Stacy's Books

books, movies, and boy

Denzel Washington Was In That? Quiz

Last week we watched a Denzel movie and thought it was time to spotlight this star.  I’ve listed his characters in the order that I like his movies best with a hint.  Can you identify the movie?  Leave a comment telling me the # and the name of the movie.  No Googling or looking at other commenter’s answers – that’s cheating and no fun!  Each answer worth 6.5 points, with 2.5 points for the bonus question.

Last week’s Better With Age Quiz here.  Current Leaderboard here.  Play once or every week.  It only takes one correct answer to be eligible for a prize.  You have until Thursday night to submit your answers.

1. Private Trip (1989) – He won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in this Civil War film   Glory

2. Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter (1999) – Also starred Liev Schreiber & John Hannah   The Hurricane

3. Coach Herman Boone (2000) – Will Patton also played a coach   Remember the Titans

4. Malcolm (1992) – I refuse to help you any more with this one   Malcolm X

5. Gray Grantham (1993) – Julia Roberts was his co-star   The Pelican Brief

6. Lincoln Rhyme (1999) – This is based on the first book of the popular Jeffery Deaver series   The Bone Collector

7. Agent Doug Carlin (2006) – Also stars James Caviezel   Deja Vu

8. Eli (2010) – There is some kind of book involved   The Book of Eli

9. Nat Sterling (1996) – One of Matt Damon’s early movies   Courage Under Fire

10. Lt. Commander Ron Hunter (1995) – Will the mutiny be successful?   Crimson Tide

11. John Hobbes (1998) – Also stars John Goodman   Fallen

12. Detective Alonzo Harris (2001) – Also stars Ethan Hawke as the trainee   Training Day

13. Don Pedro (1993) – Would Shakespeare approve of this adaptation?   Much Ado About Nothing

14. Creasy (2004) – He was the protector of Dakota Fanning   Man on Fire

15. Ezekiel ‘Easy’ Rawlins (1995) – Based on a series of books by Walter Mosley   Devil in a Blue Dress

BONUS QUESTION – Which one of these movies did Denzel win the Oscar for Best Actor, becoming the second African-American to do so?   Training Day

August 17, 2010 Posted by | Quizzes | , | 39 Comments

501 Must-See Movies, by Ann Lloyd, et al.

501 Must-See Movies by Ann Lloyd: Book CoverFinished 8-12-10, rating 4/5, film, first pub. 2005

It’s no secret that I love lists and Audrey Hepburn, so I considered it a real accomplishment when I was able to walk by this book on a few different bookstore visits without buying it.  But, then I had a weak moment and snatched it up.  I had a blast going through this fun book with its beautiful movie stills and information.  The movies are broken into 10 different genres and I have watched a total if 188.  For as many movies as I watch I was surprised the number wasn’t higher.  Here’s my take on each of the categories.

Action/Adventure-I watched 20 from this category.  My top rated movie, Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (A+).  The one I most want to see, The Mission (1986).  5 are on my Top 100 list.

Comedy– I’ve watched 18 here.  A tie for my top rated comedy, There’s Something About Mary (A+) and Meet the Parents (A+).  The ones I most want to see, Harold & Maude (1971) and Born Yesterday (1950).  7 are on my Top 100 list.

Drama– I’ve watched 28 dramas.  There is a 5 way tie, all with A grades, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Grapes of Wrath, 12 Angry Men, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Shawshank Redemption..  The ones I most want to see, Sweet Smell of Success (1957) & The Player (1992).  11 are on my Top 100 List.

Horror– I’ve watched 16. A 3 way tie, all with A’s, Psycho, Rosemary’s Baby, The Silence of the Lambs.  The one I most want to see, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962).  Only the 3 listed are on my Top 100 List.

Musical– I’ve watched 16 of these.  My favorite, The Sound of Music (A+).  The one I’d most like to see, New York, New York (1977). 5 of these are on my Top 100 List.

Romance– I’ve watched 22 romances.  My two favorites, The Philadelphia Story (A+) and Breakfast at Tiffany’s (A+). The ones I’d most like to see, Adam’s Rib (1949) and The Long, Hot Summer (1958).  9 of these are on my Top 100 List.

Science Fiction & Fantasy– I’ve watched 26 of these.  The only F’s I gave in the entire book came in this category and I gave 3.  My favorite was Alien (A).  The one I’d most like to see is Brazil (1985).  Only 2 made it on my Top 100 List.

Mystery & Thriller– I’ve watched 23 of these.  My favorites are The Godfather & Se7en.  The ones I’d most like to see, Strangers on a Train (1951) and The Sting (1973).  Only 3 are on my Top 100 List.

War– I’ve seen 11 of these movies.  I gave 3 A’s in this category. The Bridge on the River Kwai, Platoon, Schindler’s List.  The one I’d most like to see, Catch-22.  2 of these are on my Top 100 List.

Western– I’ve only seen 8 westerns, obviously my least favorite category.  My favorite was High Noon (A).  The one I’d most like to see, The Magnificent Seven (1960).

If you are a movie lover this is a fun book.  Now I have a great resource for times when I need some movies for my Netflix queue.  This is from my personal library.

August 13, 2010 Posted by | 4 Star Books, movies | , | 26 Comments

Odd Thomas, by Dean Koontz

Cover ImageFinished 8-7-10, rating 4/5, fiction, pub. 2003

My name is Odd Thomas, though in this age when fame is the altar at which most people worship, I am not sure why you should care who I am or that I exist.

I am not a celebrity.  I am not the child of a celebrity.  I have never been married to, never been abused by, and never provided a kidney for transplantation into any celebrity,  Furthermore, I have no desire to be a celebrity.

first lines of book

Odd Thomas is a 20-year-old fry cook who lives in a small California town whose big aspiration is to someday go into selling tires or maybe shoes.  You see, Odd has a gift, he sees dead people.  These ghosts are stuck in Pico Mundo because they have not yet crossed over and Odd is sometimes able to help them do that.  A few people know his secret, his girlfriend Stormy, the police chief, and Little Ozzie who convinces him to write this book.  Odd finds it easier to live within in the confines of Pico Mundo, I mean who knows how many ghosts he may be inundated with in a large city, and to live with low ambitions.  To do anything else might threaten his sanity, he thinks.

Then one day the bodachs arrive and Odd is scared.  Bodachs are evil beings, not ghosts and not able to hurt the living, but they follow evil and Pico Mundo has just been overrun with hundreds and thousands of them.  Odd needs to find out what’s going on before his town is devastated by unseen evil.  With the help of his friends and a ghostly Elvis as a sometime companion, Odd is on the case.

This book was not what I expected.  I love much of what Dean Koontz writes, they are often fast paced and intense, but this one was more introspective than the others I’ve read.  Odd is a character that is fully fleshed out and his story grabs your heartstrings while at the same time engaging the reader in a thrilling mystery.  There is humor and evil and heartbreak and Odd, a character you won’t soon forget. So, while I expected maybe more of a gripping thriller I was completely satisfied with the more fully realized story of Odd. 

Koontz has written more books about Odd and I do plan on reading them. 

This is from my personal library and was chosen by Donna, Sandy, and Sharon.  Here’s what they had to say…

“A great book with wonderful characters. My whole family just loves Odd.”  Donna

“I love Odd, he is a gentle soul.”  Sharon

August 12, 2010 Posted by | 4 Star Books | | 7 Comments

The Beach House, by Jane Green – audio

The Beach House by Jane Green: CD Audiobook CoverFinished audio 8-6-10, rating 3/5, fiction, pub. 2008

This unabridged book was narrated by Cassandra Campbell

Nan is a widower who owns a large house in Nantucket.  When her money runs out she decides the best thing to do is fix up the bedrooms and rent them out for the summer.  She has two boarders, Daniel who has just come out of the closet to his wife and Daph who is on her own when her teen daughter spends the summer with her father.  When Nan’s son, Michael shows up the house is full of camaraderie, even through turmoil.

The blurb on the back of the book focuses on eccentric Nan and she is a great character, but she was just a peripheral player once all of the house guests arrived.  I liked Nan and would have loved the story being a little more deeply focused on her.  While I liked all of the characters the book did become a little too thin when each of their stories were being told at once.

That being said it was a nice audio book for the car.  It was easy listening, if not the most fulfilling of stories.

I checked this book out of the library.

August 11, 2010 Posted by | 3 Star Books | | 12 Comments

Better With Age Quiz

Who are some of the oldest living writers?  See if you can guess. 6.5 points each.  Submit your guesses by Thursday night.

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 looking at other commenter answers or Googling!  Yes, we’re going by the honor system

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

Answers to last week’s First Lines quiz here.  Current Leaderboard here.

1. This 97-year-old knows a lot about Siamese cats and bestselling mysteries.  Lilian Jackson Braun

2. This 95-year-old  spent 13 years researching and writing the two novels The Winds of War and War and Remembrance, but it was The Caine Mutiny that won him a Pulitzer Prize in 1951.  Herman Wouk

3. This 94-year-old author has written more than 30 books for children and young adults.  The Ramona books are my favorites.  Beverly Cleary

4. This 93-year-old English author is perhaps best known for her Merlin series.  Mary Stewart

5. This 90-year-old is the oldest person to win a Nobel Prize in Literature (in 2007), but I always think of the The Golden Notebook when I hear her name.  Doris Lessing

6. This 90-year-old’s first book is one of my favorites about rabbits adventures in and out of the warren.  Richard Adams

7. This English author just celebrated her 90th birthday last Tuesday.  She’s famous for her Adam Dalgliesh series.  PD James

8. This 90 year old still writes her women’s fiction longhand on legal pads.  Her last book, Crossroads, was published in 2004.  Belva Plain

9. This 89 year old’s most famous work was featured in last week’s quiz.  Go ahead and take a look.  He has never had a driver’s license.  Ray Bradbury

10. I love this 87 year old’s Mrs. Pollifax mystery series.  Dorothy Gilman

11. This 86-year-old South African author writes about love, politics and race.  Her last book in 2005 drew on her experience of the death of her longtime spouse.  Nadine Gordimer

12. Do you recognize this 84-year-old novelist, journalist, essayist, and playwright?  Gore Vidal

13. This 84-year-old minister is well known for co-authoring the apocalyptic Left Behind series.  Tim LaHaye

14. This 82-year-old is famous for her suspense novels.  As is her daughter.  Mary Higgins Clark

15. This 82-year-old Columbian author is best known for One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera.  Gabriel Garcia Marquez

16. This 82-year-old became famous when he wrote and illustrated the children’s book Where the Wild Things Are.  Maurice Sendak

August 10, 2010 Posted by | Quizzes | , | 18 Comments

Monday Movie Meme – Future Legends

Feature Presentation…MONDAY MOVIE MEME
Who among the under 50 crowd might reach legend status in the next 25 years or so?
It seems hard to pick future legends.  I mean who knows when an overdose, shoplifting conviction, or insane rantings might take you out of consideration?  Well, here are the actors and actresses that I think have the acting chops and good head on their shoulders to make the cut.
Johnny Depp. I think his acting choices and talent will maintain his legend status for years to come.  He’s eccentric, but in a sexy way 🙂  I can’t really choose a favorite performance because they are all good – even if I didn’t care for the movie itself.
Kate Winslet.  She can do no wrong in my book.  Especially loved her performances in Revolutionary Road and The Reader.
Leonardo DiCaprio.  I knew he could act years before Titanic made him a star mainly because of What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, and he has proved over and over that he is very good at what he does.
Natalie Portman.  Loved her from her first performance in The Professional and in V is for Vendetta.  She’s a smart cookie and takes roles that showcase her talents.
Julia Roberts.  I think she had already secured her title as a movie legend.  She is just so easy to like and isn’t that what we want when watching a movie?
So do you have a favorite under 50 actor who will be a future legend?

August 9, 2010 Posted by | Monday Movie Meme | | 23 Comments

NPR’s top 100 Killer Thrillers

I love a good thriller, so when I saw that NPR was allowing us to vote for our favorites I was more than happy to cast my ballot.  The results are now in (the link is here) and I now have a great list of thriller recommended reads.  With over 1000,000 votes cast I think it’s a fairly comprehensive list.  I’ve bolded the few I’ve read and commented on what I thought.  What do you think of the list?  Do you see a favorite that I need to read first?

1. The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris
2. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
3. Kiss the Girls, by James Patterson
4. The Bourne Identity, by Robert Ludlum
5. In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote – Just read this for the first time in January. My review here.
6. The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown – Gripping page turner.
7. The Shining, by Stephen King – Listened to the audio of this one in March. My review here.
8. And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie
9. The Hunt tor Red October, by Tom Clancy – My first and only Clancy.  Surprised that I liked it so much.
10. The Hound of the Baskervilles, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
11. Dracula, by Bram Stoker
12. The Stand, by Stephen King
13. The Bone Collector, by Jeffery Deaver – Love this one and the whole series.  My review here.
14. Jurassic Park, by Michael Crichton
15. Angels & Demons, by Dan Brown – Fun hunt through Italy.  My review here.
16. A Time to Kill, by John Grisham – It’s been a very long time but I remember liking it .
17. The Andromeda Strain, by Michael Crichton
18. Mystic River, by Dennis Lehane
19. The Day of the Jackal, by Frederick Forsyth
20. Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier – I know I was supposed to love it but I didn’t
21. Eye of the Needle, by Ken Follett
22. It, by Stephen King
23. The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas
24. The Girl Who Played with Fire, by Stieg Larsson
25. Jaws, by Peter Benchley
26. The Alienist, by Caleb Carr
27. Red Dragon, by Thomas Harris
28. Presumed Innocent, by Scott Turow
29. The Maltese Falcon, by Dashiell Hammett
30. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, by Stieg Larsson
31. No Country For Old Men, by Cormac McCarthy
32. Gone Baby Gone, by Dennis Lehane
33. Gorky Park, by Martin Cruz Smith
34. Rosemary’s Baby, by Ira Levin
35. Subterranean, by James Rollins
36. Clear and Present Danger, by Tom Clancy
37. Salem’s Lot, by Stephen King
38. Shutter Island, by Dennis Lehane – I liked this one.  My review here.
39. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, by John Le Carre
40. The Poet, by Michael Connelly – My first and only Connelly so far, but it was good.  My review here.
41. The Boys from Brazil, by Ira Levin
42. Cape Fear, by John MacDonald
43. The Bride Collector, by Ted Dekker
44. Pet Sematary, by Stephen King
45. Dead Zone, by Stephen King
46. The Manchurian Candidate, by Richard Condon
47. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, by John Le Carre
48. The Talented Mr. Ripley, by Patricia Highsmith
49. Tell No One, by Harlan Coben – My first and favorite Coben and I’ve read them all. 
50. Consent to Kill, by Vince Flynn
51. The 39 Steps, by John Buchan
52. Blowback, by Brad Thor
53. The Children of Men, by P.D. James
54. 61 Hours, by Lee Child
55. Marathon Man, by William Goldman
56. The Woman in White, by Wilkie Collins
57. 206 Bones, by Kathy Reichs
58. Psycho, by Robert Bloch
59. The Killing Floor, by Lee Child – Just started this series last year and am loving it.  My review here.
60. Rules of Prey, by John Sandford – A big fan of this series.  My love affair with Lucas begins with this one.
61. The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
62. In the Woods, by Tana French
63. Shogun, by James Clavell
64. The Relic, by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
65. Intensity, by Dean Koontz – This is very intense 🙂
66. Casino Royale, by Ian Fleming
67. Metzger’s Dog, by Thomas Perry
68. Timeline, by Michael Crichton
69. Contact, by Carl Sagan
70. What the Dead Know, by Laura Lippman
71. The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
72. The Cabinet of Curiosities, by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
73. Charm School, by Nelson DeMille
74. Feed, by Mira Grant
75. Gone Tomorrow, by Lee Child
76. Darkly Dreaming Dexter, by Jeff Lindsay
77. The Secret History, by Donna Tartt
78. The First Deadly Sin, by Lawrence Sanders
79. Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson
80. The Brotherhood of the Rose, by David Morrell
81. Primal Fear, by William Diehl
82. The Templar Legacy, by Steve Berry
82. The Hard Way, by Lee Child [tie]
84. The Last of the Mohicans, by James Fenimore Cooper
85. Six Days of the Condor, by James Grady
86. Fail-Safe, by Eugene Burdick and Harvey Wheeler
87. Strangers on a Train, by Patricia Highsmith
88. The Eight, by Katherine Neville
89. The Lost Symbol, by Dan Brown
90. Goldfinger, by Ian Fleming
91. Bangkok 8, by John Burdett
92. The Kill Artist, by Daniel Silva
93. Hardball, by Sara Paretsky
94. The Club Dumas, by Arturo Perez-Reverte
95. The Deep Blue Good-by, by John MacDonald
96. The Monkey’s Raincoat, by Robert Crais
96. Berlin Game, by Len Deighton [tie]
98. A Simple Plan, by Scott Smith – This is a great book and one of my faves.  More people should read it.
99. Child 44, by Tom Rob Smith
100. Heartsick, by Chelsea Cain

August 7, 2010 Posted by | lists | , | 32 Comments

The Glass Castle, by Jeanette Walls

Cover ImageFinished 8-1-10, rating 5/5, memoir, pub. 2005

Mom always said people worried too much about their children.  Suffering when you’re young is good for you, she said.  It immunized your body and your soul, and that was why she ignored us kids when we cried.  Fussing over children who cry only encourages them, she told us.  That’s positive reinforcement for negative behavior.

page 28

I usually start with a recap of the book, but today I’m starting with the fact that I loved this memoir.  I don’t read a lot of memoirs, a few a year at most, but this one has me thinking that I’ve just been reading the wrong ones.  I was completely captivated by the life of Jeannette and her family.  I knew I wanted Jason to read it, but I think I may have ruined it for him because I couldn’t stop from sharing the horrifying, sad, and sometimes inspirational stories in the book.

For those that aren’t familiar Jeannette writes about her childhood traveling from state to state with her parents and three siblings.  She starts by telling her first memory, when she was boiling hotdogs and caught herself on fire – at the age of three.  She spends six weeks in the hospital before her father breaks her out.  So begins the adventure that is her life.  Her charismatic father convinces the kids that the FBI are on their tail so they have to stay on the run.  In reality he is a drunk who cannot hold onto a job or money.  The mother seems harmless enough at first, but only got worse with every story told.  And by the end I was beyond mad at her complete lack of caring.  The children grow up in extreme poverty.

It is the even-handed way that Walls tells her story that makes this book so wonderful.  She is not bitter or pointing fingers.  During her childhood years she and her siblings accepted their life and their parents and it was only later after  a move to West Virginia when things became unbearable that she became frustrated.  I am in such awe of her ability to come out of her situation intact and successful.  I don’t really want to spoil too many details because I think once you start reading it you won’t be able to put it down and at 288 pages it won’t take you long to finish.  Cannot recommend it highly enough.


This is from my personal library and was chosen by Marce, JoJo, Jenners, Molly, Sheral, Debby, Rebecca, Alita, Soft Drink, Melissa, and Angie.  Here’s what they had to say…

“Excellent memoir that is so unbelievable it wouldn’t work if it was fiction.”  Angie

“A fantastic memoir about a tough childhood, but the author refrains from being all ‘woe is me'”  Soft Drink

“I read this last year and LOVED it. I can’t wait for Walls’ 2nd book.”  Rebecca

“Excellent & unforgettable”  Sheral

“The memoir I have read in the fastest sitting. Sucks you right in.”  Molly

“One of the best memoirs I’ve ever read. You won’t easily forget it.”  Jenners

August 5, 2010 Posted by | 5 Star Books | , | 33 Comments

Under the Tuscan Sun, by Frances Mayes

Cover ImageFinished 7-25-10, rating 3.5/5, travel memoir, pub. 1996

A guest  earlier in the summer was on one of those marathon seven countries in three weeks trips.  It’s tempting to mock that impulse but to me it’s extremely interesting when one chooses to power through that many miles.  First of all, it’s very American.  Just drive, please.  And far and quickly. 

Cortona, Noble City

In this Italian memoir Frances Mayes details her journey to Italy and buying and restoring a house there along with her significant other, Ed.  Both are professors in San Francisco, but travel to their new Italian home every chance they get to work on the restoration process.  It is more work than either were prepared for and they spent much of their time navigating the new idiosyncracies of their adopted country.

I love Italy.  I would love to buy a home in Italy.  And one day maybe I’ll convince Jason that it’s a necessity.  I liked the comparisons between our cultures and the descriptions of life in the village.  And I loved that she made her own olive oil.  There were also many yummy Italian recipes included.  Her sense of wanderlust was very appealing.

This is my first travel memoir and I enjoyed it, but I’m not sure it’s a genre that I will seek out.  The writing was full of details which was both good and bad.  I did not enjoy the minute detailing of every step of restoring their home or every meal they ate.  It moved a little too slowly for me.  This book took me months to finish because it was too easy to put down.  If this hadn’t been chosen for me by you there is a good chance I wouldn’t have finished it.

I love the movie and there were really only a few things that were similar to this book.  The movie did a wonderful job of showing the natural beauty of Italy as did this book.  If you love Italy and travel memoirs this is the book for you.  If you just loved the movie I think you could skip it.

This is from my personal library and was chosen for me by Jo Ann, GMR, Piroska, and Mystica.  Here’s what they had to say…

“Escape to Italy and enjoy!”  Jo Ann

“The movie was great and I’ve heard the book is even better.”  GMR

August 4, 2010 Posted by | 3 1/2 Star Books | , | 20 Comments

First Lines Quiz

Identify these famous novels by their first lines. Leave a comment with the number, title and author (5 points each).  No googling this week.

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 looking at other commenter answers or Googling!  Yes, we’re going by the honor system

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

Last week’s answers here.  Current leaderboard here.  Submit your answers by Thursday at midnight. 

1. ”If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.”    The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger

2. ”It was a pleasure to burn.”  Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

3. “Going to Ford’s Theatre to watch a play is like going to Hooter’s for the food.”  Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

4. ”A green hunting cap squeezed the top of the fleshy balloon of a head.”  A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

5. ”You better not never tell nobody but God.”  The Color Purple by Alice Walker

6. “The small boys came early to the hanging.”  The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

7. “Howard Roark laughed.”  The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

8. “All happy families are alike; each is unhappy in its own way.”  Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

9. “It’s hard being left behind.”  The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

10. I was sitting in a taxi, wondering if I had overdressed for the evening, when I looked out the window and saw Mom rooting through a Dumpster.”  The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

August 3, 2010 Posted by | Quizzes | | 22 Comments