Last year I watched the movie Still Alice and was drawn into the heartbreak of Alzheimers and last month I finally read the book. I mostly listened to the audio read by the author and would highly recommend it. Having loved them both, which will come out on top?
The Story/Plot Alice is a highly esteemed linguistics professor at Harvard with a husband and three grown kids. In the movie they change the school to Columbia in New York for some reason but it didn’t really matter. She starts to experience strange symptoms that she wants to attribute to menopause but she can’t so she sees a doctor. At 50 she is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimers. What happens to her and those around her is the story and both movie and book walked the same path. The book did provide more details about the (limited) options for treatment and more about the support group Alice formed.. Thumbs Up – book
The Visual Since this is a very character based book there was no great onscreen must see. Just characters going through what no one should have to. There was no real advantage onscreen so the book held a small advantage. Thumbs Up- barely book
Characters vs Actors Julianne Moore was fantastic as Alice and I couldn’t have asked for more. She totally deserved her Oscar. I also thought Kristen Stewart was perfect as Lydia. But, as much as I like Alec Baldwin, I much preferred (and disliked) book John. Alec tried to save John by the twinkle in his eye, but John didn’t deserve to be saved. Thumbs Up – barely movie
The Ending There were no real differences between them, but I thought the movie packed more of an emotional punch at the end and left me completely drained. Thumbs Up – movie
And the winner is…the book. That stats are a tie but my gut says the book though I totally loved the movie.
Now it’s your turn to vote
Other book vs. movie polls you can vote on (The Blind Side) (The Fault in Our Stars) (The Hound of the Baskervilles) (Gone Girl) (Jack Reacher) (Ender’s Game) (Carrie, the original) (Under the Tuscan Sun) (The Secret Life of Bees) (The Shining, the original)
Dear Almost. Finished 9-13-16, rating 4.5/5, poetry, pub. 2016
Dear Almost is a book-length poem addressed to an unborn child lost in miscarriage. Beginning with the hope and promise of springtime, poet Matthew Thorburn traces the course of a year with sections set in each of the four seasons. Part book of days, part meditative prayer, part travelogue, the poem details a would-be father’s wanderings through the figurative landscapes of memory and imagination as well as the literal landscapes of the Bronx, Shanghai, suburban New Jersey, and the Japanese island of Miyajima. As the speaker navigates his days, he attempts to show his unborn daughter “what life is like / here where you ought to be / with us, but aren’t.” His experiences recall other deaths and uncover the different ways we remember and forget. Grief forces him to consider a question he never imagined asking: how do you mourn for someone you loved but never truly knew, never met or saw? In candid, meditative verse Dear Almost seeks to resolve this painful question, honoring the memory of a child who both was and wasn’t there.
Last month I read Dear Almost and was so moved. Jason and I experienced a miscarriage when I was 36 and it was a difficult thing to wrap my head and heart around. Eventually I was able to tell a few people and my good friend told me that she too had suffered a miscarriage the year before and didn’t know if she was supposed to tell people or just try to forget about her ‘almost’. Since then I’ve talked to many women, friends who’ve had miscarriages, but it was that friend whose words stuck in my head. Were we supposed to talk about it, which is the route I chose, or just move on and pretend it didn’t happen, like she did? There is no right answer, of course, because like Thorburn so perfectly addresses in the book one day there is this life full of possibility and the next day all of those possibilities are gone and it hardly seems real. How each chooses to move on from that is a very personal thing.
I am not much of a poetry reader, but I do like to read outside of my comfort zone and when Serena told me what the poem was about I was in. Reviewing a poem is not a skill I really possess, but reading something beautiful full of sadness, grief, joy, and a renewal of spirit and appreciating it was easy. I was completely caught up, all of the emotions of the poet swirling around the ones that it brought out in me. It gives me hope that one day I might be able to call myself a poetry buff.
I’ll leave you with a little from the end. The last few pages bring tears to my eyes every time I read them but I’m only sharing a small part..
We’ve had our time
together. I wanted you
to see the snow.
I wanted to show you
these days, what
life is like. It scares me
I can no longer
picture your face,
which was only ever
my memory of
my imagining of
how your face
might look someday-
to hold onto.
I want to thank Serena for having me on the tour and Matthew Thorburn for graciously sending me a copy of his newest poem. Thorburn also wrote an article in the Sept/Oct Poets & Writers magazine talking about this new poem so check it out if you can. It elevates the reading experience.
Other stops on the tour-
Another birthday is here and this one is making me feel both old (if I round up it’s 50!) and blessed. I’m exactly half the age that my grandmother was when she died and her life was full of joy and faith and just good old fashioned Christian values and I feel good knowing that I’m only halfway-ish to a life well lived.
Since I entered my 40’s I’ve learned a few things. The weight goes up easier and comes down only with starvation. I’m a stronger woman than I ever gave myself credit for, especially pre-kid. Being a mother is easy to get lost in if you let yourself. Being an older mother sets you apart and so does having a child with special needs, so the road is not easy nor all that well-traveled. Online friends can be just as present in your life as those in your real world. Cheering for Ohio State football will never get old. Life gets busy and it’s too easy to lose track of friends, but if they matter the time won’t matter as soon as you start talking. Traveling is fun and great for your spirit. Flying is a necessary evil. There will never be enough years to read all of the books I want to read. Having supportive parents who are still together is not all that common, appreciate it. Having no idea what the latest hot app is will not make one bit of difference in your quality of life. Cable is not all it’s cracked up to be. Family is good for the soul.
Next week Jason and I will be married 18 years, if only our marriage could vote! It’s true sometimes there are stretches when it’s not easy to remember why you agreed to such a crazy thing, but if every day you find one thing that you really appreciate those annoying periods fly right on by. Unless you hear a tape of him bantering with Donald Trump in the locker room. Then all bets are off.
Any sage advice you’d like to share about your 40’s or happy marriage secrets?
From my morning walk…Have a beautiful day!
The Croquet Player. Finished 9-7-16, rating 4/5, fiction, 98 pages, pub. 1937
This allegorical satire about a man fleeing from his evil dreams was written under the influence of the Spanish Civil War. The croquet player, comfortably sipping a vermouth, listens to the strange & terrible tale of the haunted countryside of Cainsmarsh–a horror which broadens & deepens until it embraces the world.
Wells’ modern ghost story of a remote English Village, Cainsmarsh. Dark events are plaguing its people. A terrified farmer murders a scarecrow. Family pets are being bludgeoned to death. Loving couples are turning on each other in vicious rage. People are becoming suspicious of every move each other makes. Children are coming to school with marks on them. One observer thinks there’s evil underground scattered all over the marsh, invading villagers’ minds, & it’s spreading. A well bred, affable & somewhat effeminate croquet player is told the strange story of Cainsmarsh & it’s impending doom as if its plight was the beginning of the end of civilization. (Goodreads)
A modernish day ghost story, published in 1937. A croquet player minding his own business, is approached by a doctor who dumps this crazy story of evil on him. I love the croquet player and his pages of description about himself.
“It takes all sorts to make a world and I see no sense in pretending to be the human norm when one is not. Regarded from a certain angle I am no doubt a soft, but all the same I can keep my head and temper at croquet and make a wooden ball perform like a trained animal.” p.11
“I have soft hands and am ineffective will. I prefer not to make important decisions. My aunt has trained me to be to be her constant associate and, with displays and declarations on all possible occasions of an immense maternal passion for me, she has-I know it clearly-made me self-indulgent and dependent.” p.13
A strange, haunting, thought-provoking novella for H.G. Wells fans and a good introduction to his writing for newbies. I thought it was wonderfully deep and discussion worthy, especially given its length.
My post when I read this last month for my book a day challenge.
First Star I See Tonight. Finished 9-6-16, 4/5 stars, romance, 368 pages, pub. 2016
A star quarterback and a feisty detective play for keeps in this sporty, sexy, sassy novel—a long-awaited new entry in the beloved, award-winning, New York Times bestselling author’s fan-favorite Chicago Stars football series.
Piper Dove is a woman with a dream—to become the best detective in the city of Chicago. First job? Trail former Chicago Stars quarterback, Cooper Graham. Problem? Graham’s spotted her, and he’s not happy.
Piper soon finds herself working for Graham himself, although not as the bodyguard he refuses to admit he so desperately needs. Instead, he’s hired her to keep an eye on the employees at his exclusive new nightclub. But Coop’s life might be in danger, and Piper’s determined to protect him, whether he wants it or not. (Hint: Not!) If only she weren’t also dealing with a bevy of Middle Eastern princesses, a Pakistani servant girl yearning for freedom, a teenager who just wants to fit in, and an elderly neighbor demanding Piper find her very dead husband. from Goodreads
She is a go to author and one of a handful of authors who have me purchasing their newest hardcover when it comes out. I’ve read and loved all of her romances. This is technically listed as Chicago Stars #8 but this is not really a series. You’ll see some of the same people show up, but in no way do you have to read the series in order to enjoy it and I don’t say that very often.
Coop, a recently retired pro football player is being followed by a fledgling private investigator. When he calls her on it she uses her humor and wit to power through all the way to a new job. Sparks, fly, of course, and there’s plenty of hot sex to keep them panting after each other.
Phillips always does a great job with feisty and interesting heroines and Coop wasn’t too shabby either.
I’m taking a Writing Romance class through the library and the instructor always mentions Nora Roberts and Heather Graham as the elite, but in my opinion it’s Susan Elizabeth Phillips.
I know I’ve been absent lately. I think that’ll get better🙂 I finished my first 30 Day Challenge of finishing a book day. Pop on over to the blog to check out the wrap up. Now I have plenty of books to review this month!
For October I’m planning on a 2-3 mile nature walk everyday to enjoy the gorgeous fall weather. I’d love to have you join me.
Because of all of my reading we only managed one movie, and that was last night on the last day of the month!
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 $35.
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 Magnificent Seven, 2016 (Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, Byung-hun Lee, Peter Saarsgard) Grade C
Men bust up Old West town.
A few have you have checked out my new blog with my first 30 day challenge. I challenged myself to read a book every day for 30 days and guess what? I’m 15/15! The first two days the authors came by to leave a nice comment🙂 I hope that I can find a few minutes to catch up on some reviews here in the next few days, but here’s what I read so far. Click on over to say hi.
15- The Watermark by Travis Thrasher
So, how many of these have you read?
The Lifeboat. Finished 9-5-16, rating 4/5, fiction, 278 pages, pub. 2012
Unabridged audio read by Rebecca Gibel. 7 hours, 47 minutes
Grace Winter, 22, is both a newlywed and a widow. She is also on trial for her life.
In the summer of 1914, the elegant ocean liner carrying Grace and her husband Henry across the Atlantic suffers a mysterious explosion. Setting aside his own safety, Henry secures Grace a place in a lifeboat, which the survivors quickly realize has exceeded capacity. For any to live, some must die.
As the castaways battle the elements and each other, Grace recollects the unorthodox way she and Henry met, and the new life of privilege she thought she’d found. Will she pay any price to keep it?
Grace and 39 other passengers are adrift in the Atlantic with no way of knowing when or if they will be rescued. A ship’s crewman takes charge and they all, seemingly, appreciate the leadership. As the days go by, however, there is mutiny in the hearts of some and desperation in others. Grace tries to stay under the radar but cover her bases. Is she innocent or conniving?
The story begins with Grace and two other women on trial for murder, so we know they were rescued, but we know people were killed. What happened? Grace is asked to write a journal of her experience for her defense and it’s through this diary that the time on the lifeboat unfolds. Grace is mysterious in ways that her journal only highlights. Readers will have fun discussing her.
Prepare to see the worst and, well, mainly the worst that human nature has to offer. If we strip ourselves down to a struggle for survival (water, food, shelter) what would happen? What if our survival, for better or worse, was tied to a group of strangers? A compelling read, for sure.
This was my fifth book for my 30 books in 30 days challenge. You can read about today here.
Benny & Shrimp. Finished 9-4-16, rating 3.75/5, fiction, 209 pages. pub. 1998
An international sensation, this addictively readable tale asks the question: Why is it so impossible to get a relationship between two middle-aged misfits to work? The answer lies in the story of Shrimp, a young widowed librarian with a sharp intellect and a home so tidy that her jam jars are in alphabetical order; Benny, a gentle, overworked milk farmer who fears becoming the village’s Old Bachelor; and an unlikely love that should not be as complicated as it seems. Reminiscent of the works of Carol Shields, this quirky, humorous, beautifully told novel breathes new life into the age-old conundrum that is love.
I realize that I am now middle aged, but calling 35 &36 year olds washed up, middle aged, has-beens was a bit of a stretch for me. Not that I didn’t love them, but Benny and Desiree kept trying to make me feel like they were older than they really were. This could, of course, just be a difference in culture. This book is translated from Swedish, so maybe people are put out on the shelf earlier than they are here. I totally understood Desiree’s clicking biological clock. Been there at that age so totally believable.
Aside from the middle aged issue, I really liked these two quirky characters who were leading different lives and couldn’t seem to find a way to meld them together. A clear case of opposites attract told with great truth and insight. I see that some friends who read the book didn’t like end. I didn’t see it coming, but I actually think it was an ending true to the characters. I understand there’s a sequel and I wouldn’t mind checking out what happens to Benny & Shrimp.
I loved learning more about life in Sweden and the running of a dairy farm. A fun read and book 4 in my Book a Day challenge.
Vengeance Follows. Finished 9-3-16, 3.5/5 stars, fiction. 247 pages, pub. 2013
A young man loses the true love of his life and seeks vengeance from the man he holds responsible for his wife’s death. Told with elegant simplicity, this novel of literary suspense is a tragic story of love and loss that ultimately reveals the cruelty of human nature and the healing power of forgiveness.
Sam and Sophie’s idyllic life of Parisian cafés, fine wine, and romantic passion is torn apart when Sophie is diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor. Then Sophie reveals something that happened years before they met—a horrific event that changed her life and left her wounded in ways no one knew. She’s found peace in the years since, she swears to Sam. But then she’s gone, and Sam finds only pain.
Bereft and alone, he leaves the City of Light and seeks solace in a small French village where no one knows him or his past. Troubled in heart and mind, he knows one man is responsible for Sophie’s death. Sam cannot live without confronting him and holding him accountable for his past crimes.
And so Sam travels to America, to a charming little Ohio town where lights twinkle on the snow in winter and fairs shimmer in the summer heat. Here, Sam will seek his revenge—and find retribution for his lost love in a way he could never imagine . . .
Sam loses the love of his life and blames one man. After her death he heads to a small Ohio village to plan his revenge. What he finds is town full of people who can help him heal, if only he would let them.
Chestnut Falls, based on the lovely Chagrin Falls where I take most out-of-town guests, is lovely. Lax brought the village and the people to life. I fell in love with the friends Sam made and their stories. My only problem was I didn’t quite buy into the quest for vengeance, so Sam was a mystery to me.
This is sure to appeal to lovers of charming villages and small town life. It even adds a sophisticated air since Sam spent years in Paris writing about wine. Sounds like a perfect job to me🙂
The publisher generously sent this one to me and is my third book in my 30 books in 30 days challenge and you can read more about it here.