martes, 29 de enero de 2013

The Language of Flowers

The Language of Flowers
4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  31,102 ratings  ·  5,740 reviews
A mesmerizing, moving, and elegantly written debut novel, The Language of Flowers beautifully weaves past and present, creating a vivid portrait of an unforgettable woman whose gift for flowers helps her change the lives of others even as she struggles to overcome her own troubled past.

The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it’s been more useful in communicating grief, mistrust, and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster-care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings.

Now eighteen and emancipated from the system, Victoria has nowhere to go and sleeps in a public park, where she plants a small garden of her own. Soon a local florist discovers her talents, and Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But a mysterious vendor at the flower market has her questioning what’s been missing in her life, and when she’s forced to confront a painful secret from her past, she must decide whether it’s worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness.

Oscar Nominations

Oscar Nominations

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences surprised no one Thursday when it nominated “Lincoln” for Best Picture. The Civil War film received more Academy Award nominations than any other film released last year.

Academy voters will likely have a difficult time making their choices. There are many excellent movies to choose from -- and some great performances -- in a year that produced more money for Hollywood than any other year.

“Lincoln” received a total of 12 award nominations, including one for best picture. “Life of Pi” was second, with 11 Oscar nominations.
Quvenzhane Wallis as "Hushpuppy" on the set of Beasts of The Southern Wild (Photo: Fox Searchlight / Jess Pinkham)
The film “Silver Linings Playbook” -- about a man rebuilding his life after a stay in a mental hospital -- received nominations for best director, best movie and best adapted screenplay. It also was nominated for all four major acting awards.

There were nine other best picture nominees, including “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” “Zero Dark Thirty,” “Amour,” “Argo,” “Les Miserables” and “Django Unchained.”

The James Bond movie “Skyfall” received five Oscar nominations. That is more than any other Bond film. But, like every other movie starring the British secret agent over the past 50 years, it was not nominated for “Best Picture.” The second-biggest worldwide ticket seller -- the Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises” -- did not receive any nominations at all.  

​​The star of “Lincoln” -- Daniel Day-Lewis -- and the star of “Les Miserables” -- Hugh Jackman -- were nominated for the Best Actor award. Also nominated were Denzel Washington for his performance in “Flight,” Bradley Cooper for “Silver Linings Playbook” and Joaquin Phoenix for his work in “The Master.”

Jessica Chastain was nominated for Best Actress for her work in “Zero Dark Thirty.” Also nominated were Jennifer Lawrence for “Silver Linings Playbook” and Naomi Watts for “The Impossible,” about a family caught in a tsunami. Nine year old Quvenzhane Wallis, of “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” was another nominee. She is the youngest person to ever receive an Oscar nomination. “Amour” star, Emmanuelle Riva was nominated for Best Actress. At 85, she is the oldest person ever to be nominated.

The 5,856 voting members of the Academy can start voting February eighth. The 85th Academy Awards will be presented February 24th in Hollywood.

“Les Miserables” Soundtrack

This week the album from the new movie “Les Miserables” went to number two on Billboard’s Top 200 albums chart. The recording was just released on December 21st. Some critics are wondering if the fast-rising movie soundtrack will oust Taylor Swift’s album “Red” from the number one position. Faith Lapidus has more on “Les Miserables” and some of its best performances.

The movie is based on a Broadway musical that was, in turn, based on the book “Les Miserables” by the nineteenth century French writer Victor Hugo. The story tells about the troubled lives of several poor, unlucky people.
Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean
One is Jean Valjean, a criminal hiding his identity from the police as he struggles to become a better person. Hugh Jackman plays Valjean in the movie. Here he performs “The Confrontation” with Russell Crowe, who plays the police inspector seeking Valjean.

Anne Hathaway also stars in “Les Miserables” as the poor, single mother Fantine. Critics strongly praised her acting in the film. But they seemed even more excited by Hathaway singing, especially in this song, “I Dreamed a Dream.”

The songs in the film “Les Miserables” were not pre-recorded as they are in most movie musicals. All the singing was done live on the movie set during filming.

Two actors perform the part of Cosette, Fantine’s daughter. Ten year old Isabelle Allen plays Cosette as a little girl. “Les Miserables” is the young Briton’s first film.

We leave you an interview wit  Isabelle Allen, the girl who sings “Castle on a Cloud” from the film “Les Miserables.” 


sábado, 19 de enero de 2013

10 questions for Toni Morrison

In today's edition of El Pais there's an article about Nobel Prize-winner Toni Morrison's latest novel, Home (2012), and a Time magazine video interview from 2008. Morrison won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993. Her long list of awards also includes the Pulitzer Prize in 1988.

Here's the video of the 10 questions series.

You can read a simplified scrip of the interview here.

You can also see a short slide show on her life and career here.

Song of Solomon (1977), Morrison's 3rd novel, is available at our library.

domingo, 13 de enero de 2013

Best books and best sellers 2012

Our first entry of 2013 is about last year's books. In December magazines and newspapers published their best-book lists. Digital Book World also announced the best-selling ebooks of the year. The most popular: the Fifty Shades trilogy, followed by the Hunger Games trilogy. Surprise: the critics' preferences were different form the public's choices, none of these titles appear in their lists.

Not that there are many coincidences among the critics, but let me write about one of them: Hillary Mantel's Bring Up the Bodies, winner of the 2012 Man Booker Prize. What's special about her is that she also won the Booker Prize in 2009 for Wolf Hall (available at our library). She can add these to a long list of awards, which includes more than a dozen.

Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies are part of the Thomas Cromwell Trilogy, about King Henry VIII's secretary. Cromwell helped the king break with Rome and marry Ann Boleyn. If you think you've had enough of Henry VIII, give it a try: you won't be disappointed. Both books are wonderful psychological portraits and an opportunity to learn about life in those years. There's a lot of intrigue, too, so you won't get bored. Cromwell himself is a fascinating character, a corrupt highflying type that is so popular on film and TV these days.

You can read an excerpt from Wolf Hall here.