Tuesday, January 17, 2017

TV Show - Travelers

Just finished watching Season 1 of Travelers
premiered globally on Netflix 12/23/16
Season: 1
Number of Episodes: 12
Length of Episode: 45 minutes
IMBd: 8.1/10
RT Audience Score:  90
cag:  6/Loved it
coproduction between Showcase and Netflix

Characters:  Five people in the team sent from the future:
     McLaren (Erik McCormack) team leader, FBI agent in the present
     Trevor - Team engineer, HS student in the presentr
     Marcy -  Team medic, lives with "David" in the present
     Carly - Team tactician, Single mom in the present
     Phillip - Team historian with a photographic memory, heroin addicted young man in the present

My comments:  This was so addicting, I loved it!  Hated it to end, very attached to the six main characters.

Storyline from IMBd:  Hundreds of years from now, surviving humans discover how to send consciousness back through time, into people of the 21st century, while attempting to save humanity from a terrible future.
     Created by Brad Wright, executive producer, and writer of all three Stargate series, and includes directors and actors from all three, including: Andy Mikita, Martin Wood, Wil Waring, Teryl Rothery, Patrick Gilmore, Jennifer Spence, Garry Chalk, Louis Ferriera and more.
     Filmed in Vancouver, BC


PG-13 (2:08)
Limited release 12/9/16
Viewed Tuesday, 1/17/17 at RC Carlisle
IMBd: 8.8/10
RT Critic: 93   Audience:  88
Critic's Consensus:  La La Land breathes new life into a bygone genre with thrillingly assured direction, powerful performances, and an irresistible excess of heart.
Cag:  3.5 Liked it, but don't get the hype
Directed by Damien Chazelle
Liongate Films

Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone

My comments: Well, I'm really not sure what everyone is raving about.  The first third of the movie was really slow and I might even say boring.  Some of the singing and dancing were pretty random, some were perfect.  Performances were good...but Academy Award worthy?  It was certainly an homage to Hollywood and its roots.  And an interesting story, but nothing profound.  I was anticipating something really great, but, unfortunately, for me it wasn't.

RT/ IMDb SummaryThe story of Mia, an aspiring actress, and Sebastian, a dedicated jazz musician, struggling to make ends meet while pursuing their dreams in a city known for destroying hopes and breaking hearts. With modern day Los Angeles as the backdrop, this musical about everyday life explores what is more important: a once-in-a-lifetime love or the spotlight.

Mystery Quilts

I went to the LeTort Quilt Guild Meeting last night, and was lucky enough to see not only a few show and tells from members, but two "trunk shows" of quilts made by individual members through the years.  One of them had done a lot of mystery quilts, and there was a bit of talk about all the cool mystery quilts you could find online.

So I've spent a good bit of time checking out ideas and quilts on the internet.  I think I want to try one!  After much research, I've found three that look great to me.  The first is from a Facebook Group called Peace, Love, Quilt (right up my alley!) You can follow along with others on Facebook as you create your own.  It started on October 16th and runs through April, so I have a bit of catching up to do.  And I probably won't start until I'm able to get at all my fabrics that are still sitting on a moving van somewhere in central Pennsylvania!  I'm itching to get started!

The second is Meadow Mystery Quilt from Meadow Mist Designs.  It, too, has already started, but I can go at my own pace and TRY not to cheat by looking ahead.  There's also a Facebook group you can be part of.

The third is a MURDER MYSTERY QUILT.  This one is really intriguing, because you read a chapter to a murder mystery each month, follow clues/directions to make a block, and there's supposedly clues to the murder mystery in each block.  This one hasn't started yet, so I wouldn't have to jump in at the middle or end, I could actually start at the beginning!  It costs $9/month, whereas the previous two are free.

As usual, I'm about to jump in with both feet.  Slow down, girl, slow down!  How will I choose? Where will I begin?

Monday, January 16, 2017

MOVIE- Hidden Figures

PG (2:07)
Wide release 1/6/17
Viewed Sunday, 1/15/17 at Carlisle 8 with Ella
RT Critic: 93   Audience:  94
Critic's Consensus:  In heartwarming, crowd-pleasing fashion, Hidden Figures celebrates overlooked -- and crucial -- contributions from a pivotal moment in American history.
Cag:  6/Awesome  
Directed by Ted Melfi
20th Century Fox
Based on a real story

Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Kevin Costner, Jim Parsons, Kirsten Dunst

My comments: I love these "based on a true story" movies, but this one was particularly poignant, well told, and well acted.  Powerful story!  It's also good to be reminded that as recently as the 1960's, people with a skin color other than white couldn't use the same bathrooms, drink from the same fountains or percolators, find any sort of comparable job, and were treated with such incredible disrespect. Brilliant women who, if this story is truthful, truly helped make the space program of the 1960s literally get off the ground.  A fantastic movie.

RT/ IMDb Summary:  The incredible untold story of Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson - brilliant African-American women working at NASA, who served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit, a stunning achievement that restored the nation's confidence, turned around the Space Race, and galvanized the world. The visionary trio crossed all gender and race lines to inspire generations to dream big.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Short Story - from The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngoi Adichie

The Thing Around Your Neck 
Chimamanda Ngoi Adichie
2009; Anchor Books, Random House
Nigerian American woman
12 short stories
I purchased a paperback copy of the book

"Cell One"
p. 3 - p. 21
read Sat. 1/14/17
Adichie put me in Nigeria immediately.  I instantly knew the four characters in the story, the teller, her brother, Nnamabia, and her two parents.  When Nnamabia is thrown into jail because he stayed out past curfew and was with cult members in a bar, the family drive to visit him every day.  His cockiness slowly ebbs and his humanity shines through as he witnesses humiliations to a 70-year old man.  The abrupt ending put me off a bit.  I wanted more.  Good story.

Friday, January 13, 2017

PICTURE BOOK - The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles by Michelle Cuevas

Illustrated by Erin E. Stead
2016, Dial Books for Young Readers/Penguin
HC $17.99
40 pgs.
Goodreads rating: 4.94 - 974 ratings
My rating: 4
Endpapers: Dark sage green
Illustrations:  woodblock prints, oil pastels, and pencil.
1st line/s: "The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles lived alone on a high spot with only one tree for shade.  He always kept his eyes on the waves, watchful for a glint of glass."

My comments:  A gentle book about loneliness.  It made me sad, actually.  I wonder how kids would feel about this story, and what ages would work best? Lovely illustrations, creative, and imaginative, three things I look for in a picture book.  This one will definitely work for adults and older kids!

Goodreads:  The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles, who lives alone atop a hill, has a job of the utmost importance. It is his task to open any bottles found at sea and make sure that the messages are delivered. He loves his job, though he has always wished that, someday, one of the letters would be addressed to him. One day he opens a party invitation—but there’s no name attached. As he devotes himself to the mystery of the intended recipient, he ends up finding something even more special: the possibility of new friends.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

MOVIE - Lion

PG-13 (2:00)
Limited release 11/25/16
Viewed Thursday, 1/12/16 at Midtown Cinema, Harrisburg
IMBd: 7/8/10
RT Critic: 87   Audience:  93
Critic's Consensus:  Lion's undeniably uplifting story and talented cast make it a moving journey that transcends the typical cliches of its genre.
Cag:  5 Loved it
Directed by Garth Davis
Adapted from the book A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierly (the protagonist of the movie)

Dev Patel, Rooney Mara, Nicole Kidman

My comments: This was a wonderful, moving movie.  The first half, about the life of 5-year old Saroo, his mum, brother, and sister, eventually shows how he came to get lost over a thousand miles away from home, in Calcutta, India.  The second half shows Saroo as a 25 year-old adult, his life after adoption in Australia, and the journey he took to find his family.  Both actors who portrayed Saroo were magnificent, the young Sunny Pawar is TERRIFIC, as is the super Dev Patel.  The settings of India and Tasmania were also gorgeous and brilliant. A tear jerker for sure.
     NOTE:  I recently watched an interview of Dev Patel explaining how he prepared for this role.  What an eloquent, intelligent, gentle young man!

RT/ IMDb Summary:  Five-year-old Saroo gets lost on a train which takes him thousands of Kilometers across India, away from home and family. Saroo must learn to survive alone in Kolkata, before ultimately being adopted by an Australian couple. Twenty-five years later, armed with only a handful of memories, his unwavering determination, and a revolutionary technology known as Google Earth, he sets out to find his lost family and finally return to his first home.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

PICTURE BOOK - Sonya's Chickens by Phoebe Wahl

Illustrated by the author
2015, Tundra Books
32 pgs.
Goodreads rating: 3.96 - 339 ratings
My rating: 4
Illustrations: Watercolor, collage, and colored pencils 

My comments:  The illustrations drew me to pick up this book. Sonya is given three baby chicks to care for, which she lovingly does, as they grow into adults.  When one is killed by a fox, her dad explains to her that the fox only did so to feed his own children.  This is a great explanation of the life cycle and predator/prey without being too preachy, and includes a discussion-worthy "celebration" of the dead chicken's life.  Gentle ending - an egg hatches (another jumping off point for cycle of life discussions).
GoodreadsSonya raises her three chickens from the time they are tiny chicks. She feeds them, shelters them and loves them. Everywhere Sonya goes, her chicks are peeping at her heels. Under her care, the chicks grow into hens and even give Sonya a wonderful gift: an egg! One night, Sonya hears noises coming from the chicken coop and discovers that one of her hens has disappeared. Where did the hen go? What happened to her? When Sonya discovers the answers, she learns some important truths about the interconnectedness of nature and the true joys and sorrows of caring for another creature.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

PICTURE BOOK - In Andal's House by Gloria Whelan

Illustrated by Amanda Hall
Copyright, publisher
2013 Sleeping Bear Press
32 pgs.
Goodreads rating: 3.64 - 28 ratings
My rating: 3.5

1st line/s:   "Kumar's mother gave him another helping of mango pickle to go with his dal."

My comments:  This lovely picture book includes , along withing the story, lots of information about contemporary India, including the cast system, Diwali (The Festival of Lights) and bits and pieces about food and family and famous people.

Goodreads:  As a young boy in Gujarat, India, Kumar sometimes feels like he lives in two worlds. First there is the old world where people and their choices are determined by prejudice and bigotry. But then there is the second, modern world: in this world Kumar can be friends with whomever he chooses and his future looks bright. As part of the annual Diwali celebration, Kumar is invited to the house of his classmate Andal to watch fireworks. Andal is from a high-caste Brahmin family so Kumar is especially pleased to be included. But there in Andal's house, Kumar's two worlds collide in a very unpleasant way. Instead of being welcomed as a guest, Kumar is sent away, forbidden to join the festivities. Angry and hurt, Kumar is left questioning his place in Indian society. Where does he fit in? To which world does he really belong?

Monday, January 9, 2017

Early Reader Series - The Fairy Tree by Ellen Potter

Piper Green series.
By Ellen Potter
Illustrated by Qin Leng

Piper Green is a feisty, savvy, funny 2nd grader who lives on an island (off Camden) in Maine.  She takes a lobster boat to a nearby island to go to school.  The stories are sweet and delightful as well as very funny.

1.  Piper Green & the Fairy Tree
2.  The Sea Pony
3.  Too Much Good Luck
4.  Going Places

Ellen Potter's WEBSITE.

3. Piper Green and the Fairy Tree by Ellen Potter

Illustrated by Qin Leng
Although this sounds like a fantasy, it is NOT!
Library book
2015, Alfred A. Knopf
95 pgs.
First chapter books, CRF
Finished 1-9-16, read at work during down time
Goodreads rating: 4.13 - 359 ratings
My rating: 5
Setting: Contemporary Island off the coast of Maine

First line/s:  "There are two things you should know about Peek-a-Boo Island:  1.  All the kids on the island ride a lobster boat to school.
2.  There is a Fairy Tree in my front yard."
My comments:  Piper Green is in 2nd grade, her younger brother Leo is married to a piece of paper named Michelle and has sticky-note kids, and her older brother Erik, now in high school, spends his week on the mainland to go to high school.  They live on a small island off Camden, Maine, and dad is a lobster fisherman.  The kids ride a lobster boat to a nearby island to school  Piper has a mind of her own...and the story is sweet and quite delightful.

Goodreads synopsis:  From award-winning author Ellen Potter comes a charming new chapter book series where kids, lobster boats, and a hint of magic are part of everyday life.
      There are three things you should know about Piper Green:
1. She always says what’s on her mind (even when she probably shouldn’t).
2. She rides a lobster boat to school.
3. There is a Fairy Tree in her front yard.
      Life on an island in Maine is always interesting. But when a new teacher starts at Piper’s school—and doesn’t appreciate the special, um, accessory that Piper has decided to wear—there may be trouble on the horizon. Then Piper discovers the Fairy Tree in her front yard. Is the Fairy Tree really magic? And can it fix Piper’s problems?

TV Show - Timeless

Premiered: 10/3/16
Season: 1
Number of Episodes: 10 + 4 added
Length of Episode: 45 min. hour-long tv programming)
IMBd: 7.6/10
RT Audience Score: 81 (Critics is 84)
RT Consensus:  Sometimes goofy but consistently entertaining, Timeless is a fun throwback action series with a kooky premise that's worth a watch.
cag: 3/liked it okay
Produced by: NBC

Characters: Lucy Preston (Abigail Spencer) history professor
                      Master Sergeant Wyatt Logan (Mat Lanter) US Army Delta Force operative
Rufus Carlin  (Malcolm Barrett) time machine programmer
Garcia Flynn (Goran Visnjic) former SNA assset who steals the original time machine and attempts to alter the past to change the future.

My comments:  Started out excited, but it became a "take it or leave it" kind of watching.  Average.

Storyline from IMBd:  When an experimental time machine is stolen, a history professor, a soldier and an engineer (a very unlikely trio) are tasked with capturing the culprit only to learn that he plans to rewrite American history and that each of them has a connection to his plan.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

MOVIE - Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Wide release 12/16/16
Viewed Sunday, 1/8/17 with Kilko family
IMBd:  8.2/10
RT Critic: 85   Audience:  89
Critic's Consensus:  Rogue One draws deep on Star Warsmythology while breaking new narrative and aesthetic ground -- and suggesting a bright blockbuster future for the franchise.
Cag:    4/Liked it a lot 
Directed by
Based on the book by

Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Forest Whitaker, Jimmy Smits, 

My comments:  Right from the start this reminded me of the original Star Wars movie, it had a great feel, and I liked it more than some of the non-standalones.  The characters were wonderful, and the actors portraying each of them were excellently chosen.  I particularly loved Chirrut Imwe (the blind Force fanatic) and Bodhi Rook (the Imperial Forces pilot who changed sides). SPOILER - Even though it really should have ended the way it did, it startled me a bit....

RT/ IMDb Summary:  From Lucasfilm comes the first of the Star Wars standalone films, "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story," an all-new epic adventure. In a time of conflict, a group of unlikely heroes band together on a mission to steal the plans to the Death Star, the Empire's ultimate weapon of destruction. This key event in the Star Wars timeline brings together ordinary people who choose to do extraordinary things, and in doing so, become part of something greater than themselves.

2. Moo by Sharon Creech

Library Book
2016 Harper Collins
288 pgs.
Middle Grade CRF in mostly verse
Finished 1-8-16
Goodreads rating: 3.92 - 1507 ratings
My rating: 4.5
Setting: Contemporary Maine, with the best of two worlds, an oceanside town that has farms

First line/s:  "The truth is, she was ornery and stubborn, wouldn't listen to a n y b o d y, and selfish beyond selfish, and filthy, caked with mud and dust, and moody: you'd better watch it our she'd knock you flat."

My comments:  Because this was short, mostly written in verse form (with a little prose that's almost like verse) there was not quite as much character development as I'd like for a 288-page book, but it was certainly a wow-ing book.  It's a lot to do with farm animals, and I'm not an animal lover in any way, shape, or form....and I STILL liked it a lot.  Yes, very predictable, but who cares?  I'll certainly recommend this book to reluctant readers of either gender, especially if he/she is an animal lover.  AND it takes place in MAINE!

Goodreads synopsis:  Fans of Newbery Medal winner Sharon Creech’s Love That Dog and Hate That Cat will love her newest tween novel, Moo. This uplifting tale reminds us that if we’re open to new experiences, life is full of surprises. Following one family’s momentous move from the city to rural Maine, an unexpected bond develops between twelve-year-old Reena and one very ornery cow.
          When Reena, her little brother, Luke, and their parents first move to Maine, Reena doesn’t know what to expect. She’s ready for beaches, blueberries, and all the lobster she can eat. Instead, her parents “volunteer” Reena and Luke to work for an eccentric neighbor named Mrs. Falala, who has a pig named Paulie, a cat named China, a snake named Edna—and that stubborn cow, Zora.
          This heartwarming story, told in a blend of poetry and prose, reveals the bonds that emerge when we let others into our lives.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

2017 Movie List

4 Movies so far in 2017

2016 - 62 movies
2015 - 37 movies
2014 - 46 movies
2013 - 48 movies
2012 - 37 movies
2011 - 54 movies

LA LA Land (3.5) Don't get the hype
Hidden Figures (6) Eye-opening and masterful true story
Rogue One: A Star Wars Movie (4) Great characters with good actor picks
Lion (5) Amazing and brilliant true story

WOW Movies of 2017

Hidden Figures (6)

REALLY GOOD Movies of 2017 (4.5 & 5)
Lion (5)

Good/Fun Movies of 2017 (3, 3.5 &4)
LA LA Land (3.5)
Rogue One: A Star Wars Movie (4)

Not-so-great Movies of 2017 (Mediocre & just plain didn't like)