October’s Movies

What about you?  What did you see this month that you’d recommend?

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Abominable (2019 poster).png Abominable, 2019 (Voices-Chloe Bennet, Tenzing Norgay Trainor, Eddie Izzard, Sarah Paulson, Tsai Chin, Michelle Wong)    Grade B+

Magical yeti loves his friends.

The Current War.png The Current War, 2019 (Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Shannon, Katherine Waterston, Tom Holland, Tuppence Middleton, Matthew MacFayden, Nicholas Hoult)     Grade B

Edison, Westinghouse, Tesla electricity drama.

GeraldsGameFilm.jpg Gerald’s Game,  2017 (Carla Gugino, Bruce Greenwood)   Grade C

Sexy handcuffs can be boring.

Two worthwhile devotionals

As part of my year of healthy changes I’ve started reading a devotional book every morning.  Some are Christian, some just inspirational and yet others are in the Buddhism tradition.  Often I’ll start one and abandon it after a few days if it doesn’t speak to me, but these two I finished and was lifted up every day.

Title: My Soul in Silence Waits: Meditations on Psalm 62, Author: Margaret Guenther My Soul in Silence Waits: Meditations on Psalm 62 by Margaret Guenther. Finished 8-26-19, 4.25/5, 152 pages, pub. 2000

 In these reflections on Psalm 62 Margaret Guenther provides the foundation for a time of reflection and retreat without ever leaving home. The book’s first chapter introduces us to ways of making a retreat wherever we are, at a place apart or in the midst of our daily lives. Guenther then offers eight meditations on Psalm 62, with its themes of waiting on God’s presence with patience, trust, and expectation.   from Goodreads

I love devotional books that start with a verse or even story in the Bible and then expounds on what that means for my daily life.  I admit that I’m pretty picky because so many of these types of books do not inspire or cause me to grow, but this one did both.  Here’s something I marked from one of the eight chapters,

In the realm of enemy voices, fearfulness is a close relative of self-doubt and self-contempt.  We persuade ourselves that it is better to stick with the tried and true.  As the old Scottish saying puts it, “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.”  Change for the sake of change and risk for the sake of risk can be foolish and imprudent.  But unwillingness to stretch and risk and grow is also a kind of death wish.

Highly recommend it.

Title: Illuminated Life: Monastic Wisdom for Seekers of Light, Author: Joan Chittister Illuminated Life:Monastic Wisdom for Seekers of Light by Joan Chittister.  Finished 9-30-19, 4/5, 143 pages, pub. 2000

So many of the books that I have loved this year have really centered on finding the magical and profound in every day.  From the introduction…

Religion is about rituals, about morals, about systems of thought, all of them good but all of them incomplete. Spirituality is about coming to consciousness of the sacred.  It is in that consciousness that perspective comes, that peace comes.  It is in that consciousness that a person comes to wholeness.  

This book chooses a theme for each letter of the alphabet, awareness, beauty, community, dailiness, enlightenment, faith, growth, humility, justice, kindness…  The beginning of each section is very short story followed by ways to bring true meaning into your life.  It focuses on the contemplatives and what we can do to understand not only God but our role in the universe.  I loved this one!


Clock Dance by Anne Tyler

Title: Clock Dance (B&N Exclusive Edition), Author: Anne Tyler Clock Dance. Finished 8-15-19, 3.5/5 stars, fiction, pub. 2018

Unabridged audio 9 CDs narrated by Kimberly Farr

Willa Drake can count on one hand the defining moments of her life: when she was 11 and her mother disappeared, being proposed to at 21, the accident that would make her a widow at 41. At each of these moments, Willa ended up on a path laid out for her by others.

So when she receives a phone call telling her that her son’s ex-girlfriend has been shot and needs her help, she drops everything and flies across the country. The spur-of-the moment decision to look after this woman – and her nine-year-old daughter, and her dog — will lead Willa into uncharted territory. Surrounded by new and surprising neighbours, she is plunged into the rituals that make a community, and takes pleasure in the most unexpected things.    from Goodreads

I love stories that take a main character from one life to another.  Willa gets a phone call from a neighbor of her son’s ex-girlfriend asking for help and Willa…hops on a plane.  She is married and has two grown sons, but is unfulfilled.  She convinces her husband to fly across the country with her, but after an extreme amount of patience he decides to head back to his real life while Willa stays.  At first she stays because she is needed, but then continues to stay because she likes living in the small house with mother and daughter in a close knit neighborhood with interesting people.  I liked the relationships and the people, but Willa was hard for me.

I think Anne Tyler has a gift writing recognizable people, stories and relationships.  I always feel some spark of understanding who the people are in her books.  This one was mixed for me because while I liked everything else Willa’s motivation and choices were hard to accept as something that could happen.  And the end didn’t help anything in that regard.  If you like Tyler you’ll probably like this one, but it wasn’t one of my favorites.




What’s so great about Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll?

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland Alice’s Adventure’s in Wonderland.  Finished 9-30-19, classic, 3/5 stars, 175 pages, pub. 2015

Beautifully illustrated by Anna Bond.

It’s been 150 years since Lewis Carroll penned Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the story which has become a favorite of children and adults the world over. Now, in a deluxe hardcover edition from Puffin, Alice’s story comes to life for a whole new generation of readers through the colorful, whimsical artwork of Anna Bond, best known as the creative director and artistic inspiration behind the worldwide stationery and gift brand Rifle Paper Co. Lose yourself in Alice’s story as she tumbles down the rabbit hole, swims through her own pool of tears, and finds herself in a rather curious place called Wonderland. There, she’ll encounter the frantic White Rabbit, have a frustrating conversation with an eccentric caterpillar, and play croquette with the hot-headed Queen of Hearts. Follow Alice on her wild adventure through the eyes of the artist in this definitive gift edition.  from Goodreads

So, I’m continuing my curmudgeonly thoughts with another childhood classic.  Let me start by saying that I LOVED this edition.  Anna Bond’s illustrations were the only saving grace when I read this.  They were modern, colorful and fun.  None of which I am going to say about Alice.  Maybe you have to be a child or reading to a child to like this one?  Maybe I should try reading it to Gage to test this theory.  I found Alice to be a bit on the insufferable side, but I’m old (just had a birthday a few weeks ago that proves it).

You tell me, what’s so great about Alice?

This is   my 30th selection for the Classics Club challenge.  I have until January 1, 2020 to get to 50.

A Dirt Road To Somewhere by Romona Robinson

Title: A Dirt Road to Somewhere: An Emmy Award-Winning Anchor 's Incredible Journey of Faith Over Fear, Author: Romona Robinson A Dirt Road To Somewhere. Finished 9-20-19, memoir, 3.5/5 stars, 248 pages, pub. 2017

Raised in a tiny, poverty-stricken town in rural Missouri, Romona Robinson, along with her ten siblings, knows what it means to struggle. Under the tutelage of her hardworking, protective, and God-fearing mother, Romona develops an affinity for the Bible and Walter Cronkite. She also believes her home on a dead-end dirt road would lead her to somewhere. And it does. While crossing paths with the likes of the Ku Klux Klan, Nelson Mandela, and Barack Obama, Romona experiences unimagined pain, love, and success. Her compelling story will inspire you to examine your own purpose and leave you filled with a desire to walk in faith, not fear.   from Goodreads

Romona Robinson is a beloved Cleveland broadcast journalist who also lives about five minutes from me (not that I’ve ever been invited to her house :)).  She spoke at our Friends of the Solon Library annual meeting in the spring and did an encore in the fall.  She’s a presence: tall, beautiful and confident.  Not only has she won numerous awards but she started her own charity, Romona’s Kids, some of whom were in the audience.  She spoke for about 45 minutes and shared stories from this book.  I’m glad that I waited until after she spoke to read it because I could picture her telling the stories and that added to my enjoyment.

I think this book is a good choice for Clevelanders, but also kids growing up in poverty.  She found her way out and has inspired many I’m sure.


The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

Title: The Silent Patient, Author: Alex Michaelides The Silent Patient. Finished 8-15-19, fiction, 4.25/5 stars, pub. 2019

Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.

Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations–a search for the truth that threatens to consume him….  from Goodreads

I listened to the audio way back in August and realized I never shared my thoughts.  It’s been a while, but I still remember the story and the feelings.  This debut thriller was at times a bit boring, but my husband loved it so I continued listening so I could see what all the fuss was about and by the end I got all the buzz and was happy I stuck with it.

Theo is a strange man.  Alicia became a strange woman.  The story was told in a strange way.  All of these things give it extra points for originality.  The fact that I can remember almost all of the details over two months later gives it extra points too. All I know is that I kept thinking that I would not want Theo as my therapist because he seemed creepy, but since his wife was cheating on him I cut him some slack.  You should too and give this one a try, but once you start make sure you make it to the end.


November Road by Lou Berney

Title: November Road, Author: Lou Berney November Road. Finished 10-22-19, 4.5/5 stars, thriller, 299 pages, pub. 2018

Frank Guidry’s luck has finally run out.  A loyal street lieutenant to New Orleans’ mob boss Carlos Marcello, Guidry has learned that everybody is expendable. But now it’s his turn—he knows too much about the crime of the century: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Within hours of JFK’s murder, everyone with ties to Marcello is turning up dead, and Guidry suspects he’s next: he was in Dallas on an errand for the boss less than two weeks before the president was shot. With few good options, Guidry hits the road to Las Vegas, to see an old associate—a dangerous man who hates Marcello enough to help Guidry vanish.

Guidry knows that the first rule of running is “don’t stop,” but when he sees a beautiful housewife on the side of the road with a broken-down car, two little daughters and a dog in the back seat, he sees the perfect disguise to cover his tracks from the hit men on his tail. Posing as an insurance man, Guidry offers to help Charlotte reach her destination, California. If she accompanies him to Vegas, he can help her get a new car.

For her, it’s more than a car— it’s an escape. She’s on the run too, from a stifling existence in small-town Oklahoma and a kindly husband who’s a hopeless drunk.
 It’s an American story: two strangers meet to share the open road west, a dream, a hope—and find each other on the way.  from Goodreads

I’m always intrigued by stories set around the Kennedy assassination and was excited to see this one available to review for its paperback release today.  The killing of the President is the impetus, but the characters and their stories quickly take over.  The chapters alternate between Guidry, a likable mobbed up man on the run, Charolotte, a woman who has been nowhere and is trapped in a bad marriage, and Barone, a fixer.  As the three make their way from Texas westward I was completely hooked.  The pages turned fast and I was sad to see it end.  Guidry saw a future fraught with hope and Charlotte became her own woman by making one hard decision after another to get her and her daughters where she wanted to be.  I loved her.  The story was mainly Guidry’s and his arc was perfect.

I didn’t realize until I read the interview with the author at the end of the book that Carlos Marcello was a real New Orleans mob boss and that this is one possible way the author sees the Kennedy story playing out for real.  Kennedy enthusiast or thriller fan, this is a winner.

If you still need convincing the blurb on the cover is from Stephen King, “When people say they want to read a really good novel. the kind you just can’t put down, this is the kind of book they mean.”  I concur.

I want to thank TLC Book Tours and Harper Collins for the book and the hours of enjoyment they sent my way 🙂



Washington Square by Henry James

Title: Washington Square, Author: Henry James Washington Square. Finished 9-10-19, 4/5, classic, 199 pages, pub. 1880

The plot of Washington Square has the simplicity of old-fashioned melodrama: a plain-looking, good-hearted young woman, the only child of a rich widower, is pursued by a charming but unscrupulous man who seeks the wealth she will presumably inherit. On this premise, Henry James constructed one of his most memorable novels, a story in which love is answered with betrayal and loyalty leads inexorably to despair.”  from Goodreads

“Try and make a clever woman of her, Lavinia; I should like her to be a clever woman.”

Mrs. Penniman, at this, looked thoughtful a moment.  “My dear Austin,” she then inquired, “do you think it is better to be clever than to be good?”

“Good for what?” asked the Doctor.  “You are good for nothing unless you are clever.”

But, sadly, Catherine is not clever and never quite manages to gain the respect of her father no matter how much she tries.  She is quiet and meek, but a spinster.  In 1840’s New York City a 21 year old woman has been passed over quite a few times already, especially if her father is a well respected physician and she stands to inherit quite a bit of money someday.  So when Morris Townsend, a handsome family friend, pays attention to her, love comes quick for the young woman.

Dr. Sloper distrusts Morris immediately.  Morris finds that his charm doesn’t  work on the good doctor, but does exceedingly well with Catherine’s companion, her aunt Lavinia.  Catherine is torn between a handsome man and an overbearing one.  What lengths will the two men go to for Catherine’s affection and loyalty?

This slim classic tells a timeless story that is still being played out 140 years later.  Catherine was an unusual heroine given that she had no real sparkle or cleverness.  The end was somewhat unexpected and made me look at her in a different way and I appreciated that considering that I wanted to give a shake more than once while reading.  I liked this one quite a bit.

This is   my 29th selection for the Classics Club challenge.  I have until January 1, 2020 to get to 50.

The Giver by Lois Lowry

Title: The Giver, Author: Lois Lowry The Giver. Finished 9-8-19, YA classic, 4.25/5 stars, pub. 1993

The haunting story centers on twelve-year-old Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community.  From bn.com

Jonas lives in a world with no violence, no poverty, no starvation, but also no passion, no color and no choices.  The Elders decide what your role in the community will be.  They may take your interests into consideration but the decision is theirs, not yours.  Jonas, has had a few instances of something otherworldly happening to him and is assigned one of the most honored positions in the community, but it comes with a heavy price.

I loved the world building and character development in this slim book.  Lowry managed to paint a stark picture and tell a cautionary tale while making it the perfect size for children.  I’m excited to read this one with Gage.  I admit that I didn’t care for the ending, but I understand there are two more books after this one that continue the story.

I watched the movie years ago when it came out but don’t remember much about it so I’m looking forward to watching it again now that I know the story.

This is the 1994 Newbery Medal winner and  my 28th selection for the Classics Club challenge.  I have until January 1, 2020 to get to 50.


Some Firsts

Last month when I read a book a day I decided to give a few series a try.  I read four and although I liked them all I will probably only continue with one or maybe two of them.

Naked in Death (In Death #1) Naked In Death by JD Robb. Finished 9-30-19, 4/5 stars, mystery, pub. 1995

First in the In Death series featuring Eve Dallas.

New York City in 2058 is fairly recognizable.  The skies are full of transports around town and to other planets, but the mechanics of human living are not so different.  Except that guns are no longer the killers they are today.    When guns show up in a new series of murders involving legal ‘companions’ it’s an anomaly and Eve Dallas, ten years in the force is faced with political pressure like she’s never known.  Passion like she’s never known too.

This was great for car listening and I look forward to more of Eve and Rourke.

Borderlands (Inspector Devl... Borderlands by Brian McGilloway. Finished 9-23-19, mystery, 4/5 stars, pub. 2007

First in the Inspector Devlin series.

A girl’s body is found in the borderlands, and area between north and south Ireland where jurisdiction can go either way.  When Inspector Devlin gets the case he must sort through a lot of suspects and events from 30 years ago that touch way too close to home.  He’s has a bit of a roving eye (and lips) but his wife seems able to overlook it, bless her.  The mystery was complicated, but good.

I liked it, but it reminded me a bit too much of the Inspector Rebus series to continue with right now.  (Yes, this is Ireland and Rebus is Scotland, but they feel similar)

A Share in Death (Duncan Ki... A Share in Death by Deborah Crombie.  Finished 9-26-29, 3.5/5, mystery, pub. 1993

First in the Kincaid and James mystery series.

Duncan Kincaid is a Scotland Yard Superintendent, something he wants to keep quiet on his vacation to a Yorkshire timeshare.  But, as sometimes happens, a man is electrocuted in a hot tub and Kincaid is first on the scene.  And while he’s looking into that another person is killed and he’s living in a house of suspects.  He calls is his assistant, Gemma James, for some long distance help and the two try and figure it out before someone else gets murdered.

It was fun and it’s possible I continue, but I may try and read the print if I do and see if I like it better.  There were a lot of people to keep track while I was driving.

The Adoration of Jenna Fox ... The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson. Finished 9-14-19, 3.5/5 stars, YA, 265 pages, pub. 2008

First in the Jenna Fox Chronicles

Jenna is 17 and has just woken from a coma.  She is at home in California, but she has no memory.  Her dad is across the country, her grandmother seems to dislike her a great deal and her mother wants her to watch videos from when she was a child to see if she can remember.  This book addressed a lot of issues about what it means to be human and what a parent would do to keep their child alive.  Is this where we are headed in the future?  It seems like many of these questions are being played out in real life so it’s possible.

I’m glad I read it, but don’t have a desire to continue and even wonder how it could continue given the ending.