Monday, December 26, 2011

2012 Reading Challenges

12-12-12 Challenge

1.  Written in 2012
1.  May B. a Novel (Rose)
2.  Unraveling Isobel (Cook)
3.  Irises (Stork)
4.  Taken (Crais)
5.  Lone Wolf (Picoult)
6.  Available Dark (Hand)
7.  Pandemonium (Oliver)
8.  Getaway (Brackmann)
9.  Shadow of Night (Harkness)
10.  Gone Missing (Castillo)
11.  Summer of the Gypsy Moths (Pennypacker)
12.  The Year of the Book (Cheng)
13.  Violet Mackerel's Brilliant Plot (Branford) (2012 US edition)
14.  Criminal (Slaughter)
15.  Following Grandfather (Wells)
16.  12.21: A Novel (Thomason)
17.  Son (Lowry)

2. Written before 2000
1. The Bean Trees (Kingsolver) 1988

3.  One-word titles
1.  Irises (Stork)
2.  Delirium (Oliver)
3.  Taken (Crais)
4.  Saint (Dekker)
5  Pandemonium (Oliver)
6.  Getaway (Brackmann)
7.  Graceling (Cashore)
8.  Criminal (Slaughter)
9.  Son (Lowry)

4.  Where in the world?
1.  No Ordinary Day (Ellis) INDIA
2.  Jellicoe Road (Marchetta) AUSTRALIA
3.  The White Mary (Salak) PAPUA NEW GUINEA
4.  The Hard Way (Child) Last third - ENGLAND
5.  Available Dark (Hand) FINLAND & ICELAND
6.  Getaway (Brackmann) MEXICO - Puerto Vallarta
7.  Shadow of Night (Harkness) England, France, Prague
8.  A Long Walk to Water (Park) - Sudan, mostly
9.  Little Bee (Cleave) - London, NIGERIA

5. Arizona or Maine!
1.  MAINE - Small as an Elephant (Jacobson)
2.  MAINE - After Obsession (Jones & Wedel)
3.  MAINE - Delirium (Oliver)
4.  MAINE - The Poacher's Son (Doiron)
5.  ARIZONA - The Bean Trees (Kingsolver)

6.  Historical Fiction
1.  May B a Novel (Rose)
2.  Prayers for Sale (Dallas)
3.  Shadow of Night (Harkness)
4.  Caleb's Crossing (Brooks)

7.  Poetry
1.  Holiday Stew (Whitehead) 2007
2.  Silver Seeds (Paolilli & Brewer) 2001
3.  The Ancestors Are Singing (Johnston/Barbour) 2003
4.  A Chill in the Air (Frank/Reed) 2003
5.  Please Bury Me in the Library (Lewis/Stone) 2005
6.  Earthshake:  Poems from the Ground Up (Peters/Felstead) 2003
7.  Autumnblings (Florian) 2003
8.  Hallowilloween (Brown) 2010
9.  Book Speak! (Salas/Bisaillon) 2011

8.  ebooks
1. Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Taylor)
2.  The Amanda Project:  The Invisible I (Kantor)

9.  Paranormal
1.  Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Taylor)
2.  After Obsession (Jones & Wedel)
3.  Unraveling Isobel (Cook)
4.  Shadow of Night (Harkness)

10.  Rated a 4.5 or 5
1.  Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Taylor) (5)
2.  Breaking Silence (Castillo) (5)
3.  Jellicoe Road (Marchetta) (5)
4.  The Cut (Pelecanos) (4.5)
5.  Prayers for Sale (Dallas) (4.5)
6.  Think of a Number (Verdon) (5)
7.  Taken (Crais) 4.5
8.  Pandemonium (Oliver) 4.5
9.  Where Children Sleep (Mollilson) 5
10.  Bad Blood (Sandford) 5
11.  Gone Missing (Castillo) 4.5
12.  The Bean Trees (Kingsolver) 5
13.  Violet Mackerel's Brilliant Plot (Branford) 5
14.  Criminal (Slaughter)
15.  12.21: A Novel (Thomason) 4.5
16.  A Long Walk to Water (Park) 4.5
17.  The Language of Flowers (Diffenbaugh) 5

11. YA
1.  Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Taylor)
2.  Jellicoe Road (Marchetta)
3.  I Am J (Beam)
4.  After Obsession (Jones & Wedel)
5.  Unraveling Isobel (Cook)
6.  Irises (Stork)
7.  Delirium (Oliver)
8.  The Amanda Project:  The Invisible I
9.  Blank Confession (Hautman)
10.  Pandemonium (Oliver)
11.  Dash & Lily's Book of Dares (Cohn & Levithan)
12.  Graceling (Cashore)
13.  The Day Before (Schroeder)
14.  Son (Lowry)

12.  For middle grades (need to read more!)
1. A Month of Sundays (White)
2.  May B. a Novel (Rose)
3.  No Ordinary Day (Ellis)
4.  Small as an Elephant (Jacobson)
5.  Here Lies Linc (Ray)
6.  The Unwanteds (McMann)
7.  Ten Miles Past Normal (Dowell)
8.  Same Sun Here (House & Vaswani)
9.  Where Children Sleep (Mollison) nonfiction
10.  Summer of the Gypsy Moths (Pennypacker)
11. The Year of the Book (Cheng)
12.  Violet Mackerel's Brilliant Plot (Branford) Young middle grades
13.  A Long Walk to Water (Park) 4th grade to adult

New Author Challenge 2012
Original rules here on the "Literary Escapism" blog.
15 - 25 - or 50 new-to-you authors
1. Lani Taylor Daughter of Smoke and Bone
2. Sue Miller - Lakeshore Limited
4.  Melina Marchetta - Jellicoe Road
5. Jennifer Richard Jadobson - Small as an Elephant
6.  George Pelecanos- The Cut
7.  John Verdon - Think of a Number (this is his first novel)
8.  Sandra Dallas - Prayers for Sale (I've wanted to read her for a long time, quilting)
8.  Lauren Oliver - Delirium
9.  Lisa McMann - The Unwanteds (she sure sounds familiar, but pretty sure this is the first)
10.  Claire Cook - Wildwater Walking Club (witty)
11. Dekker, Ted - Saint (crappy)
12.  Elizabeth Hand - Available Dark (yes, dark...but addictive, and Maine author to boot!)
13.  Lisa Brackmann - Getaway
14.  Paul Doiron - The Poacher's Son
15.  Kristin Cashore - Graceling
16.  Anna Branford- Violet Mackerel's Brilliant Plot
17.  Lisa Schroeder - The Day Before
18.  Dustin Thomason - 12.21: A Novel
19.  Vanessa Diffenbaugh - The Language of Flowers
20.  Chris Cleave - Little Bee

2012 Picture Book Reading Challenge
Original rules here on "An Abundance of Books" blog
Level 1 - Read 12 picture books
Level 2 - Read 16 picture books
Level 3 - Read 24 picture books
1.  King Hugo's Huge Ego (VanDusen) 2011
2.  Rock 'N' Roll Mole (Crimi/Munsinger) 2011
3.  Substitute Creature (Gall) 2011
4.  Compost Stew (Siddals/Wolff) 2010
5.  Alphabet Bird Collection (Ogilvy) 2009
6.  Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku (Wardlaw) 2011
7.  Belle, The Last Mule at Gee's Bend (Ramsey/Stroud) 2011
8.  Let's Go See Papa! (Schimel/Rivera) 2009
9.  A Tale of Two Seders (Portnoy/Sis) 2010
10.  Kami and the Yaks (Stryer) 2007
11.  Charlie, the Ranch Dog (Drummond/deGroat) 2011
12.  Chirchir Is Singing (Cunnane/Daly) 2011
13.  The Bravest Woman in America (Moss/U'Ren) 2011
14.  The Mangrove Tree; Planting Trees to Feed Families (Roth & Trumbore/Roth) 2011
15.  The Twelve Days of Springtime (Rose/Armstrong-Ellis) 2009
16.  Migrant (Trottier/Arsenault) 2011
17.  Write On, Mercy! (Woelfle/Wallner) 2012
18.  I Call My Grandma Nana (Wolff) 2009
19.  What's Cooking, Jamela? (Daly) 2001
20.  Brother Sun, Sister Moon (Paterson/Dalton) 2011
21.  Pablo's Tree (Mora/Lang) 1994
22.  Little Owl's Night (Divya Srinivasan) 2011
23.  Red Knit Cap Girl (Stoop) 2012
24.  A Walk in London (Rubbino) 2011

Decade Reading Challenge
This one came from here on the Goodreads site.

Published in 2003 (3)

Published in 2004 (4)
1. Bad Business (Parker)

Published in 2005 (5)

Published in 2006 (6)
1. Jellicoe Road (Marchetta)
2.  The Hard Way (Child)
3.  Saint (Dekker)

Published in 2007 (7)
1. Lean Mean Thirteen (Evanovich)
2.  Skylight Confessions (Hoffman)
3.  The Burnt House (Kellerman)
4.  The Mercedes Coffin (Kellerman)

Published in 2008 (8)
1. The White Mary (Salak)
2.  Graceling (Cashore)
3.  Hot Mahogany (Woods)
4.  Little Bee (Cleave)

Published in 2009 (9)
1.  Prayers for Sale (Dallas)
2.  Wildwater Walking Club (Cook)
3.  The Book Whisperer (Miller)

Published in 2010 (10)
1. Lakeshore Limited (Miller)
2.  Think of a Number (Verdon)
3.  Blank Confession (Hautman)
4.  Where Children Sleep (Mollison)
5.  Bad Blood (Sandford)
6.  Dash & Lily's Book of Dares (Cohn & Levithan)
7.  The Poacher's Son (Doiron)
8.  Violet Mackerel's Brilliant Plot (Branford) US edition 2012
9.  A Long Walk to Water (Park) 2010

Published in 2011 (11)
1. Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Taylor)
2.  Breaking Silence (Castillo)
3.  A Month of Sundays (White)
4.  No Ordinary Day (Ellis)
5.  I Am J (Beam)
5.  Small as an Elephant (Jacobson)
6.  After Obsession (Jones & Wedel)
7.  The Accident (Barclay)
8.  The Cut (Pelecanos)
9.  Delirium (Oliver)
10.  The Unwanteds (McMann)
11.  The Affair (Lee Child)
12.  Ten Miles Past Normal (Dowell)
13.  Same Sun Here (House & Vaswani)
14.  Caleb's Crossing (Brooks)
15.  Here Lies Linc (Ray)
16.  Shut Your Eyes Tight (Verdon)
17.  The Day Before (Schroeder)
18.  The Language of Flowers (Diffenbaugh)

Published in 2012 (12)
1.  May B. a Novel (Rose)  MID
2.  Unraveling Isobel (Cook)  YA
3.  Irises (Stork)  YA
4.  Taken (Crais)  ADULT
5.  Lone Wolf (Picoult)  ADULT
6.  Available Dark (Hand) ADULT
7.  Pandemonium (Oliver) YA
8.  Getaway (Brackmann) ADULT
9.  Shadow of Night (Harkness) ADULT
10.  Gone Missing (Castillo) ADULT
11.  Summer of the Gypsy Moths (Pennypacker) MID
12.  The Year of the Book (Cheng) MID
13.  Criminal (Slaughter) ADULT
14.  Following Grandfather (Wells) CHILD
15.  12.21: A Novel (Thomason) ADULT
16.  Son (Lowry) YA

What's in a Name 5
This challenge can be found here on Beth Fish Reads.

Title includes a topographical feature (land formation)
1. Lakeshore Limited (Miller)

Something you'd see in the sky
1. Available Dark (Hand) I know, maybe that's stretching a bit...
2.  Same Sun Here (House & Vaswani)

Something with a creepy crawly in the title
1. Summer of the Gypsy Moths  (or would this be something you'd see in the sky??)
2.  Little Bee (Cleave)

Title includes a type of house
1. The Burnt House (Kellerman)

Title includes something you'd carry in your pocket, purse, or backpack
1. Dash & Lily's Book of Dares (Cohn & Levithan)
2.  The Year of the Book (Cheng)
3.  A Long Walk to Water (Park)

Something you'd find on a calendar
1. A Month of Sundays (White)
2.  May B. a Novel (Rose)
3.  Think of a Number (Verdon)
4.  The Year of the Book (Cheng)
5.  The Day Before (Schroeder)
6.  12.21: A Novel (Thomason)

50 States Challenge
Read a book that is set, at least partially, in one of the 50 states. 
A list of possibilities can be found here on the Goodreads site.
AZ - The Bean Trees (Kingsolver)
CA - Taken (Crais)
..........The Burnt House (Kellerman)
..........12.21: A Novel (Thomason) LA
..........The Language of Flowers (Diffenbaugh) SF
..........The Mercedes Coffin (Kellerman) LA
CO - Saint (Dekker)
..........Prayers for Sale (Dallas)
CT - The Accident (Barclay)
..........Skylight Confessions (Hoffman)
..........Hot Mahogany (Woods)
DC - The Cut (Pelecanos)
GA - Criminal (Slaughter)
IA - Here Lies Linc (Ray)
KS - May B. a Novel (Rose)
KY - Same Sun Here (House & Vaswani)
MA - Lakeshore Limited (Miller) Boston area
..........The White Mary (Salak) Boston area
..........Wildwater Walking Club (shoreline southern suburb of Boston)
..........Summer of the Gypsy Moths (Pennypacker) Cape Cod
..........Caleb's Crossing (Brooks) Martha's Vineyard and Cambridge
..........Bad Business (Parker) Boston
..........Following Grandfather (Wells) Boston
ME - Small as an Elephant (Jacobson) MDI and south
..........After Obsession (Jones & Wedel) Ellsworth area
..........Delirium (Oliver) dystopian Portland
..........The Poacher's Son (Doiron) the Maine woods
MN - Bad Blood (Sandford) southern/Iowa line?
MS - The Affair (Child)
NC - Ten Miles Past Normal (Dowell)
NH - Lone Wolf (Picoult)
NJ - Lean Mean Thirteen (Evanovich) Trenton
NY - Shut Your Eyes Tight (Verdon)
NYC - I Am J (Beam)
..........The Hard Way (Child)
..........Saint (Dekker)
..........Same Sun Here (House & Vaswani)
..........Pandemonium (Oliver)
..........Dash & Lily's Book of Dares (Cohn & Levithan)
..........Hot Mahogany (Woods)
OH - Breaking Silence (Castillo)
..........Gone Missing (Castillo)
OR - The Day Before (Schroeder)
TX - Irises (Stork) EL PASO
VT - Lakeshore Limited (Miller)
VA - A Month of Sundays (White)
WA - Unraveling Isobel (Cook)

Criminal Plots II - The 2012 Reading Challenge
This challenge has its own website here.

1. Novel with a weapon in the title.

2. Book published at least 10 years ago.

3. Book written by an author from the state/provinence/etc. where you live.
1. Available Dark (Hand) Maine author, it ALMOST counts...
2.  The Poacher's Son (Doiron) Maine

4. Book written by an author using a pen name.

5. Crime novel whose protagonist is the opposite gender of the author.
l.  The Burnt House (Kellerman)
2.  The Mercedes Coffin (Kellerman)

6. A stand-alone novel written by an author who writes at least one series

2012 Audio Book Challenge
Hosted by Teresa's Reading Corner
Flirting-Listen to 6 Audio Books
Going Steady- Listen to 12 Audio Books
Lover- Listen to 25 Audio Books
Married-Listen to +++ Audio Books

1. Lake Shore Limited (Miller)
2. The White Mary (Salak)
3. Lean Mean Thirteen (Evanovich)
4.  The Accident (Barclay)
5.  The Cut (Pelecanos)
6.  The Hard Way (Child)
7.  Prayers for Sale (Dallas)
8.  Taken (Crais)
9.  Wildwater Walking Club (Cook)
10.  The Affair (Child)
11.  Saint (Dekker)
12.  The Burnt House (Kellerman)
13.  Skylight Confessions (Hoffman)
14.  Bad Blood (Sandford)
13.  The Bean Trees (Kingsolver)
14.  Graceling (Cashore)
15.  Criminal (Slaughter)
16.  Bad Business (Parker)
17.  Little Bee (Cleave)
18.  Hot Mahogany (Woods)
19.  The Mercedes Coffin (Kellerman)

2012 TBR Pile Reading Challenge
Original rules here on the Bookish Blog
The focus is simple - read some of those books in your to-be-read pile - you put them there because they looked good.....

Levels:1-10 - A Firm Handshake
11-20 - A Friendly Hug
21-30 - A Sweet Kiss
31-40 - Love At First Sight
41-50 - Married With Children

1.  The White Mary (Salak)
2.  The Hard Way (Child)
3.  Lean Mean Thirteen (Evanovich)
4.  Bad Business (Parker)

100+ Books
I've GOT TO DO THIS one of these years!

1. Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Taylor) 432 pgs. (432 pgs.)
2. Lake Shore Limited (Miller) 288 pgs.  (720 pgs.)
3. Breaking Silence (Castillo) 302 pgs. (1,002 pgs.)
4.  A Month of Sundays (White) 176 pgs. (1178 pgs.)
5.  May B. a Novel (Rose) 233 pgs. (1411  pgs.)
6.  No Ordinary Day (Ellis) 160 pgs.  (1571 pgs.)
7.  Jellicoe Road (Marchetta) 419 pgs  (1990 pgs.)
8.  I Am J (Beam) 340 pgs. (2330 pgs.)
9.  The White Mary (Salak) 368 pgs. (2698 pgs.)
10.  Small as an Elephant (Jacobson) 278 pgs. (2976 pgs.)
11.  Lean Mean Thirteen (Evanovich) 310 pgs. (3286 pgs.)
12.  After Obsession (Jones & Wedel) 308 pgs. (3594 pgs.)
13.  The Accident (Barclay) 400 pgs. (3994 pgs.)
14.  The Cut (Pelecanos) 292 pgs. (4286 pgs.)
15.  Unraveling Isobel (Cook) 290 pgs. (4576 pgs.)
16.  The Hard Way (Child) 384 pgs. (4960 pgs.)
17.  Think of a Number (Verdon) 418 pgs. (5378 pgs.)
18.  Irises (Stork) 288 pgs. (5666 pgs.)
19.  Prayers for Sale (Dallas) 305 pgs. (5971 pgs.)
20.  The Amanda Project:  The Invisible I (Kantor) 292 pgs. (6263 pgs.)
21.  Delirium (Oliver) 441 pgs. (6704 pgs.)
22.  Here Lies Linc (Ray) 308 pgs. (7012 pgs.)
23.  The Unwanteds (McMann) 390 pgs. (7402  pgs.)
24.  Taken (Crais) 352 pgs. (7754 pgs.)
25.  Wildwater Walking Club (Cook) 256 pgs. (8016 pgs.)
26.  The Affair (Child) 416 pgs. (8432 pgs.)
27.  Lone Wolf (Picoult) 421 pgs. (8853 pgs.)
28.  The Burnt House (Kellerman) 464 pgs. (9317 pgs.)
29.  Blank Confession (Hautman) 170 pgs. (9487 pgs.)
30.  Saint (Dekker) 353 pgs. (9840 pgs.)
31.  Available Dark (Hand) 264 pgs. (10,114 pgs.)
32.  Ten Miles Past Normal (Dowell) 211 pgs. (10,.325 pgs.)
33.  Same Sun Here (House & Vaswani) 298 pgs. (10,623 pgs.)
34.  Pandemonium (Oliver) 375 pgs. (10,998 pgs.)
35.  Getaway (Brackmann) 312 pgs.(11,310 pgs.)
36.  Skylight Confessions (Hoffman) 272 pgs. (11,582 pgs.)
37.  Where Children Sleep (Mollison) 120 pgs. (11,702 pgs.)
38.  Bad Blood (Sandford) 388 pgs. (12,090 pgs.)
39.  Dash & Lily's Book of Dares (Cohn & Levithan) 260 pgs. (12,350 pgs.)
40.  The Poacher's Son (Doiron) 324 pgs. (12,674 pgs.)
41.  Shadow of Night (Harkness) 584 pgs. (13,258 pgs.)
42.  The Book Whisperer (Miller) (yay, me....nonfiction!) 228 pgs. (13,486 pgs.)
43.  The Bean Trees (Kingsolver) 232 pgs. (13,718 pgs.)
44.  Gone Missing (Castillo) 277 pgs. (13,995  pgs.)
45.  Summer of the Gypsy Moths (Pennypacker) 275 pgs. (14,270 pgs.)
46.  Graceling (Cashore) 471 pgs. (14,741 pgs.)
47.  Caleb's Crossing (Brooks) 306 pgs. (15,047 pgs.)
48.  The Year of the Book (Cheng) 160 pgs.(15,207 pgs.)
49.  Violet Mackerel's Brilliant Plot (Branford) 103 pgs. (15,310 pgs.)
50.  Shut Your Eyes Tight (Verdon) 509 pgs. (15,819 pgs.)
51.  Criminal (Slaughter) 448 pgs. (16,267 pgs.)
52.  Bad Business (Parker) 336 pgs. (16,603 pgs.)
53.  The Day Before (Schroeder) 309 pgs. (16,912 pgs.)
54.  Following Grandfather (Wells) 58 pgs. (16,970 pgs.)
55.  12.21: A Novel (Thomason) 328 pgs. (17,298 pgs.)
56.  A Long Walk to Water (Park) 122 pgs. (17,420 pgs.)
57.  Akimbo and the Crocodiles (Smith) 80 pgs. (17,500 pgs.)
58.  The Language of Flowers (Diffenbaugh) 324 pgs. (17,824 pgs.)
60.  Little Bee (Cleave) 288 pgs. (18,212 pgs.)
61.  Hot Mahogany (Woods) 304 pgs. (18,516 pgs.)
62.  Son (Lowry) 393 pgs. (18,909 pgs.)
63.  The Mercedes Coffin (Kellerman) 384 pgs. (19,293 pgs.)

Friday, December 16, 2011

73. Unlucky in Law - Perri O'Shaughnessy

Nina Reilly #10
audio read by Laural Merlington
2004, Brilliance Audio
10 discs, 12 hours
464 pages
Liked it (3)

Setting:  Contemporary Monterey Peninsula (Monterey, Carmel, Salinas)
OSS:  Nina takes over the seemingly already-lost case of Stefan Wyatt, accused of murdering a Russian emigrants daughter and stealing his bones from his gravesite.

Nina Reilly is working for and with her elderly mentor, Claus Pohlman, who is "losing it," and she dares not say anything to him.  Her lover, Paul, who is the PI working on the case, has asked her to marry him, but she is unsure of how to respond.  She has relocated for the time being from Tahoe to Monterey/Carmel, and her son, Bob, hates it there.

The mystery is many-layered and unfolds in an extremely interesting way.  It includes the story of the lost  Russian Romanov csar, an long-dead Russian emigrant, and a case that seems to be cut and dried.  It was interesting and kept me looking forward to the next sitting.

MOVIE - Footloose

Fun to watch and compare to the 1984 version
Wide release 10-14-11
12-15-11 at Crossroads, alone with about 6 other single women scattered around the theater
PG-13 (1:53)
RT: critics and audience both 71%
cag:  Liked it
Director:  Craig Brewer
Paramount Studios

Dennis Quaid (Preacher), Andie McDowell (wife) Kenny Wormald (Ren) Julianne Hough (Ariel) Miles Teller (Willard)

This movie followed its original, 27 year old version, quite a bit.  (How can the original be 27 years old???) The one big difference, and one that really made sense, was the Ren's single mom had just died of leukemia, and he had been by her side throughout.  He, too, knew firsthand what it was to lose a loved one.  It also gave his character a depth that was missing in Kevin Bacon's role.

Kenny Wormald is adorable.  The guy who played his best friend was just great.  I loved the way the movie was cast, I totally enjoyed the music, and I loved that it began with the night, 3 years before, that had killed Ariel's brother - complete with the Kenny Loggins' version of the song, "Footloose."  I love Blake Shelton, but I wish his version of "Footloose" sounded more Blake Shelton-y.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

MOVIE - The Muppets

Slow and boring
Wide release 11-23-11
12-13-11 at El Con with Rachel
PG (1:42)
RT critics:  97% audience: 91% (boy do I differ from them this time)
Director:  James Bobin
Walt Disney Pictures

Jason Segel (who also cowrote and produced), Amy Adams, Jack Black
Lots of cameos:  Emilyy Blunt, Jim Parsons, Neil Patrick Harris, Alan Arkin......

Preceded by five previews and a short film, we didn't walk out of the theater until two and a half hours after we walked in.  And yawn.  It was so slow, especially the scenes with good ol' Kermit.  When the whole cast broke into dance, and Jason Segel broke into song I didn't know what to think.  I love musicals, but this just didn't work for me.  I was so looking forward to it....maybe that was the problem!

Gary's "brother," Walter, a muppet, is a huge fan of the original Muppets.  So when Gary takes his girlfriend Mary (Adams) to LA for a 10-year dating anniversary, Walter accompanies them.  They go to the falling-down Muppet Studio for a tour, and Walter overhears nasty  Tex Richman planning to purchase the old property and tear it down to drill for oil.  Thus the plot is hatched to track down the original Muppets, who have all gone their separate ways, for one big telethon show.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

MOVIE - Tower Heist

a fun flick!
Wide release 11-4-11
12-5-11 at El Con with Sheila
PG-13 (1:39)
RT critics:  68%  RT audience:  61%
I liked it (3)
Director:  Brett Ratner
Universal Pictures

Ben Stiller, Casey Affleck, Eddie Murphy, Alan Alda

Ben Stiller is the general manager at a high-class high-rise in Manhattan.  The most important resident, played by Alan Alda, lives in the penthouse.  Lives are shaken up when Alda is arrested by the FBI and it is discovered that all his riches have disappeared - including all the pensions of the employees of the building.  When Stiller confronts Alda, he is fired....and the plan is hatched to try to recover some of the funds that they're sure Alda has hidden right there in his penthouse.

72. The Tale of Halcyon Crane - Wendy Webb

read on my phone through Kindle
2010, Henry Holt & Co.
352 pages
written for adults
Rating:  It was okay
Some reviewers called this an "eerie gothic mystery." It was a ghost story, but I didn't find it particularly eerie, or even too mysterious.

Setting:  Contemporary Grand Manitou Island in Michigan
OSS:  After receiving a letter from the mother Hallie has always thought was dead, she travels to her ancestral home to be accosted by a group of ghosts and memories of her NOW dead mother.  Fast, implausbile love interest as well.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

MOVIE - The Descendants

Hawaii, George Clooney, an interesting, complex story, and wonderful acting - the whole deal!
Released Limited 11-18-11
12-9-11 at El Con with Fran
R (1:51)
RT: Critics 90% Audience 80%
cag Loved it!
Director:  Alexander Payne
Searchlight Pictures

Shaliene Woodley, George Clooney

MOVIE - In Time

Saturday, December 3, 2011

2011 Movie List

54 movies so far this year.....Four that were over-the-top awesome, and six more I absolutely loved!

Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked (12-29-11) It was okay (cute) (2)
Beginners (12-23-11) Liked it a lot (4)
Footloose (12-15-11) Liked it (3)
The Muppets (12-13-11) Didn't like it (1)
The Descendants (12-9-11) Loved it (5)
Tower Heist (12-5-11) Liked it (3)
In Time (12-2-11) Liked it a lot (4)
Breaking Dawn Part 1 (11-24-11) Liked it a lot (4)
The Big Year (11-18-11) Liked it (3)
The Names of Love
Columbiana Liked it a lot (4)
The Three Musketeers (10-30-11) Didn't like it (1)
Mighty Macs Liked it a lot (4)
Cowboys and Aliens Liked it (3)
Horrible Bosses It was okay (2)
Friends with Benefits Liked it a lot (4)
Terri Liked it (3)
Nora's Will Liked it a lot (4)
The Debt It was okay (2)
Super 8 (8-26-11) It was okay(2)
Mr. Popper's Penguins (8-22-11) Liked it a lot (4)
The Help (8-16-11) Liked it (3)
Harry Potter & the Deathly Harrows (8-8-11) It was okay (2)
Crazy, Stupid, Love (8-7-11) Liked it a lot (4)
The Double Hour (7-30-11) Liked it a lot (4)
Transformers: Dark of the Moon (7-21-11) Didn't like it (1)
Queen to Play (Joueuse) (7-16-11) Liked it (3)
Larry Crowne (7-11-11) Liked it (3)
Midnight In Paris (6-18-11) Awesome, a favorite (6)
Amreeka (6-9-11) Liked it (4)
Source Code (6-8-11) Loved it (5)
Incendies (5-29-11) Awesome (6)
Thor Liked It (2)
The Beaver Loved it (5)
The Adjustment Bureau It was okay (2)
Bridesmaids (5-11) Loved it (5)
Jane Eyre (4-28-11) Liked it a lot (4)
Hanna (4-23-11) It was okay (2)
Lincoln Lawyer (4-21-11) Liked it (3)
Win Win (4-17-11) Liked it a lot (4)
Paul (3-20-11) Liked it (3)
No Strings Attached (3-26-11) Loved it (5)
Cedar Rapids (3-19-11) Liked it a lot (4)
Beastly (3-15-11) It was okay (2)
The Fighter (3-6-11) Awesome (6)
Gnomeo and Juliet (3-1-11) Didn't like it (1)
I am Number Four (2-22-211) It was okay (2)
The Unknown (2-21-11) Liked it a lot (4)
The Social Network (2-14-11) Awesome (6)
Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (2-13-11) It was okay (2)
True Grit (2-5-11) Loved it (5)
Tiny Furniture (2-4-11) Didn't like it (1)
Country Strong (1-12-11) Liked it (3)
The King's Speech (1-5-11) Awesome (6)

Here's my complete movie list back through August of 2008......  Click here......

MOVIE - Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1

Splendid scenery, set, and makeup
Wide release 11/18/11
viewed at El Con on Thanksgiving 11/24/11 by myself
PG-13 (1:57)
RT critics:  26% RT audience:  70% cag: 89%
Director:  Bill Condon

Gorgeous sets…the Cullen house, viewed from the outside, in the middle of the woods, lit up…spectacular!  The woods themselves, expecially the aerial views, are wondrous (especially to a lover-of-the-woods).  The wedding set.  The house on the beach on the island near Rio.  The sets alone were worth the cost of a ticket.

If I didn’t know the story, I think I would have scoffed and snorted all the way through.The movie seemed to almost completely follow the book.   I didn't seem to mind Kristin Stewart's acting so much in this one, and the makeup and special effects used to make her look sicker and sicker were really well done.  I very much enjoyed this.

Bella and Edward get married and, despite Edward being afraid he'd get too vampiric during lovemaking, he didn't kill her.  But she did get pregnant - and of course, it would be an unusual pregnancy.  The baby was fast growing and began killing Bella from the inside out because of it's vampiric needs.  Watching how the wolves, the Cullen family, and Bella's family deal with everything that happens is actually quite enjoyable to watch.  I wouldn't go to re-see any of the previous movies, but I would this one.

71. Wonderstruck - Brian Selznik

A novel in words and pictures
Scholastic Press, 2011
640 pgs.
For: everyone
Rating: Liked it
A visual masterpiece!

There are two stories for the first 500-or-so pages, one of a boy in 1977 Minnesota who has just lost his single-parent mom, and one of a deaf girl in Hoboken, NJ in 1927. They connect as you near the end of the book. One of the stories is using words, only. The other is using pictures, only.

In his acknowledgements, Brian Selznick says he spent seven rainy weeks in a cabin in the woods in Peterorough, NH, working on the book. These illustrations must have taken a lot longer than that, though!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

MOVIE - The Big Year

"Obsessed birders with heart"
Fun to watch these three really good actors
Wide Release 10-14-11
11-16-11 at Kolb cheap theater, alone
PG (1:40)
RT:  39%  cag: 86% (at least)
Director:  David Frankel
20th Century Fox

Steve Martin, Owen Wilson, Jack Black
Stu Preissler (Steve Martin - a retiring business magnate with a very loving marriage)
Kenny Bostick (Owen Wilson - obsessed title-holding birder, ignores his beautiful, trying-to-get pregnant wife)
Brad Harris (Jack Black - 30-something divorced loner, close to his parents, who wants to achieve something great in his life)

Throw in a year of following the unusual birds all over North America so that they get the biggest amount of sitings and some beautiful sights across the country in all sorts of weather, a few good chuckles, and you have a very watchable, enjoyable movie.  I very much enjoyed it.  Having worked for a birding company (as the bookkeeper) for a number of years, I "get" the obsession.....

70. Sisterhood Everlasting - Ann Brashares

read by Angela Goethals (excellently)
"Four friends, one sisterhood....ten years later"
Random House Audio, 2011
$4000 (TPPL)
8 unabridged cds
10 hrs.
368 pages
Rating:  1.5

Constant, nonstop depressing - not a good ending novel, a whole different feel.

Bee becomes a filthy, self-centered vagabond, Lena has spent ten years alone and out of the sunshine for some unknown reason, Carmen has become a somewhat shallow tv actress, and Tibby has dropped out-of-sight by moving to Australia and stopping communication with the foursome.  So what happens in the six month time period that encompasses this book made me crazy.  Hated the darkness, and hated what had happened to the personalities and closeness of these friends over the ten years.

Monday, November 14, 2011

How Dalia Put a Big Yellow Comforter Inside a Tiny Blue Box – Linda Heller

(And Other Wonders of Tzedakah)
Illustrated by Stacey Dressen McQueen
Tricycle Press, 2011
HC $16.99
32 pgs.
Rating: 4
Endpapers: Bright yellow background, completely covered with a one-piece cut paper illustration
Acrylics and oil pastel. Very nice.
Afterword: An excellent history of tzedakah and tzedakah boxes.

First line/s: Dalia liked to learn things and make things, and she did just that at the community center.

Dalia teaches her younger brother, Yossi, about caring about others by teaching him about her tzedakah box. She adds money to hers from selling lemonade, her birthday, and weeding the garden. She has Yossi join her when she returns to the community center, and the children combine their tzedakah to purchase a warm comforter, a beautiful butterfly bush, and yummy banana cream pie, which they then give to an elderly, lonely shut-in.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

69. The Weird Sisters - Eleanor Brown

audio read by Kirsten Potter (she was great)
Penguin Audio, 2011
$39.95 TPPL
9 unabridged cds
10.5 hours
336 pgs.
Rating:  4
NYTimes Review (from 1/16/11) excellent plot summary
The Reading Lark book review - I love her format, and I agree with so much of her thinking!

First line/s:  We came home because we were failures.

Setting:  Contemporary rural Barnwell, Ohio, a small college town and hour from Columbus (I think)
OSS:  Three very different sisters return home at the same time and show us, the reader, why they hate and love each other.

The three sisters told the story as "we," which I suppose was very clever and difficult to write, but which I didn't really like.  The father, a Shakespearean scholar, professor, and fanatic, and  his wife, a stay-at-home mother who was a free spirit in her own right, have raised three daughters in a home with lots and lots of books and no television.  They go to a "hippie/granola" school, then to the small college where their father teaches.  They are all bright, and all tainted in some way - as we all are.  Named for Shakespeare heroines Rosalind (Rose), Bianca (Bean) and Cordelia (Cordy) love each other fiercely, but while comparing themselves to each other run amok.

I enjoyed the book without really liking any of the characters...well, I did like Cordelia.  Everyone has flaws.  They had lots...and they overcame them all so that the ending is a lovely, tidily wrapped up package.  It's nice to know that you can like a book without really liking its characters.  Lots to think about with that, alone!

Friday, November 4, 2011

68. Waiting for the Magic - Patricia MacLachlan

Atheneum Books, 2011
HC $15.99
for:  Middle grades
144 pgs. (quick read)
Rating:  5

First Line/s:  It was early on a Saturday summer morning when my mother and father stopped arguing and Papa walked away.  He is a teacher of literature at the college, so he could have said words when he left.  He didn't.  And this time he didn't slam the door.  He shut it with a small soft sound that made me jump.

Setting:  A small contemporary college town somewhere in America.
OSS:  William and his little sister, Elinor, deal with the departure of their father and the withdrawal of their mother when a number of new family members are added to their life.

William and his comical four year old sister/princess are left with a grieving mom and a huge surprise.  I think the surprise would be exciting for any kid....I was really excited at the idea, myself, and about how these two children would feel.  So I'm about to add some major spoilers NOT read on if you haven't read the book, because being surprised - and pleased - a tickled - and excited - is part of the delicious reading experience of this book.

SPOILERS:  So Mama takes them to the animal shelter to get a dog.  But they don't get a dog.  Or two dogs. Or even three.  And throw in a cat.  And, near the end of the book throw in a new sibling.  But the biggest surprise, is the way that the animals and the family communicate.

Lots of gentle humor, complex characters despite the simplicity of the book, I absolutely, 100% loved it - and I don't even like dogs!!!!!

Oh, this woman knows not only how to write beautifully, but how to spin a story.  This one was spun.  Elegantly.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

53. Inside Out & Back Again - Thanhha Lai

Harper, 2011
HC, $15.00
for:  Middle Grades
264 pgs.
Rating:  5

First Line/s   Today is Tet/ the first day/ of the lunar calendar

Every Tet/ we eat sugary lotus seeds/ and glutinous rice cakes./ We all wear new clothes,/ even underneath

Mother warns/ how we act today/ foretells the whole year.

Everyone must smile/ no matter how we feel.

No one can sweep,/ for why swap away hope?/ No one can splash water,/ for why splash away joy?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

67. Shine - Lauren Myracle

Amulet Books/Abrams, 2011
HC $16.95 (Lib)
For:  YA
360 pgs.
Rating:  4

First line/s:  Patrick's house was a ghost.  Dust coated the windows, the petunias in the flower boxes bowed their heads, and spiderwebs clotted the eaves of the porch.  Once I would have marveled at the webs -- how delicate they were, how intricate --  but today I saw ghastly silk ropes.  Nooses for sawflies and katydids and anything guileless enough to be ensnared

Setting:  Contemporary Appalachia, Black Creek, NC near Asheville.
OSS:  16-year-old Cat comes back to life after pulling her head into her shell for the past three years when her gay best friend, Patrick, is brutalized and left for dead.

Cat ells her story and discovers Patrick's in bits and pieces.  Slowly events of the last three years and events of the last week are illuminated as she unrolls the mystery of Patrick's almost-killing.  It's great to see her spirit come alive again.  It's also true that not everything is ever exactly as it seems.

And big message:  meth is deadly.  And the way it can establish itself in a community - especially one in extreme poverty - is examined in this story.

Lots of good stuff to think about.  It went fast.  Good story and good storytelling.

Monday, October 24, 2011

66. Chime - Franny Billingsley

Dial Book, 2011
HC $17.99
for:  young adults
361 pgs.
Rating:  2.5

First line/sI've confessed to everything and I'd like to be hanged.
Setting:  Early 20th century in Swampsea, a swampy town on the moors in England
OSS:  Briony Larkin feels responsible for her sister Rose's mental disabilities, her stepmother's crippling and death, and has to hide the fact that she's a witch and can talk to the spirits in the swamps.

Some part of this book I very much enjoyed - the humor and wordplay between Briony and Eldric for one, but some drove me crazy - the repetition of thoughts (purposely done) and the uncertainty in my mind that Briony wasn't the sister with a mental problem.  There was too much that I couldn't understand, especially the Arm thingy that takes people hands and rips them off (this is something that arises from the swamps).  People seem to accept some things, weird and unspoken things, but totally detest the idea of a witch.  There was just too much that didn't make sense to me.  And I enjoy fantasy -- look back at all the paranormal fantasies that I've read and adored.  This one just didn't do it for me.

This is also about the growing inimacy between Briony and Eldric, the bonds between the two twins, and a town that has lived with witches and demons and swamp creatures for centuries. 

The book has been nominated for a National Book Award (or something similar), that's why I drove all over town to find it and read it.  The blurbs on the back of the book make it sound incredible.  I wish I could agree.

Friday, October 21, 2011

MOVIE - Cowboys and Aliens

There have always been aliens from or in the past....right?  Great storytelling!
Released 7-29-11
PG-13 (1:58)
RT:  cag:
Director:  Jon Favreau
Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, Keith Carradine

65. A Discovery of Witches - Deborah Harkness

Viking, 2011
43 chapters, 580 pgs.
HC $28.95
for: adults
Rating:  5 (I really don't want to give it a 5, but it was lovely writing, a hard-to-put-down plot and storyline, characters that were so well defined I felt as if I knew them,  and a strong, smart, librarian/scholar protagonist.  Everything I love in a book.  And I loved this book.....)

First line/lines:  The leather-bound volume was nothing remarkable.  To an ordinary historian, it would have looked no different from hundreds of other manuscripts in Oxford's Bodleian Library, ancient and worn.  But I knew there was something odd about it from the moment I collected it.

Setting: Contemporary Oxford, for the first third of the book; in the countryside near Lyon, France for the second third; and upstate New York for the third third.
OSS:  Diana Bishop, a noted American historian and college professor who has always tried to ignore her roots as a witch, becomes involved with a vampire while trying to unravel the secret of an ancient book of alchemy.

As I read the last page, I was quite disappointed that I didn't know the final, "final," outcome, but decided to like the ending because of the hugely entertaining possibilities, and started to examine the fine print of the book.   A DISCOVER OF WITCHES IS PART ONE IN THE ALL SOULS TRILOGY.  LOOK FOR THE NEXT NOVEL IN 2012.  NO NO NO NO NO !!!!!

How will I ever remember every character and their part in the story between now and when a sequel comes out?

Witches and vampires and daemons.  All hate each other and have for millenniums.  Humans factor very little in this book (if at all), all the main players are creatures - namely witches, vampires, and daemons.  They are not supposed to mix, to fraternize, and a natural animosity usually even keeps them from being friends.  Until Diana Bishop and Matthew Clairmont meet.  KABOOM!  Sparks fly.  Literally.

Diana has always suppressed her witch tendencies.  She wants to be ordinary.  But a subhuman amount of adrenaline keep her running, rowing, and doing yoga whenever she's not researching.  She has no close friends (oddly), and the two aunts that raised her after her parents' murder worry obsessively about her. Although she is very attractive and has had lovers before, there are no males in her life. She has kept herself aloof emotionally, which is the perfect for what is about to happen.

Diana is no wimp.  She is no Bella - thankfully.  She is more of a Hermione, with a touch more determination and spunk (though Hermione did gather those possessions as she matured.)  Diana comes from a long line of Bishops, originating, she thinks, from Bridget Bishop who was killed during the Salem witch trials in the late 15th century.

I loved the first third of the book, the part that took place in Oxford.  The French part was really interesting, the American third had so much change and new information to absorb that I didn't enjoy it quite as much.  I can't believe that I decided to read an almost 600 page novel, but I'm really glad I did!