Marley and Me (Rooty Film Review)

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I often think I’m lucky. Well luck isn’t just mine, Rhonda won two tickets to see a special screening of a new film not out until March, from the local radio station Invicta FM. Things got better, Uncle Dave agreed to baby sit and said he really liked the book. Marley and Me* was set to be the first grown up film we’d been to together for years. Children affect life in many ways, Wall-E, Toy Story and other similar films become the only cinema experience you remember after a while.

Marley and Me is based on a nonfiction book, which is based on 15 years or so of a news paper reporters life. Starting just before he and his new wife get a dog after a friends suggestion that will delay her needs for a baby for a little while. It ends…. hmm, I’m trying not to give too much away, but it ends when the dog dies.

I liked and enjoyed the film. It follows the real life trials and tribulations that happen to us all and that I think gives something that almost everyone can relate to. It’s a true life story that hangs around the presence of a pet dog but could just as easily hang around a much beloved family car or home. That said, Marley added his own life to the situation as only an animal can. Time flew by, the film was 2 hours long and there were good times and bad, happy times and sad, making the whole audiance move from laughter to tears then back again.

I always find it hard to know whether a film is worth watching before hand and I’m often disappointed by the ends. In all honesty I’d often choose not to go the cinema and just have a couple of hours time with one of the many books I have waiting to be read. This film though was well worth watching. If you’re not lucky enough to win the tickets as we were, I’d recommend it as worth paying for.

Rootie Ratings are normally a book thing, but I’d give this a four out of five. If only it could be found in the second hand bookshop along with all my other favourites.

*The little animated dog also came from the films web site http://www.marleyandmemovie.co.uk/ where you can also dowload desktop wall papers and other parephenalia. The animated gif was suggested as an ‘e-signature’ that you can use within your email. I wont be, but it makes a nice little place holder graphic for the review.

Perelandra (C.S. Lewis) and That Hideous Strength (C.S.Lewis)


Part 2 and Part 3 of a trilogy I started in the summer with “Out of the Silent Planet“. I loved the first book, giving it a Rootie rating of 5 out of 5, surely these would carry the trend, may be drop to a 4?…

Perelandra sees our character visit a different planet. This planet is almost entirely covered by sea and floating islands made of plants. The description of the environment was great but for me the story dragged more than if I’d had to read it as part of my English Literature lessons at school. I really can’t say I enjoyed this story, just forced myself to continue turning pages. I give it a Rootie Rating of 1 out 5 and hope the third part of the trillogy is better.

That Hideous Strength is different from the first two. Hmmm, how to describe the difference; instead of traveling to another planet, the whole story happens on earth. It links into early medieval history and the time of Merlin the magician. It has a clever set up where people are used by others to control the media and alter the perception of society. For all that, I found this story very hard to read through. This trilogy started so well for me, but I can only give this part a Rootie Rating of 1 out of 5.

Staying Alive (Alexander Fullerton)

Wow! This was a big surprise. The setting is a town in France where the author himself meets with an old lady. She, it is revealed, was the inspiration of the heroine in his earlier 3 books (and there are 3 earlier books which I’ll now start looking out for). Rosie was a special agent during the war and this story is about her first mission, the one mission the author couldn’t have written about because his source didn’t know about it. Best of all, there is a twist at the end which I’ll not tell you lest I spoil it.

I tend to like books where a history is revealed. In this book we hear not only of Rosie’s struggles to survive as an undercover agent but also of what happened to her after the war, right up to the present day or in this case, right up to the reason she is talking to an author in a small French town, attending a re-union of the few remaining resistance and special operations staff that still survive after 60 years.

Rootie Rating 4 out of 5, time to go and find the other 3 books in this series.

2001 A Space Odyssey (Arthur C Clarke)

Strangly, I haven’t seen the film. Or at least, I haven’t seen the film all the way through. Part of me has always felt that having seen the film the book is not worth reading. Part of me has always felt that having read the book the film is not worth seeing. I know, that’s wrong, and I’m so glad I picked up this story.

It’s unusual in that it’s made of many short chapters, 47 in all. We follow the story from the discovery on the mood of a ‘monolith’ and the journey to reach a small moon around Jupiter.. or was it Saturn, I’ve always mixed those two planets up. Anyway the journey has some eventful things happen which many of you will already know. The computer, known as HAL behaves in a way that was not predicted by the programmers but quite logical in hindsight.

This book was a very easy read, not difficult to follow. Having read 3001 first didn’t reduce the enjoyment of this book one iota.

Rootie Rating 4 out of 5 – enjoyable epic

The Malacia Tapestry (Brian Aldiss)

Having enjoyed other Brian Aldiss stories I thought I’d give this one a try even though the cover was a bit off putting. I know, you should never judge a book by it’s cover, but the monster on the front, man with cloak, beautiful woman in graceful dress, made for a pretty accurate impression.

This book is a fantasy, set either in the distant imaged future or distant imagined past. We follow an actor as he lives his life within the small city, making ends meet, meeting and seducing attractive women, endeavouring to leave the working classes and become part of the ruling classes. The story is inventive, the description brings the city and strange animals to life in vivid detail. It has a quality of realism that works surprisingly well with the fantasy background.

This isn’t the sort of book I’d normally read but it more than held my attention, I couldn’t wait to turn the next page. Rootie Rating 3 out of 5 – Fantasy is not my thing but the writing style saved it.

The Island (Victoria Hislop)

If I’d seen this book in the second hand bookshop, I would have been unlikely to choose it. However, it came highly recommended by a friend who lent it to me and I’m so glad they did!

The island is a story of a family history and it’s discovery by a girl from London. Her mother has rarely mentioned her past so the London girl sets off to discover it, taking us back to before her mother was born.

It’s hard for me to say just why I enjoyed this story so much. Perhaps it was that the story covered such a wide range of time and that I’d love to know as much history of my family. To know my grandparents grandparents would be wonderful. Perhaps it was that the story felt so real; trials and tribulations of life randomly spaced with the happy times of families rich and poor. Perhaps it was the setting, the island and nearby town of Spinalonga. Spinalonga was a leper colony until a cure for Leprosy was fond after the second world war. Perhaps it was that when a group of city folk were deported to Spinalonga due to their leporsy, they didn’t give up made a place where people went to die into a place with a living standard that nearby mainlanders began to envy.

I found it hard relating to some of the greek terms, in the same way as someone from Greece would probably stuggle to comprehend the translated meaning of Mr Brown, Right Honourable Mr Brown, Prime Minister Brown and First Lord of the Treasury – being all titles related to the same person. I think a similar thing was happening with the titles of the women in the story, growing from girls into women.

Spinalonga is a real place and I’m not entirely sure at what point fact ends and fiction begins. Another friend said she visited the island having read the book and been on holiday in the area and the island is accurately depicted.

Rootie Rating; 5 out of 5 – I’m so glad is was recommended to me

Earth is Room Enough (Issac Asimov)

Issac Asimov is an author who’s work I’ve loved, even if on this book his first name is entirely missing. Who knows, maybe the next book of his I’ll find will just call him ‘A’, or ‘Mov’. I guess when you’re that great and well known as an Author, who needs first names.

This book is a collection of short stories, some of which I’ve read before, some being completely new to me. My favourite new story found in this collection is “The Last Trump”, where the Angel Gabriel arrives to call an end to Earth based on a decree by God. It presents an impression of hell that is created by the common desire to survive without pain or suffering. In a clever twist of office politics at the Deity level (God, Gabriel and our unknown to us guardian angle Etherial) our life with it’s highs and lows, births and deaths is returned, for the time being.

Compared to the other series of short stories I’ve read recently, this one has to get a Rootie Rating of 4 out of 5, enjoyable and memorable make the difference.

Space, Time and Nathaniel (Brian Aldiss)

Another old book from the second hand bookshop, this reprint had an authors introduction where he fondly referred to the collection as “Stan”, shortening Space, Time And Nathaniel into a name more cosy. It’s a collection of short stories and was an enjoyable read. The only trouble I have now is that having read it last month and being a little behind on recording my reading, I can’t remember one of them! I know they were good enough I enjoyed the book (that’s why I went on to read the other Brian Aldiss book I bought) and I remember the last story had something to do with Nathaniel. Alas, it escapes me. Rootie Rating 3 out of 5, Good, if not memorable amongst my other recent reading.

The Dark Light Years (Brian Aldiss)

Printed 6 years before I was born, the jacket of this book showed it’s age in the second hand bookshop. On the plus side, if it’s been kept that long it can’t be too bad. There were also several other books by this author which I’ve found to be a good sign. Lots of old books by the same author seems to mean the stories were successful enough to be printed in large quantities, so that many copies survive to stand tightly packed in the limited shelf space of second hand book shops. I bought this and another couple of them to read over the summer holidays.

Onto the story, and for me this is a classic piece of science fiction. Think of the future as it would develop from now. Imagine it going the way we wouldn’t like it to, on a social level. Imagine war pushing the development of space exploration, in a way that only war can create a technology growth spurt. Imagine then discovering intelligent life on another planet. This story eloquently describes this situation, an intelligent extra terrestrial species that mankind isn’t intelligent enough to recognise. The book makes you ask a fundamental question; How do you define intelligent?

It’s a really good read so perhaps it’s not surprising it’s still in print. Rootie Rating: 4 out of 5

Halting State (Charles Stross)

First things first, I love the cover of this book. It’s got pixelated drawings of people like you’d find in games on Atari ST and Amiga’s in the early 90’s. Brings back fun memories.

Anyway, onto the story, it all begins with a robbery from within an online game. We follow a policewoman as she works with a game programmer to understand what’s happened and why it really means anything. It means a lot when people start getting killed over it. The story twists and turns and reveals an innovative vision of the future. Scotland is an independent country, though it shares some of it’s police computer system with England still. Online gamers play games in the real world unwittingly doing tasks for the government and children still go to school. That last bit is to let you know that as outlandish and creative as some Charles Stross books have been, this one is set in a believable near future. A great read, Rootie Rating 5 out of 5