Stacy's Books

books, movies, and boy

Z is for Gabrielle Zevin Zeroes Zafon Zahn

The Storied Life of A. J. FikryThe Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. Finished 4-26-14.  Rating 4.5/5, 260 pages, pub. 2014

A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island-from Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who’s always felt kindly toward Fikry; from Ismay, his sister-in-law who is hell-bent on saving him from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who keeps on taking the ferry over to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J.’s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, A.J. can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.

And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It’s a small package, but large in weight. It’s that unexpected arrival that gives A. J. Fikry the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew.      from Goodreads

I spent a few years working in bookstores and loved the experience and, most importantly, the people I worked with.  Book people are the best kind of people, diverse in all ways but their love for the written word.  So, it is no surprise that I loved this book about small town bookstore owner, A.J. Fikry.  When we first meet him he is a depressed man with no interest in being otherwise, until a surprise gift is left in his bookstore.  His life changes overnight and so does he.  He is a transplant to the small town of Alice and had never truly been embraced, but the bookstore itself becomes a community of the best kind and A.J. is swept into the this giving world when he needs it the most.

Lovers of books and small towns will surely love this breezy book, but anyone who appreciates a look into the mind of a life turned around by love will probably like it too.  I think this would make a great tv show. I would love to hang out with these characters once a week to get my literary fix.  Loved every page!

I received this book from She Reads.  Go on over and see what other bloggers think about this one.  HURRY and you can enter to win a free copy!  

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Blogging from A to Z

authorCarlos Ruiz Zafon

I’ve only read The Shadow of the Wind, but I loved it.

movieZero Dark Thirty, 2012

Surprisingly good, with a great female lead.

actorSteven Zahn

Never a lead, but always solid (Reality Bites & You’ve Got Mail being favorites)

bookThe Zero Game by Brad Meltzer

I listened to this one on a road trip when it came out and liked it well enough.  And it starts with Z and that means my A to Z April challenge is officially over.  And just in time because I’m exhausted 🙂

 

April 30, 2014 Posted by | 5 Star Books, Blogging from A-Z | | 11 Comments

Y is for You Young Yankee Yann

Blogging from A to Z

bookYou Learn by Living by Eleanor Roosevelt

Roosevelt wrote this book only a few years before she died and in it she chronicles what the many years of her life taught her.  She covers a variety of topics: learning, fear, using your time, maturity, readjustments, usefulness, individuality, getting the best out of people, responsibility, politics participation, and being a public servant.  This book holds up remarkably well and many of the affairs of the world are eerily relevant today.

Eleanor was born to privilege and the book makes that evident.  Some of the advice, while coming from a good place, seems somewhat elitist.  On the other hand, she is a woman who has seen the people of the world at their best and worst and has come away with a passion for life and making the world a better place.  Her antidotes about some of the important men of the day, her lunch with Calvin Coolidge and conversation with Mr. Krushchev are two that come to mind, make the book that much more interesting.  I found the book enlightening, inspiring, and educational.

movieYankee Doodle Dandy, 1942

A biopic film of the renowned musical composer, playwright, actor, dancer and singer George M. Cohan, from his start in his family’s vaudeville act to his success on Broadway.  A true American success story.

The choreography and music of the stage shows is based on the original Cohan productions and are showstoppers.  It feels like getting a behind the scenes looks at a way of life few get to experience and knowing Cohan was a real person makes it all that more enjoyable.

The music and story will make you feel proud to be an American without that theme seeming heavy-handed or political.  This is the story of America before and during the two World Wars and patriotism is inherent to the time.

 actorBurt Young?

I liked him in the Rocky movies and his name does start with Y.  That’s all I got.

authorYann Martel?

I’ve only read Life of Pi, but Y is a hard letter for names!

April 29, 2014 Posted by | Blogging from A-Z | 4 Comments

X is for Trixie Deveraux’s X-Men & a record!

Thank you to everyone who stopped by my blog yesterday and read my 24 Hour Read-a-Thon posts.  You made it my busiest day ever  in my 6+ years of blogging with 735 visitors 🙂

Blogging from A to Z

movieX-Men, 2000

Fun, fun , fun.  And it introduced us to Wolverine.  Great cast and not quite your typical superhero movie.  Thumbs up!

bookthe TriXie Belden series

I loved this series as a  kid.  I see that they reissued it in 2003 and it makes me want to go back and read about 13-year-old Trixie, who I always liked better than Nancy Drew 🙂

authorJude DeverauX

I read so many of her historical romances growing up (A Knight in Shining Armor showing up on this list already) and based on that, feel good about listing her as a favorite.  I prefer her older titles to the few recent books of hers I’ve read.

actor

Try as I might I just can’t seem to think of an actor or actress who I feel comfortable listing as a favorite.  I could’ve used Joaquin Phoenix  but I already used him for J.  Is there any actor with an x in their name who you would consider a favorite?  Am I missing someone?

 

April 28, 2014 Posted by | Blogging from A-Z | 12 Comments

Winners and an Update

deweys-readathonbuttonI’ve got two winners from my TBR Mini-Challenge…

There were 837 books in the picture and, amazingly, Malin guessed 838!  She wins #15 from the Book Depository.

And I randomly chose a number for the winner of a book from my TBR pile and the winner is Elle!  She chose P.S, I Love You.

Thank you all for playing!

I’m feeling pretty good at hour 21. I might actually make it!

I haven’t finished a book since the midway point, but I’m almost at the end of Paper Towns by John Green and I’m halfway through The Cliff House Strangler by Shirley Tallman.  I was able to listen to Paper Towns as I monitored the mini-challenge, so that was good 🙂

I don’t have any good snacks left 😦

April 27, 2014 Posted by | Blogging from A-Z | 2 Comments

W is for When Winslet Wares Watership

Blogging from A to Z

actorKate Winslet

There are some actresses that come across so true and gutsy on-screen as well as in real life and Winslet is one of the few for me. I love watching her in the movies, but more than that she is someone who I’d love to hang out with.  Loved her most in The Reader, Revolutionary Road, The Holiday, Finding Neverland.  Of course, Titanic is what put her on the map and she was flawless there too 🙂  What’s your favorite Winslet movie?

movieWhen Harry Met Sally

Can a man and woman ever truly be friends or will the sex thing always get in the way?  When recent college graduates drive from Chicago to New York together they despise each other.  When they meet a few years later they are both in happy relationships.  Fast forward a few more years and they run into each other again, both in need of a friend.  They become close and appreciate the friendship and avoid ruining it with sex, mostly.

Why I love it- I thought Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan had such great chemistry and the dialogue was spot on, only more funny.  I liked seeing them get over their initial judgements of each other and see each other as friends.  And it really did make me laugh out loud.  A lot.  The days of the week underpants, Surry with a Fringe on top, and the wagon wheel coffee table are a few that come to mind.

One of my top ten all time faves.

bookWatership Down by Richard Adams

I am not a huge fan of fiction books from the perspective of animals, but this one, well this one proved that I could love the right one.  Oh, these rabbits stole my heart.  On a journey from their home to find a new warren, adventure and heartache and everything in between befall these rabbits.  Even of the bunny on the cover scares you off, I think you need to read a few chapters and see.  A true classic.

authorCiji Ware

In 2002 I won this book from Writerspace and once I read it, went on to read the other four she had written at the time.  Loved them all.  Not sure why I haven’t read her latest two releases.  I need to get on that!

 

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April 26, 2014 Posted by | Blogging from A-Z | 4 Comments

V is for Viggo Verdon’s Violet Vendetta

Blogging from A to Z

actorViggo Mortenson

The man has charisma.  And acting chops.  And good looks.  And he doesn’t choose boring parts. Before Lord Of the Rings he was in another favorite movie of mine, A Walk on the Moon

 

I love all three leads in this movie.  And then came Lord of the Rings and it was all over for me.  I swooned.  His roles in the grim A History of Violence and Eastern Promises were outstanding too.

bookViolets of March by Sarah Jio

Emily, author of one bestselling novel years ago, has just signed her divorce papers.  Not able to write and not sure what to do about it her best friend convinces her that a change of scenery will help, so Emily contacts her Aunt Bee on Bainbridge Island, Washington.  Once she’s back on the island where she spent the wonderful summers of her youth, she finds a hidden journal written by the mysterious Esther, and Emily wonders if she is somehow connected to her family.  Totally immersed in Esther’s story and frustrated by her aunt’s refusal to talk about family secrets, Emily found the perfect way to forget about her divorce and the muse to start writing again.

The story in the journal parallels current day Bainbridge Island and as Emily pieced together who was who I tried to keep up.  I admit I had some ideas, but did get a bit confused by the large cast.  I didn’t really care though, I was just happy to be along for the ride.  One of these days I hope I find my way to Bainbridge Island.  The place felt magical.

I loved this book.  The writing was beautiful, there was such depth and beauty on every page.  The awesome writing coupled with the two addicting storylines make this one easy to recommend.

authorJohn Verdon

I’ve read all three of his Dave Gurney thrillers and loved them all. (Think of a Number, Shut Your Eyes Tight, Let the Devil Sleep)  His next one comes out in July so there’s still time to jump on the bandwagon!

movieV is For Vendetta, 2005

Dystopia, anarchy, and creepy masks…what more could you want?

April 25, 2014 Posted by | Blogging from A-Z | 8 Comments

T is for There’s To Toms Thoreau with Taylor

The Doll (Vanessa Michael Munroe Series #3)The Doll by Taylor Stevens. Finished 4-15-14, pub. 2013

Unabridged audio read by Hillary Huber.  14 hours.

I read the first two books in this series and really liked them both, and chose to listen to this one on audio and may have liked it even better that way!

Vanessa Michael Munroe is a tough woman in a man’s world.  She makes her living finding information and selling it to businessmen who need it to make a deal.  She speaks over 20 languages which serves her well since she spends most of her time overseas, blending in with the natives wherever she goes, even passing as a man is if serves her well.  If she doesn’t find trouble first, trouble finds her.  She is enjoying some resemblance of a normal life in Dallas when she is drugged and taken to another country and thrown into the web of human trafficking.

Perfect for international thriller fans and those who like kick butt females.   This was my favorite of the series so far, but do think that if you want to read these books they are best read in order (The Informationist) (The Innocent).

Blogging from A to Z

movieThere’s Something About Mary, 1998

One of my ten ten favorite movies.  This raunchy, perfect-for-teen-boys humor is not my thing at all.  I remember feeling embarrassed at some of the crude things I laughed at when I saw it at the theater.  It was not in my comfort zone, and yet at its heart it was a love story between two characters that I loved and was rooting for the whole way.  It made me laugh and it satisfied my goofy heart.

bookTo Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

I was reading this classic southern novel when we rescued a kitten and she promptly received the name Scout.  It’s a shame this was Harper Lee’s only book.

authorHenry David Thoreau

Transcendentalist writer, who was introduced to the movement by his friend Ralph Waldo Emerson.  Emerson is even the one who loaned Thoreau Walden Pond, for his two-year experiement.  Open your mind and delve in!

actorTIE! Tom Hanks and Tom Cruise

Tom Hanks is the more likeable author, but when I look at a list of both of the Toms movies I find that it’s Cruise that has been in more of my favorite movies (Collateral, A Few Good Men, Rain Man) and his role as Les Grossman in Tropic Thunder stole the show.

 

April 23, 2014 Posted by | 4 1/2 Star Books, Blogging from A-Z | | 12 Comments

S is for Shreve’s Still Secret Sparrow Sound

Blogging from A to Z

movieThe Sound of Music, 1965

Most of the songs that I sang to Gage when he was a babe were from this movie.  During college I watch this movie to help me fall asleep (yes, I know, weird).  It remains one of my all-time faves and such a comfort movie.  I did not like what they did to it when they translated it to tv last December.

bookTIE! The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell AND The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

The Sparrow is a must read! This book is not only highly entertaining, but also very thought provoking. What would your reaction be if you learned that NASA had just discovered music being sung from a planet four light years away from earth? Would it shake your belief in God or make it stronger? What if you were chosen with six others to travel to this planet, knowing that by the time you returned back (if you did) those important to you would probably be dead? What if you were the only one from the mission who made it back to earth alive?  Russell blows me away with her first novel.

The Secret Life of Bees, it’s 1964 in South Carolina and Lily is a fourteen year old living with her abusive dad and the knowledge that she killed her mother.  All she has of her mother is a photo and a picture of a black Mary with the words Tiburon, South Carolina written on the back.  When she chooses to spring her nanny, Rosaleen, from jail they hitchhike to Tiburon so Lily can find the memory of her mother.  What she finds are three African-American beekeepers that live in a pink house.  The three sisters take  in Lily and Rosaleen.  Not a faulty note in this southern novel.

authorAnita Shreve

I first read The Pilot’s Wife and loved the complexity of it.  I’ve read three more and really liked each of them.

actorBen Stiller

Can you believe I’ve seen 25 Ben Stiller movies?  I can’t!  Some people don’t think he’s funny, but I love him and he makes me laugh every time.  My favorites are  There’s Something About Mary and Meet the Parents, but Gage loves the Madagascar movies so I get to hear him as Alex the lion quite often.

April 22, 2014 Posted by | Blogging from A-Z | 13 Comments

R is for Red Roberts Rocks Reeves

The Cleveland Local (Milan Jacovich Series #8)The Cleveland Local by Les Roberts. Finished 4-20-14, rating 4.25/5, mystery, pub. 1997

Milan Jacovich series #8

I love this old school mystery series set in Cleveland and this was one of my favorites.  Milan is a 43-year-old divorced dad who often finds trouble when his private investigator gig lands him in hot water.   This time that hot water will take him to the resort at San Carlos in the Caribbean.  The murder trail is cold and the Cleveland man was far from home so Milan rattles a few cages and almost gets himself killed.

I liked the relationship aspect of this one.  Milan is developing a great relationship with his oldest son and his long-time friendship with Marko, of the police department, is full of affection.  The two bachelors even consider trying to find a special someone again.

Any fan of hard broiled, private investigator mysteries will like this great, well-written series.  For me, Cleveland was the draw, but it’s the characters that keep me reading.

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Blogging from A to Z

authorLes Roberts

Les Roberts is a Cleveland transplant (like me) but is now a favorite son (me, not so much).  I’ve met and heard him speak three times, plus one time on a panel at Bouchercon, and he has one of the best voices I’ve heard.  Not only does he represent Cleveland in a very real way he also is active for local charities, using character names to raise money at silent auctions. One day, maybe you’ll see my name in print!  I’ll keep you posted 🙂  Here’s the last time I met Les (comes with a bonus pic of baby Gage).

actorKeanu Reeves

As far as I can tell, I have seen Keanu in 27 movies.    I don’t know if he would make any best actor list, but since I love to watch him onscreen he makes me favorite list every time.  He’s come a long way since Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventures (loved it).

movieRocky series

I really hate boxing. I don’t understand just standing there beating each other up for money.  That probably just makes me a wimp 🙂  So, imagine my surprise that I love the Rocky series (well, they could have skipped 5).  Any other fans out there?

bookRed Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane

I read this one right after college and remember loving it and how it defined the Civil War in all of its ugliness.

 

April 21, 2014 Posted by | 4 Star Books, Blogging from A-Z | | 9 Comments

Q is for Queen Quinny Quindlen’s Quilters

Blogging from A to Z

actorAidan Quinn

I first laid eyes on Quinn in 1984 when he played bad boy to Daryl Hannah’s golden girl in the movie Reckless.  He was such a hottie 🙂  I loved him in Benny & Joon (1993) and Legends of the Fall (1994) too.  In both he played big brothers who took that responsibility very seriously.

authorAnna Quindlen

I read Every Last One and liked it quite a lot.  I’ve also read a book of her essays but prefer the fiction.  I’m hoping to read a few more by her this year!  Do you have a favorite Quidlen book that I should start with?

movieThe African Queen, 1951

I cheated a bit with this title, but when I went through the Q movie list there were only two I had seen and neither of them were worthy of any favorite list.  This classic is Katherine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart at their cantankerous best.

bookThe Quilter’s Apprentice by Jennifer Chiaverini

This is the first book in the Elm Creek Quilts series and liked it quite a bit even if I am a failed quilter.  The story of friendship is a heartwarming one and I hope to continue with the series someday.

April 19, 2014 Posted by | Blogging from A-Z | 18 Comments