Stacy's Books

books, movies, and boy

Someone Else’s Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson

Someone Else's Love StoryFinished 11-24-13, rating 4/5, fiction, 352 pages, pub. 2013

I received this book from She Reads.  Go on over and see what other bloggers think about this one.

At twenty-one, Shandi Pierce is juggling finishing college, raising her delightful three-year-old genius son Natty, and keeping the peace between her eternally warring, long-divorced Catholic mother and Jewish father. She’s got enough complications without getting caught in the middle of a stick-up in a gas station mini-mart and falling in love with a great wall of a man named William Ashe, who willingly steps between the armed robber and her son.

Shandi doesn’t know that her blond god Thor has his own complications. When he looked down the barrel of that gun he believed it was destiny: It’s been one year to the day since a tragic act of physics shattered his universe. But William doesn’t define destiny the way other people do. A brilliant geneticist who believes in science and numbers, destiny to him is about choice.

Now, he and Shandi are about to meet their so-called destinies head on, in a funny, charming, and poignant novel about science and miracles, secrets and truths, faith and forgiveness,; about a virgin birth, a sacrifice, and a resurrection; about falling in love, and learning that things aren’t always what they seem—or what we hope they will be. It’s a novel about discovering what we want and ultimately finding what we need.   (from Goodreads)

This may be the first book I’ve read with a main character, “the Aut-astic Dr. Ashe”, on the spectrum and it was refreshing to see how respectfully Jackson did it.  I was impressed.  William may  have problems in the social department but he was above the grade in mental capacity and physical presence, so there wasn’t a lack of opportunity for him.  Shandi, on the other hand, was a 21-year-old single mother who had convinced herself that her genius boy was a miracle baby and her opportunities were limited.  But because of her loving parents and best friend Walcott she had a great support system and people who wanted to see her succeed. I think too often young single mothers are portrayed as having some missing parental relationship so it was nice to see that, yes, the undesirable can happen to decent parents too.

I found it hard to put this book down. Jackson has a way of drawing you in and making you want to stay in the world she’s created.  Alternating chapters helped this story move along and I loved getting so much backstory with the current one.  There was a shock near the end that I didn’t see coming and for some reason I didn’t like it.  I know I will be in the minority here and I can take it.  It just didn’t work for me.  I get it and I get why people love it, but there were some threads to the story that made this surprising turn of events seem…disappointing in a way.  It didn’t ruin the story because I still loved it, it’s more of a personal preference I guess.

This is my second Joshilyn Jackson book and I consider myself a new fan this year.   I highly recommend this one.

November 25, 2013 Posted by | 4 Star Books | | 13 Comments

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby

The Diving Bell and the ButterflyThe Diving Bell and the Butterfly. Finished 10-13-13, rating 2.5/5, memoir, 132 pages, pub. 1997

In 1995, Jean-Dominique Bauby was the editor-in-chief of French Elle, the father of two young childen, a 44-year-old man known and loved for his wit, his style, and his impassioned approach to life. By the end of the year he was also the victim of a rare kind of stroke to the brainstem.  After 20 days in a coma, Bauby awoke into a body which had all but stopped working: only his left eye functioned, allowing him to see and, by blinking it, to make clear that his mind was unimpaired. Almost miraculously, he was soon able to express himself in the richest detail: dictating a word at a time, blinking to select each letter as the alphabet was recited to him slowly, over and over again. In the same way, he was able eventually to compose this extraordinary book.

By turns wistful, mischievous, angry, and witty, Bauby bears witness to his determination to live as fully in his mind as he had been able to do in his body. He explains the joy, and deep sadness, of seeing his children and of hearing his aged father’s voice on the phone. In magical sequences, he imagines traveling to other places and times and of lying next to the woman he loves. Fed only intravenously, he imagines preparing and tasting the full flavor of delectable dishes. Again and again he returns to an “inexhaustible reservoir of sensations,” keeping in touch with himself and the life around him.

Jean-Dominique Bauby died two days after the French publication of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.   (from Goodreads)

I read this memoir during the 24 hour read-a-thon last month for the same reason I read the others, it was on my shelf and short.  I think I have owned this book since I lived in the Washington DC area 16+ years and 4 moves ago so I felt good about finally reading it!  Unfortunately, as much as I was riveted by the real life of Bauby and the tragedy of his end, this memoir just didn’t work for me.  And, yes, I feel bad saying that since the man wrote it by blinking his one good eye to convey every. single. letter.  It’s hard to critique that sort of accomplishment so I won’t.  I will just say that I think I would have preferred to read a biography capturing his whole life rather than this memoir version, but I totally respect the power of the human mind to overcome and Bauby is a perfect example.

November 21, 2013 Posted by | 2 1/2 Stars or Less | | 15 Comments

Easy as Two Quiz – guessing closed

I like a clean title just as much as the next reader.  Let’s see if you can put these two-word titles together. There are 14 titles. Oh, and the sixth word down on the first list is LOST.

I hope that you’ll try your hand at my (mostly) bookish quizzes every week, but it’s okay if you just want to play when the quiz interests you. If you play you are eligible for a prize at the end of the round. For all of the details, click here. Submit your answers in the comment section – I will stop by and hide them throughout the week but try not to copy off anyone else :)  You have til Sunday to guess.

No need to know all the answers, one guess and you’ll be eligible for a prize. No Googling!

IMG_4294Cloud Atlas, Killing Floor, Survival Lessons, Watership Down, Joy School, Lost Symbol, Wuthering Heights, Howard’s End, Backseat Saints, Still Life, Love Story, Revolutionary Road, One Day, Case Histories

IMG_4296

Answers to last Political Unreality quiz here.  Leaderboard here.

November 19, 2013 Posted by | Quizzes | | 15 Comments

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit

Tuck EverlastingTuck Everlasting. Finished  10-12-13, rating 4/5, children’s fiction, 139 pages, pub. 1975

Doomed to – or blessed with – eternal life after drinking from a magic spring, the Tuck family wanders about trying to live as inconspicuously and comfortably as they can. When ten-year-old Winnie Foster stumbles on their secret, the Tucks take her home and explain why living forever at one age is less a blessing that it might seem. Complications arise when Winnie is followed by a stranger who wants to market the spring water for a fortune.  (from Goodreads)

I watched the movie when it came out in 2002, mainly because I’ve loved Jonathan Jackson since he first played Lucky on General Hospital.  Surprisingly, I don’t remember much about it except that I enjoyed it.  So, I when I read the book I knew about the magic spring but other than that my expectations were low.  I read it for the 24 hour read-a-thon because I had it on my shelf and it was short.  What a sweet treat it was.

I loved ten-year-old Winnie. She lived with her family at the edge of a woods and one day met Jesse who was there to meet up with his seemingly strange family who had literally discovered the fountain of youth.  Winnie, being a young girl sheltered from much doesn’t put up much of a fight when the Tuck family kidnaps her and takes her back to their home.  She falls  a little in love with Jesse and the rest of the family and they with her.

Such a sweet story that tackles some very big issues.  If you could live forever, would you?  What are the ramifications if this fountain of youth was found and exploited?  I’m thinking of a big drug company or even some part of the health care system that could sell immortality to the highest bidders.  How would you live your life if you knew there would always be tomorrows?  Such a weighty book for a slight children’s novel.  I was captivated by it.

November 18, 2013 Posted by | 4 Star Books | | 5 Comments

Book vs. Movie- Ender’s Game

In 2008, my first year blogging, I listened to the book (review here) and fell in love with it.  I forced my husband to listen too and he liked it so much that he went on to read a few more books in the series.  As much as I love Ender, one book was enough for me.

Orson Scott Card carries controversy around with him in the form on his 1st amendment right to free speech.  Many people chose to boycott the movie for that reason.  I admit there are some people I do not support (ie use my money to support them by buying what they’re selling) because of their extreme insults or harmful views, but as long as they aren’t hurting anyone I tend to live and let live.  But, I’d love to hear your opinion on this, maybe you’ll change my mind.

The Story/Plot – This science fiction story is set a few hundreds years from now and the Earth is at war with the buggers, an alien race who wants to colonize the planet. The military is using children to train to fight these buggers.  The story is about their training.

The movie stayed true to the book, but there was so much skipped that the characters onscreen fell a little flat.  So much of the story takes place in Ender’s head and that didn’t really translate to the film.  Thumbs up -Book

The Visual – I ‘m glad that they waited so long to make the movie so that technology could actually catch up with our imaginations in some ways.  My husband was worried about Battle School looking cheesy, but we were both impressed with the quality.  Thumbs up- Movie

Characters vs. Actors – I fell in love with Ender when I listened to the book.  He was only 6 when first sent to Battle School  and there was much more detail about his life between the ages of 6-12 than there was in the movie.  The extra  detail gave me a chance to really care about this vulnerable and genius and character, where the movie didn’t. Asa Butterfield did a fine job of portraying Ender on the big screen, but there wasn’t the same connection for me. Harrison Ford was fine too, but my favorite actor in the movie was Ben Kingsley as Mazer Rackham and he had a very small part.    Thumbs up- Book

(NO SPOILERS) The Ending – It’s been a while since I listened to the book and while the end was the same I thought there were some parts of the movie leading up to the end that might have been finessed.  I was completely surprised by the end of the book, but the movie wasn’t as shocking because of a few things that happened.  Or maybe it was just because I already knew what would happen, who knows?  Thumbs up- Tie

And the winner is…The Book.

Now it’s your turn to vote

Other book vs. movie polls you can vote on (Carrie -the original) (The Secret Life of Bees) (Under the Tuscan Sun) (The Shining)

November 15, 2013 Posted by | Books vs. Movie | , | 16 Comments

Political Unreality Quiz – guessing closed

I was hoping to post this last Tuesday, on election day, but like most things political, nothing happens as fast as it should.  Let’s see how well you do with these classic political dystopias.

I hope that you’ll try your hand at my (mostly) bookish quizzes every week, but it’s okay if you just want to play when the quiz interests you. If you play you are eligible for a prize at the end of the round. For all of the details, click here. Submit your answers in the comment section – I will stop by and hide them throughout the week but try not to copy off anyone else :)  You have til Sunday to guess.

No need to know all the answers, one guess and you’ll be eligible for a prize. No Googling!

Match these titles with one of the main character’s names.

1. Brave New World     E. John the Savage          

2. Fahrenheit 451      A. Guy Montag  

3. Blindness     B. doctor’s wife  

4. V is for Vendetta      H. Evey Hammond

5. Atlas Shrugged      F. Dagny Taggart

6. The Handmaid’s Tale      D. Offred

7. Animal Farm         C. Napoleon 

8. The Children of Men       G. Dr. Theodore Faron

And can you name these two?

IMG_41871984 by George Orwell and The Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Happy guessing 🙂

November 12, 2013 Posted by | Quizzes | , | 20 Comments

A Gracious Plenty by Sheri Reynolds – loved it!

A Gracious Plenty: A NovelA Gracious Plenty by Sheri Reynolds. Finished 10-12-13, rating 5/5, fiction, 205 pages, pub. 1997

I chose  to read this one for the 24 hour read-a-thon because I had it on my shelf,  it was short and the cover has always intrigued me.  Since it takes place at a cemetery that was an added facination since I love to visit old graveyards (well, I did when I had time for such things).

Finch Nobles (how’s that for a name?) takes care of the local graveyard in her small southern town.  Her face, burned when she was a child, looks like a tree so she was ostracized for that.  And then as she got older she realized that she could speak to the dead that ‘lived’ in the cemetery causing some very odd behavior, so she was ostracized for that. Not that she minded much since she had the vegetable man, the only one who would buy her home-grown varieties and Leonard, a police officer who found himself giving Finch more chances that she earned.

So, what’s with this talking to the dead business?

“I works like this,” the Mediator explained.  “The Dead coax the natural world along.  We’re responsible for weather and tides and seasons.  For rebirth and retribution.  You’re going to enjoy it, I’m sure.  But if you want to know real enlightenment, you’ve got to lose the weight.  All of it.  And we’re not just talking about blubber here, either.  We’re talking about burdens and secrets, buster.  This is critical information, so listen up.

“In this place you’ve moved beyond experience.  Now it’s your stories that keep you down.  You can’t leave until you’ve told them”

page 34

That’s the outline, but in reality you don’t need to buy into this afterlife theory to enjoy the story.  The well-worn, adamant, gritty character of Finch will keep you reading.  This is her story, but with that comes the stories of those that live in her graveyard, and that includes her parents.  It’s an odd story and I loved every page of it. (okay, there was a kitten story that troubled me, but other than that…) The dead in the graveyard were no sniveling spirits either, they wielded some major power over the living in the form of the weather, seen in all its glory for the book’s finale.

I loved the grumpy Finch and the loving way she tended to the cemetery, Reynolds painted a clear and beautiful picture of both.  Highly recommended for those of you who aren’t afraid to try something a little different.

November 11, 2013 Posted by | 5 Star Books | | 11 Comments

Weekends with Gage and Harry

I am a regular at our library.  I do take Gage, but find it near impossible to actually shop for books so for personal time I tend to go before I pick him up from school about once a week.  The limit for checkouts is 50.  I am always very close to that – right now I have 49 items checked out.  Books, audios, movies, play-a-aways, music cds…the majority are enjoyed by Gage.  He loves books.  We always have them on the table for before or after meal times and before bed.  I brought home these three books weeks apart (our library will let you renew indefinitely as long as no one is waiting for it) and he loves them all.

harryHarry is read often in this house.  At first I thought they might have too many words and be too long, but no worries he listens and looks the whole time.  The illustrations are so great. They are bold and big and easy to follow.

We started with Harry the Dirty Dog. In this book Harry doesn’t like to take baths and runs away from home and after he’s had all the fun he can handle he gets tired and hungry and returns home, only his family doesn’t recognize him because he is so dirty.  Gage may have initially fell in love because there is a train and any book with a train must be good.  So cute and my personal favorite.  It’s 32 pages and first published in 1956.

In No Roses for Harry he receives a sweater from grandma that he hates.  He tries to ditch it but has no luck until a little birdy helps him.  This one could be confusing at first, but after a few readings I think he started to get the concept of the sweater just being one long piece of wool.  32 pages and first published in 1958.

Harry and the Lady Next Door is the one I brought home this week and I haven’t warmed up to it yet, maybe part of it is the length, it’s 64 pages.  It took two tries to get through the whole thing.  Seriously, yesterday alone he wanted to read it at least 4 different times.  I also think Harry is not very nice in this one, always trying to drown out the lady who sings too loudly next door, but it’s a teaching moment 🙂  This was published in 1960.

I know there’s at least one more Harry book.  We’re sure to read it soon.  These are classics. but I don’t remember reading these.

Did you read the Harry books growing up?

November 10, 2013 Posted by | Gage, Kids Books | | 18 Comments

Filmish Friday- where are all the women?

Before I started blogging  and looking more closely at what I read, I read so many more men authors than women.  Now, after five years, I feel like my numbers are closer, maybe even .  The same thing has happened these last few years as I’ve kept track of the new-to-me movies I watch.  As I put the movie poster on my monthly post it seems so obvious that men dominate my movie watching as well.  I always prepare my 5 word movie reviews as I watch them and last month after I added my first three I noticed that women were on all three and two only had women.  It shouldn’t have struck me, but it did so I went back to take a look at the other movies I’ve watched this year and this was the breakdown of movie posters of the 48 movies I watched before October

23 had men only

2 had women only (and one was a girl, Les Mis)

17 were mixed with men and women

6 were other things (cartoons, no people)

Here are the movie posters of only gals that I’ve seen this year

Two women wearing sunglasses, one holding a rocket launcher. Image is stylized using only black, red, and white.The poster shows a young girl, played by Isabelle Allen, in the background of a dark night. Text above reveals the cast listing and text below reveals the film's title.Gravity Poster.jpgContenderposter.jpgAccused ver2.jpgBoys on the Side poster.jpg

I think that it’s sad that more women can’t lead a movie, well maybe Sandra Bullock by the looks of it.  I like my alpha man fix just as much as anybody, but I think I can purposely choose more movies with leading women, just like I have done with authors.  So, the last 2 movies I chose in October were ones featuring women.  Maybe I’ll try to do a few months that I focus on one group or another.  I’ve already gone boyish this month by seeing Ender’s Game, but I can offset that with Catching Fire, right?

How about you? Do you find yourself watching more male or female centered movies?  

 

November 8, 2013 Posted by | movies | | 10 Comments

Preschool Germs

I’m sure that this won’t be the last time I’m sick this year since last year Gage brought major yuckiness home three times, but it seems too early for the cold I’ve got!  Sorry I didn’t get the quiz posted yesterday, it’ll be up next Tuesday.  We’re getting to the end of this round so I want to give you all a chance to participate. 

The upside is that I’ve gotten the  chance to rest my sprained foot as I spend extra time in bed 🙂  And read.  For the first time since I started blogging I actually have 5 book reviews to write!  Maybe I can catch up this week.

Stay healthy, friends.

November 6, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | 7 Comments