Smofbabe's Life and Times Below are the 10 most recent journal entries recorded in the "Smofbabe" journal:

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June 8th, 2014
11:06 pm
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Book Review: _Rose Under Fire_
Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein is a companion book to her incredible Code Name Verity, also featuring a heroine who is a ferry pilot for the Air Transport Auxiliary delivering planes and pilots for the RAF. She's a young American volunteer who ends up captured in Germany and sent to the Ravensbrück concentration camp. Unlike the clever plotting and intricate story in Code Name Verity, this book lets you know early on that she survives, and seemed to have a bit more of a YA tone than the first book. Although the author clearly did a lot of research about life and survival in the concentration camp, I never fully believed in the main character's reactions to becoming a prisoner and dealing with life there. However, it's relatively well written and worth reading if you are not familiar with the subject, or the subject from the point of view of non-Jewish prisoners.

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June 6th, 2014
09:31 am
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Book Review
Still emotionally wrought from having just finished Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt, a book set in the late 80s about a niece whose beloved gay uncle has died of AIDS at a time when it was still mysterious and a stigma. The book has a lot more universal things to say about how we cope when people close to us die, sibling relationships, going from child to teenager, how families deal with change... really a powerful book in a lot of ways.

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April 8th, 2014
03:06 pm
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Captain America: The Winter Soldier
I'm not a big fan of superhero films but this wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be Review with spoilersCollapse ) Not great but not the worst of the superhero films.

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June 28th, 2013
07:48 am
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Her Highness's First Murder
I've been encountering so many awkwardly written historical mysteries lately that I thought I'd post about one that was actually well done: Her Highness's First Murder by Peg Herring. It's about the young Elizabeth I while she is still a neglected and cast-off princess and a murder she investigates with the help of a local physician's son and one of the king's guards. For a pleasant change, the historical background and mise en scène are well integrated and the mystery is decent. The only quibble I have is that the teenage protagonists seem a little too insightful and clever for their supposed ages even if you grant that people matured earlier in those days. Looking forward to reading the sequel.

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May 12th, 2013
04:07 pm
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Star Trek Into Darkness
I hated the clichéd plot, clumsy winks at the Star Trek canon, and speechifying rather than actual dialogue. The best reason to see it is Simon Pegg, and he's not on screen much, although Benedict Cumberbatch as the villain and Zachary Quinto as Spock are also very good. Cranked-up action sequences are manufactured every 10 or 15 minutes, and one sequence with jetpacks through space that could have been exhilarating loses its charm by being about twice as long as it needed to be. You're all going to see it anyway, I'm sure, but hopefully I've lowered your expectations.

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April 30th, 2013
09:52 pm
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Iron Man 3
Saw this the other night and wanted to make sure to post a review because for a change, we actually got a film before the US! Review with spoilersCollapse )

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March 17th, 2013
10:13 pm
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Oz the Great and Powerful
This prequel to The Wizard of Oz about a so-so carnival magician and con man who ends up as the powerful wizard and ruler of Oz has great production design and really impressive opening credits. However, I can't say as much for the script or the acting. They obviously were trying for melodrama and period dialogue but for that to work with today's audience, the actors themselves have to believe in it and sell it. Mila Kunis and Rachel Weisz as the two wicked witches are ok but Michelle Williams as Glinda is wimpy and to quote my favorite film reviewer, Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times about Franco's con man: "While having Franco start out this way is intentional, the actor is frankly too adept at being irritating, so much so that his presence makes it harder to enjoy the rest of the movie." Because of Franco's unceasing hamming it up, the sincere moments that this story of personal growth needs to really work just aren't believable.

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March 5th, 2013
10:58 am
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Anna Karenina
We went to see this mainly for the costumes, which was a good thing because the film itself dragged. The fantasy-into-reality-into fantasy just didn't work for us after a while - as an entry gimmick I thought it was fine but it got tiresome, although the production design and implementation are truly impressive. At first, I thought Jude Law was miscast but he grew into the part as the movie wore on. OTOH, Keira Knightley became less believable - intelligence just shines out of her and I think they needed someone a little more earthy. And the guy who played Vronsky (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) looked much too young and callow, which didn't help the believability of her throwing away everything for love either. Not a terrible film but a lot of potential gone to waste, I think.

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February 28th, 2013
04:45 pm
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Movies Galore
Saw several movies just before and during our travels. Reviews with spoilersCollapse )

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February 10th, 2013
10:27 am
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WWII Fiction Weekend
Totally unplanned, I ended up reading two books from the library this weekend that are set during WWII. ReviewsCollapse )

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