I’m a winner after years of hearbreak! and March’s Movies

I won! I won!  In a March Madness Tournament gone mad I finally beat Jason for the first time since 2010!  It has been a loooong 8 years.  I’m ahead by 2 points and the only one left with a team in the Final Four.  In our personal one-on-one brackets (started 21 years ago), whoever wins gets to choose the next FIVE theater movies.  I cannot even begin to tell you how excited I am to load Jason up on sappy romantic movies 😉

It’s been a slow movie month.  We’ve been watching seasons 1 of The Traveler and The Santa Clarita Diet on Netflix.

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 $68 right now.


Black Panther film poster.jpgBlack Panther, 2018 (Chadwick Boseman, Michael B Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Guira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston, Duke, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker)                         Grade B+

Likeable superhero + badass women warriors.

License to wed.jpgLicense to Wed, 2007 (Robin Williams, Mandy Moore, John Krasinkski)                 Grade C-

Williams = creepy priest, marriage counselor.


Knots & Crosses by Ian Rankin

Title: Knots and Crosses (Inspector John Rebus Series #1), Author: Ian Rankin

Knots & Crosses. Finished 3-29-18, rating 4.25/5, mystery, 256 pages, pub. 1987

Detective John Rebus: His city is being terrorized by a baffling series of murders…and he’s tied to a maniac by an invisible knot of blood. Once John Rebus served in Britain’s elite SAS. Now he’s an Edinburgh cop who hides from his memories, misses promotions and ignores a series of crank letters. But as the ghoulish killings mount and the tabloid headlines scream, Rebus cannot stop the feverish shrieks from within his own mind. Because he isn’t just one cop trying to catch a killer, he’s the man who’s got all the pieces to the puzzle…    from Goodreads

Inspector Rebus series #1

John Rebus is a bit of a closed off mess.  He’s divorced, has an almost non-existent relationship with his brother and no friends outside of those he works with at the police station.  Young girls are getting kidnapped and killed all across Edinburgh and Rebus is assigned to the team to investigate.  This mystery was more character driven than in your face drama on every page and I liked that.

I loved the Scotland setting and the variety of well drawn characters.  Rebus came out of the shell of his past in a way that kept me reading.  I loved the supporting cast and how they revolved around Rebus.  I was worried about how much they all seemed to drink, but maybe they can handle more liquor in Scotland?

I thought this was a great start to a well-loved detective series.  I do plan on continuing as time allows and since this only took me two days to read I think I could read quite a few this year alone!


The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg

Title: The Story of Arthur Truluv, Author: Elizabeth BergThe Story of Arthur Truluv. Finished 3-27-18, 4/5 stars, pub. 2017

Unabridged audio read by the author, Elizabeth Berg, 6.75 hours

A moving novel about three people who find their way back from loss and loneliness to a different kind of happiness. Arthur, a widow, meets Maddy, a troubled teenage girl who is avoiding school by hiding out at the cemetery, where Arthur goes every day for lunch to have imaginary conversations with his late wife, and think about the lives of others. The two strike up a friendship that draws them out of isolation. Maddy gives Arthur the name Truluv, for his loving and positive responses to every outrageous thing she says or does. With Arthur’s nosy neighbor Lucille, they create a loving and unconventional family, proving that life’s most precious moments are sweeter when shared.  from Goodreads

This opens with Arthur in the cemetery at the grave of his wife, so it immediately brought shades of A Man Called Ove, but these two widowers were different types of men. Where Ove was crusty and had to be drawn into relationships, Arthur was open and friendly and sought ways to reach out.  Ove was cloudy and Arthur sunny, but they also ended up being drawn into makeshift families that they didn’t have when their wives were with them and their fates in the end were the same.  I particularly loved Arthur’s insight into the buried dead at the cemetery. Cemeteries speak to me.

I liked the three main characters of this one. Arthur was great, obviously, but Maddy as the neglected and friendless teen and Louise as the lonely next door neighbor with a second chance at love, were both great too.  Maddy broke my heart. Her mother died when she was 2 and her father has never forgiven her for it.  She is bullied at school and tries to find someone to love her in a yucky boy and pays for it dearly.  Louise came off a little strident, but under that was a woman looking for a purpose in her retirement years.

I like Elizabeth Berg and was glad to catch up with her latest.  This is an uplifting book at its heart.

If you read both Ove and this one, did you feel similarities too?


The Myth of You and Me by Leah Stewart

Title: The Myth of You and Me, Author: Leah StewartThe Myth of Me & You.  Finished 3-26-18, 4.25/5 stars, fiction, 312 pages, pub. 2005

The Myth of You and Me captures the intensity of a friendship as well as the real sense of loss that lingers after the end of one. Searingly honest and beautiful, it is a celebration and portrait of a friendship that will appeal to anyone who still feels the absence of that first true friend.  from Goodreads

Sonia shrugs. “You know. She’s not that quirky. She likes mainstream movies. Romance. Action-adventure. She’s not into inner turmoil. She’s one of the most practical people I’ve ever met. It’s like, life is a job. She’s a realist.”

For some reason I felt slightly affronted. I say, “I’m a realist.”

Sonia laughs. “You’re not a realist,” she says. “You’re a dreamer who doesn’t believe in the dream.”   Chapter 17

There’s nothing quite like those first real friendships when you’re young.  Everything is new as you discover the way the world works together, or maybe you don’t quite figure it out but you try and it’s okay because you’ve got each other.  Cameron and Sonia were each other’s touchstone from the  time they met when they were 14.  Through high school and college the two, seeming opposites, stuck together even though they both loved the same boy.  What could possibly tear them apart?  Fast forward a few years and they are living completely different lives, in different states without a word between them until Cameron receives a letter from Sonia and her boss comes up with a plan to reconnect the two.

I loved this book.  Cameron was a bit of a tough nut to crack and as the protagonist in a first person story her distance became the lens from which you saw everything, past and present.  Cameron’s journey to find Sonia was filled with many moments that seemed unrealistic, but as a whole it was satisfying.  I was rooting for them and for a happy ending for Cameron, which I feared couldn’t happen because I wasn’t sure that she wanted to be happy.

I met the author at a book talk at my library back in 2011.  I loved the book she was on tour for, so I’m not sure why I waited so long to read this one.  Husband and Wife really spoke to me as a new mother and this one left me missing my childhood friends and wanting to reach out to them.

I just love this cover, don’t you?


Book vs. Movie – Far From the Madding Crowd

Title: Far From the Madding Crowd (Barnes & Noble Classics Series), Author: Thomas Hardy VS Title: Far From the Madding Crowd

I watched the 2015 movie last year and finally got around to the book, originally published in 1874, this month.  Often, I don’t really know which one will come out as the winner until I start typing, but that wasn’t the case with this one.  The list is a formality.

The Story/Plot  Bathsheba inherits a farm and all the staff that comes with it.  The spirited, independent woman is courted by three very different men.  Although the movie told some of the chapters out of order, for the most part it was the same story.  The two changes that stood out the most were the tragic story of Fanny and the change in Farmer Boldwood and neither was better or worse, just different.  Thumbs Up – tie

The Visual  The movie was gorgeous and really brought England in the late 19th century to life. The big advantage here is that even when the book was slow moving, the movie made it beautiful to watch.  Thumbs Up – movie

Characters vs. Actors  I loved, loved , loved the cast.  Carey Mulligan gave Bathsheba the sparkle and wink that I was missing in the book.  Sure all the men were in love with her, but until I saw Carey onscreen I felt it was more about her successful station in life as opposed to anything to do with her personally.  And Matthias Shoenaerts  as Gabriel Oak was perfection and everything I envisioned from the book for this loyal heart.  Michael Sheen as Farmer Boldwood was the biggest departure from the novel.  I’m not sure which one is better.  In one Boldwood is obsessed with Bathsheba and in the other it comes off more as intensity. In the movie he seemed more of an acceptable choice so that was nice.  As for Tom Sturridge as Troy, who cares, he’s a jackass in both.  Thumbs Up – movie

The Ending  The result of their fates was the same, but the storytelling cleaned it up a bit for the movie.  Thumbs Up – movie

And the winner is…the MOVIE by a long shot.  Watch the trailer and see what you think and then vote in the poll.


Other book vs. movie polls you can vote on: (The Little Prince) (Charlie St. Cloud) (Far From the Madding Crowd(The Girl on the Train) (Tuck Everlasting)  (Northanger Abbey) (Me Before You) (And Then There Were None) (Still Alice) (The Blind Side) (The Fault in Our Stars) (The Hound of the Baskervilles) (Gone Girl) (Jack Reacher) (Ender’s Game) (Carrie, the original) (Under the Tuscan Sun) (The Secret Life of Bees) (The Shining, the original)

Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

Title: Far From the Madding Crowd (Barnes & Noble Classics Series), Author: Thomas HardyFar From the Madding Crowd.  Finished 3-14-18, 4.25/5 stars, classic, pub. 1874

Unabridged audio read by Nathaniel Parker. 13 hours, 35 minutes

Gabriel Oak is only one of three suitors for the hand of the beautiful and spirited Bathsheba Everdene. He must compete with the dashing young soldier Sergeant Troy and the respectable, middle-aged Farmer Boldwood. And while their fates depend upon the choice Bathsheba makes, she discovers the terrible consequences of an inconstant heart.

Far from the Madding Crowd was the first of Hardy’s novels to give the name Wessex to the landscape of southwest England and the first to gain him widespread popularity as a novelist. Set against the backdrop of the unchanging natural cycle of the year, the story both upholds and questions rural values with a startlingly modern sensibility.   from Goodreads

I watched the movie last year and really liked it. I’m going to do a comparison post in a few days so I’ll try not to compare  the two now.

Bathsheba is a woman before her time.  It’s 1800’s England and Bathsheba, once a young woman living with her aunt, becomes an independent woman when her late uncle leaves her his successful farm. She is a head strong woman and not the first one who has had her intelligence questioned by her terrible taste in men.  Gabriel Oak knew her when she lived with her aunt and is steadfast and loyal. Mr. Boldwood owns a neighboring farm and was forever changed when he received a Valentine sent from Bathsheba.  Sergeant Troy has his head turned by the pretty Bathsheba with her money.  Bathsheba, at least at first, doesn’t want to marry and be put under a man’s thumb, but things change when her heart starts to beat a little faster.

I liked this classic.  Being a city girl myself I loved learning more about the everyday life on the farm.  Bathsheba and her one time maid, Fanny, both made the very same mistake but suffered very different fates due to their circumstances.  I liked the way it showed the truth that opportunities don’t come to all and mistakes, when made, are more easily forgiven when you have money.  Bathsheba did drive me crazy at times, but probably no more flawed than the rest of us.  The three suitors were all interesting in their own right, but it is Gabriel Oak who is my new crush 🙂

This is my second Thomas Hardy novel and  my 21st selection for the Classics Club and I have until January 1, 2020 to get to 50.  I am woefully behind!


Lilli de Jong by Janet Benton

Title: Lilli de Jong, Author: Janet BentonLilli de Jong. Finished 3-14-18, 4/5 stars, historical fiction, 335 pages, pub. 2017

A young woman finds the most powerful love of her life when she gives birth at an institution for unwed mothers in 1883 Philadelphia. She is told she must give up her daughter to avoid a life of poverty and shame. But she chooses to keep her.

Pregnant, abandoned by her lover, and banished from her Quaker home and teaching position, Lilli de Jong enters a charity for wronged women to deliver her child. She is stunned at how much her infant needs her and at how quickly their bond overpowers her heart. Mothers in her position have no sensible alternative to giving up their children, but Lilli can’t bear such an outcome. Determined to chart a path toward an independent life, Lilli braves moral condemnation and financial ruin in a quest to keep herself and her baby alive.    from Goodreads

What an emotional book.  Lilli was a devout Quaker and lived happily with her parents and brother, but when her mother dies suddenly and her father takes up drinking and a sexual relationship with his cousin, Lilli’s life quickly turns.  Finding strength in Johan, her father’s assistant, she has one night of passion and many promises for a bright future after Johan and her brother go off to set up a life in Pittsburgh.  Lilli, jobless thanks to her father, pregnant thanks to an absent boyfriend, and homeless thanks to a jealous cousin is suddenly on the streets of Philadelphia.  Being an unwed mother-to-be is no easy feat in 1883 and Lilli’s life and that of her baby girl go from bad to worse.

This was a series of 10 diaries written by Lilli during her almost two years of hardship and life was tenuous. I read it over two nights and was drawn in completely.  It did move a bit slow for me, but was such a interesting look at the life of women at the time.  Lilli’s story will stick with me for quite a while.

We read this for book club last night.  There were five of us, and only one didn’t care for it. There was a great discussion about how much has really changed for women since then.  It was also pointed out that this was a book of survival during a harsh time, so even though it was difficult to read it was an honest look at life at the time.  At its heart it is a book about what being a mother really means and the lengths one will go to for her child.


Top Ten Tuesday – Favorite Quotes from a favorite book

After many years of hosting this meme The Broke and the Bookish has passed it on to one of  their own, Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.

This week it’s all about favorite bookish quotes.  I love this!  I have a love for quotes that I write and keep close and when I started looking at my favorite book list I didn’t have to go far.  All of these are from the book To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.  This classic published in 1960 still has so much to say to us today.  Which is your favorite? I’ve highlighted a few of mine.

1. “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”

2. “Sometimes the Bible in the hand of one man is worse than a whisky bottle in the hand of (another)… There are just some kind of men who – who’re so busy worrying about the next world they’ve never learned to live in this one, and you can look down the street and see the results.” 

3. “The one place where a man ought to get a square deal is in a courtroom, be he any color of the rainbow, but people have a way of carrying their resentments right into a jury box. As you grow older, you’ll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something and don’t you forget it – whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash.” 

4. “Real courage is when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.” 

5.“Things are always better in the morning.” 

6. “Atticus—” …said Jem bleakly. “How could they do it, how could they?”

“I don’t know, but they did it. They’ve done it before & they did it tonight & they’ll do it again & when they do it— seems that only children weep.” 

7. “Courage is not a man with a gun in his hand. It’s knowing you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.” 

8. “It’s not necessary to tell all you know. It’s not ladylike- in the second place, folks don’t like to have somebody around knowin’ more than they do.”

9. “Before Jem looks at anyone else he looks at me, and I’ve tried to live so I can look squarely back at him.” 

 10. “Just remember that sometimes, the way you think about a person isn’t the way they actually are.”