Stacy's Books

books, movies, and boy

September’s Movies and Money for Charity

Jason and I finished our binge watching of the first season of Ozark on Netflix and loved it.

How as your movie month?  Anything I need to see?

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 $59.

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.

It (2017) poster.jpgIT, 2017 (Jaeden Lieberher, Bill Skarsgard, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Olef)   Grade B+

Creeped out by the clown.

Preteens fight a murderous clown!   (Heather)


Home Again poster.jpgHome Again, 2017 (Reese Witherspoon, Michael Sheen, Candice Bergen, Nat Wolff, Pico Alexander, Jon Rudnitsky   Grade C+

Wasted romantic potential, but sweet.


A black and white image, showing faces of the cast members. The image is split down the center and mirrored.Mother!, 2017 (Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Barden, Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer)   Grade F

Should have left halfway through.

 

September 30, 2017 Posted by | 5 Word Movie Reviews | 6 Comments

Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson

Title: Winesburg, Ohio, Author: Sherwood AndersonWinesburg, Ohio. Finished 9-9-17, rating 5/5, 247 pages, pub. 1919.

Winesburg, Ohio (1919) is Sherwood Anderson’s masterpiece, a cycle of short stories concerning life in a small town at the end of the nineteenth century. At the center is George Willard, a young reporter who becomes the confidant of the town’s solitary figures. Anderson’s stories influenced countless American writers including Hemingway, Faulkner, Updike, Oates and Carver. This new edition corrects errors made in earlier editions and takes into account major criticism and textual scholarship of the last several decades.    from Goodreads

I’m glad that I decided to add in classics this month.  When I asked Jason how I was going to fit in a book today he told me he thought the challenge was too hard.  But by focusing on books on my shelves that I haven’t take the time to read I discover gems that if I hadn’t given myself a deadline may have sat on the shelves for several more years.  Winesburg, Ohio is one of those.  It takes place in Ohio, check.  It’s on my Classics Club list, check.  Fellow book blogger Care sent it to me years ago, check.  Desire to read it, not so much.  It’s a series of short stories and looked pretty boring. It wasn’t.
Winesburg, Ohio is a series of 22 stories set in the fictional town.  Anderson wrote them in 1915-1916 and Winseburg was a small farming town in northern Ohio. Newspaper reporter George Willard is in most of the stories as a main character or in the periphery.  Life in this town left no one unscathed, but the stories were beautifully intertwined, like a puzzle.  I was always happy to pick it back up to see who I’d be hearing about next.  The structure was unique at the time and it credited for influencing many writers like Hemingway, Faulkner, Updike, and Bradbury.  I loved it!

This was my 16th selection for the Classics Club and I have until January 1, 2020 to get to 50.  I am woefully behind!

September 26, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | 5 Comments

An Unexpected Life: A Mother and Son’s Story of Love, Determination, Autism, and Art by Debra and Seth Chwast

An Unexpected Life: A Mother and Son's Story of Love, Determination, Autism, and ArtAn Unexpected Life. Finished 9-8-17, 3.5/5, memoir, pub. 2011

Diagnosed with severe autism as a toddler, Seth Chwast seemed trapped in his own insular universe. His family endured anguish, sought countless therapies, and almost gave up hope. Then, at age 20, Seth took a painting class, and everything changed. Miraculously, he revealed an innate ability to create amazing artworks that reflect his own unique perspective and gave him a voice he had never had.
Written by Seth’s mother, Debra, An Unexpected Life tells the story of their long difficult path, and her determination to help her son. Although Seth cannot safely cross the street alone, he is an icon for anyone who has been in a hopeless situation and then triumphs. More than simply a memoir, this visually breathtaking volume is infused with hope, inspiration, and art.  from Goodreads

Jason and I were able to hear locals Debra and Seth speak at an autism conference years ago and it was inspiring to see what this tireless mother has done to make her son shine.  Seth was diagnosed with autism at a young age and Debra says in the book that she cried for three years.  “For most of Seth’s childhood I was frantic confused, weepy and in over my head”  She read and tried every therapy she could find, but when Seth turned 18, she was told that he was most suitable for dry mopping (whatever that is).  She hired art therapists, art teachers and just plain artists after it became apparent that Seth had a gift.  You can check out his paintings here.  Since then they have travelled extensively, had films made about him and even been on the Today Show twice.  His works have hung in some very prestigious places and yet he needs 24 hour supervision.  Even when he paints she must pay someone to be there otherwise Seth wouldn’t even pick up a brush.

The book is gorgeous and there are at least 120 paintings included, each one including Seth’s own description of it.  Seth and his mother have benefitted from an abundance of money, so this is not the autism story many can afford, but that in no way diminishes Seth’s talent.  He’s a true artist.  It’s how he communicates with the world.  You can visit his website here.

September 22, 2017 Posted by | 3 1/2 Star Books, Uncategorized | 8 Comments

The Reluctant Mystic by Nancy Torgrove Clasby

Title: The Reluctant Mystic: Autobiography of an Awakening, Author: Nancy Torgove ClasbyThe Reluctant Mystic. Finished 9-5-17, 3/5 stars, memoir, 110 pages, pub.2016

“It felt like the whole world was shaking, inside me and all around me. It felt like bliss-perfect peace. This light was pouring through me, and as it was pouring through me, it was teaching me things.” So begins The Reluctant Mystic: Autobiography of an Awakening, the story of an extraordinary spiritual experience-one moment in a massage therapy office that forever changes the trajectory of the author’s life. In this compelling memoir and meditative guide, Nancy Torgove Clasby, an ordinary mother of three small children, gradually pieces together the greatest mysteries of life after a spontaneous awakening completely redirects her focus and energy and leads her to become a healer. More than twenty years later, Nancy has gone on to help hundreds of people with life-threatening illnesses, as well as those grieving lost loved ones. Along the way, she has been guided by three wise teachers and inspired by her many courageous clients. In Nancy’s words, “Each of us has a gift, and our purpose is to reconnect with that gift and then give it away.”  from Goodreads

I am not well-versed in mystics or healers, but was willing to be educated because this book was short, 110 pages.  One day this mother of three young children was in a session with her massage therapist, when the world opened up to her.

“I was on the table, fully clothed, and he was working at my head.  All of a sudden, my body started to shake, and it felt like I left my body.  My eyes were wide open, so I could see the room I was in, but I could also see through what I later found out was my “third eye,” which is an invisible energy center everyone has that sits in the middle of the forehead and is the seat of intuition.”  page 7

She sought out the advice of those around her and found supporters, including a rabbi, reverend and doctor, that would help push her in the right direction.  She learned to understand her gifts more clearly and spend the next 20 years as a healer.  I admit that much of it was too much for me, in part because it was new, no doubt.  But she was sincere and truly open and how rare is that?  She included pages written by her mentors, but the bulk of it was stories about some of her patients.  She included some different meditations at the end that left me feeling wonderful.  I love meditation and don’t do it often enough.

I can’t say I was the target audience but I’m glad I read something out of my comfort zone.  I feel a little more enlightened 🙂

September 21, 2017 Posted by | 3 Star Books | 3 Comments

Top Ten Tuesday – Books on my Fall TBR

I love to see these lists on other blogs and have wanted to jump in for a while.  Today is the day!  The Broke and the Bookish host this weekly meme so hop over and see what other bloggers are talking about today.

I’m currently reading A BOOK A DAY for my September Challenge (head on over to My 30 Day Challenges to check it out).  I’m reading biography/memoirs and classics mainly from my shelves, so my upcoming TBR pile looks like this.

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This book a day challenge is hard enough so I reserve the right to switch any of these books at any time when the mood strikes 🙂

Here’s what I’ve read so far this month; Love That Boy by Ron Fournier, Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter by Kate Clifford Lawson, When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi, Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut, The Reluctant Mystic by Nancy Torgorve Clasby, The War of the Worlds by HG Wells, A Life in Parts by Bryan Cranston, An Unexpected Life by Debra and Seth Chwast, Winesburg Ohio by Sherwood Anderson, How Starbucks Saved My Life by Michael Gates Gill, Let’s Take the Long Way Home by Gail Caldwell, Dryland by Nancy Sterns Bercaw, Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K  Jerome, A Year by The Sea by Joan Anderson, and Herman Hesse: A  Pictorial Biography

September 19, 2017 Posted by | lists | 9 Comments

The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

Title: War of the Worlds (Barnes & Noble Classics Series), Author: H. G. WellsThe War of the Worlds. Finished 9-6-17, 3.5/5 stars. classics, 192 pages, pub. 1897

With H.G. Wells’ other novels, The War of the Worlds was one of the first and greatest works of science fiction ever to be written. Even long before man had learned to fly, H.G. Wells wrote this story of the Martian attack on England. These unearthly creatures arrive in huge cylinders, from which they escape as soon as the metal is cool. The first falls near Woking and is regarded as a curiosity rather than a danger until the Martians climb out of it and kill many of the gaping crowd with a Heat-Ray. These unearthly creatures have heads four feet in diameter and colossal round bodies, and by manipulating two terrifying machines – the Handling Machine and the Fighting Machine – they are as versatile as humans and at the same time insuperable. They cause boundless destruction. The inhabitants of the Earth are powerless against them, and it looks as if the end of the World has come. But there is one factor which the Martians, in spite of their superior intelligence, have not reckoned on. It is this which brings about a miraculous conclusion to this famous work of the imagination.   from Goodreads.

First published in 1897 in a series of magazine articles, this sci-fi classic has not been out of print since and has spawned a number of movies.  I loved Wells’ The Time Machine and was looking forward to this one about an alien invasion of England.  His writing always takes me a few chapters to get into a rhythm, but then I don’t even notice that the pre-1900 language.  Aliens from Mars head down to earth and somehow they are able to start killing at will and the people in the area don’t even seem that concerned.  The protagonist somehow managed to come out unscathed and with his life seemingly intact.

I was expecting to like it, but found myself a little bogged down in the geography and details. But I did love the old school, 1980 edition I had on my shelves!

This was my 14th selection for the Classics Club and I have until January 1, 2020 to get to 50.  I am woefully behind!

September 18, 2017 Posted by | 3 1/2 Star Books | 4 Comments

Dryland: One Woman’s Swim to Sobriety by Nancy Stearns Bercaw

Title: Dryland: One Woman's Swim to Sobriety, Author: Nancy Stearns BercawDryland. Finished 9-12-17, memoir, 242 pages, pub. 2017

Unabridged audio read by Donna Postel.  7 hours 16 minutes

For swimming champion Nancy Stearns Bercaw, the pool was a natural habitat. But on land, she could never shake the feeling of being a fish out of water. Starting at age two, Nancy devoted her life to swimming, even qualifying for the 1988 Olympic Trials in the fifty-meter freestyle event. But nearly two decades later, when she hung up her cap and goggles, she was confronted with a different kind of challenge: learning who she was out of the lanes.

In this honest, intimate memoir, Nancy reflects on her years wandering the globe, where tragic events and a lost sense of self escalate her dependence on booze. Thirty-three years after her first sip of alcohol, the swimmer comes to a stunning realization while living with her husband and son in Abu Dhabi—she’s drowning in the desert. Nancy looks to the Bedouin people for the strength to conquer one final opponent: alcohol addiction.   from Goodreads

I listened to this one most of the day yesterday and finished up the last 45 pages last night before bed.  I think the audio was well done and for anyone tempted to try it, I’d be happy to send you my copy of the cds.

Nancy is a competitive person who found great success in swimming, but found herself flailing a bit when that was over.  She joined the Peace Corps and ended up in Kenya, then taught English in Korea before heading back to the States with a boyfriend.  After weekend with a US Senator she breaks up with that boyfriend and then the Senator breaks up with her.  And then she meets a man, has a child and moves to Abu Dhabi.  All while consuming copious amounts of booze.

From the title I thought this would be about a woman recovering from alcoholism, but it was more alcohol travelogue than recovery story.  Seeing how other cultures view alcohol compared to the US was eye opening.  The exotic places made her story compelling and she knows how to turn a phrase for sure, but I didn’t really connect with Nancy.  This might be because I just read another memoir about a woman battling alcohol and I found that one more engaging and real (Let’s Take the Long Way Home by Gail Caldwell).

Caldwell has lived an exciting and nomadic life and it was good to see her come out the other side happier and sober.  I think this would be encouraging to those who don’t see an end to their drinking days.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for the book and audio.  If you are interested in either one let me know and I’ll send it on to you free of charge!

 

September 13, 2017 Posted by | 3 1/2 Star Books | 9 Comments

A Life in parts by Bryan Cranston

Title: A Life in Parts, Author: Bryan CranstonA Life in Parts. Finished 9-7-17, 4.5/5 stars, memoir, pub. 2016

Unabridged audio read superbly by author.

Bryan Cranston landed his first role at seven, when his father, a struggling actor and director, cast him in a United Way commercial. Soon, Bryan was haunting the local movie theater, memorizing and reenacting favorite scenes with his older brother. Acting was clearly the boy’s destiny—until one day his father disappeared. Suddenly, destiny took a back seat to survival.

Seeking something more stable, perhaps subconsciously trying to distance himself from his absent father, Cranston decided on a career in law enforcement. But then, a young man on a classic cross-country motorcycle trip, Cranston one day found himself stranded at a rest area in the Blue Ridge Mountains. To pass the time he read a tattered copy of Hedda Gabler, and in a flash he found himself face-to-face once again with his original calling. Suddenly he thought: This was what he wanted to do, what he would do, with the rest of his life. Act.    from Goodreads

Today I finished listening to A Life in Parts by Bryan Cranston. It was read by Cranston himself and it was 8 cds. I love when actors read their own books!  I did watch one or two seasons of Breaking Bad and have seen him in other things, but I wouldn’t have picked this one up unless Diane recommended it.  Cranston’s dad was an actor and left his three kids when they were young.  Cranston and his brother survived their childhood together, living with relatives, traveling overseas, and taking motorcycle road trip across America.  Cranston has led a very bold and ambitious life and he pulls no punches.  It started a little slow, but for most of this book his stories made me laugh out loud or have a motherly concern for his wellbeing.

If you are at all interested in reading about the acting life or love Walter White then this will be a good fit for you.  Perfect for a road trip with the hubby or wife, but not suitable for kids. Lots of language and sex.

I read this on day 8 of my monthly challenge.

September 12, 2017 Posted by | 4 1/2 Star Books | 2 Comments

Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

Title: Cat's Cradle, Author: Kurt VonnegutFinished 9-4-17, rating 4.5/ 5, classic fiction, 191 pages, pub. 1963

Told with deadpan humour & bitter irony, Kurt Vonnegut’s cult tale of global destruction preys on our deepest fears of witnessing Armageddon &, worse still, surviving it …

Dr Felix Hoenikker, one of the founding ‘fathers’ of the atomic bomb, has left a deadly legacy to the world. For he’s the inventor of ‘ice-nine’, a lethal chemical capable of freezing the entire planet. The search for its whereabouts leads to Hoenikker’s three ecentric children, to a crazed dictator in the Caribbean, to madness. Felix Hoenikker’s Death Wish comes true when his last, fatal gift to humankind brings about the end, that for all of us, is nigh…  from Goodreads

I haven’t read Vonnegut since Slaughterhouse-Five in college, a book I disliked.  So, imagine my surprise when I found myself charmed by this one.  The father of the hydrogen bomb made something even more deadly and, left in the hands of his three children, the fate of the world is in peril.  John, a writer and our narrator, finds himself drawn into the lives of these offspring and sent on an adventure that would leave the world changed forever.  This book was a hoot in its absurdity, but pointed in its observations of humanity.  Vonnegut has won me over.

This was my 13th selection for the Classics Club and I have until January 1, 2020 to get to 50.  I am woefully behind!

September 11, 2017 Posted by | 4 1/2 Star Books | 7 Comments

A Winner and $ for Charity

First, I realized a few days ago that I never drew a winner for your biography recommendations…even though Diane gave me the most entries (and I’m listening to the third on her list already) it was Heather‘s number that Gage picked!  I’ll be sending you a copy of my favorite book this month 🙂

And thank you for participating in my 5 word movie reviews.  Because of your participation I sent $110 to the Houston Food Bank.

September 9, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments