, the woman in the internment camp, is actually English. But because she's married to a German, she gets treated as though she wereGerman. She married the "enemy" (even though he's a refugee who fled Germany), thus she is the enemy.

Rachel: and we’re going to tip our cap at two very special guest stars: Rosamund Pike and James McAvoy and that guy from Our Mutual Friend who plays the murderer and whose real name I might never know. We are also going to take one moment for Sam Stewart who is just about the most adorable thing to ever walk the face of the earth. Finally, I would like to have a moment for Foyle’s countenance when he learns Andrew is going to war and then ANOTHER moment for their shared laughter over the perfect trout (isn’t it perfect that Foyle’s pastime is fly fishing: so classical and harmonious---so HIM!) and then another moment for the smile that turns into distress as soon as Andrew’s back turns out the door. Any other moments, Jess, before we move on?

Jess: The introduction of Milner and his perfect eyebrows definitely deserves a moment. Also deserving of a very long, reverent moment? His super sexy shadowed jaw the first couple times we see him in the hospital. I don't think we ever see it again, but day-amn Milner, that was nice.
Also related to Milner, the way the episode lays the groundwork for his troubled marriage by mentioned how his wife has only come to see him once since he returned to Hastings, and how his relationship with Foyle begins - Foyle gives Milner exactly what he needs to pull himself out of his PTSD depression but does in a way that is neither coddling nor hard. He simply, straightforwardly tells Milner he needs a sergeant and does Milner want the job, yes or no? Milner proves he is actually good at this police thing, and the dynamic detecting duo is born.

Again more about Milner, because apparently I am his champion today. I love that the show uses his relationship with his wife to show what so many soldiers probably went through up on returning home. Couples got married in a hurry before they shipped off, before they really knew each other. And then, when the man comes home, broken by war - physically and/or emotionally - suddenly both parties realize how little they know each other, how little they have in common, how little they've really invested in this relationship they're now stuck in. I can't imagine how common Milner's situation was. (Note: This does not excuse his wife for being so incredibly awful that I am overcome with the desire to punch her every time she's on screen. She's so horrible to him.)

Rachel: Let’s tie this up then with two summarizing thoughts:

--Everyone hates Milner’s wife
--Anthony Howell has the least boring eyebrows I have ever seen.
Like Foyle? Jump in our conversation!
Stay tuned for A Lesson in Murder when Blogging Through Foyle with Rachel and Jess RETURNS

The Corinthian by Georgette Heyer

Courtney and I read this together and then decided to blog about it together ( with some casting .... enjoy!)

Courtney: I haven’t read any Georgette Heyer in a while and I’m always pleasantly surprised by her books when I pick them up just because of how fun they are. I found The Corinthian to be a lot more fun than some of the others I’ve read just because of the crazy hijinks that were involved – girls dressed as boys getting into scrapes, murder, theft, running away in the middle of the night, oh joy! What a great escapist novel, and how perfect for the February blahs. You’ve been devouring your way through her books – how did you find this one compared to the others that you’ve read?

Rachel: I really liked the pace of this one. There was lots of adventure and it didn’t take her very long to catapult us into the plot. Plus, she kept the whole cloak-and-dagger motif running rampant throughout the story. Like you, I really enjoyed the hijinks— and the image of carriages running helter skelter at a dizzying pace. This was sheer fun. Some of the books of hers I have read have serious undertones — like These Old Shades ( a great romance of redemption, in a way) and Black Sheep ( where the theme of women as marriageable commodities is pretty abundant ) —- but The Corinthian—well—- it was as of Heyer was writing with her tongue in her cheek.

Courtney: Yes, she does tongue in cheek very well. One thing that I noticed with this book is how much the quality of her writing improved from earlier books – this one is about 20 years into her career as a novelist, and you can really tell the difference. There’s more depth, more maturity in the writing (not necessarily the content, but certainly the writing style), etc. That’s one thing that is so much more noticeable when you can pick and choose your way through an author’s whole catalogue of books, as opposed to having to wait for the next one to be released.

Rachel: I also get the sense that Heyer was writing first and foremost for her own enjoyment. I love books like that because they allow the author’s personality to seep through. To continue your noting of her depth and maturity, I also feel she improves her grasp of how to tell convincing historical fiction. Whereas her early works had the tendency to lapse into encyclopediac knowledge now and then ( in an almost cut and paste fashion), the regency details in the Corinthian were more implied and ingrained so you had a keen picture in your mind’s eye and got a feel for the period without it being bludgeoned over your head with numerous factoids. Can I also just throw the word verisimilitude in here because I never get to use it? Thanks.

Courtney: I just had to look up “verisimilitude.” Google tells me that it is “the quality of seeming to be true or real.” But I can really see how this applies to The Corinthian. It does appear that she knows a lot of what is going on in the regency period, and it is sometimes surprising (in the case of this book, for example) to realize that she didn’t experience it herself. While this was a fun romp, it still does touch on some of the issues that would have been relevant at that point in time – specifically expectations of women who spent unchaperoned time with men, the difficulties families face with financial issues, and the necessity of women to make a good marriage. As much as I love reading regency books, I really don’t think I’d want to live in a time where it was depended on me to marry well just so I could secure my family’s financial stability!

Rachel: What I liked about this particular novel is that Sir Richard was facing the same impending threat of a loveless marriage to secure his family’s financial gain and to hold up in society. It is rather refreshing to see a man have the same expectations thrust upon him. It immediately set the stage for an understanding friendship between Sir Richard and Penn. I rather enjoyed this. Richard immediately understood Penn’s dilemma and I think, in part, that was why he was so eager to jump and save her. He knew what it felt like to have this unsavoury future looming afore him.

Courtney: Well, that plus he was completely smashed when he came across her attempting to run away in the first place. That might have had something to do with it, haha. I love the relationship that Penn and Sir Richard have right from the beginning in this book – she’s adventurous and naïve, and he is amused by her and knows that she needs protection in her wild and crazy schemes. I love that she puts him in situations he doesn’t feel comfortable with at all (hello, stagecoach?) and that he lets her do this. And that he goes out of her way to protect her without caging her in or patronizing her for her naïveté.

Rachel: He treats her like an equal— and I suppose she is— in humour and in situation and circumstance. But, I think he smiles at her out of his eyes the entire time and doesn’t always take her seriously. But, I am not altogether sure he completely takes life seriously so this is just another one of his many charms. I also enjoy the hint of rogue he has. In fact, talking about him makes me want to cast him. Jack Davenport?

Courtney: Mmm. I was just watching The Wedding Date last night and he is in it. He would definitely be able to pull off the rogue aspect, and we’ve already seen him in that same sort of time period in Pirates of the Caribbean. He could pull off being Sir Richard. What about Penn?

Rachel: I really like the idea of Carey Mulligan (Bleak House, An Education, Dr. Who) as Penn. \

Courtney: Is that Sally Sparrow? She looks a bit old for the role… I don’t know too many young females in acting, so this part is a little hard for me. What about Alexa Vega or Eliza Bennett? Actually, Eliza Bennett probably looks a little bit too young. Oh, what about Rachel Hurd-Wood? She’s rather adorable.

Rachel: What’s REALLY funny is that when you said Eliza Bennett I was thinking of the “real” Eliza Bennett ( which, in my crazy mind, was automatically Jennifer Ehle ). Alexa Vega!

Courtney: Yeah, I remember thinking that quite a bit when I read her name in the credits for Inkheart! Oh, Jennifer Ehle is such a wonderful actress. And Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy, mmm… Anyway! Tangent! I hate to say this, but I think if they were to make a movie out of this, it would actually be better as a 2 hour movie than a 4 hour miniseries. As much as was going on, it felt like not everything was necessarily needed to make this a good story. Not that it dragged on, but it just wasn’t all that important to furthering character development or pushing the story to a climax – like the meeting between Penn’s aunt and Sir. Richard.

Rachel: What they should do is a BBC series featuring two hour episodes of each Heyer novel. They could totally squeeze this into two hours. I mean look at the ITV Northanger Abbey— that worked brilliantly. As did the ITV Persuasion ( Unfortunately, I have nothing good to say about the ITV Mansfield Park so I am just not going to say anything at all…..)
Penn’s aunt! Sir Richard! How Lady Catherine de Bourgh-esque was that pivotal moment. Good God Georgette Heyer! You’re like mango gelato. You are the sweetest confection in the world. And you ruin me for real life…. And so do your men with their boots and cravats and eye glasses hanging from dainty chains! Back to Jack Davenport ( because isn’t that just the best segway??? ) he has a delicious voice. I have a feeling Sir Richard would have a delicious voice.

Courtney: He really does have a delicious voice. And I imagine Sir Richard would too, especially when he is amused at Penn. And Jack Davenport could totally pull off Sir Richard’s bored attitude that seems to intimidate those he doesn’t care a fig about. Mmm, I totally want to rewatch all the Pirates of the Caribbean movies now, darn it!
What did you think of all the secondary characters? I loved me the thief they met in the stage coach. He was a lot of fun.

Rachel: I loved the thief and I loved the rather portly relative whose house Sir Richard visits at the beginning of the story— the one who tries hard to emulate Sir Richard’s flair with a cravat ( his name escapes me right now )

Courtney: The sister’s husband?

Rachel: Yah. That’s him. He was super cool.

Courtney: Yeah, he was pretty awesome. They were all mostly awesome; in fact, there were only two characters that I DIDN’T like – Penn’s childhood friend (again, the name is not coming to mind) and the girl he’s in love with. I have no patience for silly little people like them. I was especially aggravated when whats-her-name told her father that she met Penn for a romantic rendezvous instead of whats-his-name. This girl came across as being way too flakey, and I have no stomach for characters like that.
Before I start going on a rant, I need to change the subject.
How about the last moment when Penn and Sir Richard finally both admit and realize that the other is in love with them? It is up there with the awesome endings of Rilla of Ingleside and North & South, as far as my favourites go.

Rachel: I also loved the last moment. The thing with Georgette Heyer is she always leaves the romantic climax until the very last page. You know it is coming but she makes you wait and wait and THEN …. Then she ties it up with a happy bow ( same with North and South, eh?)
I really enjoyed the ending and the discovery of love which, really, when you think about it had been there since Sir Richard first saw Penn—all inebriated and blurry and cleaned her up and whisked her away.…
Courtney: Oh, he obviously loved her from the beginning. And she was in love with him from that point too even though she didn’t realize it until later. But all-in-all a satisfying end to a good book then. Yay!

Blogging For Books: Beneath A Southern Sky ( Deborah Raney)

NOW THIS is a fun blog tour! A grab bag of goodies from the Value Fiction WaterBrook is promoting to help us through bleak March days!

From the Publisher:

Beneath a Southern Sky by Deborah Raney – Daria Camfield is expecting her first child when her husband Nate is reported dead on the mission field. Devastated, she returns to the States and soon marries again. But two years later Nate is found alive in the jungle. How can Daria possibly choose between he two men who love her?

My take:
Beneath a Southern Sky by Deborah Raney is a contemporary romance featuring a headstrong woman faced with the most difficult dilemma of her life: new love with the man she has married having been widowed in Columbia or renewed love with the man she initially married, long thought dead, who has suddenly come back to life.

The harrowing opening chapter preludes Daria’s difficulty and ropes you in to find out whom she will chose, how, and what life journeys she will learn along the way.

Deborah Raney is a prolific Christian writer whose Vow to Cherish was adapted into an acclaimed made-for-tv movie. Her grasp of human emotions and her longing to portray the complexities of the human heart is quite pronounced here.

Raney also shakes the usual Christian fiction conception of love: something sought after, found and tied up nicely with a ribbon. Instead, love is found in a very unexpected way and coupled with a sacrifice of immeasurable proportion that will shake all characters with its ramifications for years.

A tightly plotted and deftly-woven yarn outside of the genres I usually read in the Christian industry. Thanks to our friends at WaterBrook for passing this along

I recommend finding a copy quickly--- especially because WaterBrook has such fabulous bargain fiction up for grabs!

Monday, February 08, 2010

Casting Georgette Heyer: These Old Shades edition

These Old Shades is one of Georgette Heyer’s classics. It is a wonderful, romping, rollicking plot of mixed identities and melodrama and girls dressed as boys and love slowly blossoming and cravats and conspiracies and oh! la! ...all things gloriously regency.

The Duke of Avon, Justin Alistair, is often called Satanas by the elite members of the ton: he has known so many women, has conquested so many conquests, blah! Blah! Has a good hand at cards, cares nothing for no one and drowns in his nonchalance. But one night while wandering the streets of Paris he saves a street urchin from the abuse of his older brother.

Avon sweeps the kid from the streets and adopts him as his page. Leon, with his pale skin and reddish curls becomes quite the favourite of society. For who knew Avon to be so charitable with those unfortunate?

Turns out, Leon is actually the adorable French creature Leonine who may or may not be the illegitimate child of someone very significant in Avon’s past.

He’s twenty years older than she; she has lovely hi-jinks and adorable broken English; she worships the ground he walks on and has sworn her devotion for life; he thinks she should be set up with his rapscallion brother Rupert … and… oh yes! There is a KIDNAPPING

So much fun! And so much fun to cast. Casting Georgette Heyer today we’re going to have to toss the role of Avon to our friend Richard Armitage.

Well-played Richard.