Monday, January 30, 2017

MOVIE - Manchester by-the-Sea

R (2:15)
Wide release 12/16/16
Viewed 1-30-17
IMBd: 8.3/10
RT Critic: 96   Audience:  79
Critic's Consensus:  Manchester by the Sea delivers affecting drama populated by full-bodied characters, marking another strong step forward for writer-director Kenneth Lonergan.
Cag:  6 - It was generally an awesome movie in every way (though very sad and depressing if you dwell too much).
Directed by Kenneth Lonergan
Amazon Studios

Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler

My comments:  A happy-go-lucky family man that drinks a little too much becomes a hollow shell of a man after a great tragedy.  The story isn't sequential, it's cyclical, so the story of Lee's past slowly unfolds and we see why he is the empty man of the present day.  And this story doesn't get the happy, hoped-for ending -- he's lost too much and knows what he's capable of.  And more importantly, what he's no longer capable of.  A great movie.  One of the most depressing movies ever.  
AFTERWORD:  Casey Affleck got the Academy Award for his performance.  Well deserved.

RT/ IMDb Summary:  Lee Chandler is a brooding, irritable loner who works as a handyman for a Boston apartment block. One damp winter day he gets a call summoning him to his hometown, north of the city. His brother's heart has given out suddenly, and he's been named guardian to his 16-year-old nephew. As if losing his only sibling and doubts about raising a teenager weren't enough, his return to the past re-opens an unspeakable tragedy.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

PICTURE BOOK - School's First Day of School by Adam Rex

Illustrated by Christian Robinson
2016, Roaring Brook Press
HC $17.99
32 pgs.
Goodreads rating: 4.17 - 1597 ratings
My rating: 3
Endpapers:  a birds-eyeish view of a concrete playground with various white-line-painted games being played by kids
Illustrations: Acrylic paint and collage, very simple, lots of white
1st line/s:  "That summer, they dug up the big field, and poured the foundation, and set brick on top of brick until they'd built a school"

My comments:  Many people had talked about this being a possibility for the Caldecott, which surprises me since that's an award for illustrations.  The story and illustrations do well together, but I'm not sure whether the illustrations would be of Caldecott level....though I usually don't agree with the award choices. (He did win the Caldecott last year! Shows how much I know or agree!) The story, though simple, is sweet and will engage kids well.  And no mention of why it's named Frederick Douglass Elementary, which would have been nice even if it is geared towards kindergarten kids... A great example of anthropomorphism that is not an animal.
Goodreads:  It's the first day of school at Frederick Douglass Elementary and everyone's just a little bit nervous, especially the school itself. What will the children do once they come? Will they like the school? Will they be nice to him?
     The school has a rough start, but as the day goes on, he soon recovers when he sees that he's not the only one going through first-day jitters.

TV Show - Between

Premiered: June, 2015 - a Canadian production
Season 1 - 6 episodes; Season 2 - 6 episodes
Uncertain about whether there will be a Season 3
Length of Episode: 45 minutes
IMBd: 6.0/10
RT Audience Score:  71 (Critics = 22) This was for Season 1
cag:  3 (Liked it)
Produced by:

Characters:
     Adam - smart, supposedly geeky, has had a crush on Wiley for many years
     Wiley - had an affair with Chuck's (slimy) father and fathered his child, preacher's kid, main character but not very likable at all
     Chuck - rich father owned most of the town, thinks he knows it all
     Gord - worker/farmer/genuine nice guy, looks 30 not younger than 22
     Ron and Pat- two brothers from the "bad side" of town, one's a good guy, the other's a drug dealer and pretty sketchy at the beginning of the series
     Mark - had been in the penitentiary for murdering his father, incredible light blue eyes

My comments:  Reminds me of "Under the Dome," except with only kids and young adults.  Same sort of storyline, unknown cause of the deadly virus, some try to escape, others cope by helping each other, one faction feels the need for force and tote guns and an attitude....



Storyline from IMBd:  Between is the story of a town under siege from a mysterious disease that has wiped out everybody 22 years and older. The series explores the power vacuum that results when a government has quarantined a 10-mile diameter area and left the inhabitants to fend for themselves.
   

PICTURE BOOK - Tucky Jo and Little Heart by Patricia Polacco

Illustrated by the author
2015 Simon & Schuster
48 pgs.
Goodreads rating: 4.54
My rating: 4 (or a little less)
1st line/s:  "I was born in Allen, Kentucky, on October third, nineteen hundred and twenty four.  I grew up like any backcountry boy in Kentucky.  Tougher than last year's jerky and faster than a scared jackrabbit.  I could whittle and carve just about any kind of stick or wood and I could sneak up on just about anything.  Came in right handy for huntin'.  My pa taught me how to use a shotgun when I was knee-high to a grasshopper."

Based on a True Story

Lesson plan with questions and activities

My comments: I'll begin by saying that I'm a HUGE Patricia Polacco fan.  I've read almost all of her many wonderful books. They're not picture books for four year olds.  They're almost always geared to an older reader.  This one especially, for many reasons.  Lots of text - a typical trademark for Polacco, which I particularly enjoy as a fourth and fifth grade teacher.  A higher level of vocabulary and more complex storyline.  Always a plus for me!  I had two problems with this book.  First, some of the vocabulary and explanations about this particular war and setting could probably not be answered correctly by me or many adults sharing the book. It needed a short afterword, or something with more in-depth explanation of some of the added information that didn't belong in the main text of the story. It included an epilogue which included a little more information about the two protagonists, but nothing more.  And second, the ending left too many questions for me. Joe must have been about 85 by the time he was reunited with Little Heart.  That would have made her in her early 70s. At least.  She was still nursing? How on earth did she end up in the same hospital where he happened to be?  In MICHIGAN? I needed more information on these two points. It makes me skeptical.  However, that's adult skeptical, probably not most-kid skeptical....

Goodreads:  Friendship, loyalty, and kindness stand the test of time in this heartwarming World War II–era picture book based on a true story from the beloved author-illustrator of Pink and Say and The Keeping Quilt.
     Tucky Jo was known as the “kid from Kentucky” when he enlisted in the army at age fifteen. Being the youngest recruit in the Pacific during World War II was tough. But he finds a friend in a little girl who helps him soothe his bug bites, and he gets to know her family and gives them some of his rations. Although the little girl doesn’t speak English, Tucky Jo and Little Heart share the language of kindness. Many years later, Tucky Jo and Little Heart meet again, and an act of kindness is returned when it’s needed the most in this touching picture book based on a true story.

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

MOVIE - LA LA Land

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
IMBd:  
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 takes to find his family.  Afraid that the parents who adopted him would be hurt, he does not share his intense feelings with them as they get stronger and stronger.  Inner turmoil messes up his relationship with a lovely girl until he decides to face everything and discover where he came from.  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
Endpapers: 
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

Rating/Time
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
Studio
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

15 Movies so far in 2017

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



*6*  Awesome
5  Loved it
4  Liked it a lot
3  Liked it
2  It was okay
1  Nope

The Dinner (Impossible to rate! But I'll give it a 3...) Bizarre with a cop-out ending
The Circle (4)
Gifted (4.5)
Boss Baby (2.5)
Going in Style (3.5)
The Ghost in the Shell (3,5)
The Sense of an Ending (4.5) great British CRF flashback movie
Beauty and the Beast (3.5) Lovely music
Table 19 (1.5)
The Great Wall (4)
Fifty Shades Darker (3.5) Mmmm, Jamie Dornan....
Julieta (4.5) Mesmerizing story, though very depressing
Manchester by-the-Sea (5.5) Powerful and super sad
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
Manchester by-the-Sea (5.5)
Hidden Figures (6)

REALLY GOOD Movies of 2017 (4.5 & 5)
The Sense of an Ending(4.5)
Julieta (4.5) Mesmerizing story, though very depressing
Lion (5)

Good/Fun Movies of 2017 (3, 3.5 &4)
The Dinner (Impossible to rate! But I'll give it a 3...)
Beauty and the Beast (3.5)
Fifty Shades Darker (3.5)
LA LA Land (3.5)
Rogue One: A Star Wars Movie (4)

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

Monday, January 2, 2017

1. Sixkill by Robert B. Parker

#39 Spenser
listened in the car
2011, G P Putnam's Sons
293 pgs.
Adult Murder Mystery
Finished January 2, 2017
Goodreads rating: 3.99 - 7,617 ratings
My rating: 2.5
Setting: Contemporary Boston

First line/s: "It was spring.  The vernal equinox had done whatever it was it did, and the late March air drifting in through the open window in my office was soft even though it wasn't even warm yet."

My comments: Zebulon SIXKILL, called Z.  That's where the title came from.  A Cree Indian from Montana, by way of the California college football scene. Befriended...and trained...by Spenser, he has the same kind of comedic skills as Hawk.  They get stronger and stronger as the story evolves.  Hawk seems to be somewhere in Asia.  And why another Hawk-type character?  This book was short (as are they all), and a good half of this was repartee between Spenser ans Susan Silverman, which I must admit got a little tiring.  I also got tired hearing about how little Susan ate, half bites of tiny fruits, tiny sips, tiny bites.  It was entertaining for the boring, long, tedious ride from Maine to PA but not a particularly thrilling book.  Disappointing, actually.  And I do love Parker and Spenser.  2.5 to be honest.

Goodreads synopsis:  On location in Boston, bad-boy actor Jumbo Nelson is accused of the rape and murder of a young woman. From the start the case seems fishy, so the Boston PD calls on Spenser to investigate. Things don't look so good for Jumbo, whose appetites for food, booze, and sex are as outsized as his name. He was the studio's biggest star, but he's become its biggest liability. 
          In the course of the investigation, Spenser encounters Jumbo's bodyguard: a young, former football-playing Native American named Zebulon Sixkill. He acts tough, but Spenser sees something more within the young man. Despite the odd circumstances, the two forge an unlikely alliance, with Spenser serving as mentor for Sixkill. As the case grows darker and secrets about both Jumbo and the dead woman come to light, it's Spenser-with Sixkill at his side-who must put things right.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

TV Shows

*6*  Awesome
5  Loved it
4  Liked it a lot
3  Liked it
2  It was okay
1  Nope

Between - Seasons 1 & 2 (2015-6) Netflix (3)
Sense8 - Season 1 (2015) Netflix (6)
Timeless - Season 1 (2016) ABC via Hulu (3)
Travelers - Season 1 (2016) Netflix (6)

2017 Reading Challenges

2017 Reading Challenges
17 Challenges for 2017

1.  Read at least ONE from each of the following categories:

A Classic 
     Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
     Any title by Willa Cather
     Any title by Edith Wharton
     The Good Earth - Pearl S. Buck
A Recent Classic
     One Hundred Years of Solitude - Marquez
A Memoir
     Life from Scratch: A Memoir of Food, Family, and Forgiveness - Sasha Martin
     The Storyteller's Daughter: One Woman's Return to Her Lost Homeland - Saira Shah
An Unread Newbery Award Winner
     .
A New-to-me Much-Talked-About Author
     Louise Erdrich
     Joe Hill
A Short Story Collection
     Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - The Thing Around Your Neck
     Lorrie Moore
     Alice Munro
     Jumpa Lahiri
     Mary Gaitskill (Bad Behavior)
     Neil Gaiman
     Alexie Sherman
     Manuel Gonzales (The Miniature Wife and Other Stories)
A New Mystery Series
     Em Hansen, Wyoming Geologist by Sarah Andrews
     Lacy Flint, London Detective Constable by S. J. Bolton
     Father John O'Malley & Vicky Holden, Priest & Arapahoe Lawyer by Margaret Coel
     Dianne Fallon, Georgia Museum Director by Beverly Connor
     Dr. Samantha Owens, Tennessee Medical Examiner by J. T. Ellison
     Erlendur, Iceland Inspector by Arnaldur Indridason
     Jonathan Payne & David Jones, ex-Special Forces by Chris Kuzneski
     Henry Hole, Oslo cop by Jo Nesbo
     Garrison Gage, ex-NYC cop now living in Oregon by Scott William Carter
     Leah Hudson, Agent of some sort by Andrew Downs
     Tracy Crosswhite, Seattle homicide detective by Robert Dugoni
     Elise Sanburg, Savannah homicide detective by Anne Frasier
     Jonathan Stride, Duluth Police Lieutenant by Brian Freeman
     Van Shaw, Army Ranger by Glen Erik Hamilton
     Jessica Blackwood, FBI Agent by Andrew Mayne
     Sydney Rose Parnell, Denver Railroad Police Special Agent by Barbara Nickless
     Genevieve Lenard, Insurance Investigator by Estelle Ryan
     Archie Lean, 1892 Portland, Maine Deputy Marshall by Kieran Shields
     Claire Codella - NYPD Detective by Carrie Smith
     Thomas Andreasson & Nora Linde, Swedish Police Detective & Lawyer by Viveca Sten
     Jessica Daniel, Manchester, England Detective Sergeant by Kerry Wilkinson
     Tony Wagner, Seminary student-cum-detective by Paula F. Winskye
     Chief Inspector Armand Gamache - Quebec by Louise Penny
A Middle Grade Novel
     The Secrets of Blueberries, Brothers, Moose & Me - Sara Nickerson
     Colin Fischer - Ashley Edward Miller
     Stella by Starlight - Sharon Draper
     The War that Saved My Life - Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
     Absolutely Truly - Heather Vogel Frederick
     All the Answers - Kate Messner
     Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
     Ms. Bixby's Last Day - John David Anderson
     Gertie's Leap to Greatness - Kate Beasley
     Root Beer Candy and Other Miracles - Shari Green
     Paper Wishes - Lois Sepahban
     Hour of the Bees - Lindsay Eager
     Blue Birds - Caroline Starr Rose
     A Tangle of Knots - Lisa Graff
     Paper Boy - Vince Vawter
     The Hidden Summer - Gin Phillips
     The Boy on the Porch - Sharon Creech
     Hokey Pokey - Jerry Spinelli
     Sure Signs of Crazy - Karen Harrington
     Navigating Early - Clare Vanderpool
     The Secret Tree - Natalie Standiford
     The Boy on the Wooden Box - Leon Leyson
     The Paper Cowboy - Kristin Levine
     Echo - Pam Munoz Ryan
     March: Book 1 - John Lewis
     House Arrest AND Rhyme Schemer by K. A. Holt
A Picture Book Biography:
     Jimi: Sounds Like a Rainbow: a Story of the Young Jimi Hendrix - Gary Golio
     Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library - Barb Rosenstock
     Louisa May's Battle: How the Civil War Led to Little Women - Kathleen Krull
     Just Behave, Pablo Picasso - Jonah Winter
     The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Woman Changed a City Forever - Joseph H. Hopkins
     The Iridescence of Birds: A Book About Henri Matisse - Patricia MacLachlan
     Papa is a Poet: A Story About Robert Frost - Natalie S. Bober
     For the Birds: The Life of Roger Tory Peterson - Peggy Thomas

2.  Published in the Current Year - 2017
1.  The Warden's Daughter - Spinelli
2.  American Street - Zoboi
3.  The Dark Room - Moore
4.  In the Shadow of Lakecrest  - Blackwell
5.  Bellamy and the Brute - Michaels

3.  Written before 2007 (over 10 years old)
1.  Echo Park - Harry Bosch #12 (Connelly) 2006
2.  Still Life  - Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #1 (Penny) 2005
3.  Immoral - Jonathan Stride #1 (Freeman) 2005
4.  The Plantation - Payne & Jones #1 (Chris Kuzneski) 2002

4.  One-Word Titles
1. Sixkill
2.  Moo
3.  Rewinder
4.  Immoral

5.  Arizona, Maine, or Pennsylvania?
1.  Moo (Maine)
2.  Piper Green and the Fairy Tree (Maine)
3.  Wolf Hollow (Pennsylvania)

6.  YA
1.  The Leaving of Things (Antari) possibly considered adult, I disagree
2.  American Street (Zoboi)
3.  Rewinder (Battles)
4.  Bellamy and the Brute (Michaels)

7.  Middle Grades
1.  Moo (Creech)
2.  House Arrest (Holt)
3.  The Magician's Elephant (DiCamillo) DNF
4  Wolf Hollow  (Wolk)
5.  The Warden's Daughter (Spinelli)

7A. Early Chapter Books/Beginning Readers
1.  Piper Green and the Fairy Tree
2.  Mouse Scouts

8.  Historical Fiction
1.  Crow Hollow (Wallace) 1600s Massachusetts Bay Colony
2.  The Buried Book (Pulley) 1952 Michigan
3.  Wolf Hollow  (Wolk) 1940s rural PA
4.  The Warden's Daughter, The (Spinelli) 1959 Pennsylvania?
5.  Lyrebird Hill (Romer) alternating with present, 1898 Australia
6.  In the Shadow of Lakecrest  (Blackwell) 1928 Lake Michigan

9.  CRF
1.  Moo (Creech)
2.  Piper Green and the Fairy Tree
3.  House Arrest (Holt)
4.  The Leaving of Things (Antari)
5.  Lyrebird Hill (Romer) alternating with 1898
6.  American Street (Zoboi)

10.  Non Fiction (try at least one MEMOIR!)
1.

11.  Verse
1.  House Arrest

12.  Poetry  
1.

13.  Mystery
1.  Sixkill (#39 Spenser)
2.  Dead Connection (#1 Ellie Hatcher)
3.  The Gray and Guilty Sea (#1 Garrison Gage)
4.  Still Waters (#1 Sandhamm)
5.  The Buried Book (not a murder mystery)
6.  Echo Park (Harry Bosch #12)
7.  Kingdom Come (#1 Elizabeth Harris)
8.  Lyrebird Hill (not a murder mystery, or a series)
9.  Mourning Gloria  (#1 Leah Hudson)
10.  Still Life  (#1 Chief Inspector Armand Gamache)
11,  The Dark Room (#1 Gavin Cain, SF)
12.  Blood on the Tracks (#1 Sydney Rose Parnell)
13.  Immoral (#1 Jonathan Stride)

14.  The Plantation (#1 Payne & Jones)

14.  Paranormal/Dystopia/Fantasy
1.  Rewinder
2.  Bellamy and the Brute

15.  Audio Books
1.  Sixkill - Parker
2.  The Gray and Guilty Sea - Nolte (pseud.) now using Carter
3.  The Magician's Elephant DNF
4.  Still Waters - Sten
5.  The Buried Book - Pulley
6.  Wolf Hollow  - Wolk
7.  The Warden's Daughter - Spinelli
8.  Echo Park Harry Bosch #12 - Connelly
9.  Kingdom Come - Jensen
10.   Lyrebird Hill - Romer (Read by Eloise Oxer)
11.  Still Life  - Penny
12,  The Dark Room - Moore
13.  Blood on the Tracks - Nickless
14.  Rewinder - Battles
15.  Immoral - Freeman

16.  The Plantation - Kuzneski

16.  Books in a Series
1.   Sixkill (#39 Spenser) Robert B. Parker
2.  Piper Green and the Fairy Tree (Fairy Tree #1) - Potter
3.  Dead Connection (#1 Ellie Hatcher)
4.  The Gray and Guilty Sea (#1 Garrison Gage)
5.  Still Waters (#1 Sandhamm)
6.  Echo Park (#12 Harry Bosch)
7.  Kingdom Come (#1 Elizabeth Harris)
8.  Mouse Scouts (#1 Mouse Scouts)
9.  Mourning Gloria  (#1 Leah Hudson)
10.  Still Life  (#1 Chief Inspector Armand Gamache)
11.  The Dark Room (#1 Gavin Cain, SF Detective)
12.  Blood on the Tracks (#1 Sydney Rose Parnell)
13.  Seeds of Deception
14.  Rewinder (Rewinder #1)
15.  Immoral (Jonathan Stride #1)

16.  The Plantation (Payne & Jones #1)

17.  Short Stories
1. "The Cell" from The Thing Around Your Neck

18.  Where in the World?
1.  The Leaving of Things, The (India) Antali
Still Waters (Sweden)
Lyrebird Hill  (Australia) Romer
Still Life (Quebec, Canada)

19.  4.5 or 5 Stars
1.  Moo (4.5)
2.  Piper Green and the Fairy Tree (Fairy Tree #1) (5)
3.  House Arrest (5)
4.  The Buried Book (4.5)
5.  Wolf Hollow  (5)
6.  Kingdom Come (4.5)
7.  Lyrebird Hill (4.5)
8.  Mouse Scouts (5)
9.  The Dark Room (5)
9.  Rewinder (5)

I Love Picture Books
1.  The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles (Cuevas/Stead) 2016
2.  In Andal's House (Whelan/Hall) 2013
3.  Sonya's Chickens (Wahl) 2015
4.  Tucky Jo and Little Heart (Polacco) 2015
5.  School's First Day of School (Rex/Robinson) 2016
6.  The Great Spruce (Duvall/Gibbon) 2016
7.  The Wonderful Fluffy Little Squishy (Alemagna) 2014
8.  All Aboard! National Parks (Meyers) 2016 Board Book
9.  Mommies Say Shhh! (Polacco) 2005 Board Book
10.  Llama Llama Hoppity-Hop (Dewdney) 2012 Board Book
11.  Egg (Henkes) 2017
12.  A Hat for Mrs. Goldman (Edwards/Karas) 2016
13.  My Name is James Madison Hemings (Winter/Widener) 2016
14.  Maya's Blanket / La Manta de Maya (Brown/Diaz) 2015
15.  Library Mouse: A Museum Adventure (Kirk) 2012
16.  Billy's Booger (Joyce) 2015
17.  The Case for Loving (Alko/Quyalls) 2015
18.  Why Is Art Full of Naked People and Other Vital Question about Art (Hodge/Goble) 2016
19.  20 Big Trucks in the Middle of the Street (Lee/Cyrus) 2013
20.  Thunder Cake (Polacco) 1990
21.  Hello World: A Celebration of Languages & Curiosities (Litton) 2016


Books Read in 2017
1.  Sixkill - Robert B. Parker  (2.5) 293 pgs.
2.  Moo - Sharon Creech (4.5) 288 pgs. (581 pgs. total)
3.  Piper Green and the Fairy Tree - Ellen Potter (5) 95 pgs. (676 pgs.)
4.  Dead Connection - Alafair Burke (4) 336 pgs. (1012 pgs.)
5.  Six of Crows - Leigh Bardugo (DNF/1) 151 of 465 pgs. (1163 pgs.)
6.  House Arrest - K. A. Holt (5) 304 pgs. (1467 pgs.)
7.  The Gray and Guilty Sea - Jack Nolte (pseud) now using Wm Scott Carter (4) 268 pgs. (1735 pgs)
8.  Crow Hollow - Michael Wallace (4) 335 pgs. (2070 pgs.)
9.  The Magician's Elephant - Kate DiCamillo (1/DNF) 80/201 pgs. (2150 pgs.)
10.  Still Waters - Viveca Sten (3) 287 pgs. (2437 pgs.)
11.  The Leaving of Things - Jay Antali (4) 368 pgs. (2805 pgs.)
12.  The Buried Book - D. M. Pulley (4.5) 412 pgs. (3217 pgs.)
13.  Wolf Hollow - Lauren Wolk (5) 304 pgs. (3621 pgs.)
14.  The Warden's Daughter - Jerry Spinelli (4) 352 pgs. (3973 pgs.)
15.  Echo Park (Harry Bosch #12) - Michael Connelly (4) 405 pgs. (4378 pgs.)
16.  Kingdom Come (Elizabeth Harris #1) - Jane Jensen (4.5) 304 pgs. (4682 pgs.)
17.  Lyrebird Hill  - Anna Romer (4.5) 416 pgs. (5098 pgs.)
18.  American Street - Ibi Zoboi (2 and 4)  336 pgs. (5434 pgs.)
19.  Mouse Scouts - Sarah Dillard (5) 118 pgs. (5552 pgs.)
20.  Mourning Gloria - Andrew Downs (3) 308 pgs. (5860 pgs.)
21.  Still Life (#1 Chief Inspector Armand Gamache) - Louise Penny (3) 312 pgs. (6172 pgs.)
22.  The Dark Room - Jonathan Moore (5) 294 pgs. (6466 pgs.)
23.  Blood on the Tracks (#1 Sydney Rose Parnell) - Barbara Nickless (4) 386 pgs. (6852 pgs.)
24.  Seeds of Deception - Linda Castillo (2) 74 pgs. (6926 pgs.)
25.  Rewinder (Rewinder #1) - Brent Battles (5) 272 pgs. (7198 pgs.)
26.  In the Shadow of Lakecrest - Elizabeth Blackwell (1) 282 pgs. (7480 pgs.)
27.  Bellamy and the Brute - Alicia Michaels (2.5) 300 pgs. (7780 pgs.)
28.  Immoral - Brian Freeman (3.9) 471 pgs. (8,251 pgs.)
29.  The Forgetting -
30.  A Merciful Death -
31.  My Sister's Grave -
32.  The Plantation - Chris Kuzneski (2) 432 pgs.