The Witch Of Painted Sorrows Book Review

Running away from our problems never solved anything. Running away usually creates more problems. But what happens when we run away and instead of adding to our troubles, we find a way to face them?

In The Witch Of Painted Sorrows, by M.J. Rose, Sandrine Salome is running from her life in New York City. More specifically, she is in mourning for her father and running from her cold, cruel husband. She runs to Paris, the home of her grandmother, defying the order to stay away. Sandrine discovers that her grandmother’s lavish, loving home is closed up. Her grandmother is not just any woman, she is famed and respected courtesan, known for taking lovers from only the highest levels of society.

While in Paris, Sandrine meets Julien Duplessi, a young architect who is as eager as she is to discover the secrets of the past. As Sandrine begins to understand the mysteries that have been hidden from her, she is possessed by La Lune, a 16th century courtesan. But will La Lune hurt or help Sandrine?

This book is a slow burn of a read. In most cases, a book that is a slow burn to read is not bad. In this case, it was too slow of a burn. I just wish that the author would have gotten to the end faster instead of having just too many breadcrumbs for the reader to follow. Other reviews have lavished praise on this novel. While it was enjoyable to read, I would not be so quick to say that it was the best book of the year.

Do I recommend it? Possibly.




My Pet Peeve

The New York City Public Transportation System, for all of it’s problems, is wonderful.  There are very few cities in the world, where for one fare,  a passenger can travel from one end of the city the other.

But I have a pet peeve about my fellow riders.

We are paying for 1, count them, one seat. That means that for one fare each rider is entitled to one seat.

My pet peeve is when my fellow riders do one or more of the following:

  • Put their bag on the seat next to them or casually let their bags hang over the next seat.
  • Straddle two seats.
  • Spread their legs wide in a man or woman spreading position as if they were home, relaxing on their recliner.

I saw all of this yesterday on my way home. They were lucky that it was a Sunday night and the train was mostly empty. Had it been Monday morning, they would have been forced to make room for their fellow passengers (shocking, I know).

I know I am not the perfect passenger, I have transgressed a few rules. But it still my pet peeve when two (or three) seats are taken over for no good reason.

Remaining Positive While Job Hunting

Ask anyone who is looking for a job and they will tell you that the technical aspects of the process are easy.

Log in to whatever job search sites you use, input the keywords of your preferred profession, and hit the apply button for the job you feel you are right for.

It’s easy.

What is not so easy is remaining positive. For every 10 or 15 jobs that a job seeker may apply for, he or she may only receive two or three calls or emails to set up interviews. After a while, this process can feel demeaning and degrading. What is the point of continually applying if the only response is crickets?

Passover is coming up this weekend. Passover is the story of Moses, a man born into the household of the Egyptian Pharaoh. What he does not know is that he is not the son of the Pharaoh, but of a Jewish slave. His mother sent her son down the river in a basket to prevent Pharaoh’s soldiers from killing him.  As an adult, Moses learns of his true origins and will lead the slaves to freedom. But that journey will not be easy.

Sometimes, we need to travel through the desert a little to get to the promised land. We also have to have a little faith in whatever higher power we believe in (if we do believe in any specific higher power).

I have faith that I will find another job, I believe that my G-d somehow has a hand in this process. I just need to travel through the desert for a little while.


Mr. Selfridge Series 3 Episode 1 Review

*-This review contains spoilers from last night’s episode. Read at your own risk if you have not seen it.

After what seems like forever, the doors of Selfridges have opened once more.

The season starts with the interesting juxtaposition of life and death. The opening scene is the funeral of Rose Selfridge (Frances O’Connor).  The story then jumps ahead to the wedding of Rosalie Selfridge (Kara Tointon) to Serge de Bolotoff (Leon Ockenden). What seems like young love will turn into a bumpy road, not just for Rosalie, but for the entire family. There are rumors that Harry (Jeremy Piven) is considering buying a piece of empty land in West London and using that land to build an airline hanger. Nancy Webb (Kelly Adams) convinces Harry to use that land build homes for veterans who are begging on the street.

Among the staff, things have changed. Agnes Towler (Aisling Loftus) and Henri LeClair (Gregory Fitoussi) are as happy as they were at the close of the last series, but the residual effects from the war are still with Henri. Miss Mardle (Amanda Abbington) is not sure if she wanted to return to the store after a prolonged absence, but the store needs her. Kitty (Amy Beth Hayes) and Frank (Samuel West) are also newlyweds while Mr. Grove (Tom Goodman Hill) and Mr. Crabb (Ron Cook) worry about the store’s bottom line and the emotional roller coaster that their boss is going through.

I like this show. Harry is a dynamic, multifaceted character with many layers.  As the seasons have progressed and the store has brought success to Harry, it has not changed him. But life has. The death of his wife, his children growing up,  the war, the changes in staff and the changes in their lives has made the show more watchable as it has progressed.

I recommended this show from the first episode and I will continue to recommend it.

Mr. Selfridge airs Sunday at 9pm on PBS.

Judith Scott-Bound And Unbound

Art, in it’s purest form, is a form of expression. While some artists have trouble communicating in their daily lives, their work speaks volumes.

Judith Scott did not have happy childhood. She was one half of a set of fraternal twin girls. While her sister Joyce was born healthy, Judith was born deaf, mute and with down syndrome. Her parents institutionalized her at an early age. In 1987, Judith joined the Creative Arts Center. There, she began a new life as an artist. Her art combines yarn, pieces of wood and other materials to expose the true person within.

An exhibit of her art will be at the Brooklyn Museum up until tomorrow. What is fascinating to me is that her art is full of color. It is vibrant, alive, sometimes dark, but fascinating.  It is unconventional, but extremely powerful. Her art is a symbol of her feelings as not just a woman of her generation, but a disabled woman for whom life was that much more difficult for.

I highly recommend this exhibit.


The Nightingale Book Review

It can be said, that it is the darkest times in our lives that will often force us to do things that we may never have previously considered doing.

Earlier this year, best selling author Kristin Hannah published The Nightingale.  The novel starts in France in 1939. Vianne and Isabelle are sisters, but they are different as night and day. Vianne, the elder by ten years, is the practical, reliable sister. Married with a young daughter, she is content to live as she is. Isabelle, at eighteen, is hotheaded and often thinks before she speaks.

When war breaks out and the Nazis invade France, Vianne watches her husband join the other men to fight for their country.  But the French are no match for the Germans and Vianne, like many women, is forced to house a German soldier. Isabelle falls in love with a man who will ultimately betray her.  Both Isabelle and Vianne will join the fight against the Germans as they both can, risking their lives and the lives of the ones they love.

This book is nothing short of amazing. I could not put it down. The details are tangible. The story is compelling. The relationship between the sisters is vivid.

It is so far, one of the best books that I have read this year.

I highly recommend this book.

Making Of A Lady Review

Money can be a wonderful thing. Money puts food on the table, provides us with a home and enables us to put on clean clothes every day. But money can sometimes bring out the worst in people.

In The Making Of A Lady (2012), Emily Seton Fox (Lydia Wilson) is short on cash, but long on intelligence. After she loses her position as secretary to Lady Maria Byrne (Joanna Lumley), she receives a marriage proposal. The marriage proposal is from Lord James Walderhurst (Linus Roache), Lady Byrne’s widowed nephew. What starts of as marriage of convenience quickly becomes a marriage of affection and respect.

James, who was previously an officer in the military, is called back to India, leaving his new wife alone with only the staff for company. As soon as her husband leaves, Emily discovers that she is pregnant.  James’s cousin Captain Alec Osborn (James D’Arcy) and his Indian born wife, Hester (Hasina Haque) come on what seems to be a friendly visit. But all is not what it seems.  If James dies without an heir, Alec will inherit. Odd things start to happen and Emily begins to suspect that Alec and Hester will do anything, including murder, to inherit.

Based on the book The Making Of A Marchioness by Frances Hodgson Burnett, this 96  minute program combines romance, drama and a good amount of suspense.

I recommend it.

Flashback Friday-Avatar (2009)

The clash between doing what is right and doing what we are told to do is an old one. It also makes for a great story.

The 2009 movie,  Avatar, is at heart, the story of that internal struggle.

Former Marine Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) is a paraplegic. When his brother is killed, Jake takes his brothers spot. His brother was preparing to travel to the distant world of Pandora. The Na’vi, the native humanoid like species has called Pandora home for generations. In return for spinal surgery, Jake goes along with the plan of industrialist Parker Selfridge (Giovanni Ribisi), whose intentions are less than noble.

Gathering intelligence on the Na’vi, Jake goes undercover. But things become complicated as Jake begins to integrate into Na’vi society and forms a relationship with Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), the daughter of the Na’vi chief.

As I have stated in previous posts, I’m not a fan of movie makers using special effects to move a story along because the screenplay is weak. What director James Cameron knows how to do very well as a film maker is to special effects wisely.  While most of the movie is heavily reliant on special effects,  it is not used a stop gap where plot holes exist. Essentially, the story can be boiled down to Dances With Wolves set in an alternate universe. The overarching theme that Cameron is making is that we need to respect the environment and we need to respect our traditions. It is easy to throw them aside when the opportunities for personal and financial gain come our way.  It is much harder to restore that environment and those traditions that we have previously destroyed.

I highly recommend this movie.

Throwback Thursday-12 Angry Men (1957)

There is something about a jury room that brings out the best or the worst in us. 12 strangers have been randomly chosen to decide if another stranger is innocent or guilty of the charges that they have been accused of.

Based on the play of the same name, 12 Angry Men was adapted for the screen in 1957.

The audience does not know the names of the jurors or the lives they will lead when they leave the courthouse. They are known by their numbers. The accused is a young man who is charged with killing his father.  Now these men must decide if the accused is guilty or innocent. The first round of voting is fairly simple. All but one of the jurors, #8 (Henry Fonda) believes that the accused is guilty.  In the interest of returning to their everyday lives quickly, the rest of jurors try to convince #8 that he is wrong. What seems like an open and shut case turns into a revelation of personal prejudice, hidden scars and our inability to see beyond our own lives.

This play and the adapted film is a masterclass in acting. The drama is heightened from the first page and does let up until the last page. I have seen the movie and subsequent revivals on stage several. No matter how many times I see it, it is still one of the best plays ever written.

I highly recommend both.


Throwback Thursday-V For Vendetta (2005)

Science fiction and fantasy often has a way of revealing our fears and our dreams.

Set in the future, V for Vendetta (2005) is the story of a freedom fighter, V (Hugo Weaving), who wears a Guy Fawkes mask. V is fighting against a fascist government that has overtaken England. Evey (Natalie Portman) is rescued by V from the secret police. Together, they will become allies to overthrow the government.

Based on the graphic novel by Alan Moore and David Lloyd, this movie is not for children. It  asks some very tough questions about individualism vs. conforming and individual freedom vs. safety via complete government control. It is very dark and has some very disturbing moments. But there light at the end of the tunnel for these characters.

I recommend it.

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