5 Word movie reviews

My year of books has really put a damper on our movie watching. When we do watch something it’s usually a show like the Great British Bake-Off or Wheel of Time. But since I have over 10 years of these on here and someone could go crazy writing reviews on old posts to get us to $100 for a charity before Christmas, here I am!

You know the drill, 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. Click here to see past movie posts.

What do I need to see in September?

We’re at $81 right now.  Your charity could be next 

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Holidate, 2020 (Emma Roberts, Luke Bracey, Kristin Chenoweth, Frances Fisher, Alex Moffat) Grade B

Hallmark movie with F bombs 🙂

A man in a blue shirt, surrounded by the citizens of Free City, the cityscape in the background
Free Guy, 2021 (Ryan Reynolds, Jodie Comer, Lil Rel Howery, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Joe Keery, Taika Waititi) Grade B

Stuck in a video game genre

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Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, 2021 (Simu Liu, Awkwafina, Meng’er Zhang, Fala Chen, Florian Munteanu, Benedict Wong, Michelle Yeoh, Ben Kingsley, Tony Leung) Grade B

Marvel with subtitles and legends.

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Red Sparrow, 2018 (Jennifer Lawrence, Joel Edgerton, Mathias Schoenaerts, Jeremy Irons, Charlotte Ramplings, Ciaran Hinds, Mary Louise-Parker, Joely Richardson) Grade B-

I‘ll watch anything with Mathias Schoenaerts 🙂

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Goosebumps, 2015 (Jack Black, Dylan Minnette, Odeya Rush, Amy Ryan, Jillian Bell, Ryan Lee) Grade B

Great family film, fun cast.

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Fear Street: Part One 1994 (Kiana Madeira, Olivia Scott Welch, Benjamin Flores Jr., Fred Hechinger, Ashley Zukerman, Darrell Britt-Gibson, Maya Hawke) Grade B

Not your childhood Fear Street.

Catching up after a Buckeye loss

My Buckeyes lost to the the Wolverines for the first time in 10 years. The Game was a depressing one to watch for OSU fans. I’m an alum who bleeds scarlet & gray, but give props to The Team Up North, they showed up to play!

So, what better time to avoid the TV and all the upset excitement than to update you on my reading?

I listened to The Fallen, #4 of the Amos Decker series by David Balducci. It’s not the newest, but I’m listening in order. Amos and Jamison are visiting her sister and Amos wastes no time in finding dead bodies. He does what he does and uncovers one conspiracy after another. Great listen, especially if you are familiar with run down towns suffering from the opioid crisis.

I’m still reading and journaling Comfortable with Uncertainty by Pena Chodron. I go through stretches where I choose sleeping in to getting up early and doing meditative reading. Lately, I’ve been able to get up even just 15 minutes before my kid and that’s made a huge difference to the quality of my day. Coffee and quiet for even just a few minutes makes a happy mama.

Are you a donut fan? I LOVE donuts. The only way you can ruin a donut is by putting coconut or sprinkles on it 🤮

Two graphic novels about two very different artists. Starving artist isn’t just a clever phrase, it was the truth for both of them.

Let’s start with Basquiat by Palio Parisi because that’s the one I read first. I love this cover! He used these same colors the entire book. Jean Michel Basquiat wanted to be a star. He wanted to be famous and he worked hard on the streets of New York City to make that happen. He came into the money and fame but never kicked the drugs that would kill him at 27. It was a good snapshot of his short adult life.

Monet: Itinerant of Light by Salva Rubio and EFA was a more comprehensive book, but, jeez, it sure soured me on Monet the man. This felt like a real biography, from what they chose to include and how they chose to tell his story in pictures and words. Monet was always broke, well except when he made a few bucks and lived large for short periods of time. He seemed to be clueless about many things, but he was unwavering in his belief in his art. I LOVED this book. The man, not so much.
This week we are learning about Oklahoma and we read the picture book Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre. A beautiful book that tells about an event in America’s history that hasn’t really gotten talked about until the last few years. Well done. The discussion and additional reading we did really upset Gage. I could’ve skipped it because it was upsetting, but isn’t that where the real learning and change happens? Yes, it is.

I thought that the Black History in its Own Words from my graphics novel stack would pair nicely with Unspeakable. It’s a collection of creative portraits with very short quotes by a wide range of artists and leaders. It even included one of Basquiat who I talked about yesterday.
The Thirsty Mermaids is about three mermaids who’ve enjoyed the alcohol they’ve found at the bottom of the sea so much that they decide to change into humans so they can find more. These are not your normal 🧜‍♀️. I didn’t love the art but the mermaids grew on me and I ended up liking the lighthearted humor and story of friendship. 256 pages

Bubble is based on a podcast. I’m not familiar with it but wonder if that might have helped me like it. The first little bit had potential and I liked Mitch the weird guy with the power to destroy whatever he wanted, but the constant one-liners took away from a real plot for me. This banter on a podcast would probably work. I liked the art and the sci-fi setting. 272 pages
Malibu Rising is the story of four siblings and their their parents. As an only child the bond between siblings is always fascinating to me so this reeled me in right away. I loved the multiple points of view and the early 80s California setting.

The fact that this 1980s book is in the historical fiction category makes me feel ancient. It had an 80’s vibe but didn’t really feel like a historical novel. Well, except that no one has cell phones so maybe that’s all it takes these days.

I really liked this story of the the Riva family and was happy with the way things wrapped up for the kids.
I’ve had The Four Winds on my shelf for a while, knowing that it was going to be a hard read emotionally. It’s nomination finally got me to pick it up. It took me quite a while to get involved in the story as it was very slow. Elsa, rejected by her family, gets pregnant, forcing the young man who was on his way to college to stay on the farm and marry her. It’s the 1930s Texas and drought and dust crush everything in their path. The story really begins when Elsa dares imagine a better life for her and her kids. This was a heavy book and to see Elsa grow and raise a spirited daughter in such impossible times made this a great read. I shed some tears and am still glad I read/listened to it.

Dune: The Graphic Novel, Book 1 I had already checked out of the library to read for this month. I knew nothing about Dune, no clue or interest in what it was about, but did see the promos for the new movie. This was adapted into a graphic novel by Brian Herbert (son of Dune author Frank Herbert) and Kevin Anderson. Because it’s adapted by his son I have to think it’s faithful to the original. This was well done and once I got myself focused it was easy to follow even for a newbie like me. Sci-fi politics, magical powers, and environmental responsibility make a timeless tale that still rings true, even if takes place on another planet. I really liked this one and look forward to the second installment.

I ❤️ both of these graphic novels! So different and, yet both so good.

The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg didn’t exactly draw me in at first because of its strangeness, but after the baby who was made into three boys grew up and came back together again I was hooked. As he went on his journey from the top of the world to the bottom I was captivated. You’ll recognize our shared stories in his storytelling, from Adam and Eve to Noah to the Tower of Babel. It’s full of humor, irreverence, magic, and outstanding artwork. This is a surprise favorite for me so far this month. 176 pages.

I admit I picked up Klaus for the cover alone 😍. The story of Klaus, boy found in his dead mother’s frozen arms, is one from legends. I loved the art and the story. There was a proper villain, violence, and a monster, but there was redemption and love too. A fitting read for the Christmas season. 208 pages.
I listened to Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby and LOVED the narration by Adam Lazarre-White. His rich voice made the story of two fathers coming to terms with the deaths of their sons come alive. There was more violence and also more soul searching than I anticipated going in. I really like this one.

I read the first Persepolis a few months ago and loved the creative way Marjane told the story of the Irna revolution and aftermath. This second graphic memoir was about her 4 year abroad and what finally brought her back home. I liked this one a lot too!

The Mailbox in the Forest is a new children’s book with cute story and lovely illustrations Mayu is a first grader staying with her grandparents over the winter break. Her grandparents inexplicably allow her to go into the forest by herself during the days and she finds a mysterious mailbox.

A story about the joys of letter writing and friendships with people different than them. At just over 70 pages it’s a nice length for younger readers, but be prepared to explain why you aren’t letting them spend the day in the forest by themselves.

I’ve included our latest postcard all the way from Russia (thanks postcrossing!). Love all of the stamps ❤️

I can feel the end of my book a day challenge coming. I’ve already read 375 books this year and still going strong.

Book vs. Movie – Perfume: The Story of a Murderer


This summer I read the 1985 book by Patrick Suskind and watched the 2006 film. I finally have time to compare the two/


This much of it was true for both. It’s 18th century France and an orphan is born with an extraordinary gift of smell. Grenouille was different the moment he was born, even the other orphaned kids attempted to kill him. But he’s smart and manages to survive and even secure a job with a well respected perfumer in Paris. He becomes obsessed with capturing the scents of women and learns all he can about distilling. He kills his first woman in Paris because he wants to possess her scent. He must go on to a smaller town to learn more, but has some years of crazy in a cave first. Once he reaches the small French town his plan to come up with the perfect transcendent scent is born and no one is safe.

The book was much more inside of Grenouille’s head and that’s just not a place I wanted to be. Thumbs up- movie


The way that Suskind described Grenouille’s world was perfection. I may not have wanted to be inside Grenouille’s head, but the words that aroused the senses made the book come alive for me. Thumbs up- book


Hands down the best part of the book OR the movie was Dustin Hoffman as the perfumer and Alan Rickman as Richis. They both enhanced the roles. Ben Whishaw was a good lead and true to the character in the book. Thumbs up – movie


The fact that the movie actually accomplished the village-wide orgy at the end gives it the definite edge. Thumbs up- movie

And the winner is...the MOVIE! Although this is a beloved, bestselling book, the movie didn’t creep me out me like the book did.

Other book vs. movie polls you can still vote on: (The Sun is Also a Star) (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)

This Week in Graphic Novels

My graphic novels reading month has been going well. In addition to the books below I also listened to 2 audiobooks in series I follow. The Fallen by David Baldacci is #4 of the Amos Decker series. Amos and Jamison are visiting her sister and Amos wastes no time in finding dead bodies. He does what he does and uncovers one conspiracy after another. Great listen, especially if you are familiar with run down towns suffering from the opioid crisis. Night School by Lee Child is #21 of the Jack Reacher series and takes place when he is still in the military. A nice diversion from the nomadic Reacher, but I could have done without the scene involving a woman and mule having relations on a stage for a group of cheering men. That was a real low point of the series for me.

I also reviewed The Good Kings by Kara Cooney for a book tour, Loved it.

We watched the miniseries Midnight Mass on Netflix. Have you seen it? It seemed all eerily sinister in the beginning and then turned absolutely insane. Can’t say I liked it but it was quite a ride.

Days 2 and 3 of my graphic novel reading have been…interesting? I need to be more careful with my next choice!

Beverly, with is spartan illustrations started normally with a story about teens working in the summer and ended with a story about Beverly the masseuse. They were all loosely connected and followed a timeline of sorts. Strange, somewhat disturbing, and beyond my ability to really appreciate. 134 pages.

Everything is Beautiful, and I’m Not Afraid is a fictional graphic novel inspired by real life. How much truth I don’t know, but it reads like a memoir. A young immigrant comes out as bi to her conservative Chinese family and she becomes lost, no longer knowing where home is. I loved the art and wanted to love the ‘story’ more than I did. I’m sure this would appeal more to the reader going through similar issues with family and finding self worth.
Ah, that’s more like it. A graphic novel-ish that gave me some happy reading. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse were lovely creatures to spent some time with. I loved the art and the ideas, some more than others, and when I read this to my 11 year old he appreciated the humor of the mole 🍰. Here are some thoughts from the book…

“What do you think is the biggest waste of time?”
“Comparing yourself to others.”

“One of our greatest freedoms is how we react to things.”

“Asking for help isn’t giving up,” said the horse. “It’s refusing to give up.”

“Sometimes I worry you’ll all realize I’m ordinary,” said the boy.
“Love doesn’t need you to be extraordinary,” said the mole.

I am in love with this puzzle! I’ve never done one with a velvet finish and took a bit to get used to, but the extra dimension it gives to this piece of art is gorgeous. Clement Mmaduakor Nwafor is the Nigerian artist. Thanks for a perfect puzzle @completingthepuzzleofficial

Today’s book is Afar, a YA sci-fi/fantasy featuring a girl who can transport into the bodies of people on other planets in her sleep and her brother who gets into trouble but gets a monkey out of it 🐒. I enjoyed the art and the storylines and can see this appealing to many teens. Perfectly done! (Thank goodness after my first few days of graphic novel month)
When the newest Jerry Pinkney came in the library I knew had to read it. Pinkney died last month at the age of 81 after illustrating over 100 children’s books.

This is the story of The Welcoming Chair, beloved children book author Rosemary Wells’ family heirloom that tells the story of the American immigrant. From her preface…

“America’s door is open to suffering people from foreign lands,” my dad told me. “It’s America’s fundamental generosity of spirit that makes her hold her head high in a world of trouble. And it will always be so.”

‘My father’s words were true until recently. Lady Liberty’s message is today challenged by those who want to shut that door.

This book is based in part on my own family’s legends, as told to me by my grandmother Marguerite Leopold Bamberger and as passed down to her from her grandmother Ruth Seigbert’s diary.’

Wonderful story and gorgeous illustrations.
My two favorite days of graphic novel month so far! Two classics = so good.

I read Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale by Renee Nault and was blown away by how good it was. I have never read the book, seen the movie, or watched the current miniseries. Still, as a person who loves books I knew what it was about. The art was gorgeous and there was just enough information, never too much to insult the reader, to draw you in and keep the pages turning excitedly. In a dystopian world women are again second class citizens and forced into designated roles where they must stay. The handmaids serve one purpose only, to bear children. The question of who a woman’s body belongs to takes center stage. It was fantastic ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery is by her grandson Miles Hyman. This story I knew. Lotteries are held in each town once a year and the ‘winner’ gets an extra special prize. Haunting and beautifully adapted with a special forward by Hyman telling some memories of his grandmother. Loved it! ❤️❤️❤️❤️

If you have a reluctant classics reader, let them start here. 📖

I couldn’t do a graphic novel month without including some serious award winning classics. I read these two outstanding books by Art Spieglman (the first winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1992).

It’s the story of the Holocaust based on Spiegelman’s interviews with his survivor father and also of his life with his father as he got older. He, his father, and the other Jewish people are depicted as mice and the Nazis as cats.

So moving, both as a Holocaust history, but also a relationship story between father and son. One I’m not going to forget anytime soon.

The Good Kings by Kara Cooney

The closest I’ve ever come to Egypt is Italy or staying in the Luxor in Las Vegas 😁. But Ancient Egypt continues to fascinate even after all this time. Take an art history class or visit a museum and you are introduced to its importance.

This new book by Egyptologist Kara Cooney, The Good Kings: Absolute Power in Ancient Egypt and the Modern World covers 5 pharaohs and their authoritarian rules – Khufu, Senwosret III, Akhenaten, Ramses II, and Taharqa. More importantly it links their ruling styles to what we can see in today’s world. Her writing style makes this accessible to all.

I love books that make me look at things in a new way. The patriarchy many are fighting against today is nothing new, but it’s chilling to see some of the parallels between then and now. Cooney holds no punches, which I appreciated, but it’s also sure to make some people reject some of her analyses. Calling propaganda and cults out for what they are might make those involved with them cry foul. I am not one of them and I appreciated her insight.

Read it to see the world a different way and to see well known ancient Egyptian kings through a lens less rosy than before. I found it fascinating.

Thank you TLC Book Tours for getting this book in my hands and letting me be a part of the book tour.

Review Stops

Tuesday, November 2nd: Man of La Book

Wednesday, November 3rd: Books, Cooks, and Looks

Thursday, November 4th: What Is That Book About

Friday, November 5th: 100 Pages a Day…Stephanie’s Book Reviews

Monday, November 8th: Stacy’s Books

Tuesday, November 9th: Instagram: @jenniaahava

Wednesday, November 10th: She Just Loves Books

Thursday, November 11th: Instagram: @literannie

Monday, November 15th: Instagram: @createexploreread

Tuesday, November 16th: Jathan & Heather

Wednesday, November 17th: A Bookish Way of Life

Thursday, November 18th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom

Friday, November 19th: Write – Read – Life

October favorites and November reading plans

Can you find my five favorite reads of October?

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. What if every choice you made led to a different life, a different you and it was happening simultaneously to your life right now. What if you were able to visit The Midnight Library and try on each of these lives to see if you preferred them to the one you’re currently living. So goes the story of Nora Seed.

Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin. I love the 1968 movie Rosemary’s Baby and I finally got around to reading the Ira Levin novel.

Rosemary and Guy move into the Branford in NYC having heard of some of its more infamous past residents. They are befriended by an older neighbor couple and their relationship starts to change. When Rosemary becomes pregnant it’s not at all what she expects and she becomes even more isolated.

A perfect psychological horror story.

Life is Good by Trixie Belden. This book made my day. Any fan of Dean Koontz knows how much he loves dogs, especially his golden retriever Trixie. Trixie decided to write a book when she realized that some humans weren’t as happy as dogs were.

This book was so, so sweet. I loved it, even reading some passages out loud to Jason making him laugh too. If you have ever loved a dog, get your eyes in this book so you can feel the slobbery kisses as you read.

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager. Sager’s take on a haunted house, was a perfect listen as I worked on a puzzle late into the night. Maggie’s father had made their family famous with a memoir about them escaping their house after being attacked by ghosts. Now that he’s dead and the house is hers Maggie goes back to ready the place for sale and perhaps bring back memories from when she was 5. Is Baneberry Hall still haunted? Was it ever? I really liked this one!

The Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright. This felt like a throwback to the stories I used to love as a kid, no surprise there since it was originally published in 1983. Twelve-year-old Amy is too often relied on to take of her special needs sister. She is able to escape to her aunt’s creepy house where she discovered a dollhouse in the attic. While she’s thrilled, her aunt is not and tensions rise between the two.

This middle school story gave me all of the good stuff. It was a book about growing up and learning to navigate friendships and family and to believe in yourself enough to believe in ghostly spirits. Yes, there are ghosts, but the ones that help set things right. A fun story for tweens. Loved it!

November intentions with today’s read. I had 5 books sent to me for review this month, but 2 of them had their publication dates pushed to next year. A sign of the times I guess. The rest of the month I’m reading GRAPHIC NOVELS! I went to the library and pulled most of these off their shelves, but if you have one that I just need to read let me know.

For today I read Thoreau: A Sublime Life. I mentioned when I read The Midnight Library that I loved Thoreau and it had been too long since I’d read him, so it’s no surprise this was my first choice. I loved this one. It’s not all encompassing, obviously, but the Foreword and the last section written by a professor with details and pictures, were perfectly done to make this feel like a book of importance.

The illustrations told the story, with some pages having no words at all. There were a few significant interactions that put his life into focus. As a freethinker and abolitionist his life in the 1800s still calls people to his readings today. He is more than just Walden and if you’re not familiar than this is a good place to start.