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Monday, April 29, 2013

Next of Kin (John Boyne)

It is 1936 and London is abuzz with gossip about the affair between Edward VIII and Mrs Simpson. But the King is not the only member of the aristocracy with a hard decision to make. Owen Montignac - the handsome and charismatic descendent of a wealthy land-owning family - is anxiously awaiting the reading of his late uncle's will. For Owen has run up huge gambling debts and casino boss Nicholas Delfy has given him a choice: find £50 000 by Christmas - or find yourself six feet under.
So when Owen discovers that he has been cut out of the will in favour of his beautiful cousin Stella, it is time to prove how cunning he can be... And Owen is nothing if not inventive - even a royal crisis can provide the means for profit. And for murder...

Quote: "I think it's generally only those who don't have a title who hold them in contempt".

Why this book speaks to me: John Boyne was born in Ireland in 1971 and is the award-winning author of sixteen novels published in over forty languages.
The reason why I love Mr. Boyne's books is that he writes fiction based on a world of true events, whether it is WWII or an actual murder that took place a long time ago (refer to Crippen). In this case, John Boyne takes us to early 20th century England dealing with the death penalty, displaying actual trials - which was the most interesting part for me -, and royal scandals.
Murder and vengeance play a major role in this story showing us how great minds think and may get away with anything while 'not so great minds' are bound to fall. I cannot add much, since there is an unexpected twist of events towards the end, but it is worth reading.
One of the best novels yet!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Promised Land (John Krasinski & Matt Damon)

In this movie, directed by Gus Van Sant, a salesman for a natural gas company experiences life-changing events after arriving in a small town, where his corporation wants to tap into the available resources.

Starring: Matt Damon, Hal Holbrook, Frances McDormand, Titus Welliver, Lexi Cowan, Tim Guinee, Rosemarie DeWitt, John Krasinski, Scoot McNairy

Why I loved this film: This time we have the writing-directing-acting trio from 'Good Will Hunting' with John Krasinski filling in for Ben Affleck.
The movie combines a big bad natural gas corporation, sales pitching, and environmental elements all rolled into one.
For those of us who are not that familiar with all the related environmental hazards, the storyline spends enough time explaining this in an easy to understand way, as well as exploring how far these companies will go for money.
Matt Damon once again manages to deliver a believable performance with many dramatic, funny, and romantic lines helped by a more laid-back yet serious John Krasinski - in the end it becomes a little difficult to decide who to feel sorry for out of the two of them.
As always the outcome includes a romantic scenario, but not much will be written on that as not to spoil the story.
Overall, I found it very interesting and bound to start many discussions on the subject.

Djibouti (Elmore Leonard)

Dara Barr, documentary film-maker, is at the top of her game. She has covered neo-Nazis and post-Katrina New Orleans, but now she is looking for an even bigger challenge.
So Dara and her right-hand man, Xavier, head to Djibouti - in the Horn of Africa - to tackle modern-day pirates. But they soon find a whole lot more than they bargained for and quickly learn that almost no one in Djibouti is what they seem.
A mob of colourful characters patrols the seas, including a pirate chief with a taste for fine cars and an Oxford-educated sheikh with scams of his own. And then there is the gun-toting Texan billionaire Billy Wynn, and James Russell - an American al-Qaeda convert who wants to blow up something big. As hijacked tankers line up like floating bombs, Dara and Xavier know it is time for a showdown...

Quote: "You were yourself, always you every minute. Different than other women."

My thoughts on this book: Storywise, I found it pretty interesting. You have al-Qaeda and pirates combined with fictional characters played in movies, such as Jack D. Ripper - played by Sterling Hayden in 'Dr. Strangelove' -, and actor mentions, as is the case with Morgan Freeman, Naomi Watts, and Will Smith. Add this to crime fiction and murders; you have an outstanding result.
However, there are times when it becomes a little confusing due to the timespan between the actual events and video editing by Dara and Xavier.

Monday, April 08, 2013

R.I.P. Margaret Thatcher


The former British prime minister has passed away at the age of 87 after suffering a stroke.
Lady Thatcher was Conservative prime minister from 1979 to 1990 and the first woman to hold the role.
At the time I was not old enough to give Politics much thought but I remember her as someone who was a big part of my childhood years and a great inspiration to women.
My thoughts go out to the Thatcher family at this time.
May she rest in peace!