Stacy's Books

books, movies, and boy

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

Title: Before the Fall, Author: Noah HawleyBefore the Fall. Finished 7-5-16, rating 4/5, thriller, 390 pages, pub. 2016

On a foggy summer night, eleven people—ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter—depart Martha’s Vineyard on a private jet headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the plane plunges into the ocean. The only survivors are Scott Burroughs—the painter—and a four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of an immensely wealthy and powerful media mogul’s family.

With chapters weaving between the aftermath of the crash and the backstories of the passengers and crew members—including a Wall Street titan and his wife, a Texan-born party boy just in from London, a young woman questioning her path in life, and a career pilot—the mystery surrounding the tragedy heightens. As the passengers’ intrigues unravel, odd coincidences point to a conspiracy. Was it merely by dumb chance that so many influential people perished? Or was something far more sinister at work? Events soon threaten to spiral out of control in an escalating storm of media outrage and accusations. And while Scott struggles to cope with fame that borders on notoriety, the authorities scramble to salvage the truth from the wreckage.                                from Goodreads

I hate to fly, I do it when I have to because I know it will get me somewhere beautiful, but I still hate it.  This book started with a bang, or a blast, or a fire, or whatever might have brought the plane down and led is into cold Atlantic waters with a swimmer and a boy trying to survive.  Even knowing from the description that they will be safe didn’t make those pages any less tense or nail biting.  I was hooked.  What happens when the two hit land is where the story and the condemnation of 24 hour cable news, especially the ones touting a specific point of view, begins.

But journalism was something else, wasn’t it?  It was meant to be objective reporting of facts, no matter how contradictory. You didn’t make the news fit the story. You simply reported the facts as they were. When had that stopped being true?  (page 274)

This book has been called  the book to read this summer from just about every corner of the blogging and print world so I was curious.  I loved the first half of the book very much. The victims of the crash all had their say and it was compelling, even though they were dead.  The mystery of the crash remained and Scott was a character I wanted to figure out.  It is a very smart book.  I did think it was a little anticlimactic by the end, but I’d still recommend it.

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!

July 20, 2016 Posted by | 4 Star Books | 10 Comments

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Title: The Girl on the Train, Author: Paula HawkinsThe Girl on the Train. Finished 6-3-16, rating 4/5, thriller. pub. 2015

Unabridged audio read by Clare Corbett, Louise Brealey, India Fisher. 11 hours

EVERY DAY THE SAME
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

UNTIL TODAY
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?    from Goodreads

I’m a little late on this one and that’s okay. There was so much hype it scared me away for a while. I’d seen the comparisons to Gone Girl and I had a love/hate relationship with that book. I do remember the end made me so mad that I wanted to throw it across the room (actually, that might have happened). So, I went into this one with dark, twisty expectations and it delivered.  As with Gone Girl, the multiple points of view and the hot mess of unlikable characters, were somehow elevated by terrific storytelling.

I don’t even really want to say more. I think the less you know the better.  I’ll just say that someone dies and there are quite a few people who could have done it.  And  Rachel, the first narrator, isn’t even the biggest hot mess of them all.  Quite a story. It may make you feel like going to your happy place afterward since none of those people have seen a happy place in just about forever.

Perfect for thriller lovers who like dark, twisty novels.

July 12, 2016 Posted by | 4 Star Books | 13 Comments

July Movie Watch – The Legend of Tarzan

movie watchtarzan

The Legend of Tarzan poster.jpg

Tarzan received 33% of the vote for the movie this month so Jason and I saw it last night.  I should point out that the only knowledge about the original Tarzan cam from the book Jane that I read several years ago and really enjoyed.

I liked the movie and gave it 8 stars on IMdB (although I’d have given it 7.5 if I’d been allowed).  I loved the beautiful locations, the CGI jungle animals (yes, you can tell they are CGI but still so well done it took me to the heart of the Congo), and the story felt modern even though it took place over 100 years ago. George Washington Williams, played by Samuel L Jackson , was based on a real person, a reporter who exposed the atrocities of King Leopold, King of Belgium.  That was the starting point of the story. GWW wanted Tarzan to go to Congo and poke around and see what was happening there and so he, Tarzan (John Clayton, Lord of Greystoke), his wife Jane head off to Congo. What they discover is what GWW expected, the enslaving of the people, and their journey is full of danger from the animals and the man hunting them, Rom, who has a boat full of soldiers with him.  The story of Tarzan’s birth and childhood living among the apes is one I think most everyone is familiar with and is told in such a moving way, both the beauty and the hate lighting the screen.

My favorite character was feisty Jane, played by the talented Margot Robbie.  She was brave and warm and worthy of the love from Tarzan. As for Tarzan, played by Alexander Skarsgard, he was strong and stoic with the quiet wildness you’d expect from a wild child turned English gentleman.  Rom, played by the ever talented Christoph Waltz, was properly  treacherous and got the end he had coming to him.

This is a thoughtful story told with action but it is not a modern action film.  It’s slower and I enjoyed my time in the Congo.

So, I’d like for you to add your post in the comments so that I can link it to this post.  I’d also like if you’d answer one or all of the questions and add one of your own for the next person:)

*How familiar are you with the original Tarzan books written by Edgar Rice Burroughs ?

*Did you like the CGI?

*Did you have a favorite character or actor?

I’m looking forward to seeing what you think!

 

July 11, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Picture Books About Real People That We Loved

I’ve been reading some fun picture books with Gage lately about real people.  Here are the three I have checked out of the library and I’d recommend them for any toddler/kindergartner that you know.  If you have any recommendations for me, comment away!

Albie's First Word: A Tale Inspired by Albert Einstein's ChildhoodAlbie’s First Word:A Tale Inspired by Albert Einstein’s Childhood.  Written by Jacqueline Tourville. Illustrated by Wynne Evans. 40 pages.

I think many people know the story goes that Albert Einstein didn’t say his first word until he was four or so.  This is the story of what his family went through when their toddler couldn’t talk. Mostly truth, but some imaginings.

I love this book. I love the illustrations and being able to read it to Gage and tell him the truth of it.  You don’t have to be like everyone else to change the world.

Young Frank, ArchitectYoung Frank Architect. By Frank Viva.40 pages

MoMA’s first picture book, this tells the tale of Young Frank and his grandfather Old Frank who have different views about architecture.  The Franks go to the Museum of Moder Art (MoMA) to learn about real architects, Frank O. Gehry and Frank Lloyd Wright.   Although Old and Young Frank are not real people the fact that this book explored architecture by two icons made this feel like a true story.

I loved the book and the illustrations. I loved the invitation to creativity as the two Franks created a city by using only everyday items around the house.

A Boy Called DickensA Boy Called Dickens.  Written by Deborah Hopkinson. Illustrated by John Hendrix.  40 pages.

Beautifully illustrated of young  Charles Dickens growing up working in the factory to support himself while the rest of his family was in debtor’s prison.

In my opinion, the language was a little too much for kids, but the story is one to bring out when you feel like your kids don’t appreciate what they have in life.  Being thankful is one of the takeaways for kids in this one.

July 2, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Absence, June’s Movies and July’s movie vote

Hi Guys! I’m feeling very out of touch in the blog world since I have run out of time and energy lately to post when and what I have in mind.  Gage got a new medical diagnosis a few months ago and I’m trying to figure it out.  Autism has a medical cause (most often more than one) and figuring it out is a very big, complicated puzzle. I’m a stubborn woman and in many ways it would be easier to say “autism, I’ll just treat that (the behaviors)” but some hero moms dig in their heels and step into the biomed world.  I’ve been trying to follow in their footsteps but it takes its toll on me. It’s stressful and honestly, oftentimes, too much to deal with on top of the autism behaviors themselves, especially in the summer when schedules are often fluid. I could go into great detail, but who needs that?  But, if you know of any moms who might need to talk to someone about autism, send them my way.  I’ve had so many moms step up and guide me to where I need to be and paying it forward makes me feel like I’m honoring them.


It was a slow month here.  Can you tell my movie choices were chosen by the boys in my life?  Please tell me if you saw anything worth seeing this 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 $34.

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.

Mr Peabody & Sherman Poster.JPGMr. Peabody and Sherman, 2014 (Voices-Ty Burrell, Max Charles, Ariel Winter)    Grade A-/B+

Smart way to introduce kids to history.


CentralIntelligencePoster.jpgCentral Intelligence, 2016 (Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Amy Ryan, Danielle Nicolet)     Grade C+

Kevin Hart does Kevin Hart


Penguins of Madagascar poster.jpgPenguins of Madagascar, 2014 (Voices-Tom McGrath, Chris Miller, Christopher Knights, Conrad Vernon, Benedict Cumberbatch,John Malkovich)   Grade C+

It had its moments.


We’re going to try the Watch-a-thon again. Last month was a big fail, so I’ll leave the voting up for a week and then we’ll try again. Vote for the one you’d most like to see.

 

The Legend of Tarzan

The BFG

Ghostbusters

Star Trek Beyond

Bad Moms

Captain Fantastic

The Secret Life of Pets

 

July 1, 2016 Posted by | 5 Word Movie Reviews, movies | | 11 Comments

The Amazing Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman

Title: The Amazing Mrs. Pollifax (Mrs. Pollifax Series #2), Author: Dorothy GilmanThe Amazing Mrs. Pollifax. Finished 6-12-16, rating 4/5, mystery, 172 pages, pub. 1970

When Emily Pollifax answers the phone that Sunday morning, she quickly forgets all about her Garden Club tea that afternoon. For the voice on the other end belonged to a man she had never seen, a man from the CIA who asked her if she could leave immediately on a mission that would take her halfway across the world! What could Mrs. Pollifax say but yes?    from Goodreads

Mrs. Pollifax is a widower in her 60’s and instead of settling down to garden club meetings she has become an improbable asset to the CIA.  This is her second case and she heads to Turkey to try to make contact with a double agent being sought by a seemingly endless list of countries.  As Emily Pollifax makes friends in the most unlikely of places, the authorities  and bad guys close in.

I read a few of the Mrs. Pollifax series way before I became obsessed with reading series’ in order and I have to say that it’s okay.  Emily is just as delightful in any order :) I like learning about the exotic locales that Emily is sent to and really liked learning about the gypsies in this one.

I recommend this series to cozy mystery fans and fans of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple.

 

June 23, 2016 Posted by | 4 Star Books, Uncategorized | | 5 Comments

Already Home by Susan Mallery

Title: Already Home, Author: Susan MalleryAlready Home. Finished 3-29-16, rating 4.25/5, women’s fiction, pub. 2011

Unabridged audio read by Teri Clark Linden. 10 hours 33 minutes.

After nearly a decade as a sous-chef in a trendy eatery, and fresh off a divorce from the owner, Jenna Stevens is desperate for a change. So when she spots a for-lease sign in her hometown, she impulsively decides to open her very own cooking store. Her crash course in business is aided by a streetwise store manager and Jenna’s adoptive mother. But as soon as she gains a foothold in her new life, in walk her birth parents—aging hippies on a quest to reconnect.

Now Jenna must figure out how to reconcile the free-spirited Serenity and Tom with the parents who raised her and decide whether to open her heart to a man who just might be the best thing to happen to her in years. All without sacrificing her newly found dreams. In the end, Jenna will find that there is no perfect family, only the people we love.…  from Goodreads

I went in expecting a romance, and while this did have the feel of  romance, it was so much more than that.  Jenna (I’ve always loved that name) has been left by a jerk of a husband and decides to go home and on a whim buys retail space for a cooking store, with no retail experience or plan at all.  Her first order of business was hiring the most interesting character in the book, Violet, and the two of them form a successful business and friendship.

Jenna enjoyed a close and loving relationship with her parents and had no interest in finding her real parents, even after they showed up in her store.  The story of two families coming together was sweet and heartwarming.  I didn’t always love Jenna, she seemed clueless much of the time, but the cast of characters (especially her half-brother Dragon) made this a fun and touching novel.

If you love reading about family dynamics, especially those with likeable aging hippies, then you should give this one a look.

June 21, 2016 Posted by | 4 Star Books | | 9 Comments

June Matinee -Me Before You

Last month 57.14% of you voted to watch Me Before You this month for our first Monthly Watchathon.

Me Before You (film).jpgThe movie is based on the bestselling book by JojoMoyes. Sorry I’m getting this up so late, before I left for vacation Genius was winning and that didn’t come out until this weekend.

So, since we’re a little late and you may have seen it and even written about it already, let’s keep it simple.  I’m going to offer up a few questions for your post, feel free to answer just one or all.

After you post your review, leave the link in a comment AND add one question to add to mine. I’ll add both to this post.

Questions-

Did you read the book first?

Who was your favorite character in the movie and if you read it too was it different from the book?

In the end, did you understand Will?

 

I’m off to see the movie tomorrow and then I’ll add my review. I look forward to seeing what you all thought.

June 18, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Quiz winners!

As the first round of Quizzes comes to a close we have a winner

Nise from Under the Boardwalk who wins an $18 B&N gift card

and another winner

Tara from Tales of a Book Addict who was the randomly selected winner and will receive a small bookish prize from me soon.

Congratulations:)

Thank you all for participating. Starting next week, Wednesdays will be home to my new Movie Meme and Movie Watch posts.  Quizzes will most likely return this fall.

June 15, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

Title: Eligible: A modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice, Author: Curtis SittenfeldEligible. Finished 5-15-16, rating 4/5, romance, 492 pages, pub. 2016

A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice

This version of the Bennet family—and Mr. Darcy—is one that you have and haven’t met before: Liz is a magazine writer in her late thirties who, like her yoga instructor older sister, Jane, lives in New York City. When their father has a health scare, they return to their childhood home in Cincinnati to help—and discover that the sprawling Tudor they grew up in is crumbling and the family is in disarray.

Youngest sisters Kitty and Lydia are too busy with their CrossFit workouts and Paleo diets to get jobs. Mary, the middle sister, is earning her third online master’s degree and barely leaves her room, except for those mysterious Tuesday-night outings she won’t discuss. And Mrs. Bennet has one thing on her mind: how to marry off her daughters, especially as Jane’s fortieth birthday fast approaches.

Enter Chip Bingley, a handsome new-in-town doctor who recently appeared on the juggernaut reality TV dating show Eligible. At a Fourth of July barbecue, Chip takes an immediate interest in Jane, but Chip’s friend neurosurgeon Fitzwilliam Darcy reveals himself to Liz to be much less charming. . . .

And yet, first impressions can be deceiving.      from Goodreads

I read this book for book club and, as luck would have it, Curtis spoke at a local library a week before our meeting. She was funny and charming and those of us that attended really liked her.  I waited until after meeting her to start reading the book and am glad I did.  She stressed that this was a fun ‘romp’ not an exact retelling of Pride & Prejudice.  This helped frame the book and that description was used a few times at our book group meeting.  Everyone really liked it. Here I am with Curtis…

IMG_7271

As for the story itself, it was good, but I did have one major issue from the beginning.  Elizabeth had spent most of her adult life involved with a married man.  It just didn’t mesh with my vision of Lizzie and it took me a while to get past it.  Sittenfeld did a good job of making Pride & Prejudice ultra modern.  She took on hoarding, reality tv, artificial insemination, transgenders.  Hardly a current hot button issue not included.

There was chemistry between Liz & Darcy, and Liz’s family was something to behold. A modern, beach romp for sure and P&P fans will enjoy visiting with old friends.

 

June 13, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | 11 Comments

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