Monday, February 29, 2016

February Letterboxing

Another busy month, though having the flu and its after-effects for three weeks was definitely debilitating.  My first Tucson event!  (I got sick a day and a half later....)  Some really good postals.  Experimenting with carving on erasers.  I'm still lousy at carving, but I'm lovin' it nevertheless!  AND, on top of it all,k I'm hosting my very first postal - a ring I called "Let's Celebrate!"

My 2/29/16 stats:

P1, F89, X46

HH  2 found
Traditional Finds 9
Postals  17 more stamped in!
LTCs   1 more this month
Event Boxes  18F
An EVENT:  It's 5 o'clock Somewhere: Margaritaville Comes to Tucson (at Fort Lowell Park, in one of the back ramadas.)

New in February:
New carves:

A Few of My Favorite Things
for the "Color Me Something" Tracker

for the Favorite TV Show...Past of Present Tracker

Sunday, February 28, 2016

15. Wicked Ties - Shayla Black

1st in a series (Wicked Lovers #1) - a series I won't be continuing
read on my iPhone...
2007 Berkeley Heat
341 pgs.
Finished 2/28/16
Goodreads rating: 3.99 (That's an awful lot of people who like this stuff!)
My rating: I'll give it a 2....
Setting: contemporary Louisiana

First line/s:  "Have you ever wanted to put yourself in the hands of a man whose sole purpose is to give you plesaure?  The words flashed across Morgan O'Malley's laptop screen.  She sucked in a sharp, shocked breath.  She'd met this man in an online chat room less than three minutes ago.  How could he know that?"

My comments:  I knew this would be crap, but I read it anyways.  Didn't take long.  Probably this is what's considered erotica?  I suppose it has it's place, but such lousy characterization!

Goodreads synopsis:  Morgan O’Malley has seen a lot of kinky things as the hostess of a cable sex talk show. But she’s never met a man like Jack Cole before. A self-proclaimed dominant, he’s as alpha as a male can get–and good for Morgan to have around when an obsessed stalker ratchets up his attempts to get to her.
          Though Jack is a bodyguard, Morgan feels anything but safe in his presence. Because slowly and seductively, Jack is bringing her deepest fantasies to the surface. And when he bends her to his will, what’s more shocking than her surrender is how much she enjoys it–and starts to crave his masterful touch. A willing player in Jack’s games, Morgan knows that his motives aren’t pure, but she has no idea how personal they are… 

MOVIE - Eddie the Eagle

PG-13 (1:45)
Wide release 2/26/16
Viewed Sunday, 2/28 at El Con
RT Critic:  73  Audience:  88
Critic's Consensus:  Eddie the Eagle's amiable sweetness can't disguise its story's many inspirational clichés -- but for many viewers, it will be more than enough to make up for them.
Cag:  (5) Loved it!
Directed by Sean Macauley
2oth Century Fox
Based on the true story of Michael (Eddie) Edwards

Hugh Jackman Taron Egerton

My comments: I remember watching him jumping in the Olympices 28 years ago, and vaguely remember his story.  Yes, this was a feel-good movie, and I loved every minute of it!  Both Taron Egerton and Hugh Jacksman were wonderful to watch, great charisma, and I'll highly recommend the movie to anyone that listens.  Loved it!

Fandango Summary:  Sports biopic of Michael "Eddie the Eagle" Edwards (Taron Egerton), whose participation in the 1988 Winter Olympics at Calgary marked the first time a Brit had ever competed in the ski-jumping event. Edwards trains as a ski jumper under the tutelage of a hard-drinking former champ (Hugh Jackman), and eventually finds fame as a lovable loser who's just trying his best
RT Summary:  Inspired by true events, Eddie the Eagle is a feel-good story about Michael "Eddie" Edwards (Taron Egerton), an unlikely but courageous British ski-jumper who never stopped believing in himself - even as an entire nation was counting him out. With the help of a rebellious and charismatic coach (played by Hugh Jackman), Eddie takes on the establishment and wins the hearts of sports fans around the world by making an improbable and historic showing at the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

14. Space Taxi: Archie Takes Flight - Wendy Mass & Michael Brawer

Space Taxi #1
2014, Little Brown Books for Young Readers
112 pgs.
SciFi for kids
Finished 2/27/`6
Goodreads rating:  3.72
My rating:1
Setting: Anywhere, USA

First line/s:"Beep!  Beep!  Beep!  Beep!  It's not everyday a kid like me gets to wake up at midnight."

My comments:  I'm really glad that there are so many people out there who liked this book.  I love Wendy Mass.  I hate giving a negative review.  I'm going to test this out on kids, but I thought it was really stupid.  Over-the-top stupid.  I'll definitely change my rating if I find any kids who like it!

Goodreads synopsis:  Archie Morningstar learns a big family secret and helps save the universe. All before breakfast! 
          It's not every day a regular kid like Archie gets to wake up at midnight. But today is Take Your Kid to Work Day, and Archie is finally allowed to ride along in his dad's taxi cab. He has been waiting eight years, eight months, and eight days for this moment to arrive.
          But he's about to discover his dad is no ordinary cab driver...In fact, he drives an intergalactic space taxi! All night long, he shuttles aliens from one corner of the universe to another. And being a space taxi copilot is no easy task: Archie must steer them into wormholes, keep them from crashing into planets, deal with a very unusual cat...and save the universe from an evil mastermind!
          Space Taxi marks the debut of a brand new chapter book series from New York Times bestselling author Wendy Mass and teacher Michael Brawer, filled with humor, adventure, and plenty of science to impress your friends and teachers!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

13. The Age of Miracles - Karen Thompson Walker

listened to in the car - the last one in my 07 Malibu.....
2012 Random House
294 pgs.
Fantasy/Dystopia Adult (coming-of-age, YA)
Finished 2/24/16
Goodreads rating: 3.63
My rating: 2
Setting:  Contemporary/futuristic San Diego, CA

First line/s:  "We didn't notice it right away.  We couldn't feel it.  We did not sense at first the extra time, bulging from the smooth edge of each day like a tumor blooming beneath skin."

My comments:  Wow.  This was tough to rate - the writing was wonderful, but the story was so terribly depressing that I dreaded listening to the story.  I have no idea where the title came from, and the ending (which was quite unsatisfying) just happened.  The words, though, were beautifully crafted!

Goodreads synopsis:  “It still amazes me how little we really knew. . . . Maybe everything that happened to me and my family had nothing at all to do with the slowing. It’s possible, I guess. But I doubt it. I doubt it very much.”
          Luminous, haunting, unforgettable, The Age of Miracles is a stunning fiction debut by a superb new writer, a story about coming of age during extraordinary times, about people going on with their lives in an era of profound uncertainty.
          On a seemingly ordinary Saturday in a California suburb, 11-year-old Julia and her family awake to discover, along with the rest of the world, that the rotation of the earth has suddenly begun to slow. The days and nights grow longer and longer, gravity is affected, the environment is thrown into disarray. Yet as she struggles to navigate an ever-shifting landscape, Julia is also coping with the normal disasters of everyday life--the fissures in her parents’ marriage, the loss of old friends, the hopeful anguish of first love, the bizarre behavior of her grandfather who, convinced of a government conspiracy, spends his days obsessively cataloging his possessions. As Julia adjusts to the new normal, the slowing inexorably continues.
          With spare, graceful prose and the emotional wisdom of a born storyteller, Karen Thompson Walker has created a singular narrator in Julia, a resilient and insightful young girl, and a moving portrait of family life set against the backdrop of an utterly altered world.

Monday, February 22, 2016

12. Desert Shadows - Betty Webb

#3 Lena Jones, Phoenix PI
read on my iPhone
2004/2006, Poisoned Pen Press
280 pgs.
Adult murder mystery
Finished 2/22/16
Goodreads rating:  3.82
My rating: 4
Setting:Contemporary Phoenix, AZ

First line/s:  "Gloriana Alden-Taylor wasn't exactly satisfied.  The word rarely appeared in her personal lexicon, but with two new titles due out, Patriot's Blood Press by the end of the week, she felt, at a minimum, gratified."

My comments:  Good mystery, and more unraveling of Lena's own mysterious story.  The setting, of Scottsdale, is somewhat known to me, and I think I'll make sure that on my next adventure that far north I'll take book number 4 with me so that I can check out some of the actual places she talks about!

Goodreads synopsis from Reviewer "Stuart": (The Goodreads synopsis is weirdly misleading, as he also notes...)  This is the third Lena Jones mystery, though only the first I have read. In this story, sub-titled “Publishing can be Murder”, Lena investigates the death of publisher Scottsdale publisher Gloriana Alden-Taylor, who was poisoned at the annual Southwestern Publishers' Convention. She is drawn in to the case because a Pima Indian friend has been accused of the murder.
Gloriana’s publishing house delivers primarily racist texts, so the field is rife with people who may have wanted to kill her, including her grandson, who stands to inherit the publishing house, and who plans to change its direction completely. One of the authors about to be published is a death row inmate, with his own brand of racist drivel, a tract endorsed by the Aryan Brotherhood, whose leaflets Lena encounters everywhere, but which seemingly do not really add anything to the story. I think that’s something that may have been edited out. 
Gloriana turns out to be a complex woman drive by her desires, one of which was her enduring need to secure the genes of her ancestry, from the Mayflower and from President Zachary Taylor. She also turns out not so much to believe in the racism in her books, but in their ability to sell. I was a little annoyed by the digs at the commercial nature of publishing (no-one publishes literature any more, only what sells etc) – perhaps the author has an axe to grind there? 
The book also explores more of Lena’s personal history, she having been brought up in several foster homes, having apparently been shot by her mother at the age of four. She is working out anger management issues with a psychiatrist, and as she does so, we learn more about her past, a story in its own right. And then there is the on/off relationship with her ex-husband, which leads to dangerous encounters, and which will no doubt be a theme of subsequent books. 
The prime suspects end up being the people (publishers) who shared Gloriana’s table at the last dinner of the conference. Lena, who is a private detective and thus has a valid reason for investigating, unlike some others I have read recently (librarians), chases down these suspects, at the risk to her own life at one point. I didn’t feel that all that much detecting went on, however. When the criminal eventually appears, it’s by accident, Lena having focused on the wrong person. That’s not the way to endear me to an author’s work.
However, it was an easy read, and there is a lot in it. I felt it could have been stitched together better – it felt a little choppy, not really smoothly moving towards a conclusion.
PS I felt that the Goodreads summary was misleading, even getting Gloriana’s surname wrong, and as the surname was key to the plot, I was surprised. Perhaps taken from an earlier description; the same applies to the Aryan Brotherhood stuff, which seemed to add little to the story, but which was referenced in the Goodreads blurb also.:

Saturday, February 20, 2016

11. The Life List - Lori Nelson Spielman

read on my iPhone
2013, Bantam
368 pgs.
Chick Lit/ CRF
Finished 2/20/16
Goodreads rating: 4.09
My rating: 4 (lots of 4s lately, it seems.....)
Setting: Contemporary Chicago

First line/s: "Voices from the dining room echo up the walnut staircase, indistinct, buzzing, intrusive.  With trembling hands I lock the door behind me.My world goes silent."

My comments:  Definitely chick lit, of which I'm not the biggest fan, but every chick needs to read one every so often.  I found this sitting in my Nook app, not sure where it came from or how long it had been there, so with nothing better to do, dug right in.  Entertaining, predictable, aggravating, interesting, and fun.  I learned a bit about the geography of the city of Chicago, which was a nice bonus.

Goodreads synopsis:  In this utterly charming debut — one woman sets out to complete her old list of childhood goals, and finds that her lifelong dreams lead her down a path she never expects.
1. Go to Paris
2. Perform live, on a super big stage
3. Have a baby, maybe two
4. Fall in love 
          Brett Bohlinger has forgotten all about the list of life goals she’d written as a naïve teenager. In fact, at thirty-four, Brett seems to have it all—a plum job at her family’s multimillion-dollar company and a spacious loft with her irresistibly handsome boyfriend. But when her beloved mother, Elizabeth, dies, Brett’s world is turned upside down. Rather than simply naming her daughter the new CEO of Bohlinger Cosmetics, Elizabeth’s will comes with one big stipulation: Brett must fulfill the list of childhood dreams she made so long ago. 
          Grief-stricken, Brett can barely make sense of her mother’s decision. Some of her old hopes seem impossible. How can she possibly have a relationship with a father who died seven years ago? Other dreams (Be an awesome teacher!) would require her to reinvent her entire future. For each goal attempted, her mother has left behind a bittersweet letter, offering words of wisdom, warmth, and—just when Brett needs it—tough love. 
          As Brett struggles to complete her abandoned life list, one thing becomes clear: Sometimes life’s sweetest gifts can be found in the most unexpected places.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Quest Scouts February - Postcards & Places

Postcards & Places 
February 14, 2016
Type:  Special
Need all 1,000 (out of 1,000) points

Art - 250 pts. DONE
Send a postcard to four different people:
Somebody in Need
Loved One
Random Stranger
I posted this on the QuestScout website:
My four cards - I used the Postcard Happiness Project address above to send a card to a woman in India who is housebound, an Arizona bird quiz postcard to a house around the corner that has a number of feeders in their yard, a funny one to my son in Maine, and an Arizona card to Quest Scouts.. This was fun, I might even do a second set!

Group Objective - 500 pts. DONE
Help get cards from each of the 50 states and 5 "other"places to Quest Scouts

DIY - 250 pts.
Create and send at least THREE one-of-a-kind postcards.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

10. The Map of True Places - Brunonia Barry

(read the actual hard cover book!)
2010, William Morrow & Co.
402 pgs.
Adult CRF
Finished 2/13/16
Goodreads rating:  3.64
My rating: 4
Setting: Contemporary Salem, Mass.

First line/s:  "In the years when her middle name was Trouble, Zee had a habit of stealing boats.  Her father never suspected her of any wrong-doing.  He let her run free in those early days after her mother's death.  He was busy being a pirate reenactor, an odd leap for a man who'd been a literary scholar all his life."

My comments:  This book has been sitting on my shelf for a long time - purchased because I'd read The Lace Reader, the first book Barry'd written.  The intricate, weaving plotline goes from story to story of the major players - always rejoining the protagonist, Zee Finch.  The setting, Salem, Massachusetts; Boston; Marblehead - encompassing both the maritime history of Salem as well as the witchy history - were familiar and memory-inducing.  However, there was a darkness to this book that was quite depressing, with elements of great discomfort for me.  Zee is now caring for her dad, who is quickly succumbing to Parkinson's as it crosses over to Alzheimer's.  Now a psychologist, she deals with bipolar patients - and we quickly realize that her own mother's suicide was induced by her own bipolar disorder.  There are lots of secrets that keep coming to the surface, some perhaps a bit too coincidental, but they worked for me.  I think if I had realized there was so much depression and sadness in the book - especially  Parkinson's - I might have never read it.  I'm glad I did...but it's going to take me awhile to get over it!

Goodreads synopsis:  Zee Finch has come a long way from a motherless childhood spent stealing boats—a talent that earned her the nickname Trouble. She's now a respected psychotherapist working with the world-famous Dr. Liz Mattei. She's also about to marry one of Boston's most eligible bachelors. But the suicide of Zee's patient Lilly Braedon throws Zee into emotional chaos and takes her back to places she thought she'd left behind.     
          What starts as a brief visit home to Salem after Lilly's funeral becomes the beginning of a larger journey for Zee. Her father, Finch, long ago diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, has been hiding how sick he really is. His longtime companion, Melville, has moved out, and it now falls to Zee to help her father through this difficult time. Their relationship, marked by half-truths and the untimely death of her mother, is strained and awkward.
          Overwhelmed by her new role, and uncertain about her future, Zee destroys the existing map of her life and begins a new journey, one that will take her not only into her future but into her past as well. Like the sailors of old Salem who navigated by looking at the stars, Zee has to learn to find her way through uncharted waters to the place she will ultimately call home.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

9. Conversion - Katherine Howe

library book
2014, G. P. Putnam's Sons
402 pgs.
YA CRFish/HF/flip flopping back and forth....
Finished 2/13/16
Goodreads rating: 3.34
My rating:4
Setting:Contemporary Danvers, Massachusetts and 1706 Salem Village, Massachusetts (the same town)

First line/s: "How long must I wait?  His tongue creeps out the corner of his mouth while he writes, the tip of it black with ink, the blacking in his gums staining his teeth.  He looks like he's got a mouthful of tar.  I've been waiting for some time, but Reverend Green's still writing.  His quill runs across the paper, scratching like mouse paws.  Scratch, scratch, dip, scratch, lick, scratch."

My comments:  I chose this book for my YA book group to read because I'd read another by Howe, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, and enjoyed it.  This one took place in the same area of Massachusetts - Danvers, which was originally know as "Salem Village."  Yup, that Salem.  The story goes back and forth between the confession of one of the Salem girls who precipitated the witch hysteria in 1692 and a high school senior in contemporary Danvers.  I've recently read The Crucible - which was a good thing in that I knew much of the story but a bad thing in that I didn't really want to go over through the whole ordeal again.  The contemporary part of the story really kept me reading and anticipating.  This was a good mystery, great characters, and even believable in some of the unbelievable places!

Goodreads synopsis:  From the New York Times bestselling author of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane comes a chilling mystery—Prep meets The Crucible
           It’s senior year at St. Joan’s Academy, and school is a pressure cooker. College applications, the battle for valedictorian, deciphering boys’ texts: Through it all, Colleen Rowley and her friends are expected to keep it together. Until they can’t.
           First it’s the school’s queen bee, Clara Rutherford, who suddenly falls into uncontrollable tics in the middle of class. Her mystery illness quickly spreads to her closest clique of friends, then more students and symptoms follow: seizures, hair loss, violent coughing fits. St. Joan’s buzzes with rumor; rumor blossoms into full-blown panic.
           Soon the media descends on Danvers, Massachusetts, as everyone scrambles to find something, or someone, to blame. Pollution? Stress? Or are the girls faking? Only Colleen—who’s been reading The Crucible for extra credit—comes to realize what nobody else has: Danvers was once Salem Village, where another group of girls suffered from a similarly bizarre epidemic three centuries ago . . .
           Inspired by true events—from seventeenth-century colonial life to the halls of a modern-day high school—Conversion casts a spell. With her signature wit and passion, New York Times bestselling author Katherine Howe delivers an exciting and suspenseful novel, a chilling mystery that raises the question, what’s really happening to the girls at St. Joan’s

Friday, February 12, 2016

8. Girl in the Glass - James Hayman

McCabe & Savage #4
read on my iPhone...
2015 Witness Impulse
373 pgs.
Adult murder mystery
Finished 2/12/16
Goodreads rating:  3,81
My rating: 4
Setting: Contemporary Portland, ME

My comments:  In this fourth-in-the-series, Hayman uses the islands off Portland, Maine, to showcase how the rich and "beautiful" live - and fall, just like the rest of humanity.  Rich private school, Maine's wealthy and elite, spoiled high schoolers, tarnished adults, and a beautiful summer setting all enrich a really good mystery.  Intermingled with the contemporary happenings are bits and pieces of memories from 1904 and a mystery linked to the Whitby family in almost-believable ways.  Okay, so you have to use your imagination a bit and not roll your eyes, but when you do it becomes a truly enjoyable reading experience, especially if you LOVE anything written about the state of Maine!

Goodreads synopsis:  New York Times Bestseller!
     Two identical women.
     Two identical murders. Two lives brutally cut short
     108 years apart
     June 1904.
     Aimée Garnier Whitby, a beautiful French artist and wife of one of Maine's richest and most powerful men, is found near death on the Whitby family's private summer island, the letter "A" mysteriously carved into her chest.
     June 2012. 
     Veronica Aimée Whitby, the eighteen-year-old descendant and virtual double of the first Aimée, becomes the victim of a near perfect copycat murder. With another beautiful, promising young Whitby woman slain, the media begin to swarm and pressure builds for Mike McCabe and Maggie Savage to bring the killer quickly to justice. But the key to solving Aimée's death just might have been buried with her beautiful ancestor.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

7. Silent Scream - Angela Marsons

#1 D.I. Kim Stone; Black Country (West Midlands) England
read on my iPhone.
2015 Book Outure (eBook)
307 pgs.
Adult Murder Mystery - Police Procedural
Finished 2/11/16
Goodreads rating:  3.99
My rating:5, or pretty darn close....
Setting: Black Country, West Midlands, England (though close to Birmingham, not to be confused at all with it - Black Country wants to be called Black Country!  I did research.....)

First line/s:  "Teresa Wyatt had the inexplicable feeling that this night would be her last."

My comments:  I vacillated between 4 and 5 for a long while, but decided that the merits of this book were definitely worthy of a five.  Characterization (lov-er-ly), plot (grizzly and believable, unfortunately-in-a good-way), setting (a part of England I know very little about), protagonist (wow!), and great writing work together to create a difficult-to-put-down story.  So much of the book was peeling off layers of Kim Stone's armor and seeing what motivates her, and the glimpses we get are fascinating.  The best part  - there's still so much left to learn about her personal story in upcoming mysteries.  I'm excited to have found this new-to-me series!

Goodreads synopsis:  Even the darkest secrets can’t stay buried forever… 
     Five figures gather round a shallow grave. They had all taken turns to dig. An adult sized hole would have taken longer. An innocent life had been taken but the pact had been made. Their secrets would be buried, bound in blood …    
     Years later, a headmistress is found brutally strangled, the first in a spate of gruesome murders which shock the Black Country. 
     But when human remains are discovered at a former children’s home, disturbing secrets are also unearthed. D.I. Kim Stone fast realises she’s on the hunt for a twisted individual whose killing spree spans decades.
     As the body count rises, Kim needs to stop the murderer before they strike again. But to catch the killer, can Kim confront the demons of her own past before it’s too late?
      Fans of Rachel Abbott, Val McDermid and Mark Billingham will be gripped by this exceptional new voice in British crime fiction.

Monday, February 8, 2016

6. The Janus Stone - Elly Griffiths

#2 Ruth Galloway
2010 Quercus Pub
read on my iPhone
327 pgs.
Adult murder Mystery - archaeological forensic pathologist
Finished Feb. 8, 2016
Goodreads rating: 3.90
My rating: 4
Setting: Contemporary Norwich, England

First line/s:  "A light breeze runs through the long grass at the top of the hill.  Close up the land looks ordinary, just heather and coarse pasture with the occasional white stone standing out like a signpost."  

My comments:  I enjoyed this second-in-the-series book very much.  It did follow a similar plotline to the first, and I will definitely read a third to see if it strays or sticks to the same sort of plot.  I like Ruth Galloway.  I haven't been to many places outside of the US, but I have been to Norwich (nowhere near the salt marshes, though) so I can somewhat picture that part of the setting.  I look forward to seeing what the relationship between Ruth and Nelson will be like once the baby's born.....

A Goodreads review (liked it better than the Goodreads synopsis):  This is the second in the Ruth Galloway series and I liked it very much. Ruth is a forensic archaeologist in Norfolk, England. Ruth is around 40, chubby, and very good at what she does. She is also pregnant from a one night stand. Her parents, staunch Christians, are horrified.
          Ruth lives in an isolated salt marsh and just outside her front door are archaeology sites. I am fascinated by this. The newest find is a Roman village and a new professional digging it out, Max Grey. There is a spark between them.
          A child's skeleton is found at a redevelopment project and Ruth is called in as an expert to determine how old the bones on. Harry Nelson, police detective, is brought into contact with her as is Cathbad, a druid. The spectacle of Cathbad running around in a purple robe brings a smile to my face.
          This is a great series. Ruth is a competent woman who knows her own mind. She's not drop dead gorgeous yet she attracts a few great men. Maybe intelligence is not such a bad thing. I can't wait to read the next one.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

MOVIE - The Lady in the Van

PG-13 (1:44)
Limited release 12/4/15
Harkins Camelview at Fashion Square 14 on Friday 2/5/16 after PLC Conferience - recliners in a "regular" theater - 1st one other than Roadhouse I've been to!
RT Critic:  93 Audience:  76
Critic's Consensus:   Led by a marvelous performance from Maggie Smith, Lady in the Van wrings poignant, often hilarious insight from its fact-based source material.
Cag:  6 Simply marvelous  
Directed by Nicholas Hytner
Sony Pictures
Based on the book by Alan Bennett

Dame Maggie Smith

My comments:  Wow.  A great movie with the most marvelously played lead of all time!  This was a great story and great acting, rich with humor and reality and deep thinking opportunities. Let people be themselves particularly if they're eccentric.  There's usually a reason!  I loved it, and didn't think of my surroundings once in the entire film.  Highly recommended.

RT Summary:  This film tells the true story of the relationship between Alan Bennett and the singular Miss Shepherd, a woman of uncertain origins who 'temporarily' parked her van in Bennett's London driveway and proceeded to live there for 15 years.

5. Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Cruel Beauty Universe #1
listened to in the car  to work and to Phoenix for PLC Conference
2014 Balzer & Bray
352 pgs.
YA Fantasy
Finished 2/6/16
Goodreads rating: 3.77
My rating: 1/Did not like it
Setting: Arcardia in the past/future/who knows

First line/s:   "I was raised to marry a monster."

My comments:  I so want to give this at least a 2, "it was okay," but I really didn't like it at all, so I must be honest.  I wanted to give up reading constantly, but was curious to see how Hodge would finally end the story.  Part of my problem was, I think, the reader.  She sounded so much older than a 17-year old protagonist.  And for Nix to fall so quickly for both Shade and Ignifex (I didn't read it, I listened, so don't know any of the spellings) --- why?  All the magical "hearts" she'd learned about as a child - nothing was given enough attention except for her endless dreams, sights, and movements around the mansion/castle.  I may have had an entirely different reaction if I'd read this, but I didn't....

Goodreads synopsisGraceling meets Beauty and the Beast in this sweeping fantasy about one girl's journey to fulfill her destiny and the monster who gets in her way-by stealing her heart.
          Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.
          Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.
          With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she's ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.
          But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle—a shifting maze of magical rooms—enthralls her.
          As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex's secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

4. 11 Birthdays - Wendy Mass

This was a reread - I read it aloud to my 3rd & 4th grade book club.  They loved it.  During the last reading you could have heard a pin drop - 20 kids who are usually eating their lunch, making all sorts of chomping and crumpling noises -  were totally entranced.
Good choice for this group!

Finished  2-1-16
Goodreads rating: 4.16
2009, 267 pgs.

My original blog for this book.

Goodreads summary:  GROUNDHOG DAY meets FLIPPED in this tale of a girl stuck in her birthday.
          It's Amanda's 11th birthday and she is super excited -- after all, 11 is so different from 10. But from the start, everything goes wrong. The worst part of it all is that she and her best friend, Leo, with whom she's shared every birthday, are on the outs and this will be the first birthday they haven't shared together. When Amanda turns in for the night, glad to have her birthday behind her, she wakes up happy for a new day. Or is it? Her birthday seems to be repeating iself. What is going on?! And how can she fix it? Only time, friendship, and a little luck will tell. . .