Stacy's Books

books, movies, and boy

Postcarding my wall, it gets political

post2

Lots of cards this week!

The train postcard is from Jessica in Great Britain and had a gorgeous train stamp with Union Jack that you can only get at the National Railway Museum in York. Very cool.

The van postcard is from Matthias in Germany who loves to goes to the movies.  The Lord of the Rings trilogy is his favorite. Can’t disagree with him there.

The koala postcard comes from Pamela in Australia who sys she will send a train postcard later if she finds one 🙂

The cute kitten came from Doris in Germany and this is what she wrote, “This postcard says ‘The biggest power in the world is the Pianissimo!’ Hopefully some presidents in the world will realize that!  Well, at least this postcard is still allowed to come into your country without being asked for passwords…  Hope for peaceful times for all countries, best wishes.”  Doris and I continued to exchange a few political private messages online. She encouraged me to stand up, protest any way I can, because the rest of the world is watching.  Powerful stuff coming from a stranger.

The one with the woman in a field is from Taiwan. Jewel told me about the special teas thy make there, oolong being one of my favorites.

The pretty mountain view with water came from Joey in Western Norway.  A favorite book of hers is I Heard the Owl Call My Name by Margaret Craven.


I added the van to my window that started out as a miscellaneous collection of cards that I liked.  It turned out the right side is now the graphic side since I had so many.

I’m not putting up every card I receive. Of those six from last week I only added the van and the train and cat went to Gage’s collection.  The rest of the cards are in the box on top of the trunk.

post2a

February 24, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | 6 Comments

George Washington’s Birthday

We went to Michigan over the long President’s Day weekend to visit Jason’s family (his mother starts chemo tomorrow for stage four tonsil cancer).  Gage came back with a cold so two days (so far) with mom at home.  Today we did some George Washington activities since it’s his birthday.

I don’t watch a lot of historical films, unless Jason makes me, but there have been a few over the years that have stood out for me because I loved the Presidential portrayal.

I loved Bruce Greenwood as JFK in Thirteen Days.

I thought Bill Murray was a surprisingly good FDR in Hyde Park on Hudson.

I LOVED Robin Williams as Teddy Roosevelt in Night at the Museum.

And, of course, Daniel Day-Lewis is tough to beat as Lincoln in Lincoln.

Is there a President in the movies that stands out for you?

February 22, 2017 Posted by | lists | 6 Comments

Postcarding

I’ve written about my love affair with Postcrossing before (you can do a search if you want to see my old posts) but now I may have gone a step too far.  In October we painted four rooms that had previously been covered with wallpaper.  All rooms look great, BUT our front room remained bare because I had not decided what to do with it. The color is okay, but I decided to get rid of the blinds and curtains so it’s been plain Jane ever since.  I came up with an idea for Gage to display his train postcards in his bedroom and made the mistake of checking out Pinterest.  Well, I decided to use my favorite postcards to accent our front room.  It’s been fun.

img_0017

This is the corner where I’ve grouped food and books and movies.  I’ll reveal other spots later.  So, now that I’m obsessed with getting more postcards I’m writing as many as I can (17) in hopes of getting more creative on my walls 🙂  I received three this week, only one for me but it will be added to this display.

post1

Both cats wanted to be involved.  That’s big boy Razzi up top and little Sammi looking right at you.

The beautiful bookshelves came from Annika in Stockholm, Sweden,  She takes the pictures herself and has them printed as postcards.  Love it!

The white postcard with the train on it came from an 4th grade class in Taiwan. Each of the kids take turns writing postcards. Ours came from Danny and he had excellent handwriting.

The other train postcard came from Alan, a retired teacher in France.

Come back next week to see another wall and postcards I’ve been lucky enough to receive.

February 17, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

The Dinner by Herman Koch

Title: The Dinner, Author: Herman KochThe Dinner. Finished 2-14-17, rating 4/5, pub. 2013

Unabridged audio read by Clive Mantle. 9 hours.

A summer’s evening in Amsterdam and two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant. Between mouthfuls of food and over the delicate scraping of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of politeness – the banality of work, the triviality of holidays. But the empty words hide a terrible conflict and, with every forced smile and every new course, the knives are being sharpened… Each couple has a fifteen-year-old son. As the dinner reaches its culinary climax, the conversation finally touches on their children and, as civility and friendship disintegrate, each couple shows just how far they are prepared to go to protect those they love.       from Goodreads

This is one of those books that the less you know the better so I’m not going to spoil any more than the description from Goodreads, and even that I deleted a few sentences. Amsterdam at an expensive restaurant, brothers and their wives, testy relationships put to the test.  It was…different.  Thought provoking, yes.  Enjoyable, sorta.  Recommended, if unlikeable characters are your thing.

I’m so glad that I listened to the audio. Mantle really sold Paul and elevated the story with his performance.

The movie featuring Richard Gere and Laura Linney is coming out in May!

 

 

February 16, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | 11 Comments

My favorite love stories

I grew up reading romances. I started with the teen romances of the 80’s, moved on to Harlequin, and then to the full-fledged romances for big kids.  I earned a degree in English Ed with lots of classic reading for classes so my weekend historical romance reading was relaxing.  Here are a few of the love stories that have stuck with me.

Books

1-Jamie and Claire from the Outlander series.  Although I am woefully behind in the series I love this couple so much.

2-Rochester and Jane. They became my first classic love story and I love them still.  I watched a bunch of the Jane Eyre films a few years ago and Timothy Dalton was my favorite Rochester.

3-Darcy and Elizabeth from Pride & Prejudice and Anne and Wentworth from Persuasion are the two Jane Austen couples I love the most.

4-Almost Heaven (historical) and Paradise (contemporary) are two oldie but goodies from Judith McNaught.  I’ve read all of her books, many multiple times.  I wish she was still writing!

5-I remember reading so many of Jude Deveraux’s historicals as a teen, but A Knight in Shining Armor still stands out for me.

A few honorable mentions – Francesca and Calder from Brenda Joyce’s Deadly series and the authors Susanna Kearsley, Kristan Higgins and Eloisa James are consistently good.

Movies

1-CK Dexter Haven and Tracy Lord from A Philadelphia Story.  I loved the maturity and reality of their relationship.  Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn and Jimmy Stewart were superb.

2-Harry and Sally. Loved the movie and Billy and Meg in the lead. When Harry Met Sally remains a favorite.

3-Lucy, Jack, Peter and family all won me over in While You Were Sleeping.

4-Colin, Bridget and Hugh made Bridget Jones’s Diary a treat to watch. That last scene gets me every time 🙂

5-Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable make a memorable couple in the classic It Happened One Night.

 

So tell me.  Who are your favorite couples in books and film?

 

February 14, 2017 Posted by | lists | 14 Comments

Film Friday

I have been a little out of the loop movie-wise but I can always count on the Oscars to help steer me toward wonderful films.  Let’s take a look at the nominees in the big categories.

Best Picture

Arrival (loved it)

Fences

Hacksaw Ridge

Hell or High Water

Hidden Figures

La La Land (liked it, but had some problem spots)

Lion

Manchester by the Sea (tore me apart but what a great movie)

Moonlight

Opinion – the three I’ve seen are all worthy.

Best Actress

Isabelle Huppert (Elle)

Ruth Negga (Loving)

Natalie Portman (Jackie)

Emma Stone ( La La Land) (she really carried the movie)

Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins)

Opinion – I’ve only seen one performance and she was fantastic

Best Actor

Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea) (incredible performance)

Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge)

Ryan Gosling (La La Land) (good lead)

Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic) (he kills it every time and this was no different)

Denzel Washington (Fences)

Opinion – Personally I’d choose Casey or Viggo but I know La La is getting all the love)

 

So, tell me what you think about the ones that you’ve seen and maybe I can get to them before the Oscars!

 

February 10, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | 10 Comments

Almost Famous Women by Megan Mayhew Bergman

Title: Almost Famous Women: Stories, Author: Megan Mayhew BergmanAlmost Famous Women. Finished 2-8-17, rating 4.5/5, short stories, 236 pages, pub. 2015

The fascinating lives of the characters in Almost Famous Women have mostly been forgotten, but their stories are burning to be told. Now Megan Mayhew Bergman, author of Birds of a Lesser Paradise, resurrects these women, lets them live in the reader’s imagination, so we can explore their difficult choices. Nearly every story in this dazzling collection is based on a woman who attained some celebrity—she raced speed boats or was a conjoined twin in show business; a reclusive painter of renown; a member of the first all-female, integrated swing band. We see Lord Byron’s illegitimate daughter, Allegra; Oscar Wilde’s troubled niece, Dolly; West With the Night author Beryl Markham; Edna St. Vincent Millay’s sister, Norma. These extraordinary stories travel the world, explore the past (and delve into the future), and portray fiercely independent women defined by their acts of bravery, creative impulses, and sometimes reckless decisions.       from Goodreads

I don’t read short stories. I like big books where I can really get to know a character and spend time with a story that has the time to develop and take a few twists and turns.  But for book group this month we read Almost Famous Women  and I was pleasantly surprised. As it turns out, I was the only one since the other seven ladies didn’t care for it as a whole.

Each story started with a picture of the woman so that you could have a visual when you were reading and that was important for the first story.

Violet and Daisy Hilton were joined at the hip, literally.  This one was both disturbing and fascinating. People that you know showed up in the stories, Marlene Dietrich, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Lord Byron, Butterfly McQueen, Beryl Markham…but like the title says, most of the women in the book were almost famous.  I liked some more than others but particularly liked the one about Joe Carstairs and her private island, Romaine Brooks and her very creepy nurse, and Lord Byron’s illegitimate daughter broke my heart.  I liked the mix of known and unknown and it made me check out more information on a few of the women.

The book group as a whole found the stories needlessly depressing and I can’t really argue on that point.  They were dark. There was a PTSD link in a few and more than one death.  We all noticed a homosexuality thread throughout the stories.  Most of us could pick out a favorite story or two and the book read really fast so that’s a plus.

So, I really liked it but I was the only one.  Read at your own risk 🙂

This counted as one for Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge, story collection by a woman.

February 9, 2017 Posted by | 4 1/2 Star Books, Uncategorized | 6 Comments

The Liar by Nora Roberts

Title: The Liar, Author: Nora RobertsThe Liar. Finished 2-7-17, 3/5, romantic suspense?, pub. 2015

Unabridged audio read by January LaVoy. 16 hours 41 minutes

Shelby Foxworth lost her husband. Then she lost her illusions …
 
The man who took her from Tennessee to an exclusive Philadelphia suburb left her in crippling debt. He was an adulterer and a liar, and when Shelby tracks down his safe-deposit box, she finds multiple IDs. The man she loved wasn’t just dead. He never really existed.
 
Shelby takes her three-year-old daughter and heads south to seek comfort in her hometown, where she meets someone new: Griff Lott, a successful contractor. But her husband had secrets she has yet to discover. Even in this small town, surrounded by loved ones, danger is closer than she knows—and threatens Griff, as well. And an attempted murder is only the beginning …        from Goodreads

I thought about quitting this one a few discs in but it was such an easy listen that I continued to let it play when I was in the car or cleaning the kitchen.  There isn’t a lot to recommend this one, really, except if you love Nora Roberts.  I don’t love her but have had good luck with the last few I’ve tried by her.

There were a few problems including the heroine, Shelby, who was clueless.  Then there was the fact that it was about 50% too long.  So much repetition and too many mundane, useless conversations.  And the end was something you could see coming from the first few chapters.

Did I forget to mention the good parts?  Okay.  Roberts does know how to write.  I loved the relationship between Griff and Shelby’s little girl, Callie.  The narrator, January LaVoy, did a great job so that probably helped the entertainment factor.

So, if you’re a fan of Roberts you’ll probably like it. But for newbies, I’ve read a few of hers that I’ve really liked that I’d recommend first.

February 7, 2017 Posted by | 3 Star Books, Uncategorized | 11 Comments

Sundays with Gage – Steamboat School

Did you think I meant that Gage went to steamboat school?  Nah, but he did read a book that was inspired by the true story of the Freedom Floating School in 1847 Missouri.

ssSteamboat School by Deborah Hopkinson. Illustrated by Ron Husband

“I always thought being brave

was for grown-up heroes doing big, daring deeds.

But Mama says that sometimes courage

is just an ordinary boy like me

doing a small thing, as small as picking up a pencil.”

These opening words let me know that this book would reinforce much of what I’m trying to instill in Gage’s mind.  Be brave, do the little things that can make big changes.  When Gage is older and can hear that mama voice in his head I always want it encouraging him to be the best person he can be and to look for ways to make a positive change in the world. Sometimes I think I push him too much, but tonight he told me I was the best loving mother, (I’ve never heard him use the word loving before, yay!) so I must be doing okay.

The book is the story of Reverend John (Berry Meachum) who worked hard to free himself and then his family from slavery.  He taught African-American children in the basement of his church until the state of Missouri made it illegal for him to continue teaching them to read and write.  He found a way around that by building a steamboat in the Mississippi River where he could continue to teach children.  Missouri law had no say in federal waters.  What an ingenious way around the law!

So, the discussion about race was harder to discuss in this book than in the Martin Luther King Jr. book a few weeks ago. It is essentially about kids, like Gage, being told they didn’t have a right to learn. How can you explain something so hateful and ridiculous to a six-year-old?  By his questions I know that he doesn’t really ‘get’ it and why should he, I guess. I’m not even sure I understand how people can be so full of hate and fear.

I loved the story and the illustrations enough that I’d like to buy this one to have as a part of Gage’s library.  Highly recommend it. Thanks for the recommendation Jill 🙂

 

February 5, 2017 Posted by | Gage, Kids Books, Uncategorized | 15 Comments