Half Year Round Up

So, we’re halfway through the year and time to take a look at how I’m doing on my goals and what’s been going on around here on this blog.  Let me start by mentioning my two favorite posts, not because of what I wrote, but because of what you did.  (After 14 Years a Pregnant Pause, Morning Sickness and My Google Reader)  The response to my pregnancy has been heartwarming and I thank you all for taking the time to wish us well. The Little One should weigh about pound now and be the size of a small doll.  Is it time to start getting nervous?

My reading goal for the year is 105 books with 12 of those being non-fiction.  I could be doing better.  I’ve only read 44 books and 2 of those were non-fiction.  I’m usually a little OCD about goals and challenges, but I’m trying to cut myself some slack.  I’ve got other things going on these days and need to keep reading in perspective.  But even as I type that my mind is whispering, “You can do it.  No problem.” So, we’ll see.

There have been a few changes.  I’ve started posting my weekly quizzes on Tuesdays and offering a few prizes.  Thank you to everyone who participates.  I have fun and hope you do too!  As a bonus I discovered that if you Google ‘book quizzes’ I’m the first thing that pops up and I’m starred even.  I admit I got a kick out of that 😉

I’m doing my 5 word movie reviews every month and invite you all to try it and link up.  I’ve only done a few author interviews and although I love doing them I don’t have the time to focus on that right now.  They do take quite a bit of time.

I asked you all to vote for 50 of the books I’d read from my own shelves this year and 72 of you voted.  Of those 50 I’ve read 16 for the RYOB Challenge My two favorite so far have been The Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly (to be reviewed tomorrow) and Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen.  So far, you’ve done a great job choosing books 🙂

Sign up for the 2010 A to Z ChallengeI’ve read 29 out of 52 for this challenge, so I’m not doing too bad.  So far, my favorite read from this challenge is Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman.

New Author Challenge 2010For some crazy reason I signed up to read 35 new authors this year and I’ve managed 19.  My favorite (aside from the ones I’ve mentioned above) is Marisa de los Santos.

I’m to read 9 books with 9 different colors in the title for this one and have read 3.  I loved Red Light and Black Water, both by T. Jefferson Parker.

Looking for the Short Story Challenge?I’ve read 2 of 4 short story collections and didn’t really love either one, so I’m hoping the next 2 will be great.

50 states of mindOf the 51 (with Washington DC) I’ve read from 18 states.  So far, New York has been the most visited with 8 trips.

I’m looking forward to the second half of 2010 🙂

Signed Books Quiz

I love autographed books.  I try to go to author signings and am always happy to receive a signed book in the mail or as a gift.  I’m not sure how many I have since I do loan them to my mother, but somewhere in the 30’s.  Do authors have good penmanship?  I’ll let you decide. 

The first picture has 18 of my signed books and only 10 of them are answers.  I just need the author’s name 1-10.  Each correct answer is worth 10 points.

Here are the rules… 1. Open to everyone.  Play once or every week, that’s okay.  I’m happy to have you here today.

2. No cheating.  No googling, other internet searches or looking at other commenter answers.  Yes, we’re going by the honor system

3. Your first answers will be the only ones accepted.

Last week’s Jane Austen Quiz gave us two perfect scores.  Well done Nise and Heather!!  Current leaderboard here.

1. Harlan Coben  2. Susan Elizabeth Phillips  3. Anthony Doerr  4. Beth Hoffman

5. Mary Doria Russell  6. Diana Gabaldon  7. Mitch Albom  8. Les Roberts

9. Carla Neggers  10. Carl Hiaasen

Happy Guessing!

Monday Movie Meme – Heroines

Feature Presentation…MONDAY MOVIE MEME
Time for a little “Girl Power!” There are leading ladies, love interests, eye candy and comediennes – but my favorite roles for actresses are those who take charge and get things done. I’m talking Heroines. Here are our choices for ladies we’d want on our side. Share on your blog women characters from film who know how to save the day, linking back at The Bumbles.
Here are few of my favorite take charge movie heroines
1.  I’ll take Ripley from Alien (1979) in a scrape.  Any scrape.  This woman is tough and smart.  A deadly combination.
2. Clarice Starling from Silence of the Lambs (1991) is another tough cookie who relies on her smarts to catch the bad guy, but knows her way around guns too.
3. Yu Shu Lien from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) is a woman I would like to be friends with and have with me in a fight. 
4. Vianne from Chocolat (2000) uses a more subtle way to bring about change and she does it without changing herself.  This is more how I operate 😉  Oh, and she ends up with Johnny Depp.
5. Chris from Adventures in Babysitting (1987) is my sentimental choice and I always have to include at least one 80’s movie.  I did a little babysitting back in the day and always hoped for a little excitement, but I’m pretty sure I would not have fared as well as Chris did!
Do you have a favorite movie heroine?

Fortunate Harbor, by Emilie Richards

Fortunate Harbor by Emilie Richards: Book CoverFinished 6-26-10, rating 3.5/5, fiction, pub. 2010

Book 2 of the Happiness Key trilogy (Book 1)

Tracy owns a development in Florida that has small cottages for rent.  It it all she had left after her ex-husband went to jail and the government took every other asset they had.  She is just starting a new relationship when her ex is released from jail and shows up in town.  She shares a close friendship with the other women in the development.  Wanda, an outspoken waitress, loses her job and decides to start her own business making pies.  Janya wants to have a baby with her husband, but he is avoiding her to her great shame and frustration.  Alice and her granddaughter Olivia are a big draw to the newest resident, Dana and her daughter Lizzie.  Dana is secretive and the other women believe she may be on the run from the law.

These woman have an enviable bond.  They are obviously very different, in age, relationship, religion, and culture, and yet they all love and support each other.  This would be a good lesson for us all!  Not only are they the best of friends, but they are all neighbors.  I wish I could pick up all of my best friends and move them on my street.  What fun we would have. 

The driving forces of the book is the secret that Dana is keeping and the real reason CJ, Tracy’s ex, is back in town.  These storylines were what kept me interested.  I liked the women themselves too, but wish I had read the first book in the trilogy.  It wasn’t hard to keep everyone straight, but I may have been more engaged in the story if I knew where each of them was coming from.  I think because of that the first half of the book dragged a bit for me.  By the second half I was into it and more interested in what would happen.  This is why I don’t usually read series or trilogies out of order.

This was a fun read about the friendship women share.

The author sent me this book.  In case you missed it I did interview Emilie last year, here, and she was a delight 🙂

Fave Film #12 – Four Weddings and a Funeral

Four weddings poster.jpg1994

Cast- Hugh Grant, Andie MacDowell, Kristin Scott Thomas, John Hannah, Rowan Atkinson

Hugh Grant won Golden Globe for Best Actor

Charles (Hugh Grant) and his circle of friends spend a lot of time attending weddings.  In the first wedding Charles is the best man who forgets the rings.  In the second wedding three months later the priest (Rowan Atkinson) has a few problems conducting his first wedding ceremony. The third wedding is one that breaks the hearts of them all by leading to the funeral a few days later.  The last wedding is a shocker, but, as always, funny.

Why I Love It – This British comedy has an outstanding cast, not all of whom I was familiar with, and the humor is sometimes more subtle than in-your-face.  You really have to pay attention to appreciate all of the details.  Hugh Grant is the core of the movie and if you find him charming like I do, I think you’ll like it too.  The dialogue and directing was superb and I only mention it because it does get compared to Love, Actually (Same director and Hugh Grant), but I like this one better because although I love all the characters the movie revolves around one storyline, making it easier for me to care.

I love that it revolves around weddings.  There are no day-to-day jobs (I don’t even know what Charles did for a living) and yet I grew to know and love each of the characters.

I watched this again last night after having lunch with ladies that included a friend who is British and one who is Canadian and we had a fun time discussing swear words in each of the countries.  We laughed a lot and this movie continued the fun.  Oh, and you know I love hats and there were some classic ones here.

Here’s the trailer if you haven’t seen it…

Running Blind, by Lee Child

Cover ImageFinished 6-19-10, rating 4/5, thriller, pub. 2000

Book 4 in the Jack Reacher series (Book 1) (Book 2) (Book 3)

Ex Military Police, Jack Reacher has stopped roaming the country and settled in New York City in his own house to be near his girlfriend Jodie.  He’s still trying to right wrongs with his own brand of justice and after one such run-in he is picked up by the FBI.  Reacher has a problem.  Women that he knew from his Army days are being killed and the FBI think it could be him.  He proves that it’s not, but because his last fight landed two important people in the hospital, the FBI force him to work with them to find the killer.  At first Reacher is an unwilling and uninterested participant, but then it gets personal and Reacher is out for blood.

When I read the last Reacher novel Rhapsody in Books left a comment saying “it’s sort of like watching an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie” and I couldn’t say it better.  Jack is a man who knows how to get things done and he’s not afraid of violence or adhering to the law.  And usually the body count is quite high.  This book was surprising in that Jack killed so few people!  It felt more like a straight mystery and it was a nice change of pace since it forced Reacher to work within the lines of the law.  Well, mostly 🙂

I think I could read this whole series straight through and never get bored.  The action is non-stop and the mysteries are good.  This one I did figure out before the end, but there was enough doubt to leave me second guessing.  If you like edge of your seat action and books that find you reading late into the night then this is the series for you.

This is from my personal library and chosen by ‘Nise and Sheral.  Here’s what they had to say…

“Jack Reacher is a great character.”  ‘Nise

“Love his books.”  Sheral

Jane Austen Adaptation Quiz – guessing closed

Most of us have seen at least one film based on a Jane Austen novel, so this week let’s see if you can place these faces.  You only need to tell me the character and the movie (not the actor’s name or the year of the film).  They are all direct adaptations and the images may or may not be from the Austen movie – I can’t make it that easy!  There are only 6 titles to choose from so how hard can it be? 🙂

Each question is worth 5 points and since I’m getting this posted a little late you have until Friday morning to leave your answers in the comments.

Here are the rules… 1. Open to everyone.  Play once or every week, that’s okay.  I’m happy to have you here today.

2. No cheating.  No googling, other internet searches or looking at other commenter answers.  Yes, we’re going by the honor system

3. Your first answers will be the only ones accepted.

Last week’s Dr. Seuss results here.  Current Leaderboard here.

1. Marianne Dashwood, Sense & Sensibility

2. Fanny Price, Mansfield Park

3.  Mr. Bennet, Pride & Prejudice 4. Mr. Palmer, Sense & Sensibility

5.  Elizabeth Bennet, Pride & Prejudice 6. Emma, Emma

7.  Mr. Darcy, Pride & Prejudice 8. Mr. Knightley, Emma

9. Elinor Dashwood, Sense & Sensibility

10. Elizabeth Bennet, Pride & Prejudice

11.  Captain Wentworth, Persuasion

12. Edmund Bertram and Charles Bertram, Mansfield Park OR Mr. Knightley, Emma

13.  Emma, Emma 14.Lady de Bourgh, Pride & Prejudice

15. Edward Ferrars, Sense & Sensibility  16. Henry Crawford, Mansfield Park

17.  Elizabeth Bennet, Pride & Prejudice 18. Mr. Darcy, Pride & Prejudice

19. Colonel Brandon, Sense & Sensibility  20. Mr. Darcy, Pride & Prejudice

Your answers will appear on Friday.

Monday Movie Meme – Time Travel

Feature Presentation…MONDAY MOVIE MEME
This week’s movie topic is all about Time Travel…
Check out the Bumbles for other blogger lists.
I enjoy  good time travel movie.  Sometimes I don’t really understand how the ‘travel’ is working, but if the movie is fun it doesn’t matter.  Here are a few of my favorites…
1. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989) – Totally excellent, Dude!  Makes me want to see the Wyld Stallyons again 🙂  And Keanu, of course.
2. Back to the Future  (1985) – One of my husband’s favorite movies, so I’ve seen it more times than I wanted to, but it is a fun movie.  Crazy Doc was my favorite.
3. Lake House (2006) – This one made little to no sense to me as far as how the time travel worked, but I still fell in love with Sandra and Keanu.
4. Kate & Leopold (2001) – Romantic fantasy with Hugh Jackman as the 19th century Duke.  Yum.
5. Deja Vu (2006) – Denzel tries to save over 500 people from an explosion.  Interesting New  Orleans thriller.
Do you have a time travel favorite?  Tell us 🙂

Die Trying, by Lee Child

Die Trying (Jack Reacher Series #2) by Lee Child: Book CoverFinished 6-14-10, rating 4.5/5, thriller, pub. 1998

This is book 2 in the Jack Reacher series (Book 1)

Jack Reacher is an ex-MP who is aimlessly travelling around the country after 13 years serving in the military and he happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.  The place is Chicago and the time is when FBI agent Holly Johnson, a woman with secrets and family in the highest of high places, is snatched off the street.  When they realize they are being kidnapped by a crazy militia in Montana they are sure they will be rescued, but as time goes on and the craziness seems even crazier Jack realizes it is up to him to get them out of there.  The rescue that should have come is delayed by the President and his chief of staff due to politics and it’s enough to make you mad (as most political things tend to do to me).

Jack Reacher is a man’s man, but one that women are drawn to because of his sheer masculinity and unavailability.  He is who he is, take him or leave him and that confidence and physical presence makes him a force to be reckoned with.  When I read the first Jack Reacher I said I was unsure about him because I didn’t know where he drew the line at right and wrong and this book helped clarify that for me.  He’s a tough guy and one easy to like.

I liked this one even better than the first.  It is still gritty and grisly, but not quite as much as the first.  I am looking forward to more Jack!

This is from my personal library.

Home Safe, by Elizabeth Berg

Home Safe by Elizabeth Berg: CD Audiobook CoverFinished audio 6-10-10, rating 4/5, fiction, pub. 2009

Unabridged audio read by the author

Helen is a 50 something widowed author who is still trying to find her way a year after her husband’s death.  She cannot do the most basic things around the house relying instead on her 27-year-old daughter Tessa and she has not been able to write at all.  When she finds out the nest egg she thought would support her financially is gone, having been taken out of the bank by her husband before his death, she has no idea what to think.  She takes a job teaching a writing workshop and the eccentric students force her writer’s instincts to kick in.  When the truth comes out about where the $850,000 went a fork in the road presents itself and Helen is forced to evaluate her life and what she wants to do with it.

Elizabeth Berg always writes books I can relate to even though I am not in the same age range or situation as the main character.  There is such truth and beauty in her writing that I am immediately drawn in, as I was here.  And the fact that she read it herself was wonderful.   My favorite part of the book revolved around Helen receiving a not-so-flattering letter from a reader and how it affected her.  It felt like Berg may have been telling her own story.

I did feel it was similar in some ways to another of her books, The Year of Pleasures, and I actually think I prefer The Year of Pleasures.  Helen did get on my nerves at times.  What woman, no matter how reliant she is on her husband, calls the police when she has a leak? 

So, it was good, not my favorite, but a solid read, or in my case, listen to.

I borrowed this audiobook from the library.