Archive for November, 2011

Sworn to Silence by Linda Castillo

November 15, 2011

[Cindy]

My sister recommended this book. This is a new author for me but based on her recommendation, I dove right in. The story is great — it is a murder mystery/serial killer investigation located in Amish country in rural Ohio. The main character is a former Amish, female police chief named Kate Burkholder. She is a complicated and interesting character, one of many in this book. The investigation touches on something from Kate’s past and she attempts to walk a tightrope between her career obligations and keeping her past a secret. The interplay between the Amish community and the “English” is fresh and interesting. The plot moves quickly and you never lose interest as the story develops.

I hate to compare authors and characters, but I couldn’t help but think of the very first couple of Cornwell’s Scarpetta books when reading this. Kate is somewhat similar – strong but flawed in her personal life, professionally competent but struggling to keep her bosses and higher ups from sticking their noses into her work, ending up unfortunately personally involved with a co-worker – there are other similarities and a lot of differences, but I liked Kate a lot.

The pace of this book is great. The author sets off immediately with a grisly homicide and never slows down from there. Usually there are places in books where you think, “oh, I can skip a few pages where it’s getting dull and it won’t matter,” – don’t think that here. First, there aren’t any boring pages, and second, they all matter to the storyline.

The Amish angle is interesting and well-told. I’m not Amish and know nothing about the culture, but it rings true and isn’t patronizing. The ending and reveal of the killer shocked me. I’m looking forward to reading the next two books in this series.

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Music Review: Florence and the Machine – Ceremonials

November 9, 2011

[Bill]

CD Music review: Florence and the Machine; Ceremonials

Release date: 28 October, 2011, UK & 1 November, 2011 US & Canada

The music world is agog. Ink is flowing. Articles are being written everywhere. People who never notice pop or rock music are talking? Why? “Ceremonials”, the new CD by Florence and the Machine is out.

It has been a long time, if ever, since I have heard or seen such a “buzz” as this. No, like Florence herself this is full scale gale—a howl of music. The question being asked is, is it warranted? Yes. It absolutely is. We have in these pages this last year or so spoken of many current musicians. All of whom have well deserved reputations and undoubted ability. If you do doubt their ability then you try it. In fact it is vastly harder then it seems.

It is sad but true that most UK/Irish bands do not make it big in the US, U2, Adele and Mumford & Sons perhaps excepted and only then because of the fact deserved [or not] that they do not sound “foreign”. Three cheers for xenophobia there. But that might be changing.

In the Anglosphere [look it up on Wikipedia…] of today, localized English language distinctions are rapidly disappearing—and I’m thrilled! If we are not quite at the end of “The Curse of Bable” we are coming close at least in the English speaking world. I say this because to many of us Florence does not sound British; Mid-Atlantic perhaps, but again certainly not foreign.

“Ceremonials” will hopefully bring much needed cheer to those of us plagued by recession, austerity, deflation, unemployment and political posturing. It sure did to me. “What the water gave me”, “No light, no light”, “Shake it out” and “Cosmic love” all must be heard to be believed. They are all “classic Florence”. If you know what I mean, then you will as they say, know. If not, I despair for your soul. So go to the WML website and put a hold on it. Your soul will thank you. Your ears will too.

I am well aware that I have been accused of throwing superlatives around with some abandon in these reviews. And there is some truth to the charge. Even so, it is also with honesty that I confess that the terms were necessary in order to do justice to the various artists and the music. We here try to present the cream of the current crop of artists and their music. Some of it is so delicious that I cannot stop commenting upon what it is I have heard. And I have to listen to a lot, believe me, a whole lot of music.

The WML are proud to have acquired this CD. We hope that our patrons will enjoy it. That it is a delight to listen to is obvious. We often try to take a chance that a work will be enjoyed. “Ceremonials” was such an album. I use “album” with a precise meaning. It is, as is a magazine, a collection of not entirely dissimilar items. I believe that this collection of songs works really well together. I hope you do too.

Last week I watched several YouTube performances of Florence Welch perform “No light, no light” and all I could think of was; power, strength, grace, style, presence, drama, connection, guts and glory. I was and am dwarfed by Florence. She is utterly amazing. The Machine is pretty good too.

bill littlefield

11/8/11

DVD Review: The Longest Day

November 9, 2011

[Bill]

Film review: The Longest Day

Release date: 1962

In memory of the Living and of the Dead on Armistice Day

Last month I was shelving a DVD and it made me think that if you are of a certain age let us say 50 + years you will have almost certainly have seen this film. It is not a good film, but it is a great and epic one. It is a who’s who of 50’s and 60’s actors. It is based on a book by the same name from 1959. The film was released in 1962. It is not in stereo, it is in black and white and it is almost three hours long. So who cares? Millions of elderly and dead Allied Servicemen did and do, because this is the story of the greatest amphibious assault in history and only one from Britain to land in France, Normandy actually.

The film is taken from the book by Cornelius Ryan “The Longest Day”. It is the story of one day, the day of the Allied invasion of Nazi occupied France, specifically of Normandy on 6 June, 1944. We now know that by themselves the British Empire, The United States and The Soviet Union were not strong enough to defeat the enemy that would devour them all in turn. But in one of the most unholy alliances in history, these three diverse allies defeated the most monstrous degeneracy that humanity has ever brought forth into the world.

This is not the story of the preparations or of the various battles. But it is the almost minute by minute story of that one day, all 24 hours of it. It is a story of one half million men, 5000 ships [that is not a typo, 5000], tens of thousands of USAF and RAF airplanes, a veritable United Nations of soldiers, sailors and airmen [for so they then were]. All intent on one thing, the liberation of Europe and the death of the messianic madman, the WWI ex-German army corporal of whom we need say no more here and of the absolute destruction of his “Thousand Year Reich” of hate and death and slavery.

The scenes of frenzied activity as officers of the German Army try to determine the location and day of the invasion are interesting and reveling. As are the blasé indifference of Hitler’s cabal to ignore what is actually happening. The sloth, hubris and downright stupidity are almost beyond belief, yet they are true. There is actual film taken on the Normandy beaches on “D-Day”. It is grim. It is supposed to be. There is death. It happened. There is doubt from Eisenhower, Tedder and Montgomery and there is certainty too. You will enjoy literally a cast of thousands, each with a story to tell. And although acting each story is based on a real event. Some are heroic, futile, stupid, humorous and even unbelievable.

But why the “Longest Day”? German Field Marshal Rommel was the man in charge of the defense of the “West Wall” of Nazi Germany, directly under the senior and very correct, if elderly, Prussian Field Marshal von Rundstedt, overall in command of the Western front. One day on an inspection of the beach defenses, Rommel was heard to say to an aid: “Believe me Lang, the invasion, when it comes, will be for the Allies, as for Germany the Longest Day, the Longest Day”. Watch our DVD, read the book or buy your own copy. Do not enjoy this, it is not meant to be enjoyed. But remember. Always.

bill littlefield,

11/8/11

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

November 3, 2011

[Tricia]

This book has a hypnotic, magical feel, and beautiful descriptions. I have to say I found the secondary characters, especially the 3 children, a little more interesting than the main characters.  I hope the book will have a sequel that will explore the lives of those characters. But if you like magical fiction you should give this book a try.