May Movies

The usual end of school year chaos – even with a 1st grader – and Jason’s mom being really sick a state away that have defined May around here.  I’m actually surprised that we watched two movies this month!  Tomorrow is Gage’s last day of school and I’m working at the library party for kids who improved their reading by at least one level this year.  I worked at the older kids party last week and tomorrow I’ll be with grades 1-3, including Gage.  Fun 🙂

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We’re at $87 right now.

Wonder Woman (2017 film).jpgWonder Woman, 2017 (Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen, Danny Huston)                            Grade B+

I want to be a kick ass Amazon!

Female hero for new generation!!  (Kay)

Gadot’s my kind of gal.  (Brendan)

Charlie st cloud poster.jpgCharlie St. Cloud, 2010 (Zac Ephron, Charlie Tahan, Amanda Crew, Kim Basinger, Ray Liotta, Donal Logue)       Grade C+

Zac sees the slowpoke dead.


Book vs. Movie – Charlie St. Cloud

Title: The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud, Author: Ben Sherwood vs Charlie st cloud poster.jpg

I read the book (with the longer title) last month and was happy to see that Netflix had the 2010 movie ready for me.  I actually had the copy of the book with Zac Ephron on the cover so was picturing him as I read and that wasn’t really a problem 🙂 Sometimes I don’t know which will come out on top until I work through the categories, but I know even before I start which one worked better here.  I’ve tried not to contain spoilers.

The Story/Plot Charlie St. Cloud is a young man who was going places before a crash in high school killed his little brother.  He made a promise to his brother not to leave him and to meet him in the woods every evening to practice baseball.  So, Charlie takes a job at the neighboring cemetery so that he can keep that promise.  Not only can he interact with his dead brother but also the other spirits who are dead but have not yet crossed over.  Enter Tess who catches Charlie’s eye and tests his commitment to his brother.

This framework is the same for both the book and movie.  There were fewer spirits in the movie (which I missed), his relationship with his brother was closer in the book, the stuff with Tess happened way out of order in the movie to the detriment of the story, and there was more discussion about life after death in the book.   Thumbs up…the book

The Visual  The New England Coast is a beautiful place and the movie held up its end, although I read that they filmed in Canada.  Either way, it was beautiful.   Thumbs up…the movie

Characters vs. Actors  Since I pictured Zac Ephron as Charlie while I was reading the book he became Charlie for me.  I thought that they would have someone else play his younger 15 year old self in the movie, but instead they made his younger self 18 so there wouldn’t be another actor.  I wasn’t a fan of the aging, but I liked Ephron in the role.  My husband’s favorite part of the movie was the younger brother, Sam, but that’s because he hadn’t read the book I think. The book Sam was a much happier spirit and I preferred him.  Kim Basinger was the mom who made a brief appearance in the movie, but the mom was never part of the action of the book.  She didn’t add much or serve any purpose.  For some reason they aged and changed the EMT who saved Charlie’s life so Ray Liotta could play him.  The only reason I can see that they did this was so they could get a big name in the movie even if only for a scene or two.  The movie messed with the second scene between these two characters so the big name was a wash for me.  Amanda Crew was fine as Tess.  There were additional secondary characters in the movie that were completely unnecessary.   Thumbs up…the book

The Ending  The end result was almost the same, but I could’ve skipped the extra melodrama of the movie.  Thumbs up…the book

And the winner is…the book!  If they had stuck with the simplicity of the book the movie would have been so much better.

Other book vs. movie polls you can vote on: (We Have Always Lived in the Castle) (Good Morning, Midnight/ The Midnight Sky) (Before I Go To Sleep) (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)

Top Ten Tuesday – Bookish Worlds I’d Want to Live In


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’s topic is Bookish Worlds I’d Want to/Never Want to Live In.  I decided to focus on the worlds/places/lives I’d be willing to live in.

  1. The Shire and Rivendell in the The Hobbit & Lord of the Rings series.  I’ll skip the rest of Tolkien’s geography, but those two places?  Sign me up!
  2. Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory from Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. It’s more than a little bit creepy, but I think I could find a few happy places 🙂
  3. The Cemetery of Forgotten Books in Barcelona is a place I wouldn’t mind spending some time.  (Shadow of the Wind by Zafon)
  4. It’s 2019 and the world has discovered music coming from another planet and they send a ship to Rakhat.  Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow and Children of God took us on the ride and I’d be willing to go.
  5. When Frances buys an old villa in Tuscany, I was living vicariously, so this is a no brainer!  Under the Tuscan Sun sounds good to me.
  6. In Stephen King’s 11/22/63, time travel from a good cause goes awry.  Maybe if he had a willing partner with some sense he would have been more successful.
  7. Hogwarts from the Harry Potter series was a magical place.  Yes, some scary things happened there, but it never lacked for excitement.
  8. If I could jump into Claire’s life I’d choose her travels in the Outlander series.  With Jamie being played by Jason of course 😉
  9. A chocolatier in a small French village in the 1950s would be a nice little life, even when dealing with the worst of the worst the village has to offer.  (Chocolat by Harris)
  10. I think the late 1700s in New York would be a fascinating place to visit for awhile.  I loved the story in Into the Wilderness by Donati.

So, tell me, if you could choose ONE place to visit for an extended amount of time what book would you choose?

The Art of Friendship: 70 Simple Rules for Making Meaningful Connections by Roger Horchow & Sally Horchow

Title: Art of Friendship: 70 Simple Rules for Making Meaningful Connections, Author: Roger HorchowThe Art of Friendship. Finished 4-28-18, rating 3/5, self-help?, 144 pages, pub. 2005

Seventy brief essays present simple but effective “rules of connecting” with action points to help you put each rule into practice in daily life. Woven throughout are personal anecdotes from the Horchows, sharing their experiences of friendship.
Recognizing that friendships take many forms, the authors offer practical, proven advice that demystifies the process of making friends.
The rules include:
How to create rapport– even in a crowd
How to transform an acquaintance into a friend
When to e-mail, pick up the phone, send a note, or meet in person
How to maintain long-term friendships –and even when it’s time to quit
The book opens with a foreword by Malcolm Gladwell (author of The Tipping Point) that explores the Horchows’ special talent for making and keeping friends. Whether your goal is to start a new relationship or reinvest in a longstanding friendship, this inspiring book will reveal how you can build more meaningful connections in your life.  from Goodreads
I don’t remember bringing this book home, but I wasn’t surprised to find it on my shelves.  It’s the perfect little hardcover size with nice paper and bite sized suggestions for how to make meaningful friendships.  It was written by a father/daughter team and there was quite a bit of name dropping.  This isn’t necessarily bad, it did add extra interest for sure, so I was okay with it.  Were there a few nice ideas and encouragements?  Yes. Was there anything profound? No.  But no matter how many friends in your circle it’s always nice to think about adding to it or deepening existing friendships.


The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud by Ben Sherwood (otherwise known as Charlie St. Cloud)

Title: Charlie St. Cloud, Author: Ben SherwoodCharlie St. Cloud. Finished 4-28-18, 4.25/5, fiction, 273 pages, pub. 2004

The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud tells the haunting story of a young man who narrowly survives a terrible car wreck that kills his little brother. Years later, the brothers’ bond remains so strong that it transcends the normal boundaries separating life and death. Charlie St. Cloud lives in a snug New England fishing village. By day he tends the lawns and monuments of the ancient cemetery where his younger brother, Sam, is buried. Graced with an extraordinary gift after surviving the accident, he can still see, talk, and even play catch with Sam’s spirit. But townsfolk whisper that Charlie has never recovered from his loss.  from Goodreads

Charlie and his brother are besties and when Sam is killed and Charlie is spared, both lives are lost.  Fast forward a few years and Charlie works at the local graveyard as its caretaker and can see and talk to the spirits of dead people who are stuck in between.  Sam is one of those spirits.  Charlie, because of a promise, plays catch with Sam every day at sunset and the boys continue to lean on their bond.  But then comes along this girl and everything changes.  I don’t want to spoil too much by saying more, but graveyards and spirits and love are some of my favorite things 🙂

This was a fun readathon book, sentimental, romantic and just the right length.  I read Sherwood’s first book, The Man Who Ate the 747 and loved it. It was quirky and endearing.  When I saw the trailer for the movie when it came out years ago I somehow missed that it was written by Sherwood.  I didn’t like this quite as much as 747, but it did have much of the same magic.

I watched the movie today and will compare the two in a few days, but if you only saw the movie I can’t stress enough that you should read the book.



Forks, Knives and Spoons by Leah DeCesare

Title: Forks, Knives, and Spoons: A Novel, Author: Leah DeCesareForks, Knives and Spoons. Finished 5-17-18, rating 2.75/5, fiction, 392 pages, pub. 2017

There are three kinds of guys: forks, knives, and spoons. That is the final lesson that Amy York’s father sends her off to college with, never suspecting just how far his daughter will take it. Clinging to the Utensil Classification System as her guide, Amy tries to convince her skeptical roommate, Veronica Warren, of its usefulness as they navigate the heartbreaks and soul mates of college and beyond. Beginning in 1988, their freshman year at Syracuse University, Amy and Veronica meet an assortment of guys from slotted spoons and shrimp forks to butter knives and sporks all while trying to learn if the UCS holds true. On the quest to find their perfect steak knives, they learn to believe in themselves and not to settle in love or life.  from Goodreads

So, we read this for our book club and all of us being of a certain age connected with the 80’s early 90’s references.  We discussed the UTC system of rating guys as a utensil and a few thought it was fun, but the rest of us complained that it was mentioned on almost every one of the 392 pages, or at least it seemed.  It was not something anyone liked (save one!) for different reasons and to different degrees.  For me, the biggest issue was the writing itself.  I wasn’t the only one with this problem although a few thought it was better in the second half.  But four of us agreed that we never would have made it to the second half if we hadn’t read it for book club.

I will leave you with the awards it won last year so you can make your own decision.

2017 Readers’ Favorite Gold Medal for New Adult Fiction
2017 IAN Book of the Year Award for Outstanding Women’s Fiction

Freebie Friday

The first few years of this blog I culled my personal library by giving away books.  Well, the time has come to cull again so on Fridays for as long as I can I’ll be offering to mail these books to you free of charge.  Please request no more than two.

This week they have all been read but are in great shape.


What Would Martin Say? by Clarence B. Jones – trade paperback headed to Elle’s

The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler – hardcover

The Appeal by John Grisham – hardcover

Forks, Knives and Spoons by Leah DeCesare – trade paperback  headed to Anne’s house.

Small Town Girl by LaVyrle Spencer – hardcover

Also, there are a few left from last week if you want to take a look.


The first one to request each book in the comments will ‘win’.  Thanks for helping keep my book hoarding in check!

Devil in Spring by Lisa Kleypas

Title: Devil in Spring: The Ravenels, Book 3, Author: Lisa KleypasDevil in Spring. Finished 4-29-18, romance, pub. 2017

Unabridged audio performed by Mary Jane Wells.

The Ravenels book 3 (1-Cold-Hearted Rake) (2-Marrying Winterborne)

Most debutantes dream of finding a husband. Lady Pandora Ravenel has different plans. The ambitious young beauty would much rather stay at home and plot out her new board game business than take part in the London Season. But one night at a glittering society ball, she’s ensnared in a scandal with a wickedly handsome stranger. 

After years of evading marital traps with ease, Gabriel, Lord St. Vincent, has finally been caught-by a rebellious girl who couldn’t be less suitable. In fact, she wants nothing to do with him. But Gabriel finds the high-spirited Pandora irresistible. He’ll do whatever it takes to possess her, even if their marriage of convenience turns out to be the devil’s own bargain.     from Goodreads

I  was happy to be back with the Ravenel family!  Pandora was not one of my favorite characters in the first two books, but she grew on me in this one.  I was so impressed that she wanted to be a creative businesswoman and didn’t want any man to take her accomplishments away from her.  She was a woman ahead of her time.

Gabriel was fine. I think he appeared in a different series at some point so there were probably more positive feelings to be had for him by those who knew him before.  The two of them had me for most of the book, although the last bit dragged for me.

I’m already looking forward to the next in the series.  I think these are best read in order.





Golden Prey by John Sandford

Title: Golden Prey (Lucas Davenport Series #27), Author: John SandfordGolden Prey. Finished 5-6-18, rating 4/5, thriller, 393 pages, pub. 2017

Lucas Davenport series #27 (1- Rules of Prey, 2- Shadow Prey, 3- Eyes of Prey, 4- Silent Prey, 5- Winter Prey, 6- Night Prey, 7- Mind Prey, 8- Sudden Prey, 9- Secret Prey, 10- Certain Prey, 11-Easy Prey, 12- Chosen Prey, 13- Mortal Prey, 14- Naken Prey, 15- Hidden Prey, 16- Broken Prey, 17- Invisible Prey, 18- Phantom Prey, 19- Wicked Prey, 20– Storm Prey, 21- Buried Prey, 22-Stolen Prey, 23-Silken Prey, 24-Field of Prey, 25-Gathering Prey, 26-Extreme Prey)

Thanks to some very influential people whose lives he saved, Lucas is no longer working for the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, but for the U.S. Marshals Service, and with unusual scope. He gets to pick his own cases, whatever they are, wherever they lead him.
And where they’ve led him this time is into real trouble. A Biloxi, Mississippi, drug-cartel counting house gets robbed, and suitcases full of cash disappear, leaving behind five bodies, including that of a six-year-old girl. Davenport takes the case, which quickly spirals out of control, as cartel assassins, including a torturer known as the “Queen of home-improvement tools” compete with Davenport to find the Dixie Hicks shooters who knocked over the counting house. Things get ugly real fast, and neither the cartel killers nor the holdup men give a damn about whose lives Davenport might have saved; to them, he’s just another large target.   from Goodreads

The Lucas Davenport series is one that continues to hold up well, not just because of the writing and well executed chase stories, but because Lucas ages and evolves.  Too many long running series seem to recycle the same stories and characters over and over.

Lucas is no longer stuck in Minnesota, so the country is his playground and it takes him south to track an old favorite on the FBIs most wanted list that’s never been caught.  There are a multitude of very scary bad guys and they are equal opportunity killers since the women may be even more scary than the men.

I missed some of Lucas’s old friends in Minnesota, but he has two new marshal pals that I’m sure we’ll see again.  This was another solid thriller in the series, perfect for plane rides or vacations because it reads so fast.  These do not have to be read in order to enjoy the series.



Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

Title: Small Great Things, Author: Jodi PicoultSmall Great Things. Finished April 28, 2018, rating 3.75/5, fiction, 458 pages, pub. 2016.

Jodi Picoult has a good thing going with a huge number of people who devour her books and always want more.  I am not one of them and I’m not sure why.  The first one I read was My Sister’s Keeper and I LOVED it.  It’s still on my top 100 favorite list.  I read two more (Vanishing Acts and The Pact) and thought they were okay.  After reading this I still feel the same way.  Picoult is a great writer and knows how to tell a story. The biggest difference with this one is that the subject matter is so on point for what is going on in our country right now, so I read it hoping for raw honesty and got it – up until a point.  I will reveal no details but feel free to discuss in the comments.

Ruth is a labor and delivery nurse, the only one of color at her hospital, and when a white supremacist couple comes in to deliver they reject her and her superiors agree to switch nurses. Something bad goes down and Ruth is suspended and needs a lawyer, enter Kennedy, a young white lawyer who wants to take race out of the case right away.  This book alternates between their three voices.

Turk’s chapters were difficult to read.  It was hard for me to come to terms with that kind of hate.  I feel like a got a firsthand look at the white power movement and  it was beyond disturbing.  Kennedy bore an almost too familiar feeling for this white mom.  So many things we think we understand about racism are really only surface deep and it takes someone like Ruth to come along to give us a small glimpse into her world.  The chapters between the women were what kept me reading.  Honestly, I just wanted to stop every time I saw Turk’s name come up.

We read this for our book group and there were many positives and a general good feeling about the book.  A few (me included) felt it was a little heavy handed.  But we all agreed that it did open our eyes about what is going on all around us that we may not have noticed before, and really, what more could you want in a book club discussion?


What’s your favorite Jodi Picoult novel?