Tuesday, November 29, 2016

MOVIE - Moonlight

R (1:50)
Limited release 10/21/16
Viewed 11/29/16 at the Loft with Sheila
RT Critic: 98   Audience:  91
Critic's Consensus:   Moonlightuses one man's story to offer a remarkable and brilliantly crafted look at lives too rarely seen in cinema.
Cag: 4.5 - for the most part, I liked this movie a whole lot
Directed by Barry Jenkins (who also wrote it)
Plan B Entertainment

My comments:  I loved parts one and two.  A lot. But part three threw me off a bit.  The physical change in the main character is too extreme.  He was intensely skinny in the first two parts, and even though he'd bulked up incredibly, he didn't have the leanness that I felt he still would have had.  So it was hard to relate to him as the same character.  And this third part went at what seemed to me like a slower pace.  The story, as a whole, was so sad and so well told - my heart breaks for kids who are brought up in drug-addicted households and poverty, and for kids who have to deal with intense bullying, mentally and physically.  Our world.....or at least some parts of it.  Horrible.

RT/ IMDb Summary:  The tender, heartbreaking story of a young man's struggle to find himself, told across three defining chapters in his life as he experiences the ecstasy, pain, and beauty of falling in love, while grappling with his own sexuality.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Postcards Received Monday, 11/28/16

694.  Bogza Art Gallery - Russia
Hello Chris, best wishes from Russia, Moscow.  Hope you like this card with one view of one Russian place - Sochi.  I hope that one day I can visit it.  Elene


695.  Two Cards from NYC - Mater & the Ghostlight and MOMA's version of the Empire State Building
Hi Chris!  I know you don't wan any more famous buildings, but I feel this Empire building is unique.   You can cut the card and make a building yourself.  It's from the MOMA.

696.  Russian Cemetery
Hello Chris!   My name is Maria.  My hobbies are breeding flowers, postcrossing, and travel with my husband.  I read tht you collect postcards with cemeteries, and like Halloween!  I hope you enjoy the card and its desing.  This postcard is from my collection from my grandmother and she's 32 years old! :) I wishy you all the best!

697.  Russian Landscape Painter Ivan I. Shishkin (mailed from Finland)
Hello there!!  I'm Veronica, 25, from Sipoo, Finland.  I'm a photographer and love all art.  I also enjoy travelling.  I have been living in 8 different places around the world.  Have a great day!  Veronica

Thursday, November 24, 2016

67. Suspicion by Alexandra Monir

read on my Kindle
2014, Delacorte Press
296 pgs.
YA
Finished 11/24/16
Goodreads rating: 3.59 - 1,723 ratings
My rating: 3.5
Setting:  Contemporary NYC and England

First line/s:  "I should know this room.  I've been inside it countless times.but everything looks different now.  The vibrant colors have all turned gray, the view out the windows is a foreign blur, and someone must have rearranged the furniture without telling me."

My comments:  Back in the early days of my marriage when I knew no one in the tiny village of Northeast Harbor and my new husband was away at Basic Training, I practically lived in the town library.  I inhaled every book by Jane Aiken Hodge, Daphne duMaurier, Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart, and Phyllis A. Whitney.  What were they called...gothic romances?  I drank up Suspicion in one sitting because it reminded me so much of those days and those books.  And it ended up being a very likeable book.  Didn't blow me away, but certainly entertained me for awhile.

Goodreads synopsis:  Seventeen-year-old Imogen Rockford has never forgotten the last words her father said to her, before the blazing fire that consumed him, her mother, and the gardens of her family’s English country manor.
           For seven years, images of her parents’ death have haunted Imogen’s dreams. In an effort to escape the past, she leaves Rockford Manor and moves to New York City with her new guardians. But some attachments prove impossible to shake—including her love for her handsome neighbor Sebastian Stanhope.
           Then a life-altering letter arrives that forces Imogen to return to the manor in England, where she quickly learns that dark secrets lurk behind Rockford’s aristocratic exterior. At their center is Imogen herself—and Sebastian, the boy she never stopped loving.
          Combining spine-tingling mystery, romance, and unforgettable characters, Suspicion is an action-packed thrill ride.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

MOVIE - Keeping Up with the Joneses

PG-13 (1:41)
Wide 10/21/16
Viewed 11/23/16 at Century Gateway
RT Critic: 19   Audience:  46
Critic's Consensus:  Keeping Up with the Joneses squanders a decent premise -- and a talented cast full of funny people -- on a witless and largely laugh-free suburban spy adventure.
Cag:  3.5/totally enjoyed it (though not to be considered a "great" movie)
Directed by Greg Mottola
20th Century Fox

Zach Galifianakis, Jon Hamm

My comments:  Holy catfish, this was a fun movie to watch...funny as heck, actors that have great chemistry and fast moving.  Took my mind away from everything else, as a good movie should, and left me with not a lot of "deep thinking," which at this particular point in my life I'm grateful about!

RT/ IMDb Summary:  A suburban couple becomes embroiled in an international espionage plot when they discover that their seemingly perfect new neighbors are government spies.

66. Once Shadows Fall by Robert Daniels

Sturgis & Kale #1
read on my Kindle AND listened on Audible
2015, Crooked Lane Books
352 pgs.
Adult Mystery
Finished  11/23/16
Goodreads rating:  4.03 - 186 ratings
My rating: 4
Setting:  Contemporary Atlanta, GA

First line/s:   "Luck:  hard to plan for it, hard to predict when it might show up."

My comments:  A new, female homicide detective gets handed a case that looks like a copycat -  a copycat because the deranged killer of what look like the same type of serial murders is locked away in a psychiatric hospital.   As more similar murders appear, she teams up with a brilliant - though reluctant - ex-FBI agent who is now a college professor.  Of course rapport between them grows as we slowly learn his story, which is deeply imbedded in the original serial killer's story.  Oh, these dark, twisted minds! This was a satisfying mystery, though quite easy to figure out early on if you've read a lot of murder mysteries.  I look forward to reading more in the series.

Goodreads synopsis:  After years of paying her dues on the force, Beth Sturgis has earned her place as a detective for the Robbery-Homicide division of the Atlanta PD. Now, she's heading up a major manhunt for a potential serial killer who’s working his way inward from the outskirts of the city. The copycat elements in the first crime scene lead Sturgis to retired FBI agent Jack Kale, who was responsible for apprehending and nearly killing the murderer known as the Scarecrow, the same Scarecrow who appears to be this new killer's terrible inspiration.
          A reclusive single father and university professor, Kale is trying to keep the demons at bay through therapy and avoidance. That is, until Sturgis shows up asking for his help. Against his better judgment, Kale is drawn into the most dangerous cat and mouse game of his life. Robert Daniels's Once Shadows Fall, is a gripping thriller in the bestselling tradition of Silence of the Lambs and is sure to become a crime fiction classic.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Recipes - I've Been Cooking

I've Been Cooking
Breakfast
Frozen Meat-Lovers Breakfast Bowls

Casseroles
Beef Tamale Pie
Salsa Chicken Casserole

Crockpot Main Meals 
Chicken & Cabbage
Cowboy Stew (ground meat)

Desserts
Fruit Crisp Dump Cake

Stovetop
Ramen Skillet

Vegetables
Oven-Baked Cabbage & Bacon

I've Been Cooking - Fruit Crisp Dump Cake

1 box (Betty Crocker SuperMoist) yellow cake mix
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 21-oz can pie filling (I used apple, others suggest cherry)
1 8-oz can crushed pineapple, undrained
     Note: more fruit needed!
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In large bowl, stir together cake mix and butter until crumbly.
  • Spread pie filling and pineapple in ungreased 9 / 12 pan.  Sprinkle cake mix mixture evenly over fruit.
  • Bake 38 - 44 min. or until deep golden brown.  Cool 30 minutes.
  • Store loosely covered.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

MOVIE - Arrival

PG-13 (1:51)
Wide release 11/11/16
Viewed date at Park Place Mall on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016 after getting my hair cut.
RT Critic:  93  Audience:  83
Critic's Consensus:  Arrival delivers a must-see experience for fans of thinking person's sci-fi that anchors its heady themes with genuinely affecting emotion and a terrific performance from Amy Adams.
Cag:  5.5  I really loved it, superior movie, may change to a 6...
Directed by Denis Villeneuve
21 Laps Entertainment

Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forrest Whitacker

My comments:  Now that's a MOVIE!  Clever, believable science fiction where you slowly figure out what's going on, and the reality is much ... deeper ... than superficial.  I'll be thinking about this one for a long while yet.  It left me with a couple of small questions, that I'm sure I'm supposed to figure out on my own (sort of like the end of reading The Giver for the first time).

RT/ IMDb Summary:  When mysterious spacecrafts touch down across the globe, an elite team - lead by expert linguist Louise Banks - is brought together to investigate. As mankind teeters on the verge of global war, Banks and the team race against time for answers - and to find them, she will take a chance that could threaten her life, and quite possibly humanity.


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

MOVIE - Jane Got a Gun

R (1:37)
Wide release 1/29/16 (on DVD in April)
Viewed on Netflix 11/16/16
RT Critic:  40  Audience:  38
Cag:  4.5  Liked it a whole lot
Directed by Gavin O'Connor
Relativity Media
Joel Edgerton is credited as one of the three writers

Natalie Portman, Joel Edgerton

My comments:  I don't add movies I didn't see on the "big screen" on the blog, but am making an exception for this one.  It's a pretty current movie and I really liked it a lot, so I want to keep track of it.  It's a rich story, and although there's a lot of killing, the gun battles aren't quite as long and drawn out as in the other westerns I've seen recently.  A gang of outlaws vs. three people protecting a small home, one of whom is totally incapacitated.  Natalie Portman and Joel Edgerton make a believable couple, and as their story unfolds as the movie progresses, it really tugs on the heart strings.

RT/ IMDb Summary:  Jane Hammond has built a new life with her husband Bill "Ham" Hammond after being tormented by the ultra-violent Bishop Boys outlaw gang. She finds herself in the gang's cross-hairs once again when Ham stumbles home riddled with bullets after dueling with the Boys and their relentless mastermind Colin. With the vengeful crew hot on Ham's trail, Jane has nowhere to turn but to her former fiancé Dan Frost for help in defending her family against certain destruction. Haunted by old memories, Jane's past meets the present in a heart-stopping battle for survival.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

MOVIE - Doctor Strange

PG-13 (2:10)
Wide Release 11/4/16
Viewed 11/15/16 at Century Park Place
RT Critic: 91   Audience: 90
Critic's Consensus:  Doctor Strange artfully balances its outré source material against the blockbuster constraints of the MCU, delivering a thoroughly entertaining superhero origin story in the bargain.
Cag: 5/Loved it
Directed by Scott Derrickson
Walt Disney Studios
Based on the Marvel Comic

Benedict Cumberbatch, Rachel McAdams, Tilda Swanton, Chiwetel Ejiofor

My comments:  Wow, loved this movie!  Not your "typical" Marvel/comic movie at all!  Not an overwhelming amount of fighting/action scenes, lots of incredible effects, a fantastic story, and WONDERFUL acting by Benedict Cumberbatch.  I think I'd like to see this in 3-D, although I don't usually like wearing the glasses, I bet this would be awesome!  Easy to go see again, too.

RT/ IMDb Summary:  A disgraced former surgeon named Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) becomes a powerful sorcerer under the tutelage of a mystic known as the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton). Rachel McAdams, Mads Mikkelsen, and Chiwetel Ejiofor co-star in this entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Monday, November 14, 2016

Christmas 2016 Letterbox Trading Cards (5 of 30)


65. Suspect by Robert Crais

Scott James & Maggie #1 (they will reappear with Joe Pike & Elvis Cole)
listened to CD while driving (around Tucson and on Lake Havasu/Flagstaff trip)
performed by Macleod Andrews
2013, G. P. Putnam's Sons
312 pgs
7 unabridged cds (8:34)
Adult mystery
Finished  11/14/16
Goodreads rating: 4.14 - 15,709 ratings
My rating: 4
Setting: Contemporary LA

First line/s:  "Maggie's tail thumped the dirt hard.  This was a game they played often, so Maggie knew what was coming, and lived for the joy of this moment."

My comments:  I was looking for a good mystery from an author I know and trust for my car trip.  I know and trust Robert Crais - I love both Elvis Cole and Joe Pike.  This was a "standalone" about a young LA police officer and his dog.  I almost didn't take it.  I'm not a so-called animal lover (I can't say I even particularly like dogs), and I usually run... fast and far... from literature that gives an animal a major role.  But since Robert Crais is tried and true for me, I decided to go for it.
      This is a long introduction to a short review.  From the very first words I was hooked.  The narration was beautifully done, I liked the two protagonists, the plot, the pacing, and all the twists and turns.  The best part?  Getting a little insight into why man and dog have always had such close bonds.  This is something I've never totally understood.  So I got a great mystery and a little insight. It looks like both Scott and Maggie will appear in a Elvis & Joe mystery, too.  Excellent, I look forward to seeing them again.

Goodreads synopsis:  LAPD cop Scott James is not doing so well. Eight months ago, a shocking nighttime assault by unidentified men killed his partner Stephanie, nearly killed him, and left him enraged, ashamed, and ready to explode. He is unfit for duty...until he meets his new partner.
          Maggie is not doing so well, either. A German shepherd who survived three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan sniffing explosives before losing her handler to an IED, her PTSD is as bad as Scott's.
           They are each other's last chance. Shunned and shunted to the side, they set out to investigate the one case that no one wants them to touch: the identity of the men who murdered Stephanie. What they begin to find is nothing like what Scott has been told, and the journey will take them both through the darkest moments of their own personal hells. Whether they will make it out again, no one can say.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

64. The Thirteenth Continuum by Jennifer Brody

read on my Kindle
2016, Turner
416 pgs.
YA Dystopia
Finished 11/13/16
Goodreads rating: 3.99 - 136 ratings
My rating:4

First line/s:  "It was well past midnight when Sari woke to the alarm blaring through the White House."

My comments:  Thirteen colonies were transported to different parts of the solar system when living on earth came to a cataclysmic end.  In The Thirteenth Continuum, the first in a trilogy about what happens 1000 later to two of those colonies - one at the bottom of the sea and one flying around in outer space, we meet the teenage protagonist from each continuum.  There was a startling difference between "good" people and incredibly evil people in each of the colonies, with not too much in between.  No insight into why life-changing laws were introduced, which was troubling.  Maybe in the next book?  Certainly kept my attention.

Goodreads synopsis:  One thousand years after a cataclysmic event leaves humanity on the brink of extinction, the survivors take refuge in continuums designed to sustain the human race until repopulation of Earth becomes possible. Against this backdrop, a group of young friends in the underwater Thirteenth Continuum dream about life outside their totalitarian existence, an idea that has been outlawed for centuries. When a shocking discovery turns the dream into a reality, they must decide if they will risk their own extinction to experience something no one has for generations, the Surface.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

63. Six Impossible Things by Fiona Wood

read on my Kindle
2010 Australia, 2015 USA
304 pgs.
YA CRF
Finished 11/9/16 (read in one day)
Goodreads rating: 3.77 - 2898 ratings
My rating:  5
Setting: Contemporary suburban Sydney, Australia

First line/s:  "There's this girl I know.
I know her by heart.  I know her in every way but one: actuality.\
Her name is Estelle.  I yearn for her."

My comments:  Loved this book!  A believable 15-year old male protagonist with wit, humor, hormones, flaws, and gumption....I was entranced! Tickled with every character, an extremely believable plot, and a setting in Australia, I didn't want this to end.  I laughed aloud...actually guffawed...in four different places.  I've known so many young men like this, and I'm really glad to see a ya novel written from the male perspective!

Goodreads synopsis:
In this charming story of one guy's efforts to get it together when his life is falling apart, award-winning author Fiona Wood introduces an irresistible voice and a delightfully awkward character who is impossible to forget.
1. Kiss Estelle.
2. Get a job.
3. Cheer my mother up.
4. Try not to be a complete nerd/loser.
5. Talk to my father when he calls.
6. Figure out how to be good.

          Nerd-boy Dan Cereill is not quite coping with a reversal of family fortune, moving, new-school hell, a mother with a failing wedding cake business, a just-out gay dad, and an impossible crush on Estelle, the girl next door. His life is a mess, but for now he's narrowed it down to six impossible things…
          In this charming story of one guy’s efforts to get it together when his life is falling apart, award-winning author Fiona Wood introduces an irresistible voice and a delightfully awkward character who is impossible to forget.

MOVIE - Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

PG-13 (1:58)
Wide release 10/21/16
Viewed 11/9/16 at Century Park Place
RT Critic:  37  Audience:  48
Critic's Consensus:  Monotonously formulaic, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is one action thriller sequel whose title also serves as a warning.
Cag:  4.5 Really well done, liked it a lot
Directed by Edward Zwick
Paramount Pictures
Based on the book by Lee Child

Tom Cruise

My comments:  This is the one where he saves the woman who now has his old job from false accusations and they both go on the run.

RT/ IMDb Summary:  Jack Reacher must uncover the truth behind a major government conspiracy in order to clear his name. On the run as a fugitive from the law, Reacher uncovers a potential secret from his past that could change his life forever.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

62. Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

read on my Kindle
2014 Balzer & Bray
416 pgs.
YA High fantasy
Finished 11/8/16
Goodreads rating:  4/01 - 29,851 ratings
My rating:  3

First line/s:  "Block!"
     "Where?"
      "I can't tell you where - you're supposed to follow my movements!"
      "Well then, slow down!"

My comments:  Well.  This was certainly an entertaining book.  The protagonist, Meira, has definitely become a fierce warrior in her sixteen years on earth. There's a lot of blood-and-guts battling in this book, a lot of really black hatred and evil, and a tiny bit of romance (for me, just the right amount).  The revelations are not exactly surprises, and the ending is satisfying. I'm not a big magic fan, and there are tastes and touches and revelations about it throughout. Personally, I hate winter, so the love of biting temperatures and snow and gray skies turns me completely off.  So for me, several pros and just as many cons.  Yup, I'll read the next one.

Goodreads synopsis:  Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.
          Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.
           So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, and serving her kingdom just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

MOVIE - The Magnificent Seven

PG-13 (2:12)
Wide release 9/23/16
Viewed 11/6/16 at Century Park Place
IMBd:  7/10
RT Critic: 63   Audience:  75
Critic's Consensus:  The Magnificent Seven never really lives up to the superlative in its title -- or the classics from which it draws inspiration -- but remains a moderately diverting action thriller on its own merits.
Cag:  4, Liked it more than I should have...
Directed by Antoine Fuqua
Sony Pictures

Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D'Onofrio, Peter Sarsgaard, Matt Bomer

My comments:  The old west.  Lots of gunfights, as expected, but entertaining story.

RT/ IMDb Summary:  With the town of Rose Creek under the deadly control of industrialist Bartholomew Bogue, the desperate townspeople employ protection from seven outlaws, bounty hunters, gamblers and hired guns - Sam Chisolm, Josh Farraday, Goodnight Robicheaux, Jack Horne, Billy Rocks, Vasquez, and Red Harvest. As they prepare the town for the violent showdown that they know is coming, these seven mercenaries find themselves fighting for more than money.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Postcards Received Thursday & Friday 11/3 and 11/4/2016

639.  Malaysia
Dear Chris, greetings from Malaysia!  So sorry to send you this PC which you unlike, but it was so adorable, right?  All the best, Onh See Min

640. Cologne, Germany
Hello Chris!
Many greetings from Germany!  My name is Melanie.  I'm 43 years old and live together with my two children in Cologne, the 4th larges city of Germany.  In my free time I love reading, knitting, swimming, and writing postcards.
All the best to you!
Melanie

641.  Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Selamat Pagi!  It means Good Morning the the Malaysian language.  It is currently 29 degrees C here in the capital city, Kuala Lumpur.  Hopfully the weather is treating you nicely over there in the U. S. A.
Best, Ati

642.  Hong Kong
Hello Chris,
This is Amily writing from Hong Kong.  I'm 21 years old an I'm a law student.  I mostly sepnd my time on reading, and more reading ... this has made me quite a boring person LOL.  I wish you ALL THE BEST!
Amily

643.  Hildesheim, Germany
Hello Chris,
I'm Holger, a teacher of maths and ethics, married father of two sons.  We live in a 164 years old house with our own library.
Best wishes, Holger

Thursday, November 3, 2016

61. Family Tree by Susan Wiggs

read on my Kindle
2016, William Morrow
368 pgs.
Adult "romance" CRF
Finished 11/3/16
Goodreads rating:  4.07 - 2,001 ratings
My rating: 3
Setting: Contemporary rural Vermont

First line/s:  "I can't believe we're arguing about a water buffalo."

My comments:   Okay.  This is definitely a "romance fiction."  Not my cuppa tea. At all.  That said, there were components of the book that I liked.  The way it was written, back and forth - from "now" to "then."  The setting, rural Vermont.  I liked the premise of coming out of a coma, of having brain injury, but I had mixed feelings about Annie's slow (and fast!) coming around after being asleep for a year. I am also not a cook, but I think all the cooking talk would be a huge plus for some. A quick, easy read...nothing to figure out, every scenario ending in pretty much the expected way.  A well-written romance for lovers of that genre.

Goodreads synopsis:  For readers of Kristin Hannah and Jodi Picoult comes a powerful, emotionally complex story of love, loss, the pain of the past—and the promise of the future.
          Sometimes the greatest dream starts with the smallest element. A single cell, joining with another. And then dividing. And just like that, the world changes.
          Annie Harlow knows how lucky she is. The producer of a popular television cooking show, she loves her handsome husband and the beautiful Manhattan home they share. And now, she’s pregnant with their first child.
          But in an instant, her life is shattered. And when Annie awakes from a year-long coma, she discovers that time isn’t the only thing she's lost.
          Grieving and wounded, Annie retreats to her old family home in Switchback, Vermont, a maple farm generations old. There, surrounded by her free-spirited brother, their divorced mother, and four young nieces and nephews, Annie slowly emerges into a world she left behind years ago: the town where she grew up, the people she knew before, the high-school boyfriend turned ex-cop. And with the discovery of a cookbook her grandmother wrote in the distant past, Annie unearths an age-old mystery that might prove the salvation of the family farm.
          Family Tree is the story of one woman’s triumph over betrayal, and how she eventually comes to terms with her past. It is the story of joys unrealized and opportunities regained. Complex, clear-eyed and big-hearted, funny, sad, and wise, it is a novel to cherish and to remember.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

60. Blackman's Coffin by Mark de Castrique

read on my Kindle and listened to using Whisper-Sync on Audible
2008 Poisoned Pen Press
255 pgs.
Adult Murder Mystery
Finished 11/2/16
Goodreads rating:  3.94 - 545 ratings
My rating: 4 - I liked it a whole lot
Setting: Contemporary Asheville, North Carolina (with forays back to 1919 via a journal)

First line/s:  "I felt a hand on my shoulder, shaking me awake.   'Now you can pass as a local.  They've all got one leg shorter than the other.  Comes from being raised on the side of a mountain.'"

My comments:  This was one of the first purchases I made when I started using Bookbub, which has introduced me to all sorts of authors that I've never heard of before.  I definitely liked Sam Blackman and his investigative prowess.  He has lost much of a leg serving in Iraq, and we meet him while he is ending his rehabilitation in Asheville, North Carolina.  I've been to Asheville several times and have extremely fond memories - of traversing onto and off the Blue Ridge Parkway, of visiting the Biltmore Estate, and of poking around.  I got to do more poking around while reading this book - the setting of Asheville takes a front seat, as does the writing of Thomas Wolfe and great history of the early 20th century including geology and gem-mining.  Excellent mystery.  I'm hoping the setting stays in Asheville, I look forward to more books in the series.

Goodreads synopsis:  What's really hidden beneath Asheville's rich history? Sam Blackman is an angry man. (NOTE from Muddy Puddle:  I didn't consider Sam Blackman an angry man at all...) A Chief Warrant Officer in the Criminal Investigation Detachment of the U.S. military, he lost a leg in Iraq. His outspoken criticism of his medical treatment resulted in his transfer to the Veteran's Hospital in Asheville, NC. Then an ex-marine and fellow amputee named Tikima Robertson walks into his hospital room.Tikima hints that she has an opportunity for Sam to use his investigative skills--if he can stop feeling sorry for himself. But before she can return, Tikima is murdered, her body found floating in the river. Tikima's sister, Nakayla, brings Sam a journal she finds in Tikima's apartment. The volume dates to 1919 and contains the entries of a twelve-year-old boy who accompanies his father, a white funeral director, as they help a black man, Elijah Robertson, transport his deceased relative to a small family plot in Georgia. Nearly ninety years ago, Elijah's body was found in the French Broad River, a crime foreshadowing the death of his great-great granddaughter--Tikima's.Sam and Nakayla must devle into Asheville's rich history, the legacy of the Vanderbilts at the Biltmore estate and of author Tom Wolfe, to uncover the murderous truth. Blackman's Coffin starts a new series by Mark de Castrique, author of the critically-acclaimed Buryin' Barry Mysteries. 

Postallove Cards Received

638.  Greetings from Slovakia
Hello Chris!  I'm sending kind greetings from Slovakia, small country oin the heart of Europe.  
Best wishes!  Alena

628.  Greetings from Germany
Many greetings from germany.  I am 37 years old and I like to play accordian in my free time.  I also like to write letters, meet my friends, travel.  All the best, Bianca

624.  Greetings from Malaysia
Hello, my name is REgine and my nickname is green tea.  As I love to drink green tea very much since I was 13 during secondary school.  I am now 21, studying graphic design courses in Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia.  I've just finished my internship program in holiday tours ! ! ! ! !

467.  Greetings from....China
I am sending my first card from postcardunited.  I also do "postcrossing."  Do you know that?  There are more than 540,000 postcrossing users.
     I hop[e the greetings from card will make you day.
     I just read The DaVinci Code.  Excellent book! (heart)

477.  My Romania - Bucharest
Dear Chris,
This is one of the eight UNESCO painted churches in Romania, unique for the 500 years old paintings all ove their external walls. 
Regards, Marius

510.  Luxembourg, August 18, 2016
 A Postallove Card!
Dear Chris, I send you the postcard from Luxembourg-city.  My hobbies are art, photography, and travelling to Paris (only 2 hours by high speed train).  I wish you all the best.  Many greetings!
Jean Moni

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

MOVIE - Bridget Jones's Baby

R (2:03)
Wide release 9/16/16
Viewed 11/1/16 at Century Gateway
IMBd:  6.9/10
RT Critic: 76   Audience: 73
Critic's Consensus:  Bridget Jones's Baby might be late on arrival, but fans of the series should still find its third installment a bouncing bundle of joy.
Cag:  4/Liked it a lot
Directed by Sharon Maguire
Working Title

Colin Furth, Patrick Dempsey, Renee Zellweger, Emma Thompson

My comments:  I really didn't expect to like this movie (the trailers I saw led me to that conclusion), but I went anyways, because I LOVE Colin Furth.  So glad I did....it turned out to be very funny, and quite good, actually!

RT/ IMDb Summary:  Oscar (R) winners Renée Zellweger and Colin Firth are joined by Patrick Dempsey for the next chapter of the world's favorite singleton in Bridget Jones's Baby. Directed by Sharon Maguire (Bridget Jones's Diary), the new film in the beloved comedy series based on creator Helen Fielding's heroine finds Bridget unexpectedly expecting. After breaking up with Mark Darcy (Firth), Bridget Jones's (Zellweger) "happily ever after" hasn't quite gone according to plan. Fortysomething and single again, she decides to focus on her job as top news producer and surround herself with old friends and new. For once, Bridget has everything completely under control. What could possibly go wrong? Then her love life takes a turn and Bridget meets a dashing American named Jack (Dempsey), the suitor who is everything Mr. Darcy is not. In an unlikely twist she finds herself pregnant, but with one hitch...she can only be fifty percent sure of the identity of her baby's father.

PICTURE BOOK - I am Rosa Parks by Brad Meltzer

Ordinary People Change the World series
Illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulis
2014 Dial Books for Young Readers
HC & paper
40 pgs.
Goodreads rating: 4.42 - 430 ratings
My rating: 5
Endpapers:  Yellow with repeated white bus imprint (pale)

1st line/s:  "I am Rosa Parks.  Growing up, I was small for my age.  I was sick a lot too, since we didn't have money for a doctor.  But that didn't mean I was weak."



My comments:  This is the second book I've read in this Brad Meltzer biography series for kids.  He does an exceptional job, and the mixture of text and graphic-novel-like speech clouds has been a surefire hit for all the kids I've shared these books with.  This one is more about the civil rights movement including Rosa Parks' huge part in it than her actual life (not a problem) - it's a wonderful overview and starting place for young kids on the roots of the civil right movement!  Real photos of Ms. Parks at the end.

Goodreads:  “Kids always search for heroes, so we might as well have a say in it,” Brad Meltzer realized, and so he envisioned this friendly, fun approach to biography – for his own kids, and for yours. Each book tells the story of one of America’s icons in a vivacious, conversational way that works well for the youngest nonfiction readers, those who aren’t quite ready for the Who Was biography series. Each book focuses on a particular character trait that made that role model heroic. For example, Rosa Parks dared to stand up for herself and other African Americans by staying seated, and as a result she helped end public bus segregation and launch the country’s Civil Rights Movement.

PICTURE BOOK - Dorothea's Eyes by Barb Rosenstock

Illustrated by Gerard DuBois
2016 Calkins Creed, Honesdale, PA (an Imprint of Highlights)
HC $16.99
32 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  4.11 - 167 ratings
My rating:  4
Endpapers:  large dotted background with the same camera-on-legs repeated over and over
Dedications:  "For my grandfather - BR"
     "For my sister, with love - GD"

1st line/s:  "Dorothea opens her grey-green eyes.  They are special eyes.  They see what others miss."


My comments:  Nice introduction for kids of the life of Dorothea Lange - what drove her and the type of photos she took.  It touches upon the developing of them, but I wish this had been mentioned, and explained, a bit more to help inform our kids in this digital age.  Although prone to sickness and always dealing with the polio she endured as a child, she is an active photographer in the streets and fields of the Depression.  At the end of the book there is a sampling of six of her photos - including "Migrant Mother."  An afterword, selected bibliography and two-page timeline are added touches at the end of the book.  A great model for researching and teaching.

Goodreads:  After a childhood bout of polio left her with a limp, all Dorothea Lange wanted to do was disappear. But this desire not to be seen helped her learn how to blend into the background and observe others acutely. With a passion for the artistic life, and in spite of her family’s disapproval, Dorothea pursued her dream to become a photographer and focused her lens on the previously unseen victims of the Great Depression. This poetic biography tells the emotional story of Lange’s evolution as one of the founders of documentary photography. It includes a gallery of Lange’s photographs, and an author’s note, timeline, and bibliography.

59. The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis

listened to on Audible
2016, Katherine Tegen Books
344 pgs.
YA CRF (older YA)
Finished 11/1/16
Goodreads rating:  4/27 - 1470 ratings
My rating:  4 (As brilliant as it is, somehow I can't quite give it a 5. Not sure why...)

My comments:  These are the words of Emily May, a Goodreads reviewer who I really enjoy (although we don't always agree).  This is exactly what I was thinking, so why put it in my own words?
     BRUTAL. That's how I would describe this book. It sits there all unassuming with its cute yellow cover and pictures of animals, but underneath it has some serious fangs. Rather like the female of the species, I suppose.
     Quick warning: this book may not be suitable to those sensitive to rape and/or animal cruelty. Make no mistake, it's a nasty book. At times it's absolutely disgustingly awful. But it's a very sharp and effective look at sexual assault and rape culture too. And somehow so fucking funny. Well, maybe if you have a sadistic sense of humour, which it turns out I do.
     I don't even know how to adequately explain it. The Female of the Species is told from the perspective of three different characters - Alex, whose sister was raped and murdered; Jack, the popular guy who desperately wants to get to know Alex; and Peekay, the preacher's kid whose ex-boyfriend ditched her for the beautiful Branley, and who now works at the animal shelter with Alex.

Goodreads synopsis:  Alex Craft knows how to kill someone. And she doesn’t feel bad about it. When her older sister, Anna, was murdered three years ago and the killer walked free, Alex uncaged the language she knows best. The language of violence.
          While her crime goes unpunished, Alex knows she can’t be trusted among other people, even in her small hometown. She relegates herself to the shadows, a girl who goes unseen in plain sight, unremarkable in the high school hallways.
         But Jack Fisher sees her. He’s the guy all other guys want to be: the star athlete gunning for valedictorian with the prom queen on his arm. Guilt over the role he played the night Anna’s body was discovered hasn’t let him forget Alex over the years, and now her green eyes amid a constellation of freckles have his attention. He doesn’t want to only see Alex Craft; he wants to know her.
         So does Peekay, the preacher’s kid, a girl whose identity is entangled with her dad’s job, though that does not stop her from knowing the taste of beer or missing the touch of her ex-boyfriend. When Peekay and Alex start working together at the animal shelter, a friendship forms and Alex’s protective nature extends to more than just the dogs and cats they care for.
         Circumstances bring Alex, Jack, and Peekay together as their senior year unfolds. While partying one night, Alex’s darker nature breaks out, setting the teens on a collision course that will change their lives forever.

Postcards Received Tuesday, 11-1-16

634.  Russia
Best Wishes for you!

635.  Greetings from New Hampshire
Hello!  Glad I can send you a card.  Hard to believe that it's close to the end of the year already. 
Enjoy, Kimba

636.  Hong Kong
Hello!  I am Yoghurt from Hong Kong.  Hope you enjoy this card.  It is as big as my iPad.  It is Autumn here.  The temperature startsw to go down.  It's great to have a sleep in this weather!  But not for those students or workers who have to wake up early~

637.  Jawa Timur,  Indonesia
Hello, Greetings to you.   Hope you'll be elated by this card.

638.  Greetings from Slovakia
Hello Chris!  I'm sending kind greetings from Slovakia, small country oin the heart of Europe.  
Best wishes!  Alena