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Profile for Erin K. Darling > Reviews

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Content by Erin K. Darling
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Reviews Written by
Erin K. Darling "naive cynic" (olympia, wa)

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Someone Like You (Widescreen) (Bilingual) [Import]
Someone Like You (Widescreen) (Bilingual) [Import]
DVD ~ Ashley Judd
Offered by Francedisc
Price: CDN$ 19.98
22 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 3.5 stars, really - cute, but not fabulous, April 20 2002
I truly didn't expect to like this film as much as I did - the previews made it look like very bland, formulaic drek. And, while it was formulaic, the performances turned in by Judd and Jackman made it into a rather charming story. There are some amusing little quirks in the style of the film, captions before certain "chapters," little fantasy flashes and whatnot, that I really enjoyed. I also liked the chemistry between Jackman and Judd, which wasn't melt-the-screen hot, but still worked very well.
Ashley Judd has turned into a fine actress. One scene crystalized this for me - she is crying on the bed, and Jackman is sitting next to her, trying to comfort her. He says something particularly touching, and Judd completely breaks down into heart-wrenching sobs, and doesn't try to make it look "pretty," doesn't try to cover her angst-twisted face with her hands like so many actresses do - she honestly looks like she has a heart broken into a zillion pieces, and conveys the pain of her character's experience exceptionally well.
Hugh Jackman, while drop-dead gorgeous and indeed talented as well, needs to work a bit on his "tender" scenes - he occasionally went a bit over the top with the doe-eyed goofy thing, much like Leonardo DiCaprio did in "Titantic" (but let's not go there, shall we?) Still, I enjoyed his performance overall, and he played a very believable Eddie.
The story is entirely predictable, but still fun to watch. A bit of a chick flick, perhaps, but good for anyone who likes romantic comedies.

Hot Six: A Stephanie Plum Novel
Hot Six: A Stephanie Plum Novel
by Janet Evanovich
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 10.86
121 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Evanovich at her best, April 20 2002
_Hot Six_ was the first book in the Plum series that I read, and I loved it so much that I went back and caught up on the rest of the series in short order, and then read _Hot Six_ again - Evanovich has a singular talent, and is now one of my favorite authors. Not every Plum book is a gem, but all are enjoyable.
_Hot Six_, much like _One for the Money_, showcases how funny and human Evanovich's writing can be. As I read this book, I laughed out loud many times, chuckled in self-recognition more than a little, and vicariously felt Stephanie Plum's frustration and awkwardness; Evanovich has done an excellent job of writing another book that can completely envelope the reader. It can be a very quick read, as the story flows exceptionally well and kept my interest rivetted, even the second time around - the second time I read it, I stayed up all night after starting it at 10pm and didn't put it down until 5am.
The heat between Stephanie and Ranger gets turned up a few notches in several places, and Morelli definitely isn't out of the picture, so the little love triangle becomes interesting. The plot doesn't feel forced or contrived, and it felt like Evanovich really enjoyed writing this one - there are several unexpected quirks to the story that are very enjoyable, including a gun-running boss that Stephanie is supposed to be spying on jumping into her car and asking her to sneak him to the bar, a huge, friendly dog named Bob becoming a part of Stephanie's life, Grandma Mazur moving in with her, and a surprise from Morelli at the end of the book, though I'm waffling on whether or not I want it to turn out the way Evanovich alludes it will.
This is better-than-average for the genre, and anyone who has enjoyed previous Evanovich books should really like _Hot Six_ tremendously.

"Spy Game (Widescreen, Collector's Edition)" (Bilingual)
"Spy Game (Widescreen, Collector's Edition)" (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Robert Redford
Price: CDN$ 9.88
62 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, April 11 2002
I enjoyed this movie more than I thought I would; I really love action films, but the trailers just didn't grab me for this one. I'm also not especially fond of Robert Redford, but I did like him in "Spy Game." This is a war-buddy film, and it's somewhat predictable; at one point relatively early on, Redford makes a statement about Never Ever Doing A Certain Thing, No Matter What, and No Matter For Whom, whereupon you immediately know that this will likely happen. Still, despite the blase cinematography and almost complete lack of color in the film (which I realize is of course deliberate,) I did enjoy it more than I thought I would.

The Saint (Widescreen) (1997)
The Saint (Widescreen) (1997)
DVD ~ Val Kilmer
Offered by S N A P Media
Price: CDN$ 31.47
41 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars A very entertaining film, April 11 2002
While "The Saint" isn't precisely an epic film that everyone should see, but it's really fun and keeps my attention and interest each time I watch it. Val Kilmer displays his innate gift for accents and for a chameleon-like ability to change his personality traits. Elisabeth Shue, of whom I've never been fond, is also enjoyable in her role, largely due to her brimming and infectious enthusiasm for her work. This isn't a Must-See Movie, but it's sure to be enjoyable for anyone who likes action movies.

Sweet November (Widescreen) (Sous-titres français) [Import]
Sweet November (Widescreen) (Sous-titres français) [Import]
DVD ~ Keanu Reeves
Offered by Cousin Floyd
Price: CDN$ 6.95
36 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars Pretty much what you'd expect, April 11 2002
I was marginally curious about this film when I saw the trailer, but definitely unwilling to pay to view it. Fortunately, it came on HBO while I was staying in a hotel, and I could watch for free. It was largely what I expected - fairly worthless. Keanu Reeves performed better than he historically has, but Charlize Theron was fairly flat. Though the premise was marginally interesting, the plot is completely predictable. One bright spot was Jason Isaacs as Chaz/Cherry, who delivers his usual caliber of excellence. It did jerk the obligatory tear from me at the end, but that's largely because I'm easy that way. Four yawns and two stars.

Black Hawk Down (Bilingual) [Import]
Black Hawk Down (Bilingual) [Import]
DVD ~ Josh Hartnett
Offered by importcds__
Price: CDN$ 13.42
85 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars An important film to see, very well done., April 11 2002
Before talking about the movie, and while talking about it, it's important for me to mention the book. My boyfriend (a former Ranger) has long spoken of "Black Hawk Down - A Story of Modern War" by Mark Bowden as being an excellent account of the conflict in Mogadishu, Somalia. It was a book that was on my long list of Books To Read Soon, but I hadn't ever gotten around to it. When the trailers for the movie started showing, I made an attempt to read the book before we went and saw the film, but I found the author's writing somewhat bland and I had no image of what some of the settings he talked about looked like, and thus I abandoned it after a few chapters in favor of other books.
Then we saw the movie, and it renewed my interest in the book, as the book gives much more of the internal dialogue of the soldiers, and more detail. Having seen the film gave me a much better feel for what I was reading about; what the streets and buildings looked like, et cetera. I finished the book, and while I still have the same complaints about the author's writing style, it was a good book. The movie and the book are excellent companion pieces to each other.
The's difficult in some ways to describe. It's not an "entertaining" movie, but it is an important film to see, simply to bear witness to the event itself.
Some of the commercial reviews I've read are complaining about the gore in the movie; this strikes me as completely asinine. The movie doesn't make a huge deal of the blood and gore, and in fact, doesn't have the level of gore the book contains. The gore is simply a part of the story, and would be unavoidable if one wanted to portray the conflict with any degree of accuracy. If Ridley had lingered upon it unnecessarily, that would be one thing, but he does not. He conveyed the violent injuries and conditions that both sides of the fight had to endure, without crossing into gratuitousness. People who have a low threshold for violence will probably cringe at many points during this movie - there are horrific injuries sustained on both sides of the fight. But it is not blood for blood's sake.
There are elements that were changed from the book, most of which seem reasonable due to time constraints and other restrictions. I think Ridley's depiction of the conditions in Mog (to my inexperienced eye) were probably fairly accurate; dirty, gritty, desperate, and cluttered. He didn't spend much time on the Somali side of the story, which was very noticable to me during the movie, and was something the book included quite a bit of. Again, issues of time constraints.
On the whole, I enjoy war movies. While I didn't "enjoy" this movie per se, I will see it again to soak up more details. It's an epic story about a handful of extraordinary men, heroes, and it deserves all of the attention it's been getting. There's no superfluous love story, and there's not much humor to lighten the mood; this is a tale about the realities of war. Ridley (and Bowden as well) has done the men involved a great honor by sticking to the facts as much as possible.

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
by Anne Lamott
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.77
89 used & new from CDN$ 5.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Quietly inspiring, April 9 2002
Anne Lamott has written the first openly honest book about the process of writing that I have read, and it was amazingly refreshing to have this perspective. She doesn't get all dewey-eyed about the wonder and the joy that is being a published author; in fact, she does quite the opposite. Without being overly-negative, Lamott points out the many pitfalls and false expectations so many of us aspiring authors are going to fall into. There's a bit that sums this up for me:
"But their fantasy of what it means to be published has very little to do with reality. So I tell them about my four-year-old son Sam, who goes to a little Christian preschool where he recently learned the story of Thanksgiving. A friend of his, who is also named Sam but who is twelve years old and very political, asked my Sam to tell him everything he knew about the holiday. So my Sam told him this lovely Christian-preschool version of Thanksgiving, with the pilgrims and the Native Americans and lots of lovely food and feelings. At which point Big Sam turned to me and said, somewhat bitterly, 'I guess he hasn't heard about the small-pox-infected blankets yet.' Now, maybe we weren't handing out those blankets yet; maybe we were still on our good behavior. But the point is that my students, who so want to be published, have not yet heard about the small-pox-infected blankets of getting published. So that's one of the things I tell them."
And so she does - she tells us about what torture it can be not only to try to get published, but to suffer through the writing process itself. Lamott is every bit as neurotics as the rest of us, and makes no bones about expressing her neuroses - she is as honest as we could possibly hope for. But even though she points out those booby traps that we have yet to experience, she still allows her love of writing to shine through, simultaneously encourages us all to Just Keep Writing while managing our expectations of what will come of it.
I'm intensely grateful for her voice of experience, and now I feel that I have distanced myself from a lot of the dreams of fame and glory I had about Publishing A Book - writing shouldn't be about that, it should be about writing "the truth as I see it," even if what I write is a work of complete fiction.
Lamott notes many of the mistakes new writers make, including assuming that everything which has happened to us is inherently interesting, making every character sound and feel the same, writing horrible dialogue, not letting characters determine their own destinies, and forcing a plot to do what we want it to do. She offers solid advice on how to get around these issues, and gives us examples of her writing as well as others' to guide us.
This is not a quick, light read by any standard - it's a two- or three-day investment in learning how to be a better writer. There are parts which are somewhat disheartening, but Lamott always manages to bring back a writer's enthusiasm for doing what we love - that's the whole point of the book.
Her writing style is very entertaining, no-nonsense, and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny; if the reader cannot see him- or herself thinking or doing many of the same things Lamott does, I would be very surprised.
I really recommend this book to anyone who would like to become a published author, or for that matter, anyone who writes for any reason at all. Wonderful advice with a realistic edge.

by Lewis Turco
Edition: Paperback
25 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

1.0 out of 5 stars Hideous! [sputter], April 2 2002
This review is from: Dialogue (Paperback)
"This book was awful," I said to Lily.
"I know!" she replied empathetically. "It's horrible! It is, without question, the worst 'how to write' book I have ever read."
This book is an unmitigated disaster, start to finish. I don't even know where to begin!
The biggest annoyance was the author's unskilled use of the Socratic Method; the entire book is one giant dialogue between a fictionalized author and his foi, with bits of a fictionalized editor thrown into a few places. At one point, Turco's fictional editor says, "your strategy in this book is certainly unusual and imaginative ... however, I don't believe it has precisely the effect you intended." Unless, of course, his intent was to bore the bejeezus out of his audience...
Throughout the dialogue, the Author (always capitalized in the book) comes across as egotistical, condescending and impatient. Speaking of "impatient," I found myself incredibly bored throughout the book, and often sighed with exasperation. I wished it would either have moved more quickly or covered the points more thoroughly - one or the other. Instead, it lives in some frustrating middle land, neither informative and interesting nor quick and light. It's vexing and leaves soooo much to be desired. At many points, my brain shrieked "why can't this just END?!" and yet I kept reading, hoping to glean something useful, hoping the author would have something good to offer. I searched in vain.
The Socratic dialogue would have been useful in places, to show examples and illustrate do's and don'ts; however, as a style for the entire book, it just drove me like oxen. The story is not interesting enough to read as a storoy, and it's not informative enough to read to learn anything. Turco could have either used a different style, or he could have made Fred Foyle (ha, ha - get it? "Foyle," "foil?" Oh, wackiness!) a more interesting and sympathetic character. As it stands, he was a whiny, frustrated, completely uninteresting nuisance.
Worse, Turco frequently makes comments which lead me to believe he understood that this book doesn't work - and yet he forged ahead, seemingly oblivious to his editor's and his own misgivings. Argh! Passages such as this are sprinkled throughout:
"I thought he'd never leave," Fred writes. "Sure I can type. Whatever he can do, I can do as well or better. This business of being Fred Foyle is a drag. Why could it have been I whom am the author instead? I could have invented him instead ... no, I'd have invented someone else, just to get even ... only, if I were the author and he weren't invented, how could I get even with him? Man, this is getting too philosophical for a book on how to write dialogue in fiction. Let's keep it simple."
Ah, if only Turco had taken his own advice!
He also uses the same example of a dialogue involving a secretary and a teacher over and over and over again, despite his own admission that it's *boring* and painful. ARGH! He uses stereotypes and many places, and one of his example stories, "Savants," was so incredibly offensive that I was tempted to put the book down right then.
I truly cannot convey how awful this book was - the *entire* time I was reading it, I had this huge, impatient tightness in my chest, pleading with me to stop. But, as I said, I kept going in hopes of learning something.
To be fair, there are a few handy tidbits in here (don't use too many adjectives and adverbs in tag lines, don't go on and on, and don't use overly-complex tag lines as an excuse to avoid writing the dialogue itself,) but there's nothing that can't be learned elsewhere with less torment.
My advice? DON'T BUY THIS BOOK! If you happen across any copies of it, back away slowly without making any sudden movements. It is EVIL!

High Five
High Five
by Janet Evanovich
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 10.40
115 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic demonstration of Janet's talent, March 31 2002
This review is from: High Five (Mass Market Paperback)
After absolutely loving the wonderful first book in this series, _One for the Money,_ I found the others somewhat lacking; they were still entertaining for the most part, but they lacked the same spark and didn't draw me in as fully as the first book. _High Five_, however, is fantastic!
Stephanie's inner diaglogue is as entertaining as ever, and the plot pulled me along right to the end. There are very few dull moments in the book, and the heat between Morelli and Stephanie is back, with the pleasant addition of some romantic interest from Ranger as well. Morelli's jealousy of this is really charming.
Stephanie's luck with vehicles holds in _High Five_, although it's taken a different tack; rather than having her cars sputter and smoke to a painful death, they are blown up and stolen. She has an FTA take up resident in her apartment, Ramirez the homicidal boxer is back, and her mother frets in the kitchen as usual, as Stephanie agrees to some side jobs working for Ranger that put her in even more interesting situations than usual.
A very quick and entertaining read. I highly recommend _High Five_.

The Writer's Guide to Character Traits: Includes Profiles of Human Behaviors and Personality Types
The Writer's Guide to Character Traits: Includes Profiles of Human Behaviors and Personality Types
by Linda Edelstein
Edition: Hardcover
39 used & new from CDN$ 0.21

4.0 out of 5 stars A great way to flesh out your characters, March 30 2002
I wasn't sure what to expect from this book, but when I picked it up looking for assistance, I found the format extremely useful and easy to employ.
Edelstein gives us "people ingredients -- components that work together naturally, coherently, and authentically." _The Writer's Guide to Character Traits_ is, in many ways, a simplified _Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders_ that drops much of the information which would be less useful for writers, and presents the crux of each personality style, disorder, et cetera.
There are chapters on many useful subjects, such as psychological disorders, criminal styles, sexual styles, love and marriage, career traits, and many others. Edelstein's career as a psychologist has given her a vast experience in observing people and the ways in which they behave, and she distills it down to very concise, informative lists and chapters, while giving advice on how to create believable characters by selecting traits she mentions.
This isn't so much a book to be read cover-to-cover as it's a reference to be flipped through when needed. There are a few general informational chapters that will be helpful to read all the way through, but by and large, it's a "search for X Type of Character" resource.
I really recommend this book for any writer of fiction.

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