Stacy's Books

books, movies, and boy

Fave Movie #29 – Serendipity

Serendipity poster.jpg2001

Cast-John Cusack, Kate Beckinsale, Jeremy Piven, Molly Shannon, Bridget Moynahan, John Corbett, Eugene Levy

Directed by Peter Chelsom

In honor of Valentine’s Day this month I’m going to try and review as many of the romantic movies on my list as I can.

Jonathan and Sara both have significant others in their lives, but when they meet at Bloomingdales in New York they share a very serendipitous night together.  Sara, a big believer in fate, wants to leave a second meeting to chance.  Fast forward five years and they are both engaged to other people but wondering if they have already met and lost their soul mate.  A last minute hunt ensues.

Why I Love It- I’ve seen this movie many times over the years and love it every time.  The main reason being the very romantic notion of soulmates, that one person with whom everything makes sense.  It has not been my experience that everyone has one true soulmate, but I love the idea of it.  I think when I first saw the movie, I was only a few years married and it held this magical appeal to me. Now, almost 20 years since my first date with Jason, the appeal is still there but I felt a little more sad for Jonathan’s fiancé when I watched it this time around.

There is no getting over the cute factor of these two.  Kate was radiant and John, not usually my cup of tea, was appealing.  They spent only a few days filming together but had lots of chemistry when they were onscreen at the same time.  This may be the one time I haven’t found Jeremey Piven a little twerpy and I loved him as Jonathan’s best friend.  The whole cast was great.  John Corbett as a world renown New Age musician was pretty funny.

New York was a great backdrop and the movie made no apologies for the coincidences that brought them together and kept them apart.  It was fate and I was caught up in its charm.

Perfect for a romantic rental!! This clip sort of sums up the movie…

 

 

February 5, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | 5 Comments

What Was Mine by Helen Klein Ross

fpoWhat Was Mine. Finished 1-31-16, 4,25/5 stars, fiction, 336 pages, pub.2016

Lucy Wakefield is a seemingly ordinary woman who does something extraordinary in a desperate moment: she takes a baby girl from a shopping cart and raises her as her own. It’s a secret she manages to keep for over two decades—from her daughter, the babysitter who helped raise her, family, coworkers, and friends.

When Lucy’s now-grown daughter Mia discovers the devastating truth of her origins, she is overwhelmed by confusion and anger and determines not to speak again to the mother who raised her. She reaches out to her birth mother for a tearful reunion, and Lucy is forced to flee to China to avoid prosecution. What follows is a ripple effect that alters the lives of many and challenges our understanding of the very meaning of motherhood.  from Goodreads

Having your baby kidnapped is right up there with the top parent nightmares.  Any parent can tell you the first moment that they lost sight of their child for a few moments and the panic that crawled through their body.  For new mother Marilyn that moment changed her life and the life of her four month old daughter, Natalie.  While Lucy didn’t go out that morning looking to kidnap a baby, she was unhinged enough in her overwhelming desire for a baby that the opportunity was too much for her to resist.  As she kept telling herself that it was just for a few minutes, or a ride, or the night, she had to know that she was never giving baby Mia back.

The book was told in alternating chapters mainly by the three main characters, Lucy, Marilyn and Mia,  but it was the shorter chapters told by the bit players and supporting cast that really rounded out the story and moved it forward.  The current and ex-husbands, Aunt Cheryl, Nanny Wendy, the security guard at IKEA, etc. were expertly woven into the fabric of the story.  You know from the beginning that eventually Mia will find out the truth about her mother(s), but it was told in such an easy to read way that it was a riveting page-turner that had me promising myself “just one more chapter” more than once!

I think the addicting short chapters that made this hard to put down also led to some parts that felt glossed over or not addressed. There were several parts where I wanted more story, no place more than the end, which felt incomplete to me. But that being said, I loved the book and think it would make a FANTASTIC book club selection.

I want to thank She Reads and the publisher for sending me a copy of the book to read.  She Reads is an excellent group and if you aren’t reading their blog then you are missing out!

February 4, 2016 Posted by | 4 Star Books, Uncategorized | | 9 Comments

Winners!

Woo Hoo! I’ve got quiz winners and winners from my Blogiversay post. I want to apologize right off the bat that Gage will not be drawing names out of a hat for me.  The stinker has decided that photos are beneath him and when I make him, well, the results are all over the place.  I’m giving him (and me) a reprieve!

Winner of On Writing by Stephen King from my January 8 giveaway…

Melissa from Mommy Madness

Winner of Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card from my January 8 giveaway…

Cait from Click’s Clan

Winner of my last round of Quizzes and winner of a Barnes & Noble gift card is once again…

Nise from Under the Boardwalk 

Winner of the randomly chosen participant is(Bahahaha, she said that Gage never picked her name and maybe that’s true, but this time Jason did!)…

Jill from Rhapsody in Books

Congratulations :)  You should all be receiving an email from me soon!

 

 

 

 

February 3, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | 5 Comments

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

The Language of FlowersThe Language of Flowers. Finished 1-16-16, rating 4.5/5. fiction, 323 pages, pub. 2011

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.  from Goodreads

Why don’t we use flowers to convey feelings anymore?  It’s such a romantic and mysterious thing to do and I think communication these days could use a little more nuance.  I loved learning about the hidden language of flowers as I read this intriguing and beautifully written debut novel.

The novel tells the two stories of Victoria, the nine-year old foster care kid who doesn’t believe she will ever find a home and the 18-year-old who is homeless, friendless and in love with flowers.  At nine, Elizabeth became her last hope for a mom and her brash decision severed the chance.  At 18, she just wants to make enough to eat and if she can do it by working with flowers, all the better.  Renata, that friend that we all should have, gives Victoria a job and an opportunity at a relatively normal life.

Victoria was a tough character. Even though, by the end, I came to the point of wishing her a happily-ever-after, it took me a while to get there.  She was a foster care survivor (32 foster families before being set free on her 18th birthday) and was so detached, prickly, defiant and complicated that I didn’t realize how much I cared about her until the end.  So many of her 18-year-old decisions were tragic and damaging, and had me wanting to shake her out of her own psyche.

This book will rip your heart out with the deeply flawed Victoria and her journey to make a life that she never really let herself think was possible. I loved the people who were there for her to make the journey possible, equally flawed but maybe a little less complicated. Victoria is not a character I will be forgetting about any time soon.

I am so glad that Lloyd loved it and that I won his giveaway a few years ago.  I’m even happier that I finally read it!

February 2, 2016 Posted by | 4 1/2 Star Books | | 13 Comments

January Movies and $ for charity

What a great movie month! You may notice that 3 out of the 7 movies I’ve seen this month have starred Tom Hardy.  He is one talented guy!

Another month and another chance to contribute money to charity.  Add your 5 words (or less!) to mine in a comment and earn $1 for charity.  Once we get to $100 the person with the most reviews will choose the charity.  Click here to see the past winners, the charities they chose and the other reviews you can add to.  Anyone is welcome to join in at any time.

We’re at $24.

I hope that you will take a few minutes to participate when you can each month.  It’s fun for me and for everyone else who reads it.  I’m not looking for a critical review, just a few words about how you felt about the movie.  This is ongoing so you can leave your 5 words anytime.

The Big Short teaser poster.jpgThe Big Short, 2015 (Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt, Marissa Tomei)   Grade B++

What Jason does – for dummies (like me ;))


 

Child 44 poster.jpgChild 44, 2015 (Tom Hardy Noomi Rapace, Gary Oldman, Joel Kinnaman, Vincent Cassel)      Grade B

Gripping 1950’s Russia character study.

Suspenseful Russian serial killer mystery  (Michelle)


 

Theatrical release posterMad Max Fury Road, 2015 (Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Zoe Kravitz)    Grade B

Road trip on acid anyone?

Charlize Theron being super awesome.   (Care)

Not as good as original.  (Michelle)


The Revenant 2015 film poster.jpgThe Revenant, 2014 (Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter)    Grade B

Not my thing but Oscar-worthy.

Amazing adventure. Leonardo was outstanding.   (Michelle)


 

Get Hard film poster.pngGet Hard, 2015 (Will Ferrell, Kevin Hart, Craig T Nelson, T.I., Alison Brie)      Grade C

Not as bad as expected.


 

Kingsman The Secret Service poster.jpgKingsman:The Secret Service, 2014 (Colin Firth, Samuel L Jackson, Mark Strong, Taron Egerton, Michael Caine)   Grade C

Mr.Darcy leads dapper English spies.

Colin Firth – umbrella action hero!  (Kay)

Kingsman was a huge disappointment.   (Care)

Surprised it was so dirty.   (Michelle)

Fun, except for that one over-the-top scene.  (Carol)


 

Theory of Everything.jpgThe Theory of Everything, 2014 (Eddie Remayne, Felicity Jones, Charlie Cox, Emily Watson, David Thewlis)   Grade C-

Suffered from lots of boredom.

January 29, 2016 Posted by | 5 Word Movie Reviews | | 12 Comments

Nicholas Sparks on the Big Screen Quiz

Sorry this is so late! Last Quiz of the round :)

I’ve never read a Nicholas Sparks and have only seen one of the movies, but he has been successful in getting his novels made into films with great casts.

No Googling or looking at other commenter answers.  Yes, we’re going by the honor system :)  Play every week or just one time, you are always welcome :)  It only takes once to be eligible for a prize. 

Match the movie with the actors who played the main characters.

  1. Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling
  2. Mandy Moore and Shane West
  3. Kevin Costner and Robin Wright Penn
  4. Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried
  5. Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth
  6. Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel
  7. Richard Gere and Diane Lane
  8. Zac Ephron and Taylor Schilling
  9. Michelle Monaghan and James Marsden
  10. Britt Robertson and Scott Eastwood
Movies- The Best of Me, Dear John,The Last Song, The Longest Ride, The Lucky One, Message in a Bottle, Nights in the Rodanthe, The Notebook, Safe Haven, A Walk to Remember

January 27, 2016 Posted by | Quizzes | | 11 Comments

I Must Say by Martin Short

fpoI Must Say. Finished 1-12-16, rating 4.75/5, humor memoir, pub. 2014

Unabridged audio read perfectly by Martin Short himself. 8.5 hours

In this engagingly witty, wise, and heartfelt memoir, Martin Short tells the tale of how a showbiz obsessed kid from Canada transformed himself into one of Hollywood’s favorite funnymen, known to his famous peers as the “comedian’s comedian.”

Short takes the reader on a rich, hilarious, and occasionally heartbreaking ride through his life and times, from his early years in Toronto as a member of the fabled improvisational troupe Second City to the all-American comic big time of Saturday Night Live, and from memorable roles in such movies as ¡Three Amigos! and Father of the Bride to Broadway stardom in Fame Becomes Me and the Tony-winning Little Me.

But there is another side to Short’s life that he has long kept private. He lost his eldest brother and both parents by the time he turned twenty, and, more recently, he lost his wife of thirty years to cancer. In I Must Say, Short talks for the first time about the pain that these losses inflicted and the upbeat life philosophy that has kept him resilient and carried him through.   from Goodreads

I need to say right off the bat that I’ve long been a fan.  His energy is infectious and because of that I think you must listen to this one.  Short is funny and sweet and you will love him.  And if you aren’t familiar with Martin Short I think you should still pick this one up.  Honestly, I laughed out loud and I cried for this man who, while bringing so much light to others, has dealt with deaths that came too soon.

Short grew up just outside of Toronto and during his senior year of college he decided to give comedy a year to see if he could make it.  He landed a role in Godspell with his BFF Eugene Levy and met Paul Shaffer, Gilda Radnor and a slew of other Canadian pranksters: John Candy, Dan Ackroyd, Catherine O’Hara… I had no idea that so many successful comics started there and worked together at the same time.   He landed a gig on Saturday Night Live that made him both a household name and miserable.  He was lucky to last a year but it did get him to the big time.

His memoir also spans his Hollywood years (Three Amigos, Father of the Bride) and the many friendships he formed there.  The spark he is on screen must carry over to real life because he has maintained friendships from the Toronto years (Levy & Shaffer) while becoming close with Tom Hanks, Steve Martin, and Kurt Russell and other famous pals.  Actually it was him talking about these friendships and the love that he had for his wife of 30 years that enabled me to see a new side to Short, a genuine guy who loves and is loved

He is so upbeat that you will love his life story and the interludes with his most famous characters.  As optimistic as he is, the part of the book dealing with his wife’s cancer will leave you in tears.  Tears that I didn’t mind because they were part of his story.

 

 

January 26, 2016 Posted by | 5 Star Books | , | 7 Comments

Sundays with Gage – Scopes, Stress & a Tip

Because of Gage’s ongoing issue with what we thought was acid reflux, he had an upper scope done on Wednesday and I was freaked out about it.  A couple of the doctors that we’ve seen this past year told me not to do it, one even citing the new research on what anesthesia can do a child’s brain, especially “sensitive ones” (said as she nodded to Gage).  I already knew enough to be worried, but once we decided  that we couldn’t wait any longer I did my research and talked to the other moms in my online group.  And when I heard from the anesthesiologist I sent her a few articles that I hoped she might take a look at, lol.  Yes, I am that mother!  Here are the three I sent her

(http://www.autism.com/pro_anesthesia

http://www.mitoaction.org/files/Risk%20of%20Anesthesia%20Regression%20(2).pdf

http://www.mitoaction.org/files/Anesthesia.pdf)

and she not only responded within a day but we exchanged more emails and she was very patient with me.  Here’s the thing, there is always a risk for regression in people on the spectrum after anesthesia. This is from one of her emails, “I want to make sure you understand that despite our best efforts, he could still have complications and possible regression of his ASD.”  I know some people were wondering why I was so worried about a routine scope, but there it is.

There were actually more health concerns that we addressed (mitochondrial issues being one) but I won’t bog this post down in medical talk.  I do want to say that if you know a child who will be using anesthesia, even for something routine, there are precautions you can take to make it safer.  Sometimes you don’t even know kids have a mitochondrial issue until something bad happens.  Feel free to check out the above articles or shoot me and email.

Anyway, the procedure was a success in all ways possible.   It took 15 minutes, he woke up five minutes after they wheeled him back to us, and has been his sassy self ever since.  They saw nothing with the camera and all the biopsies came back negative so she told me to take him off Zantac, woohoo!  We have a follow-up next week to see where we go from here, but I’m guessing it’s going to take more investigating by me to figure out our next move.  A mother’s job is never done and while I wouldn’t have it any other way, sometimes I wish it were a bit easier  :)

IMG_5719WaitingIMG_5721Blood pressure check (good thing they didn’t check mine!)IMG_5727Getting instructionsIMG_5732Daddy got to go back with him until he fell asleepIMG_5734And 30 minutes later. He did great.  After we got home I told him he had been a big boy and he said, “I know. That’s what I was trying to be.”

 

January 24, 2016 Posted by | Gage | 16 Comments

Up From Slavery by Booker T Washington

IMG_5708Up From Slavery. Finished 1-13-16, rating 3.5.5, memoir, pub. serially 1900-01

Unabridged audio read by Andrew L Barnes. 7 hours, 30 minutes.

Booker T. Washington, the most recognized national leader, orator and educator, emerged from slavery in the deep south, to work for the betterment of African Americans in the post Reconstruction period.

“Up From Slavery” is an autobiography of Booker T. Washington’s life and work, which has been the source of inspiration for all Americans. Washington reveals his inner most thoughts as he transitions from ex-slave to teacher and founder of one of the most important schools for African Americans in the south, The Tuskegee Industrial Institute.

Booker T. Washington’s words are profound. Washington includes the address he gave at the Atlanta Cotton States and International Exposition in 1895, which made him a national figure. He imparts `gems of wisdom’ throughout the book, which are relevant to Americans who aspire to achieve great attainments in life.     from Goodreads

I picked up this 1968 paperback with a very retro cover years ago and added it to my Classics Club reading list last year.  I both read and listened to this one and was both inspired and somewhat bored by it.  Let’s break it down a bit.

Washington was born a Virginia slave.  His childhood as a slave wasn’t as awful as some I’ve seen portrayed in the movies, but impressive because he harbored no real resentment towards the whites.  He was still a kid when Lincoln freed the slaves and life changed drastically for his family.  They were now on their own and still together.  Booker, from a young age, was determined to become educated.  His desire and struggle for education was something, I think, that is inherent in all great men and women, and he was a role model.  Through his dedication he was able to start teaching others.  He somehow got himself to the Hampton Institute and enrolled even though he didn’t have enough money for tuition.  It is a true testament to valuing hard work that he was able to accomplish what he did.

When the time came that he was chosen to head the Tuskegee Institute, Washington had to build it from the ground up.  He became a spokesman for the college, and for African-Americans everywhere, by placing as much emphasis on labor as book learning.  I loved his ‘pull yourself up by your bootstraps’ and black empowerment through education and hard work message.  This part of the book, once he became more national speaker than day-to-day director of the school, dragged.  And it was half the book, so you see the problem.  It was a rehash of his speaking engagements and travel and some of the press clipping about these speaking engagements.

I thought his insights into the African-American experience during and after the Civil War were engaging and wish the book had been more about that.  That being said, I am so glad I read it and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it, especially now that I’ve taken your expectations down a notch :)

This was my 9th selection for the Classics Club.  I need to get busy!

 

January 19, 2016 Posted by | 3 1/2 Star Books | , , , | 6 Comments

Mailbox Monday – January 18

mmb-300x282Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week.Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

IMG_5701

Flight of Dreams by Ariel Lawhon +coasters (from Doubleday)

On the evening of May 3, 1937, Emilie Imhof boards the Hindenburg. As the only female crewmember, Emilie has access to the entire airship, from the lavish dining rooms and passenger suites to the gritty engine cars and control room. She hears everything, but with rumors circulating about bomb threats, Emilie’s focus is on maintaining a professional air . . . and keeping her own plans under wraps.
     What Emilie can’t see is that everyone—from the dynamic vaudeville acrobat to the high-standing German officer—seems to be hiding something.

Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young (from GP Putnam’s Sons)

When New York journalist and recently bereaved mother Charlotte “Charlie” Cates begins to experience vivid dreams about children she’s sure that she’s lost her mind. Yet these are not the nightmares of a grieving parent, she soon realizes. They are messages and warnings that will help Charlie and the children she sees, if only she can make sense of them.

The History Major by Michael Phillip Cash + notepad & highlighter (from the author)

After a vicious fight with her boyfriend followed by a night of heavy partying, college freshman Amanda Greene wakes up in her dorm room to find things are not the same as they were yesterday. She can’t quite put her finger on it. She’s sharing her room with a peculiar stranger. Amanda discovers she’s registered for classes she would never choose with people that are oddly familiar. An ominous shadow is stalking her. Uncomfortable memories are bubbling dangerously close to her fracturing world, propelling her to an inevitable collision between fantasy and reality. Is this the mother of all hangovers or is something bigger happening?

Did anything fun arrive in your mailbox this week?

January 18, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | 6 Comments

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