Initial Quiz – guessing closed

There are a number of authors who use initials as first names.  Do you know if they are male or female?  Do you know what the initials stand for? Take your best shot at these authors.

Please play along with us.  For everyone who plays an extra $ goes to the winner and the everyone is entered for a special prize.  Just leave a comment with your guesses before noon on Saturday and don’t google the answers.

Rules & Leaderboard here. Last week’s Jack Nicholson was in that? Quiz here.

First tell me if they are Male (M) or Female (F) (2.25 pts.) and then what the initials stand for (4 pts.)

I’ll give an extra 10 points for my favorite incorrect name, so have fun guessing 🙂

1. PD James Female Phyllis Dorothy

2. JRR Tolkien  Male John Ronald Reuel

3. SE Hinton  Female Susan Eloise

4. PG Wodehouse  Male Pelham Grenville

5. EB White  Male Elwyn Brooks

6. E Nesbit  Female Edith

7. EM Forster  Male Edward Morgan

8. JK Rowling  Female  Joanne

9. PJ O’Rourke  Male Patrick Jane

10. AS Byatt  Female  Antonia Susan

11. LM Montgomery  Female Lucy Maud

12. DH Lawrence  Male  David Herbert

13. CJ Cherryh  Female Carolyn Janice Cherry

14. AA Milne  Male  Alan Alexander

15. HG Wells  Male Herbert George

16. JA Jance  Female  Judith Ann

The Witches of Eastwick, by John Updike

The Witches of EastwickFinished audio 11-8-11, rating 3/5, fiction, pub. 1984

Unabridged audio 12 hours.  Read by Kate Reading.

Alexandra, Sukie, and Jane are witches who don’t have the best reputations around their small Rhode Island town.  Alexandra is the one who harnesses the most power but she is also the one who can’t get over the feeling that she has cancer growing in her.  When the rich Darryl Van Horne moves into a mansion, the three women become fixtures there, on his tennis court and in his hot tub.  The four of them enjoy a special physical relationship, each woman thinking that she holds Van Horne’s affection.  When another woman steps into the hot tub the witches decide a hex is needed.

The three women weren’t all that likeable.  They killed pets who annoyed them, were terrible, absent mothers, were fine with sleeping with married men, and they weren’t even great friends to each other, even though they had no one else.

As I listened to this in the car I felt like I needed to tell Gage to cover his ears in a few parts!  The women’s physical relationship felt icky to me and I do think it’s because I pictured Updike in his office typing the scenes and it felt like I was looking into his fantasy or something.  I know this is my own prejudice and maybe I wouldn’t have had the same reaction if I’d been reading it.

The writing was excellent, but I just didn’t like the story.  Having said that I am curious about the movie.  I can see it being campy fun, considering the cast, so I’ll have to check it out.

I borrowed the audio from the library.

Vaccines with Gage & my favorite photo ever

What’s a mother to do in this age of so many vaccines?  Are they harmful?  Are the possible side effects worth it?  What exactly am I putting into my child’s body?  Do they cause autism? As a mother I am overwhelmed at times.

According to the suggested vaccine schedule, Gage should have 28 vaccines before he’s 2 years old, and 9 more before he’s 12.  That’s a lot.

I’ve been reading The Vaccine Book by Dr. Sears and have found it very helpful and scary.  He does a very good job of telling you about each separate vaccine, the history, what’s in it, the benefits.  Dr. Sears also provides an alternate shot schedule which we’ve been loosely following.  It’s essentially spreading out or delaying vaccines, so Gage is never really more than a few months behind.

On Friday he got the big one, the MMRC.  It has a long list of serious side effects and is the one linked to the autism scare.  I’ll admit I’m nervous about it.

So, how do you feel about vaccinations?  Do they make you nervous or do you think it’s much ado about nothing?

Sometimes he gets cranky after his shots and I was hoping he’d be happy since the grandparents are visiting.  Well, here he is on Friday night, my favorite picture ever…

Veteran’s Day Movies

Thanks to all of the veterans out there, including my husband, dad, and father-in-law, for serving and protecting your country.  In honor of Veteran’s Day here are some of the best movies about the veteran experience that I’ve seen.

Bar none my favorite is The Best Years of Our Lives (1946).  This film about three vets returning home from WWII won many Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Director, and Honorary Oscar. Russell, an amateur actor who really did lose both of his hands in the war, earned an honorary Oscar for ”bringing hope and courage to his fellow veterans,” then beat the competition to win the Best Supporting Actor Oscar, making him the only performer to win two Academy Awards for the same performance.”  Do yourself a favor and watch this one if you haven’t already.  It will stay with you.

Born on the Fourth of July (1989) is another film that stayed with me.  Based on the true story of Ron Kovic as he returned home after losing his legs in Vietnam, this one was hard to watch.  Tom Cruise turned in a great performance that earned him an Oscar nod.

Although I don’t necessarily think of Legends of the Fall (1994) as a post-war movie, it is.  Three brothers go off to war and only two come home.  How each handles it is the beauty and sadness of the story.

I wasn’t in love with The Manchurian Candidate (1962) about Korean War vets being brainwashed by Communists, when I saw it, but I would like to see the remake.

Do you have a favorite film featruring veterans?

Sloppy Firsts, by Megan McCafferty

Sloppy Firsts (Jessica Darling Series #1)Finished 11- 8-11, rating 4/5, YA, 280 pages, pub. 2001

Book 1 Jessica Darling series

Jessica Darling is facing a crisis of major proportion.  Her best friend, Hope, has moved away and left her alone with the rest of their brainless clique.  Jessica herself is the top student in her junior class and is known as a goody-goody.  Jessica, can’t sleep or stop thinking of Marcus Flutie, the druggie she surprisingly kept from jail.  Jessica is a mess, but aren’t most teens at some point?

I don’t read many young adult books even though so many of them look good.  For the most part I usually feel removed from the teen experience and this book was no exception.  I liked Jessica and her snarky take on high school, but only to a point.  She captured the heartbreak of being a teen, but her obsession with losing Hope gave her an excuse to consider everyone else beneath her. I know feeling smarter than everyone else is a high school rite of passage, but Jessica put me off a little with her attitude.  The distance I felt from her character may be age related, but it may also be that I never hung around with a Jess in high school so I didn’t quite get her.

Anyway, I thought this book was good and I’d recommend it to older teens.  There was swearing, drugs, sex talk and masturbation so I can’t recommend it to younger teens or even older ones who are not mature, I don’t think Jessica is necessarily a good influence.

High school is a hard place to navigate and McCafferty does a great job if capturing that universal experience, which I appreciated even if I had some problems with Jessica.

This was from my personal library.  I picked it up (and way too many other books from my wish list) from Border’s for practically nothing.

The Scent of Rain and Lightning, by Nancy Pickard

The Scent of Rain and LightningFinished audio 11-2-11, rating 4/5, fiction, pub. 2010

Unabridged 10 hours.  Reader-Tavia Gilbert

Rose, a small Kansas town, was shocked when one of their most respected families endured a double tragedy.  When Jody Linder learns that her dad’s murderer, Billy Crosby, will be released from prison after 20 years she is in shock.  Jody has been protected and loved by her grandparents and three uncles all her life and the town, too, has treated her with respect and pity.

Bill was the drunken, animal  and wife abusing loser of Rose.  There were no tears shed when he was carted off to jail.  Even his son, Collin, disliked him.  But Collin still wanted justice done so he went to law school and then fought to have his father released.

Jody grew up without her parents.  She and everyone in her family believed that Billy is guilty.  Only a few in town harbored doubts and those few begin to make Jody wonder about what really happened the night her dad was murdered and her mom disappeared.

The story starts with Billy being released from prison and then the most of the majority of the book is step back in time to show the reader why we should care about Billy’s release.  Most of the time I only like this plot device if the flashback is only part of the book.  While I really liked the story itself I didn’t like the fact that the flashback was the majority of the book.  I kept waiting to move on and get to what was going on now, not past history.

I liked it.  Jody was the main character and yet she wasn’t.  The whole cast of characters had their moment in the spotlight as the story was re-told. There was one thing about the end that I hated, but it wasn’t the reveal of what had really happened, I thought that was nicely done.

Overall this was a nice story and my first experience using a Playaway from the library.  I loved the format and how easy it was to use.  I’ve already checked out several others.  It makes cleaning up the kitchen at night so much easier to bear 🙂

Jack Nicholson was in that? Quiz – guessing closed

I don’t consider myself a Jack Nicholson fan but he has been in many iconic films. I’ve seen 13 of his movies and put them in the order that I liked them best.  All you need to do is tell me what movie the images are from.  7.5 points for each right answer and 2.5 points for listing a Nicholson movie not pictured.

Please play along with us.  For everyone who plays an extra $ goes to the winner and the everyone is entered for a special prize.  Just leave a comment with your guesses and don’t google the answers.

Rules & Leaderboard here. Last week’s

1. (1992) A Few Good Men

2. (2003) Something’s Gotta Give

3. (1983) Terms of Endearment

4. (1974) Chinatown

5. (1996) Mars Attacks!

6. (1980) The Shining

7. (1997) As Good As It Gets

8. (1994) Wolf

9. (1989) Batman

10. (2007) The Bucket List

11. (1975) One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

12. (1969) Easy Rider

13. (2011) The Pledge

Book vs. Movie- The Shining

This will be a new semi-regular feature.  I listened to the audio book of The Shining by Stephen King in 2010 (post here) watched the 1980 movie last month (post here).  Let’s break down how they compare.

The Story/Plot  Ultimately, this is the story of one man’s descent into madness.  While I enjoyed Nicholson’s performance I thought the book explained it better than the movie showed it.  If I had just seen the movie I would have missed fully understanding what drove Jack to the brink.  Thumbs up-Book

The Visual  I liked seeing the grandness of the hotel, but missed seeing the hedge animals come alive like they did in the book.  There was a hedge maze but it didn’t have the same effect that the animals did in my imagination.  I bet they could do this if the movie were made now fairly easily.  Tie

Characters vs. Actors Nicholson really put it all out there in the crazy department and I liked it, even if it wasn’t how I pictured Jack at all in the book.  I really liked the mom in the movie, Shelley Duvall, and liked that the movie was just as much about her as a mother as it was that Jack was going insane.  The kid was fine, but somehow it’s easier to imagine the shining than to see it. Tie

The Ending The one thing that drives me crazy about movie adaptations is when they change a perfectly good ending as was the case here.  It’s not even a close call.  I loved the ending of the book and disliked the movie version.  Thumbs up-Book

And the winner is…the Book!

Now it’s your turn to vote

Other book vs. movie polls you can vote on:  (Charlie St. Cloud)  (Far From the Madding Crowd) (The Girl on the Train) (Tuck Everlasting)  (Northanger Abbey) (Me Before You) (And Then There Were None) (Still Alice) (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)

Sundays with Gage

Gage has a book for you this week.  We received Sweet Land of Liberty for review a few months ago and totally forgot about it!  I was surprised when it came to see that the author was Callista Gingrich, Newt’s wife.  How my eyes could have passed over the oh-so-popular name Gingrich I don’t know.  I try to stay out of politics here because I can get a little passionate about it and wouldn’t have accepted it had I been paying attention, BUT I am happy to say that except for the main character being Ellis the elephant, this kid’s book was politics-free!

Ellis (Ellis Island ring a bell?) was sooo cute.  He traveled through America’s history by reading books, how awesome is that?  He is appropriately dressed for each occasion.  Here he is at the first Thanksgiving…

Ellis also went to the Boston Tea Party, signing of the Declaration, visiting George Washington and Abe Lincoln, on the wagon trains as they headed west, flying with the Wright brothers, war memorial, the moon, and Washington DC.

I thought this book was top notch.  It is a high quality hard cover with great illustrations.  I fell in love with Ellis and know that Gage will too when we get to spend more time with this book.  I think this would be a great gift.  Because it includes Thanksgiving it would be a great one to take for the little ones to Thanksgiving dinner (although this page had my only quibble with history. Credit was given to God that they survived. That’s great, but there was no mention of the Indians, even though there were a few in the picture.) Now that I’ve typed that maybe it isn’t such a great Thanksgiving book, but I still think it’s a good gift.

This is a fun book that breezes through history with great illustrations and a very cute elephant.  In the back it also includes a few pages of resources for each of the places Ellis visited which I found very useful.

Our recommendation of this book is in no way an endorsement of any political candidate 🙂

Sweet Land of LibertyAuthor-Callista Gingrich

Illustrator-Susan Arciero

28 page hardcover

published September 2011

Ages 4-8

Roots, by Alex Hailey

Cover ImageFinished Audio 10-23-11, rating 5/5, fiction, 729 pages, pub. 1976

Unabridged audio. 30 hours. Read by Avery Brooks

What is there left to say about this book that hasn’t already been said?  It still resonates today and is just as powerful as when it was first published.  Even before I touch on the story itself I want to heap praises on the narrator, Avery Brooks.  He was perfect and made the 30 hours just fly by (okay, maybe an exaggeration but I’m not taking it back).  I tried to reference the book here and there for clarification, but found when I went to the book it was jarring.  I just wanted to listen to Brooks!

I think everyone has heard of Kunta Kinte, the African boy who was kidnapped from his small village in the Gambia and sold into slavery in America.  I was so caught up in his village life that I was not only horrified by his kidnapping but also mad that the story had to leave that charming village full of people I wanted to spend more time with.

Kunta came to America, an African among American blacks, on the Virginia plantation.  He didn’t understand their ways just as they didn’t understand his even though they were all living the same enslaved experience.   Kunta eventually learned to make friends and even find love.  When his daughter Kizzy was born he and his wife were held in very high regard as was their daughter which made what happened next all the more awful.

This books follows many generations of Kunta Kinte (born in 1750), the most time being spent with Kunta, his daughter Kizzy and her son Chicken George.  The otherwise ordinary lives were made extraordinary in this family saga.  Not only are they important people because they represent whole generations but because their stories are the stories of this country, warts and all.  It’s as much a story of America’s history as any other novel I’ve read.  It made me laugh and made me sad, brought me to tears and left me disgusted, and it never failed to keep riveted.

This book is based on Alex Haley’s own ancestors and their stories.  It was first published as non-fiction, but some historical accuracies were discovered and it’s now marketed as fiction.  Haley also settled a plagiarism suit where he admitted to copying whole passages from another book.  I admit, that these charges made me look at the book differently when I read about it after the fact.  Should the plagiarism stop me from giving this book a 5 rating?  Probably, but after I gave it some thought I decided to just rate based on my reading/listening experience and it was powerful.

I hope to watch the mini-series soon.

This is from my personal library and was chosen by CeeCee, Staci, Jennifer, Sarah, and Angie.  Here’s what they had to say…

“Amazing historical novel about Africa and American slavery.”  Sarah

“You won’t regret reading this.”  Jennifer

“You have to read this because it is IMPORTANT!!!”  Staci

“Seen the series never read this book but it’s in my TBR pile too.”  Angie