A look back, July 2010

In January I began a Kay inspired Bookish Nostalgia feature that I call A look back. I’m revisiting my 2010 blogging life to see what was going on. So far, this has been a lot of fun!  If you care to revisit your own blog in June 2010 and want to share your favorite post, I’ll add it here.

I posted 21 times, reviewed seven books, watched six movies, posted four quizzes, participated in three Monday Movie Memes, and wrote about my Favorite Film #24 A Few Good Men.

My favorite (and only) photo – Me at 6+ months preggers…

Wow. This seems like a lifetime ago.

My favorite postHistorical Romances…

…Many people don’t read romances.  Think they are predictable, all about sex, or poorly written and some of them are, but not the good ones.  I’m a romantic and I like knowing that when I pick up a romance it is not going to depress me.  It is a comfort read…

I’m surprised I’ve only added one new author to my favorites list, Eloisa James.  I’m picky about my historicals.  I need to go back and see how many of the recommendations I read.

My Favorite Book(s) – a tie between

The Weight of Water by Anita Shreve

…It is haunting, sad, and drew me in right away.  Beautifully told by alternating the past with the present I was even more invested in the old mystery surrounding a double murder and life on the inhospitable islands at the time.  It was made better because it is based on a true story.  Shreve used the old courtroom transcripts word for word, but made up the rest.  It definitely made me curious about the real murders.

This is not a long novel and one that will keep you riveted.  I never did fully connect with Jean, but I was fully engaged in the story.   It left me thinking well after I finished reading and that is about as good a recommendation as I can give.  I absolutely loved it!

White Fang by Jack London

Let me start by saying that I am a girl who cannot even watch the nature channels once one animal kills and eats another.  It’s a little too much reality for me.  I am much more likely to cry in a movie if a beloved animal is killed than a person.  So, when I say that I love White Fang and all of his wild ways it is no small thing.   I am sure that part of it is London’s writing – I loved The Call of the Wild as well- but the story itself is so compelling that I was riveted by White Fang’s life.

The book is mostly told from White Fang’s perspective once he is born, but the opening scenes that tell the tale of a sledding team on the run from wolves was perfect.  I won’t tell you who wins, but it was as good as any thriller I’ve read lately.  There was so much cruelty and abuse that White Fang never really had a chance until someone took the time to try to save him.  It is a lesson in humanity and redemption and I loved it.

My Favorite (new) Movie – Inception…

A man in a suit with a gun in his right hand is flanked by five other individuals in the middle of a street which, behind them, is folded upwards. Leonardo DiCaprio's name and those of other cast members are shown above the words "YOUR MIND IS THE SCENE OF THE CRIME". The title of the film "INCEPTION", film credits, and theatrical and IMAX release dates are shown at the bottom.

My five word review…

Dreams. Orginal. Ending Greatly Debated.

So what was going on in your blogging life in July 2010?

July’s Movies

I could watch a great romantic film again and again (and have!) but bad ones are hard to stomach (I’m looking at you Nicholas Sparks). Another month and another chance to contribute money to charity.  Add your 5 words (or less!) to mine in a comment and earn $1 for charity.  Once we get to $100 the person with the most reviews will choose the charity.  Click here to see the past winners, the charities they chose and the other reviews you can add to.  Anyone is welcome to join in at any time.

We’re at $35.

I hope that you will take a few minutes to participate when you can each month.  It’s fun for me and for everyone else who reads it.  I’m not looking for a critical review, just a few words about how you felt about the movie.  This is ongoing so you can leave your 5 words anytime.

The Secret Life of Pets poster.jpgThe Secret Life of Pets, 2016 (Louis CK, Kevin Hart, Eric Stonestreet, Steve Coogan, Ellie Kemper, Bobby Moynihan, Lake Bell, Dana Carvey)    Grade B+

Enemies become best friends.

Living on One Dollar Poster Living on One Dollar, 2013 (Ryan Christoffersen, Zach Ingrasci, Sean Leonard, Chris Temple)   Grade B

College guys head to Guatemala.

The Legend of Tarzan poster.jpgThe Legend of Tarzan, 2016 (Alexander Skarsgard, Margot Robbie, Samuel L Jackson, Christoph Waltz, Dijmon Hounsou)  Grade B

Tarzan and Jane go home.

Tarzan fights greed and oppression. (Michelle)


My Last Day Without You, 2011 (Nicole Beharie, Ken Duken, Reg E Cathey)                                         Grade C-

Cheesy love at first sight saga

The Best of Me poster.jpgThe Best of Me, 2014 (James Marsden, Michelle Monaghan, Gerald McRaney, Liana Liberato, Luke Bracey)   Grade F

I wanted to poke my eyes out.


The Girl From Summer Hill by Jude Deveraux

The Girl from Summer HillThe Girl From Summer Hill.  Finished 7-19-16, rating 3.5/5, romance, pub. 2016

Unabridged audio 12.5 hours. Read by Emily Rankin.

Sparks fly as fiery Casey Reddick and brooding Hollywood actor Tate Landers clash in the Virginia summer heat. A chef who puts her career first and her love life second, Casey doesn’t see what every girl in town is swooning over. She made up her mind the moment she met Tate—he’s gorgeous, but stuck-up, nothing like his ex-brother-in-law, Devlin who’s playing the Wickham to Tate’s Darcy in local production of Pride & Prejudice. Casey makes the perfect Elizabeth Bennett—how could she be star-struck when she’s heard Devlin’s damning stories about Tate? As they rehearse together, however, Casey finds herself attracted to Tate—he’s much more down-to-earth than she expected and any physical contact between the two of them literally gives her a tingling, electric shock. As opening night draws near, Casey has some difficult decisions to make. Whom should she believe?             from Goodreads

I enjoyed this fresh take on Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.  From the opening scene (let’s just say it’s hot and wet) to the ending full of love and friendship this book was fun. It wasn’t the most comparable to the original, but the main characters were there and recognizable.  It’s also the start to a new series set in small town Virginia, Summer Hill, where this story was set.

Summer Hill is putting on Pride & Prejudice to raise money for charity and Casey, in town to lick her wounds from her last job and relationship, is in charge of catering.  She is independent and outspoken and not impressed when two movie stars show up in town, even if one of them sends electric running through her every time they touch.  The sparks between Casey and Tate land them the lead roles in the play which also leads them to their expected happily ever after.  There is, of course, a Wickham but this one is even more devious than the original and is responsible for most of the (non-sex) action in the story.

This was light and fun and perfect for a summer read.

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

Title: Before the Fall, Author: Noah HawleyBefore the Fall. Finished 7-5-16, rating 4/5, thriller, 390 pages, pub. 2016

On a foggy summer night, eleven people—ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter—depart Martha’s Vineyard on a private jet headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the plane plunges into the ocean. The only survivors are Scott Burroughs—the painter—and a four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of an immensely wealthy and powerful media mogul’s family.

With chapters weaving between the aftermath of the crash and the backstories of the passengers and crew members—including a Wall Street titan and his wife, a Texan-born party boy just in from London, a young woman questioning her path in life, and a career pilot—the mystery surrounding the tragedy heightens. As the passengers’ intrigues unravel, odd coincidences point to a conspiracy. Was it merely by dumb chance that so many influential people perished? Or was something far more sinister at work? Events soon threaten to spiral out of control in an escalating storm of media outrage and accusations. And while Scott struggles to cope with fame that borders on notoriety, the authorities scramble to salvage the truth from the wreckage.                                from Goodreads

I hate to fly, I do it when I have to because I know it will get me somewhere beautiful, but I still hate it.  This book started with a bang, or a blast, or a fire, or whatever might have brought the plane down and led is into cold Atlantic waters with a swimmer and a boy trying to survive.  Even knowing from the description that they will be safe didn’t make those pages any less tense or nail biting.  I was hooked.  What happens when the two hit land is where the story and the condemnation of 24 hour cable news, especially the ones touting a specific point of view, begins.

But journalism was something else, wasn’t it?  It was meant to be objective reporting of facts, no matter how contradictory. You didn’t make the news fit the story. You simply reported the facts as they were. When had that stopped being true?  (page 274)

This book has been called  the book to read this summer from just about every corner of the blogging and print world so I was curious.  I loved the first half of the book very much. The victims of the crash all had their say and it was compelling, even though they were dead.  The mystery of the crash remained and Scott was a character I wanted to figure out.  It is a very smart book.  I did think it was a little anticlimactic by the end, but I’d still recommend it.

I want to thank She Reads and the publisher for sending me a copy of the book to read.  She Reads is an excellent group and if you aren’t reading their blog then you are missing out!

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Title: The Girl on the Train, Author: Paula HawkinsThe Girl on the Train. Finished 6-3-16, rating 4/5, thriller. pub. 2015

Unabridged audio read by Clare Corbett, Louise Brealey, India Fisher. 11 hours

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?    from Goodreads

I’m a little late on this one and that’s okay. There was so much hype it scared me away for a while. I’d seen the comparisons to Gone Girl and I had a love/hate relationship with that book. I do remember the end made me so mad that I wanted to throw it across the room (actually, that might have happened). So, I went into this one with dark, twisty expectations and it delivered.  As with Gone Girl, the multiple points of view and the hot mess of unlikable characters, were somehow elevated by terrific storytelling.

I don’t even really want to say more. I think the less you know the better.  I’ll just say that someone dies and there are quite a few people who could have done it.  And  Rachel, the first narrator, isn’t even the biggest hot mess of them all.  Quite a story. It may make you feel like going to your happy place afterward since none of those people have seen a happy place in just about forever.

Perfect for thriller lovers who like dark, twisty novels.

July Movie Watch – The Legend of Tarzan

movie watchtarzan

The Legend of Tarzan poster.jpg

Tarzan received 33% of the vote for the movie this month so Jason and I saw it last night.  I should point out that the only knowledge about the original Tarzan cam from the book Jane that I read several years ago and really enjoyed.

I liked the movie and gave it 8 stars on IMdB (although I’d have given it 7.5 if I’d been allowed).  I loved the beautiful locations, the CGI jungle animals (yes, you can tell they are CGI but still so well done it took me to the heart of the Congo), and the story felt modern even though it took place over 100 years ago. George Washington Williams, played by Samuel L Jackson , was based on a real person, a reporter who exposed the atrocities of King Leopold, King of Belgium.  That was the starting point of the story. GWW wanted Tarzan to go to Congo and poke around and see what was happening there and so he, Tarzan (John Clayton, Lord of Greystoke), his wife Jane head off to Congo. What they discover is what GWW expected, the enslaving of the people, and their journey is full of danger from the animals and the man hunting them, Rom, who has a boat full of soldiers with him.  The story of Tarzan’s birth and childhood living among the apes is one I think most everyone is familiar with and is told in such a moving way, both the beauty and the hate lighting the screen.

My favorite character was feisty Jane, played by the talented Margot Robbie.  She was brave and warm and worthy of the love from Tarzan. As for Tarzan, played by Alexander Skarsgard, he was strong and stoic with the quiet wildness you’d expect from a wild child turned English gentleman.  Rom, played by the ever talented Christoph Waltz, was properly  treacherous and got the end he had coming to him.

This is a thoughtful story told with action but it is not a modern action film.  It’s slower and I enjoyed my time in the Congo.

So, I’d like for you to add your post in the comments so that I can link it to this post.  I’d also like if you’d answer one or all of the questions and add one of your own for the next person 🙂

*How familiar are you with the original Tarzan books written by Edgar Rice Burroughs ?

*Did you like the CGI?

*Did you have a favorite character or actor?

I’m looking forward to seeing what you think!


Picture Books About Real People That We Loved

I’ve been reading some fun picture books with Gage lately about real people.  Here are the three I have checked out of the library and I’d recommend them for any toddler/kindergartner that you know.  If you have any recommendations for me, comment away!

Albie's First Word: A Tale Inspired by Albert Einstein's ChildhoodAlbie’s First Word:A Tale Inspired by Albert Einstein’s Childhood.  Written by Jacqueline Tourville. Illustrated by Wynne Evans. 40 pages.

I think many people know the story goes that Albert Einstein didn’t say his first word until he was four or so.  This is the story of what his family went through when their toddler couldn’t talk. Mostly truth, but some imaginings.

I love this book. I love the illustrations and being able to read it to Gage and tell him the truth of it.  You don’t have to be like everyone else to change the world.

Young Frank, ArchitectYoung Frank Architect. By Frank Viva.40 pages

MoMA’s first picture book, this tells the tale of Young Frank and his grandfather Old Frank who have different views about architecture.  The Franks go to the Museum of Moder Art (MoMA) to learn about real architects, Frank O. Gehry and Frank Lloyd Wright.   Although Old and Young Frank are not real people the fact that this book explored architecture by two icons made this feel like a true story.

I loved the book and the illustrations. I loved the invitation to creativity as the two Franks created a city by using only everyday items around the house.

A Boy Called DickensA Boy Called Dickens.  Written by Deborah Hopkinson. Illustrated by John Hendrix.  40 pages.

Beautifully illustrated of young  Charles Dickens growing up working in the factory to support himself while the rest of his family was in debtor’s prison.

In my opinion, the language was a little too much for kids, but the story is one to bring out when you feel like your kids don’t appreciate what they have in life.  Being thankful is one of the takeaways for kids in this one.

Absence, June’s Movies and July’s movie vote

Hi Guys! I’m feeling very out of touch in the blog world since I have run out of time and energy lately to post when and what I have in mind.  Gage got a new medical diagnosis a few months ago and I’m trying to figure it out.  Autism has a medical cause (most often more than one) and figuring it out is a very big, complicated puzzle. I’m a stubborn woman and in many ways it would be easier to say “autism, I’ll just treat that (the behaviors)” but some hero moms dig in their heels and step into the biomed world.  I’ve been trying to follow in their footsteps but it takes its toll on me. It’s stressful and honestly, oftentimes, too much to deal with on top of the autism behaviors themselves, especially in the summer when schedules are often fluid. I could go into great detail, but who needs that?  But, if you know of any moms who might need to talk to someone about autism, send them my way.  I’ve had so many moms step up and guide me to where I need to be and paying it forward makes me feel like I’m honoring them.

It was a slow month here.  Can you tell my movie choices were chosen by the boys in my life?  Please tell me if you saw anything worth seeing this month!

Another month and another chance to contribute money to charity.  Add your 5 words (or less!) to mine in a comment and earn $1 for charity.  Once we get to $100 the person with the most reviews will choose the charity.  Click here to see the past winners, the charities they chose and the other reviews you can add to.  Anyone is welcome to join in at any time.

We’re at $34.

I hope that you will take a few minutes to participate when you can each month.  It’s fun for me and for everyone else who reads it.  I’m not looking for a critical review, just a few words about how you felt about the movie.  This is ongoing so you can leave your 5 words anytime.

Mr Peabody & Sherman Poster.JPGMr. Peabody and Sherman, 2014 (Voices-Ty Burrell, Max Charles, Ariel Winter)    Grade A-/B+

Smart way to introduce kids to history.

Fresh and Nostalgic at the same time.  (Jen)

CentralIntelligencePoster.jpgCentral Intelligence, 2016 (Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Amy Ryan, Danielle Nicolet)     Grade C+

Kevin Hart does Kevin Hart

Penguins of Madagascar poster.jpgPenguins of Madagascar, 2014 (Voices-Tom McGrath, Chris Miller, Christopher Knights, Conrad Vernon, Benedict Cumberbatch,John Malkovich)   Grade C+

It had its moments.

Short characters with big humor.  (Jen)

We’re going to try the Watch-a-thon again. Last month was a big fail, so I’ll leave the voting up for a week and then we’ll try again. Vote for the one you’d most like to see.


The Legend of Tarzan



Star Trek Beyond

Bad Moms

Captain Fantastic

The Secret Life of Pets