Friday, 15 January 2010

Two books and a movie

Not reading but connected in way - I went to see the new Sherlock Holmes movie yesterday and thoroughly enjoyed it. I agree with a few people in that I don't see these movies (I believe there's to be a sequel) becoming the definitive Holmes... that accolade belongs to the version with Jeremy Brett, in my opinion. But this new version, with Robert Downey Junior and Jude Law as Holmes and Watson, was huge fun and I loved it. I was particularly impressed with the sets - wonderful grimey, London slums, amazing street scenes which looked as though they'd actually used London, and then suddenly you got a view right down the Thames from one of the bridges with the old buildings and sailing barges. Fantastic. The plot was a bit so-so (though quite acceptable) but was more than made up for by good performances from Robert Downey Jr. (excellent English accent), Jude Law (have never really been a fan but he was good in this), Mary Reilly (Caroline Bingley in the 2005 film version of Pride and Prejudice) as Mary Morstan, and Geraldine James as Mrs. Hudson. And the dog was wonderful too!! Can't wait for the next one now.

Now on to some books. Two this time, Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs and The Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman.

First up : Iron Kissed.

This is book three in Patricia Briggs's series about Mercy Thompson who isn't a werewolf but a 'walker' who can change into a coyote at will. Mercy owns her own car mechanic business after having been brought up with a werewolf pack. She moved away to be independant but ended up nextdoor to Adam Hauptman, the alpha male of the local 'three cities' werewolf pack in Washington state.

This story sees Mercy trying to prove the innocence of her former boss, Zee. He's a fae, a group of beings shrouded in mystery, but Mercy starts to learn more than she ever wanted to know about them when she's asked to their reservation to use her coyote senses to sniff out the serial murderer of five fae. Zee is arrested but Mercy knows he's innocent. How can she prove it? Add to this the fact that her life is complicated enough as she knows the time is fast approaching when she will have to choose between alpha male, Adam, and Samuel - her childhood sweetheart from her old pack. How this is to be achieved without serious bloodshed, she has no idea.

I can't overstate how much I love this series. I particularly liked this one where more is learned about the fae and their history; Briggs is a very imaginative author and deals with this very well indeed. There's a nice bit of sexual tension in this one too as Mercy deals with her feelings and the repercussions of choosing one werewolf over another. Truthfully, I like the fact that these books are not over sexualised like some of the current paranormal romances; I much prefer tension and hints to graphic descriptions. Book four is already on my tbr pile and there's a new one out in March I believe.

Next up: The Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman.

A young girl, in a fit of jealousy, wishes her mother dead as she goes out the door to celebrate her thirtieth birthday. The mother dies that night in a car accident and the girl turns off her feelings, thinking that when she wishes something awful, it will come true. The girl and her brother are brought up by their grandmother until she dies, when the brother, Ned, by then moved to Florida, persuades his sister to move from New Jersey to be close to him and his wife. Not long after she moves she's struck by lightning, which causes some peculiar physical reactions. She's forced to join a lightning victims study where she hears about Lazarus Jones who was struck, died for forty minutes, and then came back to life. Seeking him out she discovers a man whose very touch burns anyone who touches him, but depsite this she embarks on an intense love affair with Lazarus. One night, while working alone in the library, she sees her sister-in-law drive up in her nightie and deposit a book in the overnight book-bin. It's a book about ways to die, a subject she has become an expert in, but what is her sister-in-law doing with such a book? Does her brother know about it? And how can she find the answers to these questions and still maintain her ability to feel nothing and love no one?

This book was actually a random grab from the library but just recently I saw that Robin at A Fondness For Reading had chosen it as her book of the year. I can see why. It's beautifully written, almost heart-breakingly so, and in the first person which is a particular love of mine. We never do discover the girl's name and it wasn't until I'd finished the book that I realised it... that's good writing! Interspersed with the beautiful prose are fascinating facts about people who've been struck by lightning. This is a sort of a fantasy book so some will be make-believe I'm sure, but I suspect there's a grounding of truth there too and I found that fascinating. And of course I always love a book about secrets and there are many in this story. Truthfully, it is rather a sad tale but at the same time ultimately uplifting - I cried during the final chapters and not many books give me cause to do that. Superb, and certain to finish among my favourite books at the end of the year. Has anyone got any other Hoffman recs?


Anonymous said...

Cath, thanks for sharing your thoughts on the movie and books. I haven't seen Sherlock Holmes yet, but I rarely go to the movie theater. I prefer to watch at home and so have to wait until things come out on DVD.

I'm going to put The Ice Queen on hold at my library. I like the sound of it.

Kailana said...

I enjoyed both books. I haven't seen Sherlock Holmes yet, though

Robin said...

Oh Cath, I'm so glad you liked it, too. You described it perfectly, and I, too, found it to be both sad and uplifting, beautiful and poignant. Thanks for mention.

Sarah said...

I read Hoffman's A Blue Diary a few years back and was impressed. The Ice Queen sounds good, so I will look out for it.

Cath said...

Kay: by all accounts you won't have long to wait as the dvd may be out by the end of March.

If you decide to read The Ice Queen I'll be interested to hear what you think. To my mind it was a fairly unique kind of book.

I just ordered In the Shadow of the Glacier - am so looking forward to reading it.

Kailana: it was nice to read two books, one after the other, that were so good.

Robin: I was so surprised to find that one of my random library grabs was your book of the year that I just had to read it soon to see what I thought. It's lovely not to be disappointed and to be able to agree that the a book is indeed wonderful.

Sarah: I will check the library for A Blue Diary, thanks for the rec. Yes, keep an eye out for The Ice Queen, it's well worth it.

DesLily said...

of course I am thrilled about the movie..still hope I get to see it too but who knows?.. also hoping to see the new Harrison Ford movie due out soon also starring Brandon Frazier...I'm glad they thought him good enough to play with Ford!

sorry I haven't read any of Hoffmans books

Vintage Reading said...

This sounds really good. I keep hearing the name Hoffman but I've never read her. Adding it to my list.

Susan said...

Me too, I saw the film and thoroughly enjoyed it!!! Agree with everything you say about the film. And so glad you are enjoying the Patricia Briggs series so much! I can hardly wait for the 4th to be in paperback. Lovely post, Cath!

Cath said...

Pat: there's a new movie with Harrison Ford and Brendan Frazer? What is it????

Nicola: Judging by your taste in books I think you would really like Alice Hoffman's writing. I might be wrong but it's just a feeling.

Susan: wasn't the movie the best fun? I was smitten by the whole thing (but most especially by RDJ, LOL.)

I think Mercy Thompson is probably my favourite books series at the moment. I already have book 4 in paperback so imagine it must be available there too.

Vipula said...

I think I should go and watch the Sherlock Holmes movie. I dont want to compare the books and the movie world..but the trailers did seem to indicate character assasination of sherlock holmes. But I believe the movie must have been fun. thanks for your review

Cath said...

Vipula: the new movie is not a traditional depiction of Holmes, but is well worth seeing, nevertheless, for its sheer energy, fun and amazing sets. And I always think that anything that encourages people to look at the original books is a good thing, and I know that many people are now reading Holmes who otherwise would not.

Nan said...

I'm one of those who loved the movie, too. I'm not a big Holmes reader or watcher but this one really worked for me. I just recently read in the new P.D. James book, Talking About Detective Fiction, about 'his habit of firing off his revolver in the sitting room to pattern the wall with bullet holes.' She also notes that he was 'an expert boxer and swordsman.' Oh, not a big Jude Law fan, eh? Swoon, I love him. The Holiday, Alfie, The Talented Mr. Ripley - all favorites of mine.

The Hoffman book sounds very interesting. Isn't this something all of us as children think about - the idea of our words having such power?

Anonymous said...

Cath, I nominated you for an award. Come on over and see.

Cath said...

Nan: yes, a few people think there's too much 'Boy's Own' adventure/swashbuckling in the new Holmes movie but if you read the books it's all there, just not gone into in detail. I loved what they did with the movie. No, not previously a JL fan but I loved his Watson very much indeed and know he's a talented actor.

Kay: thanks for nominating/tagging me for your meme. I'm out all day today but have three free days coming up and will have fun with that then.