Friday, October 21, 2016

58. Empty Houses - Betsy Thornton

(looks like the first in a new series)
read the actual hard cover book that I got from the library!
2015 Severn House Publishers
224 pgs.
Adult murder mystery
Finished 10-21-16 (read in two days)
Goodreads rating:  3.47 - 19 ratings
My rating: 5/ for reasons, see "my comments"
Setting: Contemporary Bisbee, Arizona (called Dudley, but all other places names are correct)

My comments:  I spent a day just last week in Bisbee, Arizona after reading one of Margaret Falk/J. Carson Black's mysteries that is set there. I've been down there quite a few times.  I wandered the streets and some of the staircases on foot, and drove in and around and all over the place.  So when I started reading this mystery (I've read all the Chloe Newcomb ones), I was RIGHT THERE.  Bisbee (which for some reason Ms. Thornton calls Dudley) is one of the protagonists  in this novel.  There are lots of characters and they were really easy to keep track of.  I like Kate.  She's flawed in lots of little ways, and seems so real.  I really like Malcolm, and I hope that he doesn't get dropped from the next in the series.  He's not so flawed, he's pretty darned cool.....  The mystery was well plotted and kept me guessing. The only thing I didn't like quite so much was the hopping back and forth from coast to coast as easily as they did.  It's not that easy, believe me!  The trips to Tucson and Phoenix were great, I was able to be right there with them.  First book in a bit that I couldn't (or didn't want to) put down.  I'm giving it a five (probably should be a 4 or 4.5) because I want its average to go up higher!  Looking forward to #2!

Goodreads synopsis:  The first in the brand-new Kate Waters series"
          Dudley, Arizona is an isolated desert town attracting people who need to escape. Kate Waters flees there following an abusive relationship. Phoenix cop Malcolm MacGregor comes to recover from the death of his wife. No one knows why Carrie and Wes Cooper arrived. But when they are shot dead, the town authorities first instinct is to protect the lucrative tourist trade and make a quick arrest without asking too many questions. 
          Having once spoken to Carrie briefly, Kate becomes increasingly convinced that the wrong man has been arrested for the crime. Was the shooting random, or is there something in the victims history back east that would explain it? Teaming up with Malcolm MacGregor, Kate is about to uncover disturbing links between her own and Carrie s past. Is Kate herself at risk?

Postcards Received Friday, Oct. 21, 2016

617.  Where the Jackalope Roam! 
Much like the stories of Sasquatch sightings, legends of the elusive Jackalope continue to haunt Western lore even in modern times.
Hello Chris,
     Greetings from central Minnesota.  I picked up this card last fall when we visited Mt. Rushmore.  I have lived in Pittsburgh and Tucson.  I would move bacdk to Tucson in a heartbeat!  Parts of Pennsylvania are beautiful though.
Best wishes, Jane

618.  Stack of Books - Poland
Hi Chris,
I'm Ksenia and now I live in Kradow Poland, but originally I'm from Russia.  I like travelling and reading.  And I prefer paper books to electronic ones.  It is cool to take a new book :).
Hope you'll like the card.
Best wishes, Ksenia

619.  Catherine Palace Amber Room, St. Petersburg, RUSSIA
Krasnoyarsk City, Russia
Hello Chris!
On this postcard you can see the famous sight of Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg.  This room from Amber.
Best wishes, Lisa
I Hipe you like postcard.

620.  Happy Postcrossing from Holland
Hello, My name is Monique and I live in Holland.  I hope you like this mailbox card.  Greetings from Holland

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Postcards Received Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016

613.  Postcrossing the World - Shanghai, CHINA
Hi friend,
Greetings from Shanghai china.  Your profile shows that you like map cards so I choose this card for you.  Have a good time.  Zhang

614.  Greetings from Holland
with love...

615.  Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine
Hellow.  How are you?  Greetings from the big and touristic city of Dnipropetrovsk.  My name is Yarik.  I'm 16.  I live with my mother, brother, his wife, and two dogs.  I like to go out with my friends and dogs.  Summer we go to barbecues.  Often with dogs and friend ride the river.  Postcard is photo of my favorite breed of dog.
Best wishes, Yaroslav

616.  Postovni schranky ("Mailboxes") Czech Republic
Hi Chris, My name is Alena.  I live in Czech Republic in a smaller town called Paevy, but I was born in Prague.  I have a husband and our twins, daughter and son, 13 y. o.  My hobbies are playing volleyball, badminton, and to read fantasy books.  I wish all the best to your and your family.  Alena.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

MOVIE - Mechanic: Resurrection

R (1:50)
Wide Release 8/25/16
Viewed Wed. 10.19.16 at Century Gateway
RT Critic:  26  Audience:  44
IMDb: 5.7/10
Critic's Consensus:  none!
Cag:  3.5 Definitely enjoyed it...
Directed by Dennis Gansel
Summit Entertainment

Jason Statham, Jessica Alba, Tommy Lee Jones

My comments:  This was a very entertaining bang bang, shoot-em-up, MacGyver-to-the-extreme movie with glorious locations/settings.  An extremely clever (and buff) retired hitman reluctantly goes on one last spree to make himself dead and gone forever, sot that he can live out the rest of his life in peace - in beautiful locales with beautiful Jessica Alba.  When you look past all the ridiculous killing (all bad guys, of course) the story was a blast.  Now I need to see the 1st Mechanic, filmed in 2011.

IMDb Summary:  Arthur Bishop thought he had put his murderous past behind him when his most formidable foe kidnaps the love of his life. Now he is forced to travel the globe to complete three impossible assassinations, and do what he does best, make them look like accidents.

2017 Oscar Buzz

I figure it's time to check out what the bigshots are saying about the academy award possibilities for 2017.  I checked a couple of websites (Business Insider,  Awards Circuit, and came up with the following list of movies to see:

20th Century Women (12/21 Comedy/Drama with Annette Bening and Elle Fanning)
Arrival (11/11 SciFi with Amy Adams & Jeremy Renner)
Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk (11/11 Drama - Iraq includes Kristen Stewart)
Birth of a Nation (10/7 HistFict abt. Nat Turner/Rebellion)
Fences (12/25 1950's race relations with Denzel Washington)
Florence Foster Jenkins
The Founder (1/20/17 - biopic of Ray Kroc, McD founder - Michael Keaton & Laura Dern)
Gold (12/25 Pursuit of big gold find with Matthew McConaughey)
Hacksaw Ridge (11/4 HistFict biopic WWII Cons. Obj. with Andrew Garfield)
Hell or High Water
Hidden Figures (12/25 African American female NASA scientists)
Jackie  (12/9 Through the eyes of Jackie Kennedy with Natalie Portman)
La La Land (12/16 with Ryan Gossling & Emma Stone)
Lion (11/25 Young Indian boy gets lost in Calcutta with Dev Patel)
Live by Night (1/13/17 Dennis LeHane dir & acted by Ben Affleck)
Loving (11/4 HidtFict 1950s B&W forbidden marriage)
Manchester by the Sea (11/18 Uncle becomes reluctant guardian with Casey Affleck)
Miss Sloane (12/9 brilliant lobbyist with Jessica Chastain)
Moonlight (10/21 grappling with sexuality issues)
Nocturnal Animals  (12/9 2 stories in 1 - a manuscript and its receiver with Jake Gyllenhal and Amy Adams)
Passengers (12/21 SciFi Space travelers awaken early with Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence)
Rules Don't Apply (11/23 1958 young girl & Howard Hughes with Warren Beatty)
Silence (11/1 17th Cent Jesuit priests with Liam Neeson, Adam Driver, Andrew Garfield - Scorsese)

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Postcards Received Tues, October 18, 2016

607.  Floatings Town - Indonesia
Hi Chris...
Greetings from Indonesia.  I am Ayu.  I also really like reading so much.  But lately I just can't keep up, he he.  So I read the simple ones like Harlequin romance, he he.  have a great day!  Ayi Dai

608.  Living the Life in Catania, ITALY
Ciao, Chris!  Lovely greetings from Sicily.  Wish you a good day!

609.  Essen, Germany
Cartoon von Michael Holtschulte
Dear Chris,
You like funny cards.  This one means a song: 
 The boy: "Advent, advent, the school is burning."
The father:  "How touching."
Hopy you smile about it!  Greets from Essen, big town in Germany.
Yours, Steffi

610. San Francisco, CA
Q: What do you say about a horrible mummy joke?

611.  Balk, Holland,
Hi Chris!
I'm from Holland.  I lived in a small village, Balk, which you can see on the card.  Very beautiful with a lot of water.  Now, I live in Leeuwarden for my study in International Business and Languages.  I wish you all the best in Pennsylvania.  Simone

612.  Berlin, GERMANY
Hello, my name is Rachel.  I am 11 years old.  My hobbies are dancing, playing the guitgar, listening to music, watching films, & reading.  On the postcard you see the Obe-baumbrucke.  Berlin is a great city.  I go to Freii Schule am Mauerpark.  This is a nice school.  Have a nice day.  Goodbye.  Rachel

Monday, October 17, 2016

Yes I Did!

MOVIE - The Accountant

R (2:08)
Wide 10.8.16
Viewed 10.17.16 at Park Place
RT Critic:  49  Audience:  87
Critic's Consensus:  The Accountant writes off a committed performance from Ben Affleck, leaving viewers with a scattershot action thriller beset by an array of ill-advised deductions.
Cag:  5/Loved it
Directed by Gavin O'Connor
Warner Brothers Pictures

Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J. T. Simmons, John Lithgow, Jeffrey Tambor

My comments:  I loved this movie.  Some of the critics didn't...probably because it was all wrapped up in a neat little bow, which is what I really loved about it.  Bill Dubuque, who wrote the screenplay, was brilliant.  He took a number of seemingly different vignettes and wove them together to make one story.  He must have needed a wall to map it out!  Spectacular storytelling!   Yup, violence, and killing...but sweetness and humor and a grand mystery as well. And Asberger's.  And love, although it definitely wasn't a love story per se.  Top it off with small roles for both John Lithgow and Jeffrey Tambor (and fantastic parts for Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, and J. T. Simmons) and this became a real winner for of my favorites so far this year!

RT/ IMDb Summary:  Christian Wolff is a math savant with more affinity for numbers than people. Behind the cover of a small-town CPA office, he works as a freelance accountant for some of the world's most dangerous criminal organizations. With the Treasury Department's Crime Enforcement Division, run by Ray King, starting to close in, Christian takes on a legitimate client: a state-of-the-art robotics company where an accounting clerk has discovered a discrepancy involving millions of dollars. But as Christian uncooks the books and gets closer to the truth, it is the body count that starts to rise.

Postcards Received Monday, Oct. 17, 2016

605.  Manchester, England
Hello Chris!
Greetings from a cool but sunny north oif England.  I live just to the side of Mancester (a little to the left of the map) and lthough I'm from the south, I love it up here.
     I've never been to America, but I hope to visit Las Vegas for my 40th next year.
     Hope you're having a great week.
Take care, Amanda

606.  Mt. Hakkoda, Japan
Hello, Chris!
Now I have been injured right hand (dominant hand).  I cannot write the letters neatly.  Please allow me to send a postcard with print my message.
     This is the view of the beautiful spot, Hakkoda Mountain Range, Aomori Prefecture.  Aomori is the popular sight-seeing area with beautiful nature.  Hakkoda Mountain Range is one of the most popular spots in Aomori.  There are many beautiful forests and waterfalls in this area. A lot of tourists visit this area from around the world.
I hope you will be glad to see this postcard.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Book - Pleasure Extraordinaire 1 - 4 by Liv Bennett

read on my Kindle
2014 Amazon Digital Services; Red Pearl Publishing
#1 - 198 pgs.
#2 - 170 pgs.
XXX Erotica/CRF
Goodreads ratings:
     Bk 1 - 3.51, 2813 ratings
     Bk 2 - 4.06, 613 ratings
My rating: There's no way I can rate these.  No way.
Setting: Contemporary LA

My comments:  I'm not going to post these on Goodreads, since, I must admit, it's a little embarrassing to be reading them, or at least, I don't want to admit it to my friends (and my friends don't read this blog).  These have more story than most "erotica" has, but still...

1 - Introducing the protagonist and finding out a bit about what makes her tick...with a little about Michael, the father, and his two sons.
2 - More about the growing relationship between Ace and

Goodreads synopses:
Book 1: Michael Hawkins is mature, rich, and drop-dead sexy. He is also gay. And, for some strange reason, he wants me to be his pretend girlfriend in exchange for a big sum of money.
     He has one condition, though: I cannot get close to a man, or be seen with one during the one year I'm contracted with him. I thought it'd be a piece of cake, until I meet his two grown-up, gloriously handsome sons, who won't take no for an answer, including from me.
     I'll not fall for their cheap tricks even if it means I have to close my eyes each time I see them. And each time I close my eyes, I imagine their naked bodies doing sinful acts on mine. God help me before my physical urges get the best of me, and the contract blows up in my face.

Book 2:  I’m pursued by two brothers. Two beautiful, powerful men with dreadful secrets and gloomy pasts. 
     One sets me free, the other tries to trap me. One is the light in the darkness; the other is the darkness itself. Yet they have one common wish in their hearts. Seeing Michael destroyed. But, I might be the one getting burned in the end.

Very Cool Cards I've Sent

Every now and then I send a card that I'm quite unwilling to part with.....until I got my scanner and realized I could save them digitally.

The "Yawning Chasm"
The lure of the mysterious depths of the Grand Canyon tempted these women to venture very close to its snow-covered edge.  The Grand Canyon in northern Arizona is 277 miles long with an average depth of one mile.
Photographed in 1903 by B. L. Tingley
Copyright 1999 Heritage Photographic Publishers, Ltd, Tucson, Arizona USA
Why You Never Feed Pigs Bubblegum
Duane Hammond, Hammond Designs Associates c2010

Postcards of/from Tibet

599.  Tibet (mailed from China)
Hi.  I'm a girl from China.  This is a card about map of Tibet.  I went there last year.  That's an amazing trip.  Really hope you can visit there one day.  I now study furniture design in Beijing.  I like visiting museums and some bookshops or some beautiful buildings.  Jan

Friday, October 14, 2016

MOVIE - Florence Foster Jenkins

PG-13 (1:50)
Wide Release 8/11/16
Viewed Friday, 10/14/16 at Century Gateway
RT Critic:  86  Audience:  74
Critic's Consensus:  Florence Foster Jenkins makes poignant, crowd-pleasing dramedy out of its stranger-than-fiction tale -- and does its subject justice with a reliably terrific turn from star Meryl Streep.
Cag:  4.5 It was really good, liked it a lot!
Directed by Stephen Frears
BBC Films
Based on a true story

Meryl Streep, Hugh Grant, Simon Helberg

My comments:  Biopics are truly interesting - usually I come away with a "No Shit!" kind of reaction.  This was quite a story, acted beautifully by the three protagonists.  Perfect for their roles, I was particularly impressed by Simon Helbert (of Big Bang Theory fame), his facial expressions and gorgeous piano playing blew me away.  I loved the end, when Meryl Streep got to sing beautifully, showing ho Ms. Jenkins pictured herself singing the entire time.  So poignant...and somewhat sad, I guess, though you don't come away from the film feeling at all sad.

IMDb Summary:  Florence Foster Jenkins, born Narcissa Florence Foster, was an American socialite and amateur soprano who was known and mocked for her flamboyant performance costumes and notably poor singing ability. The historian Stephen Pile ranked her "the world's worst opera singer". "No one, before or since," he wrote, "has succeeded in liberating themselves quite so completely from the shackles of musical notation."

Postcards Received Th & Fri 10/13 and 10/14/16

602.  Prime Minister's Office Complex & Putra Mospue - Putrajaya, MALAYSIA
Hello Chris,
Warm greetings from Malaysia.  I am Karen living in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, which is in East Malaysia.  I live here with my husband and daughter who is in college.  The picture on this postcard is of the PM's office and a mosque which is located in Putrajaya, a state in West Malaysia.  East and West Malaysia are separated by the sea.  Here we live near the sea.  The beach is a 10 minute drive from my place.  The weather here is hot all through the year so anytime is a good time to go to the beach.  I hope you like this postcard.   Wishing you all the very best.  Karen

603.  Ekaterinburg, RUSSIA
Hello Chris!  We are writing you from the main city of the Ural - Ekaterinburg - that is famous for its great and monumental mountains.  Ekaterinburg is one of 11 cities where football matches of FIFA World Cup 2018 will be held.  Hope it'll be amazing games!  Smiles when sadness intrudes!  Bye!

604. Visit Berlin
Hello Chris!  Greetings from Berlin, the capital of Germany.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Postcards Received Tuesday, 10/11/16

596.   Oil Painting attributed to Vladimir Hodorovich, Belarus
(looked him up, can't find him on the internet)
Hello Chris!  I am 59 years old.  I was a teacher, now I am retired.  I like to read, to bake, to do gardening.  Let my little angels bring you only good news!

597.  Meinfranken - Weinfrnaken GERMANY
Hey Chris!  I envy you for living in Maine!  - I once like to visit Maine and Nova Scotia.  Until that time I like living in the Odenwald.  One of the beautifullest areas in Germany.
Happy Postcrossing, Christine

598.  Welcome to Moscow
Hi, Chris!
My name is Anna.  I'm from a city (word obliterated) Rentov (about 30 thousand inhabitants), it's near Moscow.  I live with beloved husband, we have a dog, dachshund.
     I sew textile dolls.  More than anything else I like to reae and create some interesting stuff such as paintings, fancy work, scrappy blankets, covers for books.  In addition I love to think out and make flower beds.  I am pleased to watch figure skating, athletics, and biathlon.  I wish you good luck in your hobby.  God bless you.  all the best.

599.  Tibet (mailed from China)
Hi.  I'm a girl from China.  This is a card about map of Tibet.  I went there last year.  That's an amazing trip.  Really hope you can visit there one day.  I now study furniture design in Beijing.  I like visiting museums and some bookshops or some beautiful buildings.  Jan

600.  Redwood National Park, CALIFORNIA
Hello from northern California.  I love this time of year.  halloween, leaves falling, and rain replacing sun!  It's just been a little too hot.  Hope your fall is lovely!
P. S. I can't imagine what Day oft he Dead is like in AZ!

601.  Kazan, Russia
Kazan State Univercity in the door reflection of the National Library of the Republic of Tatarstan
Greetings from Russia!  Best Wishes, Aliya