Stacy's Books

books, movies, and boy

2016 Movie Faves & Stats

Movies

I watched 41 movies. That’s way down from 54 last year, probably due to our new 30 Day challenges.

I wrote 2 Book vs. Movie posts (The Blind Side, Still Alice), reviewed 1 of my 100 favorite movies (#29 Serendipity), tried to get a few movie features going but failed due to lack of time and effort, and continued my 5 word movie reviews asking for your participation. Please consider adding your thoughts to these reviews since they count towards money for charity, maybe even yours!

January was the month I saw the most movies with 7.

2016 was my most watched movie year with 13.

Sadly, Hope Floats (1998) was the oldest movie I watched.  I love old movies so I expect this to change next year.

Favorite animated movie – Mr. Peabody and Sherman, 2014

Cutest Couple – Sandra Bullock and Harry Connick Jr. in Hope Floats.

I usually list the movie I hated the most, but this year there were 2 movies I hated and they were BOTH Nicholas Sparks movies.  Message in a Bottle and the worst of the worst, The Best of Me.

I always list my most watched actress and this year it was a 5 way tie with 2 movies a piece-Rachel McAdams (Spotlight, Doctor Strange), Sandra Bullock (Minions, Hope Floats), Scarlett Johanssen (Chef, Captain America Civil War), Tilda Swinton (Trainwreck, Doctor Strange), Lake Bell (No Strings Attached, The Secret Life of Pets)

My most watched actor was a 3 way tie with 3 movies a piece – Tom Hardy (Mad Max Fury Road, Child 44, Revenant), Jeremey Renner (Captain America Civil War, The Arrival, Hansel & Gretel Witch Hunters), Kevin Hart (Get Hard, Secret Life of Pets, Central Intelligence)

Every year I list my 5 favorite movies of the year, but this year I’m adding a category with just one movie in it. I can’t call it a favorite because it devastated me, but it was the best movie  I saw this year.

Best movie I saw this year

Manchester by the Sea.jpgManchester by the Sea, 2016.  See it.

My 5 faves of the year

1.Spotlight (film) poster.jpgSpotlight, 2015. Worthy Oscar winner.

2.The Big Short teaser poster.jpgThe Big Short, 2015. It’ll make you mad all over again.

3.Chef 2014.jpgChef, 2014. Foodies unite!

4.The Nice Guys poster.pngThe Nice Guys, 2016. It surprises me as much as it surprises you to find this here, but I loved these two and the 70’s vibe.

5.Captain Fantastic poster.jpgCaptain Fantastic, 2016.  Viggo rarely makes a movie that I don’t love.

 

So tell me, what was your favorite movie this year?

December 31, 2016 Posted by | lists, movies | 3 Comments

December’s Movies & Money for Charity

Okay, this is the last one for 2016 and I’m hoping you can help me move that number up. If you haven’t seen these movies but want to scroll the past year and add your 5 words we could get to $100 by tomorrow.  Scroll here.

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 $37.

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.

Manchester by the Sea.jpgManchester By the Sea, 2016 (Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler, Lucas Hedges, Gretchen Mol)            Grade A

Devastatingly raw Oscar worthy drama.


No Strings Attached Poster.jpgNo Strings Attached, 2011 (Natalie Portman, Ashton Kutcher, Kevin Kline, Cary Elwes, Lake Bell, Mindy Kaling)  Grade B

Cute leads pull it off.


Waffle Street Official Movie Poster.jpgWaffle Street, 2015 (Danny Glover, James Lefferty)    Grade B

Wall Street turns Waffle Maker.


Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters .jpgHansel & Gretel Witch Hunter, 2013 (Jeremy Renner, Gemma Arterton, Famke Janssen)           Grade C-

Had potential, but missed mark.

No soul to horror/fantasy mashup. (Heather)

 

December 30, 2016 Posted by | 5 Word Movie Reviews | 3 Comments

2016 Book Favorites and Stats

Books

I read 68 books this year.  That’s 8 more than last year.

53 fiction, 15 non-fiction. That non-fiction number needs to go up next year.

Of those 53 fiction 28  were by authors new to me.

45 female authors, 23 male authors

24 of these books were audio.

I continued with 8 series that I had already started (Cormoran Strike, Jack Reacher, Kinsey Millhone, Harry Potter, Lincoln Rhyme, Mrs. Pollifax, Myron Bolitar, Lucas Davenport)

And started 2 new series/trilogies that I will continue (Kick Lanigan, Charlie Cates)

I read 3 books for the Classics Club. I have 3 years to finish 39 more. (Ethan Frome, The Bluest Eye, Up From Slavery)

Oldest book read – Up From Slavery by Booker T Washington, 1900

Shortest book – The Croquet Player by HG Wells, 82 pages

Longest book – 11/22/63 by Stephen King, 849 pages

Most read author – Harlen Coben, Sue Grafton, JK Rowling each with 2 books a piece.

My 5 favorite books of the year

Title: Ethan Frome (Wisehouse Classics Edition - With an Introduction by Edith Wharton), Author: Edith WhartonEthan Frome by Edith Wharton. A classic that stands the test of time.

Title: After You, Author: Jojo MoyesAfter You by Jojo Moyes.  A worthy sequel to Me Before You, a favorite read from last year.

Title: Home (Myron Bolitar Series #11), Author: Harlan CobenHome by Harlan Coben.  These are always going to be favorites because he makes us wait so long between Myron and Win books!

Title: I Must Say: My Life As a Humble Comedy Legend, Author: Martin ShortI Must Say by Martin Short. I can only speak for the audio that Short narrated himself. I laughed and I cried.

Title: 11/22/63, Author: Stephen King11/22/63 by Stephen King. What a feat. I didn’t care for the very end, but this book, WOW!  JFK would’ve liked it, I bet.

If you’ve done a year end list please put a link in the comments so I don’t miss it!

December 29, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | 7 Comments

End of the Year Survey

My 2016 By the Numbers post will be going up this week, but I had fun with this survey, the first year I’ve taken the time.

From Jamie at The Perpetual Page-Turner

1. Best Book You Read In 2016?

Ethan Frome – Edith Wharton & After You – Jojo Moyes

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

Bleachers – John Grisham. Grisham is usually reliable, if not great at least a fun read, but this one did nothing for me.  And it was about football, which I love!

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  

Ethan Frome – Edith Wharton. I love when classics surprise me like this one did.

I Am not a Serial Killer – Dan Wells.  I was expecting to be wowed by this child serial killer wanna be, but the book jumped the shark in the middle and never quite recovered for me.

 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

The Sparrow – Mary Doria Russell.  I pushed my book group to read this and it was a little out there for them.  It was a reread for me and though I still loved it, it wasn’t as much as the first time almost 20 years ago.

 5. Best series you started in 2016? Best Sequel of 2016? Best Series Ender of 2016?

After You – Jojo Moyes.  Loved revisiting Louisa and finding out how she fared after Will.

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2016?

Sara Gruen, Hester Young, Susan Mallery

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

Dear Almost: A poem – Matthew Thorburn.  I’m no poetry buff but I am glad that I read this poem written by a father after his wife’s miscarriage.

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

Home &  Fool Me Once – both by Harlan Coben. He’s my go to guy for unputdownable books and he didn’t disappoint with his two this year.

 9. Book You Read In 2016 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

None of them. Although I will probably dip into I Dare Me from time to time for inspiration.  This reporter tried something new every day for a year!

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2016?

Title: Best Staged Plans, Author: Claire CookBest Staged Plans – Cook. My favorite flower.

11. Most memorable character of 2016?

Louisa Clark – After You.  She’s unforgettable.

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2016?

Ethan Frome– Edith Wharton. I’ve read a few other books by Wharton, but it was this one that had the most impact.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2016?

I Dare Me: How I Rebooted and Recharged My Life By Doing Something New Everyday – Lu Ann Cahn.  The book wasn’t perfect, but the inspiration behind it was contagious.

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2016 to finally read? 

C is For Corpse and D is for Deadbeat – Sue Grafton. I’m late to this series but plan on catching up eventually 🙂

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2016?

I could choose lots of passages from Living Buddha, Living Christ – Thich Nhat Hanh but I think this is so relevant in today’s political climate.

Professor Hans Kung has said, “Until there is peace between religions, there can be no peace in the world.”  People kill and are killed because they cling too tightly to their own beliefs and ideologies.  When we believe that ours is the only faith that contains the truth, violence and suffering will surely be the result”…”Do not think the knowledge you presently possess in changeless, absolute truth.  Avoid being narrow-minded and bound to present views. Learn and practice nonattachment from views in order to be open to receive others’ viewpoints.”  To me, this is the most essential practice of peace.

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2016?

82 pages –The Croquet Player– HG Wells

849 pages-11/22/63 – Stephen King

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most

Fool Me Once – Harlan Coben.  It’s been a while since once of his twists shocked me so I was happily surprised to be fooled 🙂

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

(OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar)

 

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

Myron & Win – Home. These two best friends from the series are the best.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2016 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

After You and Ethan Frome were both from authors I know and love.

21. Best Book You Read In 2016 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

At the Water’s Edge – Sara Gruen, Orphan Number Eight – Kim van Alkemade, Reading Lolita in Tehran – Azar Nafisi. I read all of these for my book club.  My favorite was At Water’s Edge but they were all good.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2016?

After You’s Sam.

23. Best 2016 debut you read?

Gates of Evangeline – Hester Young. It’s the first of a trilogy – yay!

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

The Croquet Player – HG Wells.  He paints a perfect picture every time.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – no explanation needed, I think.

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – John Tiffany, JK Rowling, Jack Thorne.  Loved being a muggle looking in into Harry Potter’s World once again.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2016?

A Housefly in Autumn – Scott Nagele. I loved this book written by a former B&N boss.  It was really good and I’m not ashamed to say that I shed a tear once or twice.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

A Housefly in Autumn – Scott Nagele

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

No book, but we saw the movie Manchester by the Sea last week and it did crush my soul.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2016?

How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less– Sarah Glidden.  This graphic memoir brought a complicated subject to life in a fresh way.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

 Orphan Number 8 – Kim van Alkemade. Loved the book, but this fiction based on a real orphanage was heartbreaking.

December 27, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | 18 Comments

At Wolf Ranch by Jennifer Ryan

Title: At Wolf Ranch (Montana Men Series #1), Author: Jennifer RyanAt Wolf Ranch. Finished 12-25-16, rating 3.5/5, romance, 358 pages. pub. 2015

Book 1 in the Montana Men series

After years on the rodeo circuit, Gabe Bowden wants nothing more than land of his own and a woman who will claim his heart for more than one night. When he has the chance to buy the enormous Wolf Ranch spread, he snaps up the incredible deal. Everything is set, until Gabe rescues a woman on the deserted, snowy road leading to the property, and the half-frozen beauty changes everything.

Ella Wolf rushes to her family’s abandoned Montana ranch after her twin sister is murdered. She knows she’s next . . . unless she can uncover a secret hidden somewhere at Wolf Ranch. The last thing Ella expects is to be rescued by a rugged rancher with his own agenda. A man who almost makes her forget how dangerous love can be.     from Goodreads

I am not a big fan of cowboy stories.  Maybe it’s that I haven’t read many?  I’m a city girl.  When a friend recommended that our families go camping together recently Jason laughed out loud and then shared my feelings on tents, spiders, running water…my only saving grace was that I loved s’mores by the campfire.  Anyway, this is not a book I would have picked up to read, EXCEPT that I met author Jennifer Ryan at the Avon event last month and she was wonderful. I got the book signed by her and dove in.  I was pleasantly surprised.

Ella is an uber rich NYC girl who witnesses her twin sister being murdered by her uncle with a policeman there backing him up.  This is the opening scene of the book.  She hightails it to Montana and her family’s ranch only to be left for dead and rescued by a cowboy.

Will she avenge her sister?  Will she and the cowboy have lots of sex?  Does she have more money than Oprah? All of these questions and more will be answered (well, you’ll have to do the math on  the Oprah one)

I liked it and thought Ella and Gabe were a good couple, almost too good.  I don’t know when or if I’ll continue with the series but if you like sexy cowboys I recommend this one 🙂

December 25, 2016 Posted by | 3 1/2 Star Books | Leave a comment

The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison

Title: The Silent Wife, Author: A. S. A. HarrisonThe Silent Wife. Finished 11-22-16, rating 4/5, thriller, pub. 2013

Unabridged audio read by Karen White and Donald Corren. 9 hours.

Jodi and Todd are at a bad place in their marriage. Much is at stake, including the affluent life they lead in their beautiful waterfront condo in Chicago, as she, the killer, and he, the victim, rush haplessly toward the main event. He is a committed cheater. She lives and breathes denial. He exists in dual worlds. She likes to settle scores. He decides to play for keeps. She has nothing left to lose. Told in alternating voices, The Silent Wife is about a marriage in the throes of dissolution, a couple headed for catastrophe, concessions that can’t be made, and promises that won’t be kept. Expertly plotted and reminiscent of Gone Girl and These Things Hidden, The Silent Wife ensnares the reader from page one and does not let go.  from Goodreads

I read comparisons to Gone Girl, a book I had a love/hate relationship with, and decided to give it a try because I was in the mood for a thriller.  It was…different.

Both Jodi and Todd are for the most part unlikeable.  Todd is a womanizing cheater and Jodi knows it but stays anyway.  After twenty years, Todd finally makes a mistake that will change their status quo and Jodi can’t accept it.

I went through a whole range of emotions with both of these characters.  While neither were likeable, each had their moments of being more sympathetic than I was expecting, so there were those little surprises that made this, in some ways, more enjoyable than Gone Girl.  Quieter, but just as twisted in  a more cerebral way.

I liked it. When  Jason asked me if he should give it a listen, I hesitated.  If you like the more introspective thrillers that deal with ugly topics then, yes, this book is for you.  When I told him this he decided to skip it, but that doesn’t mean you should.

December 23, 2016 Posted by | 4 Star Books | 5 Comments

After You by Jojo Moyes

Title: After You, Author: Jojo MoyesAfter You. Finished 12-13-16, 4.75/5 stars, fiction, pub. 2015

Unabridged audio read by Anna Acton. 11 hours.

Sequel to Me Before You

How do you move on after losing the person you loved? How do you build a life worth living?

Louisa Clark is no longer just an ordinary girl living an ordinary life. After the transformative six months spent with Will Traynor, she is struggling without him. When an extraordinary accident forces Lou to return home to her family, she can’t help but feel she’s right back where she started.

For Lou Clark, life after Will Traynor means learning to fall in love again, with all the risks that brings. But here Jojo Moyes gives us two families, as real as our own, whose joys and sorrows will touch you deeply, and where both changes and surprises await.   from Goodreads

I knew when this came out that readers were disappointed, so I waited.  I didn’t want to be disappointed but I wasn’t sure how that would work since half of the reason I loved Me Before You was gone.  Gone but not forgotten as it seems since Louisa had moved away but not moved on.  But the truth is that I loved this one too.  In a different way, sure, but Louisa was there trying to find her way and I was rooting for her.

Louisa is in London but still mourning Will.  She is trying to move on, but seems stuck.  When a relative of Will’s shows up Lou is thrown for a loop and given a purpose, a way to honor Will and she jumps in with both feet.  All is not smooth sailing (where’s the story in that?!), but she joins a support group, moves in with her quirky family for a bit, meets a cute guy and things move forward.

I love Louisa and was happy for her. I might even have a bit of a crush on her cute guy, Sam.

December 20, 2016 Posted by | 5 Star Books | 11 Comments

Practically Green by Micaela Preston

Title: Practically Green: Your Guide to Ecofriendly Decision-Making (PagePerfect NOOK Book), Author: Micaela PrestonPractically Green. Finished 9-28-16, rating 4/5, greening your home, 224 pages, pub. 2009

Simple copy-and-clip guides that make it easy to buy smart.  At-a-glance charts and lists that break down complicated information in an easy-to-understand manner
30+ DIY projects and ideas for making-it-green yourself, including instructions for making all-natural body care products, simple sewing projects and much more
Healthy, tasty recipes to please kids and adults alike, ideas for packing greener lunches plus tips and tricks for replacing packaged convenience snacks with home-made versions
Let Practically Green guide you to a greener life!   from Goodreads

I’ve spent the past few years ‘greening’ our house in bits and spurts and thought this book was a nice guide for beginners and beyond.  I found new info and lots of reminders of things I still want to do.  I loved the layout which only added to the enjoyment.  It was published in 2009, so some of the information is common knowledge now, but mostly it’s still up-to-date.  It even has handy information sheets that you can cut out of the book for reference.

Our city has a wonderful curbside recycling program, they take almost anything, and just started providing bags so that we can recycle things like clothes and shoes too.  I feel spoiled in that regard, but even without extensive recycling you can make your house safer for your family and future families by buying less chemicals, processed foods and cheap clothing.  It’s always a work in progress around here. There are always things to improve upon.  And buy less.  We heard several times on our trip to Boston that much of the of the city is build on landfill.  The less you buy the less landfill we need to live on.

What’s it about – Greening your home through your food, your cleaners, and your clothes.

What did I learn – If everyone in the US replaced one roll of virgin fiber toilet paper with 100% recycled paper we could save 423,900 trees. About 80-90% of energy used in clothes washing comes from heating the water.  Lots of facts like this pop up throughout the book just so you have something to think about and consider.

Who would like it – Anyone who would like to start the process of living in a way that puts less of a burden on future generations.

December 15, 2016 Posted by | 4 Star Books | 2 Comments

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Title: Still Alice, Author: Lisa GenovaStill Alice. Finished 9-27-16, 5/5 stars, fiction, pub. 2007

Unabridged audio read by the author.  I LOVED Genova’s narration and would happily listen to all of her books this way if she was reading them.

Last year I saw the movie with Julianne Moore and really liked it, even though it was sad.  I knew the book had been well received by bloggers but it sat on my shelf for years.  This is one of the few times when I think the movie held up well. Yes, the book was better and had more nuance, but the movie and Moore’s performance were spot on.  It was also a good time to read it since we just visited Cambridge, where this takes place, last week.  Interestingly, I enjoyed the audio even more than reading and found myself wasting time in the kitchen just so I could listen.

What’s it about – A well-respected 50 year old Harvard professor is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.  There is a fast decline and family relationships are tested.  Her husband, just as in the movie, made me want to hit him even though I could see his pain too.

What did I learn – Before I saw the movie I hadn’t really known that people got Alzheimer’s so young.  The book provided even more details about the choices of treatment and support (or lack of, really).  I also had no idea that there was a gene that you could be tested for and was surprised that her daughter could use in-vitro and eliminate the risks of passing it on.

Who would love it – Anyone who loves or has loved someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease would appreciate the insight.  I think anyone, like myself, who enjoys a great story even if it’s depressing.

I did a comparison of the movie and the book if you’d like to weigh in.

 

December 13, 2016 Posted by | 5 Star Books | 4 Comments

The Steel Kiss by Jeffery Deaver

Title: The Steel Kiss (Lincoln Rhyme Series #12), Author: Jeffery DeaverThe Steel Kiss. Finished 11-6-16, rating 4/5, thriller, pub. 2016

Unabridged audio read by Edoardo Ballerini. 14.5 hours.

Lincoln Rhyme series #12 (1st-The Bone Collector, 2nd- The Coffin Dancer, 3rd- The Empty Chair, 4th- The Stone Monkey, 5th- The Vanished Man, 6th- The Twelfth Card, 7th- The Cold Moon, 8th- The Broken Window 9th- The Burning Wire, 10th-The Kill Room)

Amelia Sachs is hot on the trail of a killer. She’s chasing him through a department store in Brooklyn when an escalator malfunctions. The stairs give way, with one man horribly mangled by the gears. Sachs is forced to let her quarry escape as she jumps in to try to help save the victim. She and famed forensic detective Lincoln Rhyme soon learn, however, that the incident may not have been an accident at all, but the first in a series of intentional attacks. They find themselves up against one of their most formidable opponents ever: a brilliant killer who turns common products into murder weapons. As the body count threatens to grow, Sachs and Rhyme must race against the clock to unmask his identity–and discover his mission–before more people die.                   from Goodreads

So, it happened.  I got behind in this series and skipped one.  I was not happy when I started listening and realized that I was missing some information.  Sure enough I missed #11.  I almost stopped, but since it was the only thing I had to listen to I soldiered on.

Lincoln Rhyme was a brilliant criminologist for the NYPD until he was injured in the line of duty and this series takes him from suicidal to productive to hopeful.  He is a quadriplegic who works from his townhome in New York City with his trusty aide and detective girlfriend by his side.  At the beginning of this book we find Lincoln not working for the NYC police department because of a case that happened in the last book (the one I missed :(), but through some of Amelia’s sly moves they end up working on the same case anyway.

Amelia’s ex is back in the picture as is a new wheelchair bound intern for Lincoln.  The escalator scene at the beginning of the book will have you reassessing the moving stairs when you’re out and about this busy holiday season.  The main story was good but it was subplots that kept the book moving for me.  I always enjoy my time with Lincoln and his friends.

I recommend this series for those of  you who like police procedurals and appreciate a different kind of protagonist.  Start with The Bone Collector though since it sets it the series nicely.

 

December 12, 2016 Posted by | 4 Star Books | 2 Comments