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Sunday, May 15, 2016

Death in the English Countryside

Title: Death in the English Countryside, Author: Sara Rosett

 Review of Death in the English Countryside by Sara Rosett

Overview from Location scout and Jane Austen aficionado, Kate Sharp, is thrilled when the company she works for lands the job of finding locations for a new film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, but then her boss, Kevin, fails to return from a scouting trip to England. Afraid that Kevin has slipped back into some destructive personal habits he struggles with, Kate travels to England to salvage Kevin's and the company's reputation before word gets out that he is missing.
Things go from bad to worse when Kate arrives in Nether Woodsmoor, a quaint village of golden stone cottages and rolling green hills, only to find no trace of Kevin except his abandoned luggage. Even the rumpled, easygoing local scout they consulted, Alex, doesn't know where Kevin might be. 

My Review:

I can’t be quite certain but I believe that this story falls into the cozy mystery genre and thus that is what I am labelling this as. The story begins with our protagonist, Kate Sharpe who works for a company that finds locations out in the real world where movie companies can shoot their movies. Kate comes into work one day only to discover that her boss Kevin has not yet returned to the office after a scouting trip to the English countryside—and what’s worse, he apparently did not use his return ticket.

Kate’s clandestine mission is to fly to England and find him all the while keeping his past alcohol problems under wraps so that their current client doesn’t bolt. Expecting to find him in a local pub somewhere hung-over, Kate is dismayed to learn that has been days since he has been seen and that his disappearance is looking less and less likely to be alcohol-related.

With the help of the location scout (Alex) that Kevin had been working with, she attempts to discover what really happened to him and convince the police to spend less time focusing on her as a potential suspect. Meanwhile she begins to wonder if her instincts about Alex’s innocence were not to be trusted after all as Inspector Quimby casts doubt on his alibi shortly after an unknown assailant makes an attempt on her own life.

This story was great. I really liked the characters as well as the plot itself. I believe it is the first book in a series and if I am right about that it should make a very interesting one at that. It would be unique to say the least to have a woman working for a film locations company as an amateur sleuth in a cozy mystery. It is different and refreshing though I would love to know where the author will find future situations for Kate to be exposed to other crime investigations.

The English village did not play out in the stereotypical way that I have often seen in the past. The villagers seemed generally kind to our main character but not nauseatingly so. In other words, I found the setting entirely believable.

Also, the story was clean. I don’t remember much in the way of foul language or sex scenes. The violence was minimal. I don’t even recall any blood though I am sure that there was some.

The plot was engaging enough to keep me guessing up to nearly the very end. It did not feel like the author left anything out. In the end, as Kate herself said, it was just a bunch of little things that didn’t add up and made her think twice.

I recommend this book for a good light-hearted read, a good summer read. It won’t take long to get through and it kept my attention throughout. As of this writing, it is not too expensive either. If you like this genre, you’ll probably want to check it out.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

The Martian: The book vs. the movie

Title: The Martian, Author: Andy Weir 

 The Martian: The book vs. the movie
Sometime back I said I would discuss The Martian book versus the movie version. It took longer than I thought but here it is as promised. I should start by stating where I stand. I am generally of the old school, that is, the idea that the book is always better than the film, well maybe not always in my case. I do have to say that it generally is in most cases. However, there are a few exceptions; I think therefore when viewing, I try to give the movie a fair shot.

The book

If you want to know more about the book and what I thought of it read my review in the last post. I don’t want to reiterate what I have already said about it except as it relates to a direct comparison or contrast of the movie. To sum it up I will say that I generally liked it with a few exceptions.

How the movie stacks up: differences

First off, the movie strips most of the swear words and fbombs out. For people like me who don’t like fbombs in particular, this is a good thing. As part of my school work we had discussions about the perceived efforts of the film industry to make this movie family friendly. Some were against it because they thought it took away something from the character of Mark Watney. I don’t agree with them, I felt it made it a bit easier to like him.


That brings me to my next point, the casting of the movie. Matt Damon was a great choice for the role of Mark Watney. He added a certain charm to it. I wasn’t as thrilled about some of the other members of the cast. I liked Kristen Wiig as the PR rep. but did feel like they drastically shrunk her role from the one that her character plays in the book.

However for me the biggest negative was how they changed the ethnicity of Dr. Kapoor. In recent years we have finally begun to see more roles for Indian Americans or people whose background originates in India. The fact that they took that away really bugged me.  Yes, they had another Indian guy in there but he had a much smaller role. Plus, Dr. Kapoor had one of the best lines in the book, the funniest, that related directly to the Hindu religion of the character. It then obviously had to be taken out when they changed his ethnicity. So sad.


My recommendation for this movie is that you see it. It is certainly worth taking a look at, even if some aspects of it are disappointing. Those who like some of the original characters from the book might find it a little disappointing but I am preparing you for it ahead of time so hopefully it won’t be a big shock. As far as book versus movie, I guess I am going to have to root for the book though it is difficult for me to do so with all the fbombs but overall, it tells the better story.

Watch the trailer here: