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review 2020-04-30 20:31
Barbie in Television, Barbie #8 by Marianne Duest
Barbie in Television - Marianne Duest,Robert Patterson

Willows High is abuzz with the news: Juniors and Seniors can take a month of school to get a job! Of course, there are stipulations. One must have at least a B average and agree to write a report about their experience.

 

Barbie's well-connected parents know a couple in Florida who would only be too happy to host Barbie for the month and can pull strings at a television station down there. Barbie is also excited, because there's an exotic animal preserve where Midge could get work as well!

 

'Barbie in Television' follows the typical format for these books: Barbie gets spectacular opportunity, travels to an exciting location, crushes the opportunity like a boss and dates cute boy. I was hoping that the tease at the start of the book meant that Midge got to have some fun as well, but no dice. It turns out Midge was so focused on cheer-leading in the fall she let her grades slip and doesn't quite make it to the B+ her parents require, so she is denied permission to go on the trip.

 

Duest at least has Midge call Barbie out on her privilege: pointing out Barbie's internship in New York and being a cover girl for a teen magazine for God's sakes, but, Midge is forced to grin and bear it and be left behind in Willows with Ken and the rest. She also has to admit that its her own fault for trying to have everything the way Barbie does.

 

Carefree, Barbie is free to make new friends. Her companions are a Brazilian exchange student, Blanquita, who helps Barbie with her elocution and a hotshot baseball rookie, Danny Folger, who's on the cusp of going pro with the "Green Socks"

 

Barbie stands up to some serious toxic masculine behavior here, ignoring bad pickup lines and unapologeticly doing her job. She, of course, fixes him later, but we'll take the small victories the writers inserted into these books. Another highlight is working woman Pat Larkin, the station's program director who works full time and counts on her husband to take the roast out of the freezer.

 

Other than Midge's disappointment, the real reason this book gets a heavy star reduction is a "romantic" legend of a Native American warrior falling so in love with the daughter of a Spanish conquistador that after her death she is taken out into the bay and the warrior, plus 50-100 other braves sink their canoes and kill themselves so they can guard her resting place in the afterlife. This legend is the basis of an exciting festival and parade in the Florida town that Barbie visits and is the focus of her teen journalism. Is this based on reality? Because, wow, that's horrible. It certainly sounds like something midcentury America would celebrate.

 

Other key plot points involve a haunted ruin of a hotel and a mysterious hobo whose house Barbie and Blanquita break into.

 

 

Two versions of 'Casuals' #782 from 1961-1964. The striped shirt is a later version. They're missing small gold car keys and I left off their red hats to show off their glorious, reflocked hair. Jon filled in the bald spots and followed the original pattern so they look mint!

 

Barbie Random House Novels:

 

Next: 'Barbie, Midge and Ken'

 

Previous: 'Barbie's Secret'

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review 2019-12-16 18:18
A look behind the curtain
Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets - David Simon

Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets by David Simon is a work of non-fiction about the Homicide Unit of Baltimore's Police Department during one year in the 1980's when he was a journalist for the Baltimore Sun. This book was actually the inspiration for the TV show Homicide: Life on the Streets so if you've seen that show you might recognize some of the characters (albeit with different names and ethnicity in some cases). Simon focuses on a few of the key cases that the unit investigated during the year he observed (although it was more like became entrenched in their cases and lives). He managed to both show the very best of what it means to be a sensitive, thorough homicide detective and the lengths that they were willing to take to close out their cases (it's often about the closeout rate). The dark underbelly of the city, its inhabitants, and the men (and lone woman) tasked with solving those most heinous of crimes is laid bare in stark detail. These men (and one lone woman who was rarely a focus in the novel) are distinctly human with foibles like all the rest. Vulgarity, racism, sexism, and a general callousness permeate the department. (Baltimore was none too pleased with the portrayal of their city by the way.) Simon shows that not all cases have a tidy ending and in fact could remain unsolved well past the detective's tenure with the unit. If you're looking for a neat police procedural then you'll be disappointed with this book but if you're interested in the investigative process itself you've hit the jackpot. 5/10

 

A/N: Keep in mind when this book was written because there are definitely some problematic issues such as racist slurs, derogatory attitudes towards people of color, sexist asides, and general ickiness that made me shudder. I can't be sure how much of this was a product of the times and/or how much is just a part of Simon's character but it was off-putting in the extreme.

 

What's Up Next: Cool Japan Guide: Fun in the Land of Manga, Lucky Cats, and Ramen by Abby Denson

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Miss D & Me: Life with the Invincible Bette Davis by Kathryn Sermak (with Danielle Morton)

 

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2019-10-20 02:34
Great choice for a Halloween read
A Discovery of Witches - Deborah Harkness

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness ticked all of my boxes. There's werewolves, daemons, vampires, and of course witches with the main setting of the story set at Oxford University and the Bodleian Library. (There are also side plot lines in Scotland and the U.S. but the most detailed descriptions are those that happen at Oxford.) Our main character is Diana Bishop who comes from a long line of witches but who has decided to turn her back on her heritage in order to lead a "normal life". Unfortunately, life has other plans for her. When she calls up a manuscript at the Bodleian it turns out that there are hidden messages in the pages which only she can see...because she's the only one who's been able to successfully call up the book in centuries. Suddenly the entire community of supernatural creatures is very interested in her but none more so than a vampire named Matthew Clairmont...

 

Part paranormal/supernatural conspiracy theory mystery and part burning hot forbidden romance this book hooked me but good. The only reason I haven't completely dived into the second book is because this is one hefty piece of work at over 600 pages and my TRL is about 5,700 miles long. Rest assured, I will be continuing this trilogy...even if I didn't particularly like the overly complicated plot in the last third of the book. 

 

Oh and did I mention that it's been made into a TV series? Cause it absolutely has and the guy playing Matthew is scarily accurate to what I pictured when reading this book. O_O 10/10

 

What's Up Next: Strange Sight by Syd Moore

 

What I'm Currently Reading: The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2019-05-05 19:21
Wonderful illustrations, gloriously nostalgic and charming
The Golden Age of Science Fiction: A Journey into Space with 1950s Radio, TV, Films, Comics and Books - John Wade

My thanks to Rosie Croft and to Pen & Sword for sending me a hardback copy of this book, which I freely chose to review, and I recommend to fans of the genre (the illustrations alone are a delight and worth recommending).

This is a book at very personal for the author (Wade explains early on why he chose the 1950s in particular, and although I agree with him, I am sure many might not) and at the same time packed with information that will delight casual readers and also those looking for anecdotes and a quick and easy catalogue of resources about the science-fiction genre in the 1950s. I am not an expert in science-fiction, and although I suspect that those who are might not find anything truly new here, there are nuggets of information and also the personal details and anecdotes collected by the author that help bring to life some of the lesser known facts about the individuals who played an important part in making the genre important and popular, especially in the UK in the 1950s.

The book is divided into five chapters that delve into science-fiction in different popular media: radio, television, films, books, and comics and magazines. As I have already mentioned, the book’s focus is on the UK, although it also includes the USA, but I felt the amount of detail included about British radio and TV programmes is one of the strong points of the book. Not having been around in the 1950s and growing up elsewhere, I was fascinated by the information about how the radio programmes came to be (I am a radio fan, and I’m always keen on learning more about it) and also how British television worked in its early years. Imagining trying to broadcast a science-fiction story life in a studio (in black-and-white, of course) makes one’s mind boggle in this era of computer-generated special effects and high-tech, and I loved the anecdotes and the pictures about it. It felt like travelling back in time.

I was more familiar with the information about films (although there are many mentioned I’ve never watched, and I’ll be on the lookout for in the future), and books (Wade chooses to talk in more detail about John Wyndham, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke and Ray Bradbury, with mentions of many other writers as well), but even within those subjects I discovered things I didn’t know and kept writing down the titles of books and stories to try and get hold of. The chapter on comics and magazines talks more about the genre in the USA, the differences with the British scene (and the difficulties some of the magazines had due to the somewhat “lurid” covers, at least to the British taste of the time), and also the crossover from one medium to another (already evident when magazine serials moved onto the radio, or popular radio programmes ended up on the telly).

I’ve mentioned the illustrations, and as you can guess from the cover, these are wonderful. There are pictures, drawings, movie posters, book and magazine covers, comic strips… Although there isn’t a full bibliography (I suspect much of the information comes from the author’s own archives), there is detailed information about most of the illustrations, in case readers want to use them in their own research.

Wade has a conversational and easy writing style, and he is happy to share his own opinions and memories of programmes, books, comics, and his personal experiences with those involved as well, and it can easily and quickly be read from cover to cover, it would also work perfectly well as a book to pick up, look at the illustrations, and read about whatever piques the curiosity, or simply enjoy the imagination of the artists of the era and compare some of the images with later reality.

This is a book that will bring joy to many people, and not only to those who are into science-fiction, but also readers who want to relive their memories of the time, or who have become attached to the programmes or the stories in later years (Quartermass, Dan Dare, The Lost Planet, Superman, The Day of the Triffids, The Eagle and many others). And anybody who might be looking for a source of casual information (writers, for example) will also enjoy this easy-to-read resource.  I am not sure everybody will finish the book convinced that the Fifties were the golden age of science fiction, but I bet anybody reading it will be delighted.

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review 2018-10-22 18:45
THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE on Netflix-Review

 

I'll admit it-I was leery when I heard that Netflix was adapting this to a television show. It's one of my favorite novels of all time and in my mind there was no way any TV show was going to live up to this book. 

I was wrong. 

 

It doesn't exactly live up to the book-it creates its own story, one loosely related to the original, one respectful of the original, but also one that deserves praise in its own right. I say respectful, because the character names are almost all straight from the book, but the characters they represent are all different, other than Mr. and Mrs. Dudley.

(They were and remain the caretakers of Hill House. They do not stay past nightfall, so no one will hear you scream in the night) I say it deserves praise because of the reasons I've listed below. 

 

 

The cast, the music, the cinematography, the writing, (sometimes quoting the best of the novel), even the opening sequence: all of it was incredibly moving, scary, heartbreaking,  and in the end...BEAUTIFUL. Simply, beautiful.

 

The performances, by all the players, both young and adult, were phenomenal. 

 

The characters from left to right:

Theo, Hugh, (the dad), Shirley, Luke, Eleanor, (Nell, her back is to us), Stephen, and Olivia. 

 

The characters as adults, from left to right:

Nell, Shirley, Luke, Hugh, (this is young Hugh), Oliva, Theo and Stephen.

 

As the older Hugh, an extraordinary Timothy Hutton. He knocked this out of the park. 

(Like my beloved Red Sox did this year, but that's another post!)

 

That red door! That damned red door. 

 

 

 

 

 

Created by Mike Flanagan, this is possibly the best horror show on television, ever. Period.

 

The cinematography, (do you still call it that when it's a TV show?),  the long uncut camera shot in episode 6 (20+ minutes!), was a masterpiece. 

 

The set decorator-I don't even know what to say. That house was gorgeous,(in the scenes which took place when the family was living there.) The furniture, the stained glass, the portraits, the clocks, the rugs-all of it perfectly placed. 

 

This show was so damn good it's caused me to write my very first television series review. I cannot recommend it highly enough! No, it's not the book, however, it treats the book respectfully, and even quotes it from time to time. That said, THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE on NETFLIX is a masterpiece that stands on its own. 

 

My highest recommendation!

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