Stacy's Books

books, movies, and boy

Top Ten Tuesday – Books on my Fall TBR

I love to see these lists on other blogs and have wanted to jump in for a while.  Today is the day!  The Broke and the Bookish host this weekly meme so hop over and see what other bloggers are talking about today.

I’m currently reading A BOOK A DAY for my September Challenge (head on over to My 30 Day Challenges to check it out).  I’m reading biography/memoirs and classics mainly from my shelves, so my upcoming TBR pile looks like this.

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This book a day challenge is hard enough so I reserve the right to switch any of these books at any time when the mood strikes 🙂

Here’s what I’ve read so far this month; Love That Boy by Ron Fournier, Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter by Kate Clifford Lawson, When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi, Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut, The Reluctant Mystic by Nancy Torgorve Clasby, The War of the Worlds by HG Wells, A Life in Parts by Bryan Cranston, An Unexpected Life by Debra and Seth Chwast, Winesburg Ohio by Sherwood Anderson, How Starbucks Saved My Life by Michael Gates Gill, Let’s Take the Long Way Home by Gail Caldwell, Dryland by Nancy Sterns Bercaw, Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K  Jerome, A Year by The Sea by Joan Anderson, and Herman Hesse: A  Pictorial Biography

September 19, 2017 Posted by | lists | 9 Comments

The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

Title: War of the Worlds (Barnes & Noble Classics Series), Author: H. G. WellsThe War of the Worlds. Finished 9-6-17, 3.5/5 stars. classics, 192 pages, pub. 1897

With H.G. Wells’ other novels, The War of the Worlds was one of the first and greatest works of science fiction ever to be written. Even long before man had learned to fly, H.G. Wells wrote this story of the Martian attack on England. These unearthly creatures arrive in huge cylinders, from which they escape as soon as the metal is cool. The first falls near Woking and is regarded as a curiosity rather than a danger until the Martians climb out of it and kill many of the gaping crowd with a Heat-Ray. These unearthly creatures have heads four feet in diameter and colossal round bodies, and by manipulating two terrifying machines – the Handling Machine and the Fighting Machine – they are as versatile as humans and at the same time insuperable. They cause boundless destruction. The inhabitants of the Earth are powerless against them, and it looks as if the end of the World has come. But there is one factor which the Martians, in spite of their superior intelligence, have not reckoned on. It is this which brings about a miraculous conclusion to this famous work of the imagination.   from Goodreads.

First published in 1897 in a series of magazine articles, this sci-fi classic has not been out of print since and has spawned a number of movies.  I loved Wells’ The Time Machine and was looking forward to this one about an alien invasion of England.  His writing always takes me a few chapters to get into a rhythm, but then I don’t even notice that the pre-1900 language.  Aliens from Mars head down to earth and somehow they are able to start killing at will and the people in the area don’t even seem that concerned.  The protagonist somehow managed to come out unscathed and with his life seemingly intact.

I was expecting to like it, but found myself a little bogged down in the geography and details. But I did love the old school, 1980 edition I had on my shelves!

This was my 14th selection for the Classics Club and I have until January 1, 2020 to get to 50.  I am woefully behind!

September 18, 2017 Posted by | 3 1/2 Star Books | 3 Comments

Dryland: One Woman’s Swim to Sobriety by Nancy Stearns Bercaw

Title: Dryland: One Woman's Swim to Sobriety, Author: Nancy Stearns BercawDryland. Finished 9-12-17, memoir, 242 pages, pub. 2017

Unabridged audio read by Donna Postel.  7 hours 16 minutes

For swimming champion Nancy Stearns Bercaw, the pool was a natural habitat. But on land, she could never shake the feeling of being a fish out of water. Starting at age two, Nancy devoted her life to swimming, even qualifying for the 1988 Olympic Trials in the fifty-meter freestyle event. But nearly two decades later, when she hung up her cap and goggles, she was confronted with a different kind of challenge: learning who she was out of the lanes.

In this honest, intimate memoir, Nancy reflects on her years wandering the globe, where tragic events and a lost sense of self escalate her dependence on booze. Thirty-three years after her first sip of alcohol, the swimmer comes to a stunning realization while living with her husband and son in Abu Dhabi—she’s drowning in the desert. Nancy looks to the Bedouin people for the strength to conquer one final opponent: alcohol addiction.   from Goodreads

I listened to this one most of the day yesterday and finished up the last 45 pages last night before bed.  I think the audio was well done and for anyone tempted to try it, I’d be happy to send you my copy of the cds.

Nancy is a competitive person who found great success in swimming, but found herself flailing a bit when that was over.  She joined the Peace Corps and ended up in Kenya, then taught English in Korea before heading back to the States with a boyfriend.  After weekend with a US Senator she breaks up with that boyfriend and then the Senator breaks up with her.  And then she meets a man, has a child and moves to Abu Dhabi.  All while consuming copious amounts of booze.

From the title I thought this would be about a woman recovering from alcoholism, but it was more alcohol travelogue than recovery story.  Seeing how other cultures view alcohol compared to the US was eye opening.  The exotic places made her story compelling and she knows how to turn a phrase for sure, but I didn’t really connect with Nancy.  This might be because I just read another memoir about a woman battling alcohol and I found that one more engaging and real (Let’s Take the Long Way Home by Gail Caldwell).

Caldwell has lived an exciting and nomadic life and it was good to see her come out the other side happier and sober.  I think this would be encouraging to those who don’t see an end to their drinking days.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for the book and audio.  If you are interested in either one let me know and I’ll send it on to you free of charge!

 

September 13, 2017 Posted by | 3 1/2 Star Books | 8 Comments

A Life in parts by Bryan Cranston

Title: A Life in Parts, Author: Bryan CranstonA Life in Parts. Finished 9-7-17, 4.5/5 stars, memoir, pub. 2016

Unabridged audio read superbly by author.

Bryan Cranston landed his first role at seven, when his father, a struggling actor and director, cast him in a United Way commercial. Soon, Bryan was haunting the local movie theater, memorizing and reenacting favorite scenes with his older brother. Acting was clearly the boy’s destiny—until one day his father disappeared. Suddenly, destiny took a back seat to survival.

Seeking something more stable, perhaps subconsciously trying to distance himself from his absent father, Cranston decided on a career in law enforcement. But then, a young man on a classic cross-country motorcycle trip, Cranston one day found himself stranded at a rest area in the Blue Ridge Mountains. To pass the time he read a tattered copy of Hedda Gabler, and in a flash he found himself face-to-face once again with his original calling. Suddenly he thought: This was what he wanted to do, what he would do, with the rest of his life. Act.    from Goodreads

Today I finished listening to A Life in Parts by Bryan Cranston. It was read by Cranston himself and it was 8 cds. I love when actors read their own books!  I did watch one or two seasons of Breaking Bad and have seen him in other things, but I wouldn’t have picked this one up unless Diane recommended it.  Cranston’s dad was an actor and left his three kids when they were young.  Cranston and his brother survived their childhood together, living with relatives, traveling overseas, and taking motorcycle road trip across America.  Cranston has led a very bold and ambitious life and he pulls no punches.  It started a little slow, but for most of this book his stories made me laugh out loud or have a motherly concern for his wellbeing.

If you are at all interested in reading about the acting life or love Walter White then this will be a good fit for you.  Perfect for a road trip with the hubby or wife, but not suitable for kids. Lots of language and sex.

I read this on day 8 of my monthly challenge.

September 12, 2017 Posted by | 4 1/2 Star Books | 2 Comments

Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

Title: Cat's Cradle, Author: Kurt VonnegutFinished 9-4-17, rating 4.5/ 5, classic fiction, 191 pages, pub. 1963

Told with deadpan humour & bitter irony, Kurt Vonnegut’s cult tale of global destruction preys on our deepest fears of witnessing Armageddon &, worse still, surviving it …

Dr Felix Hoenikker, one of the founding ‘fathers’ of the atomic bomb, has left a deadly legacy to the world. For he’s the inventor of ‘ice-nine’, a lethal chemical capable of freezing the entire planet. The search for its whereabouts leads to Hoenikker’s three ecentric children, to a crazed dictator in the Caribbean, to madness. Felix Hoenikker’s Death Wish comes true when his last, fatal gift to humankind brings about the end, that for all of us, is nigh…  from Goodreads

I haven’t read Vonnegut since Slaughterhouse-Five in college, a book I disliked.  So, imagine my surprise when I found myself charmed by this one.  The father of the hydrogen bomb made something even more deadly and, left in the hands of his three children, the fate of the world is in peril.  John, a writer and our narrator, finds himself drawn into the lives of these offspring and sent on an adventure that would leave the world changed forever.  This book was a hoot in its absurdity, but pointed in its observations of humanity.  Vonnegut has won me over.

This was my 13th selection for the Classics Club and I have until January 1, 2020 to get to 50.  I am woefully behind!

September 11, 2017 Posted by | 4 1/2 Star Books | 7 Comments

A Winner and $ for Charity

First, I realized a few days ago that I never drew a winner for your biography recommendations…even though Diane gave me the most entries (and I’m listening to the third on her list already) it was Heather‘s number that Gage picked!  I’ll be sending you a copy of my favorite book this month 🙂

And thank you for participating in my 5 word movie reviews.  Because of your participation I sent $110 to the Houston Food Bank.

September 9, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Sundays With Gage – A Mother – Son Reading Challenge

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It’s been a while since I’ve done a Sundays with Gage.  I intend to, but always seem to be short on time.  First grade seems to be going well.  He’s at the same school he attended last year and, even though it’s private, the city school bus takes him and brings him back to the elementary school half a mile from our house.  This saves me two hours every day and it’s bliss 🙂

Gage is great with numbers, he plays chess, he can play Old MacDonald on the piano, he shows no fear when he should, he can tell you about all of the planets, space and black holes.  But until this summer reading wasn’t coming along and it caused him a lot of frustration.  In June, he started going to the local Kumon tutor center once a week for 30 minutes and did about 10 minutes of daily homework and slowly, but surely progress is being made.  It’s a relief to me, but we have a long way to go.  It’s hard for him when something is just too challenging because he really does want to do everything well, so I am trying very hard to go slow and just give him some confidence.

So, the day that I started my new 30 Day Challenge I asked him if he wanted to finally join me in his first 30 day challenge.  He was so happy that I asked and said yes right away.  So, he is reading a new book every day this month and so am I.  He gets to choose the easiest books because I just want him to stay excited and  I look forward to seeing him willing to read every day!

Please hop over to my 30 Day Challenges Blog to follow along.

So far, Gage has read 3 Bob Books.  Not very exciting, but it is really helping his reading aloud fluency.

I’ve read 3 fantastic books so far…

Love That Boy:What Two Presidents, Eight Road Trips, and My Son Taught Me About a Parent’s Expectations by Ron Fournier (4 stars)

“This book  came about when reporter, Fournier, and his wife learned that their 12 year-old son had Asperger’s (from watching the TV show Parenthood.  Go Bravermans!)  As his wife started to assemble a team to help their son, Fournier, took him on a series of road trips to visit Presidential libraries and museums, something Tyler was really interested in.  This was a journey about a father finding his son.”

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi  (4.25 stars)

“Paul was a neurosurgeon resident and found out he had stage 4 lung cancer at the age of 36.  Between his diagnosis and his death he wrote this book about living.  Paul was able to choose two paths in his shorten life, as a writer in his youth and at the end of his life and his calling as a neurosurgeon in the middle.  I loved his relationship with literature and science and how he strived to make meaning of them both.  The world lost a great doctor and human being when he passed and I can only hope his words will inspire other young people to follow in his path.  A beautiful book about life and death and what to do with the time we have.”

Rosemary:The Hidden Kennedy Daughter by Kate Clifford Larson  (4 stars)

“I loved the inside look at the day to day lives of the Joe and Rose and their nine children.  I’d heard more about the ambitious, controlling father than about the mother, so I was intrigued and put off by her at the same time.  The Kennedy children are beautiful and brilliant, but Rosemary stood apart because she was different.  When she was born, during the height of the Spanish influenza in Boston, a nurse physically held her head inside of her mother after she’d already crowned.  I’m still horrified by it.  Whether that is what cause her ‘retardation’ we can only assume.  I can’t believe that Rose went on to birth 6 more children and live to be 104 after that!”

I’ll keep you posted as much as time will allow, but I’m updating the challenge blog and Facebook page everyday 🙂

 

 

September 3, 2017 Posted by | 4 Star Books, Gage | 11 Comments

August Movies & $ for Hurricane Harvey

Every month, since November 2009,  I’ve written a 5 word review of the movies I’ve watched and asked my online friends to add their 5 words to mine.  I’ve tied it to money for charity by letting the top contributor choose the charity every $100 (see charities here).  This month I’m doing something a little different.

I am donating money to the Houston Food Bank in the wake of the Hurricane Harvey devastation and I’ll add $1 to my donation every time you add your 5 words (or less) to mine.  It’s that easy. You can start on this post but if you haven’t seen any of these or want to contribute more money you can browse through the hundreds of movies I’ve watched and add your words to past movies.  Or if you want to browse each post to find movies you’ve seen you can do that here.

You don’t need to be a blogger to participate, just leave your movie “review” in a comment.  If you have any questions you can email me at stacybooks@yahoo.com

We’re up to $109!  Open til the end of next week.

 

Lucky Number Slevin Theater Poster.JPGLucky Number Slevin, 2006 (Bruce Willis, Josh Hartnett, Lucy Liu, Morgan Freeman, Ben Kingsley, Stanley Tucci     Grade B

Mob thriller made me LOL.

Josh Hartnett…before Penny Dreadful  (Michelle)


The main character holding a tabletBridget Jones’s Baby, 2016 (Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth, Patrick Dempsey)            Grade B

Two sexy potential daddies? Yesplease.


The Girl on The Train.jpgThe Girl on the Train, 2016 (Emily Blunt, Rebecca Ferguson, Haley Bennett, Justin Theroux, Luke Evans, Laura Prepon, Allison Janney)   Grade B-

Twisty thriller with great cast.

Was OK, book is better.  (Heather)

 Entertaining, but book was better.  (Michelle)


Trolls (film) logo.pngTrolls, 2016 (Voices-Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Zooey Deschanel, Russell Brand, James Corden, Gwen Stefani)  Grade B-

Cute trolls sing to live.

Fun singing. Lacked a plot.  (Heather)

Singing songs in my sleep.  (Nise)

Catchy tunes, overdose of happiness.  (Wendy)


Movie poster looney tunes back in action.JPGLooney Tunes:Back in Action, 2003 (Brendan Fraser, Jenna Elfman, Steve Martin, Timothy Dalton, Joan Cusack, Heather Lockear)   Grade C-

Gage seemed to like it 🙂

The icons are guest-stars here.  (Tony)

 

August 31, 2017 Posted by | 5 Word Movie Reviews | 6 Comments

Book vs. Movie – Girl on the Train

The Girl On The Train (US cover 2015).png vs. The Girl on The Train.jpg

I really liked the book when I read it last year and Jason and I finally got around to seeing the movie last week.  There might be smallish spoilers.  It’s really impossible to talk about either without revealing points that make it worth reading/watching.

The Story/Plot Rachel is a drunk and every day as she rides the train from her home to the big city she watches a couple in love as the train roars past, giving them names and a story of their own.  This is the starting point for both and the way the story unfolds is similar, but different enough to notice.  Location, location, location.  In the book Rachel lives outside of London, in the movie it’s New York.  In the book the story moved between three women, all connected in ways that revealed themselves slowly.  The movie told their stories in a different order and sanitized some aspects so the overall effect wasn’t nearly as twisty. In the book we got into the minds of these women in ways that were missed onscreen.  Thumbs Up – Book

The Visual  Since I live in Ohio, I would have much preferred the setting of London, a place I would love to visit someday.  The screen did get some of the darker scenes right, but nothing my imagination didn’t do as well or better.   Thumbs Up – Book

Characters vs. Actors This is the category where the most significant changes were made, in my opinion.  Rachel is an overweight, unhappy drunk who is obsessed with other people.  Emily Blunt did an admirable job, but the storytelling did her a disservice.  The movie went of its way to redeem her, even adding a character (Lisa Kudrow) to show us that she really was a good person.  She wasn’t the only one they made less interesting.  Rebecca Ferguson as the ex-wife and Luke Evans as the missing woman’s husband were both a shade or two less dark than they should have been to make them as compelling as they were in the book.  Justin Theroux, Allison Janney, Laura Prepon and Haley Bennett rounded out the all-star cast and make this one hard to judge.  I’ll call this one a wash because I did love the cast, but I also think the dark edge of the characters was superior in the book.   Thumbs Up – Tie

The Ending The ending was as close as it could have been, although I could’ve done without the last scene in the police station (further redemption of Rachel was unnecessary).  I guess for that reason I’d choose the book, but it’s close.  Thumbs Up – Book

And the winner is…the book!  There wasn’t anything wrong with the movie but it didn’t come close to packing the punch that the book did.

 

August 30, 2017 Posted by | Books vs. Movie | 9 Comments

Top Ten Tuesday – Otherworldly Classics

I love to see these lists on other blogs and have wanted to jump in for a while.  Today is the day!  The Broke and the Bookish host this weekly meme so hop over and see what other bloggers are talking about today.

I was inspired when I saw Wendy’s list (Musings of a Bookish Kitty) so decided to do a small tweak on hers.  My love of reading started with romances, but through some exceptional fantasy/sci-fi classics I have come to appreciate the genre.  And in recent years magical realism has been creeping into my reading too.

Top Ten Classics with an Otherworldly Twist. 

Title: A Wrinkle in Time (Time Quintet Series #1), Author: Madeleine L'EngleA Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle.  I remember loving this one as a kid and need a re-read before the movie comes out later this year.

Title: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Chronicles of Narnia Series #2), Author: C. S. LewisThe Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S.Lewis. Another one I loved as a kid.  I admit I never made it through the whole series, but I’d like to try with Gage.

Title: Watership Down, Author: Richard AdamsWatership Down by Richard Adams.  This story completely from the perspective of rabbits is a gem that shouldn’t be missed.

Title: Ender's Game (Ender Quintet Series #1), Author: Orson Scott CardEnder’s Game by Orson Scott Card. Another one I can’t wait to share with Gage someday soon.  Complex and exciting.

Title: Fellowship of the Ring (Lord of the Rings Trilogy #1 - Movie Art Cover), Author: J. R. R. TolkienThe Lord of the Rings:The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien.  Loved it when I read it in college and loved the movie just as much.

Title: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Hitchhiker's Guide Series #1), Author: Douglas AdamsThe Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.  Such a comic treat the first time you read it.

Title: The Time Machine: H.G. Wells' Groundbreaking Time Travel Tale, Classic Science Fiction, Author: H. G. WellsThe Time Machine by H.G. Wells.  Surprisingly gripping for such a slim novel.

Title: Beloved, Author: Toni MorrisonBeloved by Toni Morrison.  This story covers the aftermath of the Civil War.  The fact that there’s a ghost only adds to its mystique.

Title: The House of the Spirits, Author: Isabel AllendeThe House of Spirits by Isabel Allende.  My first foray into magical realism.

Title: Like Water for Chocolate, Author: Laura EsquivelLike Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel.  Sexy and magical.  Plus, there’s chocolate!

Have I missed one of your favorites?  Let me know 🙂

 

August 15, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | 15 Comments