Thursday, August 27, 2015

57. Red Queen - Victoria Aveyard

listened to on Audible
read by Amanda Dolan - superbly
2015 Orion
383 pgs.
YA Dystopia/Fantasy
Finished 8/23/2015
Goodreads rating: 4.13
My rating: 5
Setting:  "The Stilts" a poor, muddy lower class town and the summer palace of the highest of the upper class, in the future.

First line/s:  "I hate First Friday.  It makes the village crowded, and now, in the heat of high summer, that's the last thing that anyone wants. From my place in the shade it isn't so bad, but the stink of bodies, all sweating with the morning work, is enough to make milk curdle.  The air shimmers with heat and humidity, and even the puddles from yesterday's storm are hot, swirling with rainbow streaks of oil and grease."

My comments:  This book started out deliciously Hunger Games-y and whether scenes ... and people ... were eye-rollingly ridiculous, maddeningly perfect, or over-the-top malicious it really didn't matter to me.  I loved this story from beginning to end.  I'm not even sure why.  It sparked the 16-year-old spitfire adventurer in me, and I'm betting this is a book that lots of YA females are going to embrace. Really REALLY looking forward to the next.

Goodreads Summary:

Saturday, August 22, 2015

MOVIE - Spy

R (1:57)
Wide release 6/5/15
Viewed 8/22/15 at Centery Gateway (cheapie)
RT Critic:  94  Audience:  83
Cag: 4.5 so funny - loved it!
Directed by Paul Feig
20th Century Fox

Melissa McCarthy, Jude Law, Rose Byrne, Allison Janney, Robert Carnivale

My comments: Hystericall funny.  Melissa McCarthy  makes me laugh like , almost no other.  She had a BLAST with this part, you can tell.  AND, it was a healthy message for larger women everywhere - every one of us can totally relate to everything "Susan Cooper" felt when it came to the way people perceived her.  She came of as incredibly intelligent, witty, funny, fun, loyal, and savvy.  I loved this movie! ! !

RT Summary:  Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) is an unassuming, deskbound CIA analyst, and the unsung hero behind the Agency's most dangerous missions. But when her partner (Jude Law) falls off the grid and another top agent (Jason Statham) is compromised, she volunteers to go deep undercover to infiltrate the world of a deadly arms dealer, and prevent a global disaster. 

MOVIE - American Ultra

Rating/Time
Wide/Limited release
Viewed date at
RT Critic:    Audience:   
Cag:  6/Awesome  5/Loved it  4/Liked it a lot  3/Liked it  2/It was okay  1/Didn’t like it
Directed by
Studio
Based on the book by

Actors

My comments:

RT Summary:

Thursday, August 20, 2015

56. Six Years - Harlan Coben

read by Scott Brick
listened to while driving back & forth to work during the opening days of the school year...
2013, Dutton
368 pgs.
Adult mystery
Finished 8/20/15
Goodreads rating: 3.78
My rating: 3 - liked it for the most part
Setting: a prestigious contemporary college (Landford) in Western Massachusetts in the present time. Amherst, perhaps?

First line/s:  "I sat in the back pew and watched the only woman I would ever love marry another man."

My comments:  Well. The love story part of this is ridiculous, sappy, and over-the-top.  However it's an action-packed page turner when it comes to the mystery and following the clues.  I'm not a big Scott Brick fan when it comes to readers, so he came really close to ruining the story for me.  Maybe I would have liked it better if I'd read it or if it were read by someone else?  So, six of one; half-a-dozen of the other....I liked this, I didn't like this.....

Goodreads synopsis:  Harlan Coben, the master of domestic suspense, returns with a standalone thriller in the vein of #1 bestsellers Hold Tight, Caught and Stay Close that explores the depth and passion of a lost love . . . and the secrets and lies at its heart. Six years have passed since Jake Fisher watched Natalie, the love of his life, marry another man. Six years of hiding a broken heart by throwing himself into his career as a college professor. Six years of keeping his promise to leave Natalie alone, and six years of tortured dreams of her life with her new husband, Todd. But six years haven’t come close to extinguishing his feelings, and when Jake comes across Todd’s obituary, he can’t keep himself away from the funeral. There he gets the glimpse of Todd’s wife he’s hoping for . . . but she is not Natalie. Whoever the mourning widow is, she’s been married to Todd for more than a decade, and with that fact everything Jake thought he knew about the best time of his life—a time he has never gotten over—is turned completely inside out. As Jake searches for the truth, his picture-perfect memories of Natalie begin to unravel. Mutual friends of the couple either can’t be found or don’t remember Jake. No one has seen Natalie in years. Jake’s search for the woman who broke his heart—and who lied to him—soon puts his very life at risk as it dawns on him that the man he has become may be based on carefully constructed fiction. Harlan Coben once again delivers a shocking page-turner that deftly explores the power of past love and the secrets and lies that such love can hide.

55. Sapphire Blue - Kerstin Gier

Book # 2 in the Ruby Red trilogy
read the actual hardcover book!
2012, Henry Hold (originally published in 2009 in German)
362 pgs.
YA Fantasy - time travel
Finished 8/19/2015
Goodreads rating: 4.20
My rating:  4
Setting:  Contemporary London (with forays through time back to the 1950's and 1782)

First line/s: "The streets of Southwark were dark and deserted.  The air smelled of waterweeds, sewage, and dead fish.  He instinctively held her hand more tightly."

My comments:  Throughout this book, the second of three, the aspect of romance seemed a little heavier. I tried to put myself in the place of an 8th or 9th grade girl and that's when I realized that this is so on the mark.  Kids in that age group, kids raised close to family and in a private school, would probably have similar reactions to boys (and drinking) as Gwen.  She's practically swooning over handsome Gabriel....well, I did plenty of practically-swooning when I was that age.  I actually remember when I'm forced to!  So we shouldn't get grown-up, mature thinking and reactions and attitudes, I realized.  I think the Ms. Gier has pretty well hit the mark.  The mystery and tension are still pretty high as well.  I'm really looking forward to seeing how it all works out in book number 3!

Goodreads synopsis:  Gwen’s life has been a rollercoaster since she discovered she was the Ruby, the final member of the secret time-traveling Circle of Twelve. In between searching through history for the other time-travelers and asking for a bit of their blood (gross!), she’s been trying to figure out what all the mysteries and prophecies surrounding the Circle really mean.
          At least Gwen has plenty of help. Her best friend Lesley follows every lead diligently on the Internet. James the ghost teaches Gwen how to fit in at an eighteenth century party. And Xemerius, the gargoyle demon who has been following Gwen since he caught her kissing Gideon in a church, offers advice on everything. Oh, yes. And of course there is Gideon, the Diamond. One minute he’s very warm indeed; the next he’s freezing cold. Gwen’s not sure what’s going on there, but she’s pretty much destined to find out.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

MOVIE - I'll See You In My Dreams

PG-13 (1:35)
Limited release 5-15-15
Viewed 8-18-15 At Century Gateway with Sheila
RT Critic:  94  Audience:   71
Cag:  2.5 - It was okay, I liked some of it
Directed by Brett Haley
Bleecker Street
Blythe Danner, Sam Elliott, Rhea Perlman, Mary Kay Place, June Squibb, 

My comments:  Okay, big time depressing.  Good movie though, especially the scenes with Carol (Blythe Danner) and her three best friends, all living in little cottages in a retirement community in southern California - Rhea Perlman, June Squibb, and Mary Kay Place.  But looking at Carol's life, thinking about some of the things people in the movie say about death, seeing how suddenly a life can end....as well as watching the poor young man who's hopelessly stuck cleaning pools when he wants to be writing poetry (I know, I know, at the end there might be a teeny, tiny turning of events, but who knows....)  Too much leftover thinking for me.  The kind of stuff I don't want to think about. Hmmm.....

RT Summary:  In this vibrant, funny, and heartfelt film, a widow and former songstress discovers that life can begin anew at any age. With the support of three loyal girlfriends (June Squibb, Rhea Perlman, and Mary Kay Place), Carol (Blythe Danner) decides to embrace the world, embarking on an unlikely friendship with her pool maintenance man (Martin Starr), pursuing a new love interest (Sam Elliott), and reconnecting with her daughter (Malin Akerman).

54. A Reliable Wife - Robert Goolrick

read on my iPhone/Book/listened to audio CD/Audible...
publishing info
pgs.
genre/audience
Finished
Goodreads rating:
My rating:
Setting:

First line/s:

My comments:  This book was not at all what I expected, and I read it all in one long sitting (a great day to spend inside when it's 110 degrees outside). I enjoyed the surprises and the way they were added to the story. Although I can't define "normal" sexuality, desires, self-admiration, self-loathing, and religious fervor, I do think the author goes a little over the top here and there. The time period and setting added another layer of unexpectedness, as I don't read a whole lot of historical fiction and know very little about the state of Wisconsin. On the whole, I enjoyed reading this book very much. 

Goodreads synopsis:

53. A Hidden Secret - Linda Castillo

Kate Burkholder #6.5
read on my iPhone/Book/listened to audio CD/Audible...
publishing info
pgs.
genre/audience
Finished
Goodreads rating:
My rating:
Setting:

First line/s:

My comments:  Good plot, mystery, and setting for a short story....with the wonderful voice of Kate Burkholder holding it all together.  It did seem like Tomasetti was just stuck in here and there so he'd appear, and at times it seemed a little convoluted to include him, but for a short, satisfying Kate Burkholder "fix" this worked just fine for me!

Goodreads synopsis:

52. Kiss of Deception

read on my iPhone/Book/listened to audio CD/Audible...
publishing info
pgs.
genre/audience
Finished
Goodreads rating:
My rating:
Setting:

First line/s:

My comments:  I read this for my YA book group and enjoyed it, for the most part, very much. It was recorded by four different voices, one for Lia, one for Rafe, one for Kaden, and a female voice for the beginning entries of each of the seventy-something chapters. Other than the question: who is the prince...who is the assassin? there were very few surprises. I'm not a huge fan of love triangles, so that's a point off, and there were sections that dragged a bit, but not enough so that I was bored. Lia is the rebellious, I'm-going-to-do-what-I-want-unless-you-give-me-a-good-reason-not-to princess/heroine, which does get a tiny bit tiring. It would be nice if she took a misstep once in awhile. Three stars means I liked it, which I did. And it left off with a nice cliffhanger, so I'm looking forward to the next in the series.

Goodreads synopsis:

MOVIE - Ricki and the Flash

Rating/Time
Wide/Limited release
Viewed date at
RT Critic:    Audience:   
Cag:  6/Awesome  5/Loved it  4/Liked it a lot  3/Liked it  2/It was okay  1/Didn’t like it
Directed by
Studio
Based on the book by

Actors

My comments:

RT Summary:

Saturday, August 8, 2015

51. Ruby Red - Kersten Geir

Precious Stone Trilogy #1
listened to on Audibletranslated from German by Anthea Bell
330 pgs.
YA Dytopia/Time Travel
Finished 8/8/15
Goodreads rating:
My rating: 4
Setting:

My comments:  I listened to this first in the series with its lovely lilting accent, making it very British indeed.  Time flew by as I sewed and listened.  I jut wish that Gwyneth would speak up for herself a little more other than just thinking her feelings.  Nothing seemed at all familiar to me...until I went to enter it onto my book list and see I'd already read it.  Nothing seemed familiar at all!  So weird.  But you can see my first review here.  It's a pretty decent review!

Goodreads synopsis:

50. Darkness First - James Hayman

read on my iPhone/Book/listened to audio CD/Audible...
publishing info
pgs.
genre/audience
Finished
Goodreads rating:
My rating:
Setting:

First line/s:

My comments:  I don't think I enjoyed this third in the series as much as the first two.  The setting has changed a bit - from Portland to the Eastport/Machias area.  The main protagonist changes from McCabe to his sidekick, Maggie, but McCabe puts in a brief appearance near the end.  Characters travel from one place to another quickly, which is a bit off-putting, because the distance between, say, Machias and Augusta isn't just a hop, skip, and jump like the plot implies.  The whodunit part was cleared up early on (as far as I was concerned), which was a bit of a let-down.  However, because the setting was so real to me, it was still a fairly decent mystery, and I don't hate the characters (though there's a bit of an interesting, though unsettling twist, in this one) I'll happily look forward to a fourth installment.

Goodreads synopsis:

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

MOVIE - Trainwreck

R (2:02)
Wide release 7/17/15
Viewed 8/3/15 at ElCon with Sheila
RT Critic: 85   Audience:   77
Cag:  5/Loved itt
Written by Amy Schumer
Directed by Judd Apatow
Universal Pictures

Amy Schumer, Bill Hader, 

My comments:  Amy Schumer is hilariously funny, terrifyingly honest, and has a serious side that is unexpected and welcome.  I say this because she wrote this screenplay as well as starred in it, and I was impressed on both counts. It was pretty raunchy, which might be off-putting to some, but I loved how very, very real it made the protagonist.  Having LeBron James as one of the characters was so much fun ... and he did a great job!  And casting Bill Hader was genius.  He was so perfect for the role!  What a great flick.

RT Summary:  Since she was a little girl, it's been drilled into Amy's (Schumer) head by her rascal of a dad (Colin Quinn) that monogamy isn't realistic. Now a magazine writer, Amy lives by that credo-enjoying what she feels is an uninhibited life free from stifling, boring romantic commitment-but in actuality, she's kind of in a rut. When she finds herself starting to fall for the subject of the new article she's writing, a charming and successful sports doctor named Aaron Conners (Bill Hader), Amy starts to wonder if other grown-ups, including this guy who really seems to like her, might be on to something.

Monday, August 3, 2015

49. Killing Floor - Lee Child

read by Dick Hill
listened to in the car on the CD player - driving west from PA
1997 Brilliance Audio
12 unabridtged cds
pgs.
genre/audience
Finished
Goodreads rating:
My rating:
Setting:

First line/s:

My comments:  I'm skipping around reading this series, and this is the first of them chronologically.  It gave a teeny, tiny more insight into protagonist Jack Reacher and why he is living life in his chosen, off-beat way.  The mystery was great, fascinating, kept you guessing, and entirely improbable.....which was totally okay with me!  This is the perfect book for a reluctant reader from young adult onward.  It's hard to put down.

Goodreads synopsis:

48. After the Storm - Linda Castillo

read on my iPhone/Book/listened to audio CD/Audible...
publishing info
pgs.
genre/audience
Finished
Goodreads rating:
My rating:  4.5
Setting:

First line/s:

My comments:  4.5  I really, really liked this book, as I have every one of the books in the series leading up to this one. I love peeking inside a little bit of the Amish life, gaining new insights into their religion and varying strictness of sects (well that's awkwardly worded....) and the lovely setting of rural Ohio that includes real towns and places.  I like that there were several subplots (of course all tied up well at the end) and I love the way Castillo balances really lovely writing with quite gritty goings-on.  An almost-perfect read for me.  However, since this book was just published, I'm going to have to wait an interminably long time for the next one.....

Goodreads synopsis: