Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku - Lee Wardlaw

Illustrated by Eugene Yelchin
2011, Henry Holt & Co.
32 pages
Rating:  4.5
Endpapers:  Navy & lt. blue/gray cat fur, close up

Very cool story, told entirely in haiku (3 lines, syllables count! 5-7-5) about a huge-eyed Siamese cat who is adopted from an animal shelter and taken home by a young boy.  Count the syllables.

Nice place they got there
Bed. Bowl. Blankie.  Just like home!
or so I've been told.

Yawn.  String-on-a-stick.
Fine.  I'll come out and chase it
to make you happy.

Help!  I've been catnapped,
dressed in frillies, forced to lap
tea with your sister.

Artwork:  fully cover page.  The at is great.  "Graphite and gouache on watercolor paper."  They're nice, very nice.

Alphabet Bird Collection - Shelli Ogilvy

Illustrated by the author
Sasquatch Books, Seattle; 2009
ages 3 up
56 pages
Endpapers:  Dark, deep slate blue
Book design:  Beautifully laid out.  Double page spreads.  No white.  Each spread is a different background color:  mustard, burgundy, blue, black, plum, peach clay.... Square pages.  Bordered illustration on one, couplet, short explanation, and "how the bird's song sounds" on the other.  I admit, though, the song part didn't sound like bird songs to me -- my singing and pronunciation must be off.

Mischievous and strikingly loud,
A group of Magpies make a noisy crowd

In a Guatemala forest's early morning light,
Spy a Quetzal, colorful and bright.

Extension idea:  Create pages for our study of local birds when studying Arizona

Monday, January 30, 2012

MOVIE - Ides of March

Not one single dull moment...
Wide release 10-7-11
Friday 1-27-11 after school at Kolb cheap theater
R (1:40)
RT Critics: 85% Audience 76%
I loved it, it was really good (5.5)
Director:  George Clooney! (he co-wrote the script, too)
Ryan Gossling (wow), George Clooney,

I saw the previews for this many times, and it didn't give away the details that meant the most.  I really appreciate that, usually you know every little thing that's going to happen and there are no surprises.  There were plenty of surprises here.  This was a great story, looking into the dirtiness of politics.  Dirty.  Oh yes. 

Stevie (Gossling) is one of the masterminds behind the presidential run of Clooney's character.  He begins the film as a smart young guy with a bit of a sparkle in his eye and a belief -- and liking -- of his candidate.  He doesn't end the movie like that.  Ryan Gossling is an amazing actor.  He WAS this guy.

The ides of March - the 15th of March - is the date of the Ohio primary, which will probably seal the winner for the Democratic party.  There are two forerunners, and this story is about the battle between them.  And it's about so much more.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

10. Small As an Elephant - Jennifer Richard Jacobson

2011, Candlewick Press
$15.99 TPPL
278 pgs.
Rating:   It was okay

Setting:  Contemporary Mount Desert Island, Maine - Seawall, Bar Harbor, then Trenton, Lamoine, Ellsworth, Bucksport, Searsport...
OSS:  And 11-year old is abandoned in Maine by his bipolar mother and has to figure out how to find her so that the DSS doesn't find out and separate them.
1st sentence/s:  "Elephants can sense danger.  They're able to detect an approaching tsunami or earthquake befofre it hits.  Unfortuantely, Jack did not have this talent.  The day his life was turned completely upside down, he was caught unaware."

What a delightful treat to know every single place that Jack visited - whether it was Ben & Bill's on Main Street in Bar Harbor, or the sight of Fort Knox in the distance, or even the long expanse of road between Ellsworth and Bucksport, the author gets every detail down perfectly. That's my home, my tromping ground for 30 years, and it was pretty cool to relive it all in a book that I know children will read and enjoy.

Jack has to figure out what to do.  He has to find his mother, he has to make sure she's okay.  In between the delightful experiences he's had with her throughout his life, he's also had to deal with her "spinning times," when she would spiral out of control and sometimes disappear.  But she has never disappeared like this before, he has always had his home in Jamaica Plain to wait for her.  And he knows that if he goes to the police, the DSS will become involved and he will be separated from her...and this time, she might even have to go to jail!

The entire book is paralleled with his intense interest in all things elephant.  He loves elephants, studies elephants, knows the differences between them and all sorts of stories, facts, fictions related to them.  All this is liberally shared in the book.  Each short chapter begins with a new and interesting fact or story about them.  A small elephant in his pocket helps calm him, and the thought of seeing a live one down the road keeps him going.  My problem....I could care less about elephants.  I didn't like all the extra elephant information.  I'm betting it added great interest for most kids, but.....I'll admit it....I either didn't read or skimmed these parts.

So all in all what did I think?  An 11-year old on the road all by himself for over a week?  As a kid I think I would have loved this premise.  What a great plotline.  Of course, a great setting.  But somehow, I couldn't wait for the book to be over.  I'm thinking it was the elephants.....

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Compost Stew - Mary McKenna Siddals

an A to Z Recipe for the Earth
Illustrated by Ashley Wolff
Triangle Press, Berkeley, 2010
32 pgs
Rating:  4
Endpapers:  Collaged, dark brown earth, other brown pieces, hand cut worms
Illustrations are cut paper with drawing added (the faces - all kids - are really nice. A + !!

A "rhyming recipe" on what to add into a stew of goodies to make rich compost
"Environmental chefs,
here's a recipe for you
to fix from scratch
to mix a batch
of Compost Stew."
From A (apple cores) to Z (zinnia heads) it's an unforced alphabet of all sorts of things you can put into compost.

AUTHOR'S NOTE at the beginning and CHEF'S NOTE at the end are full of info - and some is very cleverly funny.

Friday, January 27, 2012

MOVIE - The Artist

Surprisingly delightful!
Limited Released 11-25-11
1-26-11 at ElCon with Sheila, Kate, Linda
PG-13 (1:40)
RT Critics: 97%   Audience: 91%
Rating:  4/Loved it
Director:  Michel Hazanavicius
The Weinstein Company
Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo

The whole film is about sound/s.  A silent film superstar is ruined when "talkies" and the stock market crash happen simultaneously.  Ah, but it was about so much more, too.  It was about how the handsome star met a beautiful young ingenue as she was about to begin her career, how she revered him,love him,  rocketed to stardom, stayed sane and grounded, and ultimately saved the handsome star.  George Valentin and Peppy Miller.

Dujardin has a very ordinary face, but when he smiles, his whole face radiates happiness.  It's gorgeous. 
And Bejo, with her hip 20's haircut is a combination of ultra-cute and quite beautiful.  What a great pairing!

The sounds of the movie were amazingly done throughout.  Background silence...or no sound but the clink of a cup on a table surface...or the rise and fall of a great score...sometimes exactly like the old silent movies, sometimes very different.  Fascinating.

This movie was a real delight.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

9. The White Mary - Kira Salak

audio read by Joyce Bean
2008, Brilliance Audio
10 cds, 12 hours
368 pgs.
Written for adults
Rating:  4/Liked it a lot

Setting:  Contemporary Boston and Papua New Guinea
OSS:  A young, female journalist risks her life tramping through the tropical rainforest of Papua New Guinea following a tenuous clue about her dead hero.
1st Sentence:  "The black waters of Elobi Creek show no sign of a current  It is another dead waterway, Marika tells herself, one that will breed only mosquitoes and crocodiles.  Another waterway that somehow reflects -- in the darkness of the water, in its stillness -- all of her failings."

I certainly had no idea the direction of the plot when I began this book. Marika Vecera, a talented 33-year old journalist who has seen horrible things - genocide, torture, rape, unbelievable despair -  in all sorts of countries around the world, lives, herself, in despair, never allowing herself any happiness.  When she becomes involved in writing a biography of journalist Robert Lewis, whom she has idolized her whole adult life,  she begins a journey through the incredible, dense jungles of Papua New Guinea....a journey that helps her emerge from her despair to begin to understand and appreciate her own life.

8. I Am J - Cris Beam

2011, Little Brown &  Co.
340 pgs.
Written for YA

Setting:  Contemporary NYC
OSS:  Being born male in a female body and dealing with that, silently, for your whole life....that's where we meet J at the beginning of his senior year. 
1st sentence/s:  "I could smell the hostility, the pretense, the utter fakeness of it all before they even climbed the last set of stairs."

What an intriguing, informative read!  J, born Jenifer to a Puerto Rican mom and a Jewish dad, has always known that he was a boy, born with the wrong body.  Now in his senior year, and never having discussed this with anyone, he is ready to become the person he feels he has always been.  Dressing in layers of clothing to hide body parts that he feels shouldn't be there, speaking very little, so that his soft voice is not detected, have to be changed.  But he has to figure out a way to tell his parents, and he's afraid of their reaction.  Even though they've always seen the boy, they still consider him their daughter.  He loves them.  He so badly wants and needs their understanding. 

His only friend is Melissa, who seems to understand him, but who he's never discussed his predicament with.  Other than that he has no friends, and no one to talk to. Until now.  He's studied up.  He's learned about testosterone injections. And then he discovers a school that is FOR kids like him.  He makes a friend, reluctantly talks to a counselor, joins a support group.....and finally makes friends.  Friends that understand him, friends that he can talk. 

This was an intriguing, thoughtful read.  Cris Beam adds a wonderful afterward and a list of sites and books and information that would be helpful to any transgender teen.  She's volunteered at a school similar to J's, she is foster mom to a transgender teen.  She knows what she's talking about, which makes this even better.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

7. Jellicoe Road - Melina Marchetta

2006 Australia, 2008 USA, HarperTeen
419 pages
Rating:  Awesome/5
Michael L. Printz Award

Setting:  Australia, somewhere in the Sydney vicinity.
OSS:  A 17-year-old orphan, still yearning for the mother who abandoned her, traces all sorts of secrets that ultimately lead to her own future.
1st sentence/s:  "My father took 132 minutes to die."

There are reviews of this book all over the web, mine would never do it justice. It was everything I look for in a perfect novel.  A seamless, well-plotted storyline; lovely writing; characters that become real, they're so well written, and a mystery.

Taylor Markham has little memory of her growing-up years with her drug-addicted mother, she only knows that she was abandoned at 11 and sent to a boarding school on the Jellicoe Road.  The only adult in her life since that time has been a woman named  Hannah, who works at the school but lives in a house on the riverside, quite close by.  And now it is Taylor's last year, and for six weeks a school ritual is about to begin - "wars" between the townies, the school, and the Cadets who come each year to camp and live in the wild.  From the lives and memories of five close friends 18 years previously, to the lives of five who will end up being close friends in the future, I am left to ponder love and family, grief and forgiveness, secrets and honesty.  Wow.  what a book.

The last line of the blurb on the jacket is what made me begin this book (finally): " If Taylor can put together the pieces of her past, she might just be able to change her future."

Oh, how many times I've taken this out of the library and returned it without beginning.  And to think I almost didn't read it this time, either.  What a shame.  This book is bound to be a favorite.  Incredible story-weaving, and gorgeous word-weaving.

Friday, January 20, 2012

6. No Ordinary Day - Deborah Ellis

2011, Groundwork Books, House of Anansi Press
160 pages
Written for middle grades (however a small caution:  although nothing is ever said outright, at one point Valli is almost sold to a house of prostitution, and she also sees boys disappearing with older men, never to return.  It is subtle, but present.  However, it must be a huge part of life on the streets in a city in India...or anywhere in the world.  But would I share it with my fourth graders?  Hmmmm.)
Rating:  Liked it a lot/4

Setting:  Contemporary Kolkata (Calcutta), India
OSS:  A homeless, orphan Indian girl adapts to life in the streets until she meets...and ultimately trusts....a female doctor.
1st sentence:  The best day in my life was the day I found out I was alone in the world.

Deborah Ellis is amazing.  Valli is homeless and all alone in the world.  She lives on the streets of Kolkata (Calcutta) begging, stealing (she calls it borrowing), practical joking, and finding safe places to sleep.  She is afraid of "the monsters" that she occasionally sees, people who have leprosy, little knowing that she has it, too.  Granted, it's in the beginning stages, but.....  She meets a doctor, a female doctor, in a very believable way, a doctor who recognizes this kid as the smart young lady that she is, and teaches her to trust in a way that she's never understood before.  Short, powerful book.  Valli is so believable...smart and funny and full of amazing questions about everything.

Oh....every bit of royalty from this book goes to a leprosy foundation in Canada (Ellis is a Canadian writer).

Thursday, January 19, 2012

5. May B. a Novel - Caroline Starr Rose

a novel told in verse
2012, Schwartz & Wade Books, Random House
233 pgs.
Written for middle grades
Liked it
Historical Fiction
Lots of starred reviews **

Setting:  Late 19th century Kansas prairie.
OSS:  May B. is "lent" by her family to help out a new farmer and his young wife in their sod house...an unhappy proposition made even worse when she is abandoned with no way to leave the homestead.
1st sentence/s: 
I won't go.

"It's for the best," Ma says,
yanking to braid my hair,
trying to make something of what's left.

Ma and Pa want me to leave
and live with strangers.

I won't go.
Loneliness, blizzards, wolves and dyslexia make this a looooong 6 months for May B.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Movie - Joyful Noise

Lots of laughs, with every subplot having a happy ending
Released 1-13-12
1-14-12 at ElCon with Dede
PG-13 (1:57)
RT Critic: 38% RT Audience: 76%
Liked it
Directed by Todd Graff
Warner Brothers Pictures
Queen Latifah, Dolly Parton

The young, male lead, Jeremy Jordan, just stole the show.  He was adorable, comfortable, and a wonderful singer.  Great music.  lots of fun.  Hairstyles galore...they must have had a huge budget for hairstylistss alone.  Every subplot had a happy ending, the entire movie ended with a "one year later" big bang.  A poignant scene (one of my favorite) with a minor tear shed, and lots of great musical entertainment.

Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah live in a tiny town in Alabama, and have always sung in the church choir together.  The choir competes in an area competition, but there's a choir from Detroit that always beats them.  Once again they are on their way to compete against them, when their director dies and Queen Latifah is named as the new choir director.  She and Parton have always been at odds, and since Parton had been married to the previous director, they are even more at odds now.

Parton's grandson, Randy, arrives and shakes things up...not only with Queen Latifah's 16-year old daughter, but with the choir.  He relates really well to Queen Latifah's autistic son, too.  Ups an downs (have to have conflict in a flic, right?) mixed in with some really nice music and you have two hours of excellent entertainment.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Substitute Creature - Chris Gall

illustrated by the author
Little Brown & Co., 2011
HC $16.99
32 pages
Endpapers:  Full double page illustrations of a street on Halloween - before and after the story. (Look for the changes!)
Title Page:  The doors of the school with monster shadow - full page illustration
Illustrations:  all encased with a border
1st sentence/s:
"On a windswept day in late October, the students of Ms. Jenkin's class arrived to a surprise at school.

"Substitute teacher today! announced Peyton.

Amanda giggled and scribbled on the chalkboard.  Luke performed a circus act.  Gavin laughed like a mad scientist.

Then, at precisely eight o'clock, the door to the classroom creaked open.  The substitute teacher entered the room."
Mr. Creacher (a 5-eyed green monster with tentacles) tells his unruly class the tales of six different students who got into trouble in school and the unhappy results - with a twist at the end!

This has a Halloween aspect, but I wouldn't consider it a Halloween book at all.

Rock 'N' Roll Mole - Carolyn Crimi

Illustrated by Lynn Munsinger
Dial Books for Young Readers (Penguin) 2011
HC $16.99
32 pages
Rating:  4
Endpapers:  Violet-blue
Title Page:  Mole being followed by the three chicks that adore him"
Illustrations:  Big, bold, colorful, fun

1st sentence/s:
Mole had a rock-and-roll soul,
He woke up each morning yelling,
"Let's rock the house!"
Mole is ultra-cool -- his strut, his leather jacket, and his shades all prove it.  And hi music is great.  But...he can't perform in front of an audience.  He gets stage fright. 

Then his best friend, Raccoon, puts on a talent show and Mole has to come to his aid....

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

4. A Month of Sundays - Ruth White

2011, Margaret Ferguson Books, Farrar Straus Giroux
168 pgs.
Written for middle grades
Hmph.  Probably shouldn't rate it right now when I'm perturbed with the author.  What's wrong with having a feel-good book once in awhile?  It was like everything was turning out TOO well, so Ms. White decided to end it with a little tragedy.  It was an entirely enjoyable read all the way through until the last 10 pages.  I'm not happy.

Setting:  1957 Black River, Virgina.....Appalachia.
OSS:  When Garnet's mother goes to Florida to make a better life for the two of them, she leaves Garnet with an aunt and uncle that she's never known, finding that having a loving family is pretty special.
The title: Garnet accompanies her Aunt June each Sunday to a different area church while her aunt "searches for God." Good, suitable title.
1st sentence/s:  "Before I was born fourteen years ago, my dad, August Rose, left my mom, Betty Rose, for a carnival singer."

Garnet's unsuspecting aunt and uncle are kind to her, they are quite well off and Garnet has always been incredibly poor.  The grandfather ("Poppy") who never knew she existed is thrilled that he has a granddaughter, and she even finds a good-looking beau.  There's some good looks into what I've always considered "holy roller" churches, the laying of hands, speaking in tongues, tent revivals, baptism in the river, and even faith healing, but the reader is allowed to look and sample and think for themselves.  There's preaching but it's not preachy.

There are also some lines from some old familiar hymns quoted.  It's written so that I could, at times, put myself right into the kitchen with the rest of the family.  I liked it a lot.  Except for the last ten pages.  If there was going to be a tragedy, I would have liked it not thrown in at the very last minute, more towards the middle perhaps????  Darn, darn, darn.

3. Breaking Silence - Linda Castillo

3rd in Amish country police chief Kate Burkholder series
2011, Minotaur Books
302 pgs.
Written for adults
Awesome (5)
I think this was the best so far in her series.

Setting:  Painters, Mil, Ohio contemporary wintertime
OSS:  The murder of a family in a manure pit and a spree of hate crimes toward the Amish keep Chief Burkholder and her lover John Tomasetti busy.
The Title:  Castillo is using "silence" as the backbone of each of her titles.  In this installment, one of the aspects of Kate's investigation is that the Amish are incredibly silent and won't help the police with information that might helptheir investigation.
1st Sentence: " The dogs were going to be a problem."

I like Kate. She's interesting. She has flaws. She has a backstory that keeps creeping into her current life. She drinks waaaay too much, and knows it.

I also really like the way that Castillo creates her characters and allows her readers to really feel like they know them. This book is both character driven AND story driven. I found it very difficult to put down.

Two parents and an uncle are found dead in a manure pit - apparently the methane gas created can be quickly toxic. Throughout the book, we discover that things are not as they seem originally. We meet the four orphaned children and are drawn into their lives as Chief Kate Burkholder is. Ike, Sam, Salome, and Mose. Ages 10 to 17. Hmm.

At the same time, Amish are being targeted, buggies pushed into the ditch, barns set on fire, stock killed, members assaulted. These are hard to investigate, and it's interesting to see how clues are found and check out some of the possibilities.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

King Hugo's Huge Ego - Chris VanDusen

Illustrated by the author
Candlewick Press, 2011
HC, $16.99
40 pgs.
Rating:  4.5
Endpapers:  Yellow with darker yellow crest/shield with a slightly darker "H"
Title Pages: Full page illustration (a castle atop rolling green hills)

"Long ago, when people spoke
with words like "thou" and "thee,"
there lived a king named Hugo
who was only three foot three.

And though this mini monarch
stood no higher than an elf,
his ego was enormous --
he thought highly of himself."

Rhyming a b c b
Great vocabulary

Favorite illustration:  Tessa (a sorceress), after being bumped into the river, is grubby, shoeless (a dog is sticking out from under her haystack), she has a bedraggled frog on her head and a turtle on her rear....

Incredibly haughty King Hugo is poxed by a farm girl and his head grows and grows...and grows each time he brags.

Friday, January 6, 2012

2. Lake Shore Limited - Sue Miller

Audio read by the author
8 disks
288 pages
written for adults
Didn't like it (1)
Lovely writing; boring, tedious story; unlikable characters for the most part - it was a pretty endless, repetitive story.

Setting:  Post-9/11 Boston and rural Vermont.
OSS:  Four people connected to a young man who died on 9/11 tell the story of their lives and regrets a few years later.
The title:  The Lake Shore Limited is the title of the play that Billy writes, the catalyst for Billy meeting Sam, and the way that she is able to deal with the death of Gus and her feelings surrounding her own secret guilty feelings about Gus's death on 9/11.

The story weaves in, about, and around the lives of five people from the points-ov-view of four of them.  Gus, raised by his 15-years-older sister, is killed on 9/11.  So even though he is no longer alaive, he's definitely a huge part of the story.

Now, years later, Gus's girlfriend Billy, a playwright, has written a play abouit a husband whose wife might or might not have been killed in a train wreck.  The husband is not filled with grief, he's been having an affair and is not sure how he feels. This is actually a mirror of how Billy feels, she'd been about to break up with Gus, although no one else knows this., Leslie, Gus's sister, has invited her friend Sam to the opening of the play to meet Billy, to perhaps fix them up. Sam had once been in love with Leslie.  His first wife had died of cancer leaving him with three youngish sons, he had remarried and divorced after that. He's tall and good looking, Billy is extremely tiny and good looking.  The fourth voice is of Rafe, the actor who played the husband in the play, who is going though his own heartache - his wife is dying of Lou Gehrig's Disease.

Billy and her dog are particularly unlikable, Sam has incredible snobbish tendencies raise their ugly heads, and Rafe almost seems an unneeded character, I'm not sure why he was included.

I almost stopped listening to this a dozen times, but each time I convinced myself that I'd already spent enough time with it to complete it.  Yuck.  Endless.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

1. Daughter of Smoke and Bone - Lani Taylor

#1 in a new trilogy
read on my phone through Kindle
2011, Little Brown & Co.
432 pages
Written for YA
Awesome (5)

Setting:  Contemporary Prague as well as an otherworld called Eretz.
OSS:  Karou, a human college student raised by chimaera (mixture of different animals), meets Akira, the hated enemy of the chimaera because he is a seraphim.
The title:  As is discovered in the later part of the novel, smoke is a major part of the survival of the chimaera.  And a wishbone, worn by Brimstone, is a huge link to the present and the past...and the truth for Karou.
1st line/s:  "Walking to school over the snow-muffled cobbles, Karou had no sinister premonitions about the day."

This was a fascinating story.  There were surprises along the way, and if you've not read the book, go no further, because I'm going to review this book with possible spoilers.  Why?  Because I can't wait to read the 2nd installment, which won't come out until September and I'll be foggy about the storyline. So here goes.

Karou speaks many languages and is an art student in Prague.  She was raised by four chimaera, reptile heads, snake bodies, different animal body parts in different places, with the head-of-house a powerful being called Brimstone.  Brimstone collects teeth.  Thousands of teeth, teeth from any animal or human.  Karou helps him out by traveling through portals to pick them up and messenger them back.  Although she now lives on her own in an apartment in Prague, she fondly recalls her life with her "family," even though this life still leaves her with countless unanswered questions.

Then Karou "meets' Akira.  Their immediate attraction to each other is marred by violence and antagonism, which quickly disappears.  Karou doesn't understand this pull she has toward Akira.  She soon discovers that he is a seraphim, that angels are the archest enemies of the chimaera...and that there's a terrifying war being fought in anotherworld, one that Brimstone has never let her enter.

That's all the first half of the book.  In the second part, we meet Madrigal, the chimaera who was the absolutely forbidden love of Akira.  Madrigal who was put to death because of their love, which was considered a betrayal by her kind.  So the reader starts to wonder....how are Karou and Madrigal related?  There has to be a relation.....

The secret to everything is behind the reason for Brimstone's obsessive collection and trafficking in teeth.  Those teeth were used to create new "vessels" (bodies) for the souls of killed chimaera.  Souls that were collected from the previous body by a stream of incensed smoke.....

Well, I don't know if this is enough to help me remember what went on in the book.  Let's hope!  Clever, different story.  I look forward to the next in the series.

Mysteries for Kids

I spend the beginning of the school year introducing mysteries.  Using picture book read-alouds, literature circles, and an oral book report, the fourth graders immerse themselves in all sorts of books.

Picture Books

Grandpa's Teeth
Rod Clement, 1997

Clever and funny.  After grandpa's teeth are stolen the police are called in and every possible solution is examined.  Together the town comes togther to help set things right.

Monday, January 2, 2012

2012 TBR List

Piled and stacked, here and there, all over the house, here's my current list of books - audio and actual - that need to be read (or part with them!!!):

100 Cupboards (Wilson) AUDIO
1222 (Holt)
Accidental Adventures of India McAllister (Agell)
Adventures in Africa (Berry)
All Alone in the Universe (Perkins)
American Fiji (Backer)
Atlantis Code (Brokaw)
Bad Business (Parker) AUDIO Listened to Sept. 2012
Bad Day for Sorry, A (Littlefield)
Bastard of Istanbul (Shafak)
Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club (McNeil)
Bed of Red Flowers (Pazira)
Beneath My Mother's Feet (Qamar)
Between Two Deserts (Shames)
Bitsy's Bait & BBQ (Morsi)
Black Olives (Dudman)
Blue Jasmine (Sheth)
Blue Moon (Noel)
Broken Moon (Antieau)
Carved in Bone (Bass)
Case Histories (Atkinson) REREAD
Cathy's Key (Stewart)
Chasing the Jaguar (Greene)
City of Bones (Connelly)
Climbing the Stairs (Venkatraman)
Cold Dish (Johnson)
Confessions of a Closet Catholic (Littman)
Criminal Paradise (Thomas)
Dakota (Grimes) AUDIO
Darkness More than Night (Connelly) eBOOK
Daughter of War (Skrypuch)
Deadly Harvest (Graham) AUDIO
Dead Man's Blood (Hilton)
Dead Sea Codex (Wisseman)
Desert Waits, The (Falk)
Detachment Fault (Miller)
Disappeared, The (Whelan)
Distant Shores: A Novel (Hannah)
Dragonfly Bones (Cole)
Dreaming in English (Fitzgerald)
Eggs (Spinelli)
Elvina's Mirror (Weil)
Esperanza Means Hope (Harvey)
Field of Blood (Mina)
Fisherman's Bend (Greenlaw)
Flower in the Desert, A (Satterthwaite)
Forest Lover (Vreeland) AUDIO
Forgive the River, Forgive the Sky (Whelan)
Friend of the Devil (Robinson) AUDIO DNF-after 1st disc just didn't interest me
Fruitbowl Project, the (Durkee)
Gabby (Giffords/Kelly)
Gardens of Water (Drew)
Girl of Kosovo )Mead)
Girl With a Skirt of Stars (Kitchell)
Going, Going (Nye)
Gone Tomorrow (Child)
Good Indian Wife, A (Cherlan)
Goodnight Irene (Burke)
Hard Way, The (Child) AUDIO Finished March 3, 2012
Hauntings and Heists (The Mysterious Four) (Poblocki)
Haunt Me Still (Carrell)_
Heat Lightning (Sandford)
Hermit's Peak (McGarrity)
He Who Fears the Wolf (Folsum)
I am Lavina Cumming (Lowell)
Illuminated (Bronleewe)
Impossible (Werlin)
In the Bleak Midwinter (Spencer-Fleming)
In the Name of Salome (Alvarez)
Irish Chain (Fowler)
Island, The (Hilderbrand) AUDIO
Janissary Tree, The (Goodwin)
Jimi and Me (Adoff)
Journey of Dreams (Pellegrino)
Keeping Faith (Picoult)
Key to the Repository (Blue Bloods) (De La Cruz)
Kingdom Keepers:  Disney After Dark (Pearson)
Lacemakers of Glenmara (Barbieri)
Lacuna, The (Kingsolver)
Lake of Dreams, The (Edwards)
Last Oracle (Rollins) AUDIO
Last Song Dogs (Browning)
Last Time I Saw You (Berg)
Lean Mean Thirteen (Evanovich) AUDIO Finished Feb. 5, 2012
Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy (Schmidt)
London Eye Mystery (Dowd)
Lush (Friend)
Lying Awake (Salzman)
Map of Love (Soueif)
Map of True Places (Barry)
Masie Dobbs (Winspear)
Matisse on the Loose (Bragg)
Midnight Cactus (Pollen)
Milkweed (Spinelli)
Minaret (Aboulela)
Mogo, the Third Warthog (Napoli)
Monsoon Summer (Perkins)
Moon Over Manifest (Vanderpool)
Mortician's Daughter (Bloom)
Much Ado About Jessie Kaplan (Cohen)
Murder on the Rocks (MacInerney)
My Most Excellent Year (Kluger)
Naked Mole-Rat Letters (Amato)
Once Upon a Day (Tucker) AUDIO Finished 1-13-13
On the Day of the Dead: Some Rivers End (Granfors)
Oracle Glass, The (Riley)
Other Side of Heaven, The (Groberg)
Paradise of Shadows (Whelan)
Patchwork Christmas (Demarco & Reece)
Persepolis (GRAPHIC) (Satrapi)
Postcard, The (Lewis)
Prayers for Sale (Dallas)
Presence, The (Graham)
Raven Black (Cleeves)
Realm of Possibilities (Levithan)
Ring, The (Molist)
Rosetta Key (Dietrich) AUDIO
Running on Eggs (Levine)
Sacrifice (Bolton)
Sea Glass (Shreve)
Season For the Dead, A (Hewson)
Season of Ice (MAINE) (Les Becquets)
Secret History of the Pink Carnation (Willig)
Secret Project Notebook (Reeder)
See What I See (Whelan)
September of Shiraz (Sofer)
Shadow of the Wind (Ruiz Zafon)
Shaman Sings, The (Doss)
Shooting Kabul (Senzai)
Shoot the Moon (Letts)
Skylight Confessions (Hoffman) AUDIO
Smile (GRAPHIC) (Telgemeier)
Smiles to Go (Spinelli)
Snow Angels (Thompson)
So B. It (Weeks)
Speak of the Devil (Hawke)
Spellman Files (Lutz)
Starvation Lake (Gruley)
Strange Case of Oigami Yoda (Angleberger)
Sugar Island, The (Lamazares)
Sugar Skull (Hamilton)
Surrender Tree, The (Engle)
Swan Thieves (Kostova)
Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Bradley)
Tail of the Scorpion (Graf)
Tensleep (Andrews)
They Did It With Love (Morgenroth)
This Means War (Wittlinger)
Three Wishes Palestinian and Israeli Children Speak (Ellis)
Trouble (Schmidt)
Turtle Feet (Gronzni)
U is for Undertow (Grafton) AUDIO
Venola in Love (Ware)
Virtuous Woman, A (Gibbons)
Walking Tour, The (Davis)
Way Life Should Be, The (Kline)
Web of Evil (Jance) Finished 1/6/13
Wednesday Wars, The (Schmidt)
West of the Jordan (Halaby)
White Giraffe (St. John)
White Mary, The (Salak) AUDIO Finished 1/25/12
Woman in Jerusalem, A (Yehoushua)
Woods, The (French)
Year of Pleasures (Berg)
Yellow Star (Roy)

2012 Movie List

Jeez, only saw 37 movies this year, though I think I've forgotten to include all that I saw...

5-Loved it 
4-Liked it a lot 
3-Liked it 
2-It was okay
1-Didn't like it

Jack Reacher (12-22-12) Very entertaining (3.5)
Skyfall: Dragged on and on (2)
Twilight Saga  (11-20-12) Worth the wait (4.5)
The Bourne Legacy Liked it a whole lot (4.5)
Argo Wonderful movie, loved it (5)
Pitch Perfect Loved it (5)
The Master  Yuck-but terrific acting.....(1)
Beasts of the Southern Wild  Nope, didn't like this one (1)
Robot & Frank (9-20-12) Okay, great cast, flat ending. (2.5)
Ruby Sparks (9-17-12) A charming movie that sparkles.  Loved it. (5)
Hope Springs (9-13-12 Hilarious and sweet, Liked it a lot (4)
The Amazing Spider Man (9-4-12) It dragged on and on and on... (2)
Safety Not Guaranteed (9-1-12) Loved it a lot (5.5)
Magic Mike (8-24-12) Very entertaining, liked it (3)
People Like Us (8-13-12) Liked it a great deal (4.5)
To Rome With Love (8/10/12) Liked most of it a lot (3.5)
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World- Yuck (1)
Mirror, Mirror (7-19-12) Lots of fun (3)
Moonrise Kingdom (7-8-12) Liked it a lot (4)
Madagascar 3 (6-23-12) with Brendan & Ashley (and again (7/5/12 with Ella) Not quite my cup-a-tea (2)
Bernie (6-5-12) Definitely a keeper, Liked it a lot (4)
The Avengers (6-2-12) (and again 6-26-12 with Brendan) Liked it quite a bit (3.5)
The Five Year Engagement (5-26-12) Liked it a whole lot (4.5)
Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (5-22-12) Loved it (5)
Dark Shadows (5-14-12) Liked it a lot (4)
Monsieur Lazhar () Really Loved it (5.5)
A Separation (4-30-12) It was awesome (6)
The Hunger Games () Loved it (5)
The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo () Loved it even though I didn't want to (5)
Safe House () It was decent (2.5)
This Means War (2-18-12) It was okay (2)
One for the Money (2-6-12)
Anonymous (2-2-12)
Ides of March (1-27-11) Really loved it (5.5)
The Artist (1-26-11) Loved it (5)
The Help (1-15-12) Liked it a lot (4), seen for the 2nd time
Joyful Noise (1-14-12) Liked it (3)

84th Academy Award

Best Picture
The Artist (won 1 of 2 Golden Globes) WINNER
The Descendants (won 1 of 2 Golden Globes)
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Dangerous
The Help
Midnight in Paris
The Tree of Life
War Horse

Best Actor
Damian Bichar (A Better Life)
George Clooney (The Descendants) (won Golden Globes)
Jean Dujardin (The Artist) WINNER
Gary Oldman (Tinker, Tailor, Sailor, Spy)
Brad Pitt (Moneyball)

Best Actress
Glenn Close (Albert Nobbs)
Viola Davis (The Help)
Rooney Mara (Girl With the Dragon Tatoo)
Meryl Streep (Iron Lady) (won Golden Globes) WINNER
Michelle Williams (My Life with Marilyn)

Best Supporting Actor
Kenneth Branaugh (My Life With Marilyn)
Johan Hill (Moneyball)
Nick Nolte (Warrior)
Christopher Plummer (Beginners) (won Golden Globes) WINNER
Max Von Syndow (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Dangerous

Best Supporting Actress
Berenice Bujo (The Artist)
Jessica Chastain (The Help)
Octavia Spencer (The Help) (won Golden Globes) WINNER
Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids)
Janet McTee (Albert Nobbs)

69th Annual Golden Globe

Motion Picture/Drama
(5) The Descendants WINNER
.....Director (Alexander Payne)
.....Male lead (George Clooney) WINNER
.....Supporting actress (Shailene Woodley)
(5) The Help
.....Female lead (Viola Davis)
.....Supporting actress (Jessica Chastain)
.....Supporting actress (Octavia Spencer) WINNER
(3) Hugo
.....Director (Martin Scorsese)
(5) The Ides of March
.....Director (George Clooney)
.....Male lead (Ryan Gossling)
(5) Moneyball
.....Male lead (Brad Pritt)
.....Supporting actor (Jonah Hill)
(1) War Horse

Motion Picture/ Comedy or Musical
(2) 50/50
.....Male lead (Joseph Gordon-Levitt)
(6) The Artist WINNER
.....Direcor (Michael Hazanavicius)
.....Male lead (Jean Dujardin) WINNER
.....Supporting actress (Bernice Bejo)
(2) Bridesmaids
.....Lead female (Kristen Wiig)
(5) Midnight in Paris
.....Director (Woody Allen)
.....Male lead - Owen Wilson
(3) My Week With Marilyn
.....Lead actress (Michelle Williams) WINNER
.....Supporting actor (Kenneth Branagh)

(3) Albert Nobbs
.....Female lead (Glenn Close)
.....Supporting actress (Jenet McTeer)
(2) Girl With the Dragon Tatoo
.....Lead female (Rooney Mara)
(1) Iron Lady
.....Female lead (Meryl Streep) WINNER
(1) J. Edgar
.....Male lead (Leonardo DiCaprio)
(1) Shame
.....Male lead (Michael Fassbender)
(2) Carnage
.....Female lead (Jodie Foster)
.....Female lead/supporting? (Kate Winslet)
(1) Young Adult
.....Female lead (Chaleze Theron)
(1) The Guard
.....Male lead (Brendan Gleeson)
(1) Crazy Stupid Love
.....Male lead (Ryan Gossling)
(1) Drive
.....Supporting actor (Albert Brooks)
(1) A Dangerous Method
.....Supporting actor (Viggo Mortensen)
(1) Beginners
.....Supporting Actor (Christopher Plummer) WINNER

MOVIE: Alvin and the Chipmunks, Chipwrecked

Date night with Ella!
Wide release 12/16/11
Thursday night 12/29/11 with Ella in Carlisle
G (1:27)
RT: Critics 13% Audience: 53%
cag:  Liked it (it was cute)
Director:  Mike Mills
Focus Features

Dave takes Alvin, Theodore, and Simon, as well as the Chipettes, on a cruise.  They live it up, but when parasailing without Dave's permission, go sailing off the ship, over the ocean, and landing on a a deserted island. 

Ella's favorite part:  When the Chipettes sing.

MOVIE: Beginners

Super story about sadness...
Limited release 6/3/11
12/23/11 on the Delta flight from Phoenix to Detroit
R (1:44)
RT:  Critics:  84% Audience: 79%
cag: Liked it a lot
Director:  Mike Mills
Focus Features

Ian McGregor, Christopher Plummer

After McGregor's mother dies, his father (Plummer) tells him that he's always been gay...and that his mother knew it.  As an elderly dude he begins to live the life that he's always dreamed of, only to find that he has stage 4 cancer.  The story is played out as the son remembers bits and pieces of things that happened, to both his dad and himself..discovering love, too...at the same time.