My Monthly Movie Thoughts and open invitation

These are the movies I’ve watched this month and I’ve given each one a grade and 5 words to describe it.  There are two ways to actively participate.  One, if you’ve seen any of the movies leave me your 1-5 words in the comments and I’ll add them to the post.  Or, if you are feeling ambitious and want to do this on your own blog leave me a link in the comments and I’ll add it to the bottom of the post.   Of course,  you can just browse and enjoy too 🙂

(2009. Cast- Zooey Deschanel, Joseph Gordon-Levitt)  Grade A

Quirky Charming Original Un-Love Story. 

Enchanting, lovely, hilarious, romantic realism. (Nolatari)
Quirky, end was really fantastic!  (Heather)

This whole movie is charming.  (Tony)

(1993. Cast- Johnny Depp, Aidan Quinn, Mary Stuart Masterson)  Grade B+

Two Misfits. Sweet Love Story.

Sweet, quirky, plus Johnny Depp! (Stephanie)

Adorable. Depp at his sweetest. (Nolatari)

Touching Cute Early Depp Vehicle (Beth)
Johnny Depp, disarmingly charming role. (Michelle)

Depp, one of his best!  (Heather)


(2010. Cast- Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Michelle Williams) Grade B

Gritty. Troubling. Insanity. Prison. Surprising.

 Book and movie both great  (Heather)

Leo is crazy, right?  Right???  (Tony)

(2009. Cast- Russell Crowe, Rachel McAdams, Ben Affleck, Helen Mirren, Jason Bateman, Robin Wright Penn) Grade B

 Journalism & Politics on Trial. Lies.

 Good enough. Series is better. (Nolatari)

I enjoyed the political intrigue.  (Heather)

Politics as usual, poor guy.  (Tony)

(1986. Cast- William Peterson, Joan Allen, Brian Cox, Dennis Farina) Grade B

Hannibal Lecktor. Grissom Before Grissom.

Unsatisfying once you see Hopkins.  (Tony)

(1980. Cast- Brooke Shields, Christopher Atkins) Grade C+

Childlike Innocence.  Escapism. Campy Fun.

Mostly for Teen Age Boys (Beth)

We Have a Quiz Winner!

I want to thank you all for playing along with my new quiz format.  It’s so much fun playing book games with you 🙂  The final results are here.   The next round will begin March 9th.  On to the winners…

Jennifer of Rayment’s Rants & Ramblings has won my First Quiz Series!!!  Out of a possible 300 points over 3 weeks Jennifer earned 235 points.  Since this was a trial run of my Quizzes that are worth something the prize will be an easy one.  Jennifer gets her pick of one of the books in Tuesday’s quiz.  Congratulations, Jennifer!!!

And because Scout was jealous that Max was helping with the blog yesterday she wanted to help me pick the winner today…

So, the randomly chosen winner from the rest of the participants and the next winner is Cee Cee of Book Splurge!!  To make this easy on me (can you tell that I’m hours aways from vacation?) Cee Cee will get second choice of a book from Tuesday’s quiz. Congratulations Cee Cee!!!

Max is really into War & Peace

When Max heard that the boys were going to war this week he really wanted to be involved.  So, I set up a nice little reading spot by the window and let him take it all in.  He liked that there were less girly parties and gossip and more battles and strategy.  Oh, and he thought it was very cool that he got to read about Napoleon, he’d heard about that dude before.  Max is giving these two parts two paws up.

So, this week Molly and I finished Volume I by reading Parts 2 & 3.  The men went off to war to battle for Russia against the French invasion.  We do take occasional visits to the Bolkonskys at Bald Hills, and the Rostovs in Moscow, but the bulk of the action is on the battlefield involving, mainly, two key players, Prince Andrei and Prince Nikolai.

So, a little about what happened to my four characters…

Vasily Denisov I finally met him.  From now on I’ll call him Vaska Denisov because that’s what he’s called in the book.  Here’s his physical decription…”a small man with a red face, shining black eyes, and disheveled black mustaches and hair.”  He has another physical characteristic that makes him easy to identify when reading.  He “swallows his r’s” so that started looks like staghrted when he talks.  I don’t know much about him except that he gambles and seems to distinguish himself in battle.  He’s friends with Prince Andrei.

Prince Andrei Bolkonsky He wants nothing more than to distinguish himself and to impress his father, who he writes to everyday.  He places himself with the right people and becomes an adjunct to the commander-in-chief.   He has a hero complex but he smart, haughty, and connected so I expect him to go far.  He is friends with Vaska, mixed it up with Prince Nikolai and challenged him to a fight at a later time. At the end of this volume he had been wounded and Napoleon himself had saved him from the battlefield.  As the French Army leaves him with locals he is not expected to live. 

Princess Maria Bolkonsky Last week I said I felt sorry for her and I still do.  Prince Vassily Kuragin shows up at Bald Hills with his son, Prince Anatole, and tries to make a match between the two.  Much was made of her plainness and even ugliness and she grudgingly let herself hope that the handsome Prince would love her as much as she loved him at first sight.  This was not to be and betrayal left Maria convinced she would never marry.

Natasha Rostov We meet up with Natasha when the family receives a letter from her brother, Nikolai.  She admits to Sonya that she is already forgetting her boyfriend Boris now that he has gone off to war and a comment is made that she (Natasha) has a crush on Count Pierre.  Time will tell.  Oh, and we found out that she is terrible at keeping secrets!

I liked these two parts less than the first, but I think military or history buffs (like Max) would appreciate the battle descriptions more that I did.  So, how did Molly’s characters make out?  I personally think that Prince Nikola has some real issues and am unsure about this Pierre/Helene pairing.  Go on over and see what she has to say.

The Story of My Life, by Helen Keller

The Story of My Life by Helen Keller: Book CoverFinished 2-23-10, rating 4/5, autobiography, pub. 1905

While my days at Radcliffe were still in the future, they were encircled with a halo of romance, which they have lost; but in the transition from romantic to actual I have learned many things I should never have known had I not tried the experiment.  One of them is the precious science of patience, which teaches us that we should take our education as we would take a walk in the country, leisurely, our minds hospitably open to impressions of every sort.  Such knowledge floods the soul unseen with a soundless tidal wave of deepening thought.

Chapter 20

When Helen was a year and a half old she became blind and deaf due to a fever.  She lived in her isolated world until she was 7 and a teacher came to open up a world of communication to her.  Anne Sullivan taught her manual sign language, braille, and lip-reading.  She was able to travel to special schools and teachers in Boston and New York and eventually graduated from Radcliffe with honors.  She wrote this autobiography at the age of 22.

That’s the bare bones because I think most everyone knows more than I did about Helen Keller before I read this book.  Somehow I missed the movies and any detailed stories of her life, so I was in complete awe of what this girl accomplished.  Helen had a thirst for knowledge and her love of learning and books was intense.  She attended high school and college classes and succeeded.  I felt in turn inspired and embarrassed by her.  If she could lead a productive and fulfilled life with her handicaps surely any of my small problems were not important, but these things she was able to learn and do made feel like I was wasting my days away.  Helen learned French and Latin, sign language and lip-reading, and braille and how to speak without being able to hear a thing.  How amazing is that?

I cannot even imagine her silent and dark world and yet, this book did not contain self-pity.  Things that would be scary to any child, almost drowning, almost getting hit by a train, being stuck in a tree during a thunderstorm, could only have been more frightening to Helen.  I don’t know why it took me so long to read this! 

This book was from my personal library.

What Book Is That? Quiz

This is the final week  of the new and improved weekly quiz where I’ve decided to have them count for something!  While you all get adjusted this first round will last through February and there will be 2 prizes!  Check out the details HERE. 

The biggest difference is that you don’t have to be first.  Everyone gets an equal shot. You have until Thursday night to submit your guesses.  I’ll announce the big winners on Friday.

Please no copying off of other commenters!  Since this one is hard feel free to look around the web to find the books.

Want to see the leaderboard?  Answers from last week’s quiz? And please guess if you only know one or two.  You’ll still be eligible for a prize!

Each book is worth 10 points. points for the title and 5 points for the author.  These are all recent wins, so you should recognize some of them.

1.Show No Fear by Marliss Melton

2.City of Refuge by Tom Piazza

3. Try Darkness by James Scott Bell

4.How to Be a Hepburn in a Hilton World by Jordan Christy

5.Seduce Me by Robyn DeHart

6.Searching for Pemberley by Mary Lydon Simonsen

7.The Financial Lives of the Poets by Jess Walter

8.The Survivor’s Club by Ben Sherwood

9.Dying for Mercy by Mary Jane Clark

10.The Queen’s Mistake by Diane Haeger

Monday Movie Meme – I don’t get it

Feature Presentation…MONDAY MOVIE MEME

This week’s movie topic is all about Popular Movies You Hated…

District 9 So many people (and bloggers) told me I would love this film and I convinced Jason he would too.  Um, neither of us liked it at all.  And, yes, we understood the underlying messages of the movie (we knew them going in), but we didn’t get all the hype.  After I told a friend that we didn’t care for it she asked if I realized who the guy with the flower was at the end? Yes.  Didn’t save the movie for me. 

The English Patient We watched it because it won the Oscar and I only made it to the end by sheer will.  I cannot remember anything I liked in this one.  I feel like Elaine from Seinfeld after she admits to her boss that she hated The English Patient and he fired her.  Please don’t stop reading my blog because I hated The English Patient, please?

Pulp Fiction When I saw it the first time at the theater I was unprepared for all of the violence and I hated it.  Watched it again years later and still disliked it.  I am sure I’m missing that cool Tarantino gene where I understand the genius of every movie he makes. 

Amadeus It’s been awhile since I’ve seen this one, but when Jason & I ranked the AFI’s Top 100 movies of all-time (we spent many years and watched them all) this one came in at the bottom of my list.  To be honest, I only remember that I couldn’t wait for it to end and not much else.  Many people I love really like this one, so maybe one day I’ll give it another shot.

Brokeback Mountain This one I didn’t hate, but almost as bad, I was bored.  I know it broke new ground with A list actors in a gay love story, but I just kept waiting for something to happen.  This is a problem I have with a lot of westerns.  The one saving grace for me in this movie was Heath Ledger.  He was phenomenal.

 Want to see what movies other bloggers chose?  Visit The Bumbles.  

Why not leave a comment confessing your own list.  I’d love to see it!

Deadly Caress, by Brenda Joyce

Deadly Caress by Brenda Joyce: Book CoverFinished 2-18-10, rating 4/5, romance, pub. 2003

Book 5 in the Deadly series (Book 1) (Book 2) (Book 3) (Book 4)

Francesca Cahill and Rick Bragg are having a few problems.  Rick’s wife is back in town a determined to make a go of their marriage.  Rick’s brother, the cad Calder Hart, is determined to marry Francesca.  There’s also another killer on the loose in the streets of New York City and the Cahill house is in disarray after Evan is almost beaten to death because of his gambling debts.  Francesca’s sister, Connie is still trying to come to terms with her husband’s infidelity and in 1902, women did not leave their husbands if they cheated.

So, you know by my reviews of the first four books that I love this series, but it is not perfect.  I haven’t mentioned yet, but this series starts in January 1902 and at the end of this fifth book it is February 1902.  That is a lot to happen in such a short time.  I don’t understand why she chose to write the series this way, especially since I distrust romances when the heroine falls in love so fast.  Because I love the characters I can overlook it, but it still doesn’t make sense to me.

There was sex in this one!  And it was angry sex.  I didn’t like it.  I don’t mind a little sex, it’s to be expected in a romance, but I like it to be romantic.  I’m surprised that of the five books of this series so far, only three actually have sex in them.  It’s a nice change of pace from your typical romances.

So, the series is fun, but not perfect.  Only three left to catch up.

 This was from my personal library.

Bring on the Cable Cars!

Jason & I will be heading out to San Francisco for a mini vacation next week and we’ll be there six days.  Well, okay, Jason will be working a lot of the time, but I’ll be busy exploring.  We’ve both been there once.  I was there for a few days in  1994 mainly to visit friends and Jason was there for a few days of work a few years ago, but didn’t get to see much. 

So, I’m planning our trip and I’m wondering if any of you have a favorite place or activity that you think we should see.  Or maybe a bookstore I shouldn’t miss?  I’d love some recommendations!

War & Peace by Tolstoy

Molly and I are reading War & Peace.  It may take awhile, but we’ll be posting every Thursday until we’re done.  I’d love to be able to tweet the first part of Volume 1, but you are stuck with a somewhat more traditional post.

So, what’s War & Peace about anyway?  Napoleon is taking over the world and it will only be a matter of time before he invades Russia.  This is the story of five aristocratic Russian families during those turbulent years from 1805-1813. 

Who’s the main character?  This is about a multitude of people, but mainly about members from five families.  Here’s my scoop on the main players…Bulonskys– The Old Prince was a general in earlier wars and he has two children, Andrei and Maria.  Rostovs– Loving family with four adolescent children and never enough money.  Drubetskoys– Poor mother and her son.  Bezukhovs– A dying count,  many illegitimate children and a greedy extended family.  Kuragins– They seem sketchy, but it’s too early to tell.

What happens in Part 1?  There’s a party in Petersburg for the titled and wealthy where we meet several key players from the Bezukhovs and Kuragins.  Then we move on to Moscow to a party at the Rostovs and a death watch at the Bezukhovs.  And finally we end up in Bald Hills where the Bolkonskys live and the young Prince has brought his pregnant bride.

Is it confusing?  Yes, especially at first.  There are a lot of people with similar names. Who knew there were so many princes?  And there is quite a bit of French (of the 1215 pages, 2% is in French) that is translated at the bottom of the page and there are 53 references to the Notes in the back of the book just in part one.  So there’s lots of flipping.  But as the story gets moving and some of the people become more recognizable it becomes easier to read.  Just a small learning curve 🙂

Is it boring?  No!  I was never bored and I was interested in all of the characters and how they all fit together.  I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

Prince Andrei Nikolayevich Bolkonsky…We meet the little Prince at the Petersburg party where he expresses his dislike of his wife and his friendship for Pierre.  Here’s his first physical description…”of medium height, a rather handsome young man with well-defined and dry features.”   And this is our first taste of his personality at that party “he not only knew everyone in the drawing room, but was also  so sick of them that it was very boring, the face of his pretty wife seemed to be the one he was most sick of.”  He is fed up with society (and his wife), finding it empty.  He takes a position in the military and on his way to war he takes his pregnant wife to his father and sister in Bald Hills.  He is very unhappy, but he is smart and insightful.  I like him.

A little about Natasha Rostov…We meet the precocious 13-year-old at the party held in honor of her name day, which she shares with her mother.  This is her first description…”dark-eyed, big-mouthed, not beautiful, but lively girl.” and this is a description her personality, “inconceivable boldness and adroitness…both smart and pert”  She is in love with Boris Drubetskoy.  She is charming and comes from a very close-knit and supportive family.  I can’t help but like her.

A very little about Princess Maria Bolkonsky… We first meet Marie when her brother brings his pregnant wife to the family estate where she lives with her overbearing father.  A few words that were used to describe her or her actions…timid, fearful, sickly, unattractive, sad, frightened.  I know she is scared of her father, her best friend is Julie Karagin, she loves her brother, and she is very religious.  I feel more sorry for her than anything, but I don’t know her very well yet.

I’m having a good time with Tolstoy so far.  Want to know what Molly thinks and meet the characters she’s hanging out with?  Click on over… She covering overweight Pierre (seriously, it’s mentioned just as often as he is!), jealous Sonya, handsome Prince Nikolai, and beautiful Helene.

The Cougar Club, by Susan McBride with Giveaway

The Cougar Club by Susan McBride: Book CoverFinished 2-14-10, rating 4/5, fiction, pub. 2010

Kat Maguire’s Facts of Life for Women over Forty: The older you get, the harder it is to find a single man your age who isn’t either: (a) married or gay; (b) divorced with insurmountable baggage; or (c) looking for a girl half his age.

preface to Chapter 7

Three best friends since high school are all in the same town again and in need of some tender loving care from each other and, quite possibly, the younger men surrounding  them.  Kit, Carla, and Elise are 45 year olds living in St. Louis.  Kit has just returned home after being fired from her Manhattan job in favor of younger employees.  When she goes back to her highrise to lick her wounds she finds her 20 something boyfriend engaging in a little online sex and she hightails it back to Missouri.  Cat, wears her cougar title like a badge of honor and as a beloved local newscaster she has many opportunities to take her pick of younger men.  She is currently in a relationship with the hot, young sportscaster at her station.  Elise, the most settled of the three is an empty nester who fears that her husband is cheating on her. 

This books is a fast and fun read.  The women are all successful and they make 45 look pretty glamorous.  They don’t need men, but they do enjoy them.  I don’t know how realistic the stories of these three women are, but it was fun to be a part of their lives for a few hours.

I loved the sharp writing and I was especially drawn to the idea that you can always go home. I loved Kat’s journey back home to her family and friends after 20+ years.  It’s a heartwarming thought.  Also, this should be where I confess that I’m a baby cougar.  My husband is 4 1/2 years younger than me.  He was 19 and I was 24 when we went on our first date and here we are, 14 years later, still in love 🙂  What about you?  Any cougars out there?

Susan McBride gave away a copy and now it’s my turn.  I have one more to share.

Leave a comment with your email address to be entered to win.  And tell me, how much older does the woman have to be than the man to be considered a cougar?  Open internationally and I’ll draw for a winner on March 6.  Good luck!

Other TLC Tour Stops – Cindy’s Love of Books, The Winey Mommy, The Book Zombie, This That & the Other

I received  the book from the publisher to review for this tour.