Wednesday, September 25, 2013

MOVIE - This Is the End

R (1:47)
Released 6/12/2013
Viewed Century Gateway (Kolb) with Sheila 9/24/2013
RT Critic: 84 Audience: 80
2 - it was okay/ crazy/ silly/ stupid/ funny
Directed by Evan Goldberg & Seth Rogen
Sony Pictures

Actors: James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill

Rotten Tomato summary: The comedy This Is The End follows six friends trapped in a house after a series of strange and catastrophic events devastate Los Angeles. As the world unravels outside, dwindling supplies and cabin fever threaten to tear apart the friendships inside. Eventually, they are forced to leave the house, facing their fate and the true meaning of friendship and redemption.

My comments:  The actors were "acting" at being themselves, stuck in James Franco's home during the beginning of the apocolypse (complete with hugely-dangling-penised monster).  There were some really funny parts...actually, the whole thing was quite funny, although the whole time I was sitting there I was asking myself, "why?"  Definitely entertainment-only spoof of life in the Hollywood Hills.....

Sunday, September 22, 2013

44. Listening for Lucca - Suzanne LaFleur

2013, Wendy Lamb Books, Random House
232 pgs.
Mid Grades Fantastic RF
Finished 9/21/2013
Goodreads Rating: 3.93
My Rating:  Liked it (3) 
Contemporary coast of Maine, with forays back to 1944

My comments:  This book was set in Maine, in a big house right on the beach, and I wish the setting had been explored a little more.  This wasn't realistic fiction, it was fantasy, because Siena, the protagonist, could see into people-of-the-past's lives. Trying to figure out how to help her three-year-old brother, Lucca, to talk was a driving force in her life.  Her abilities to see and touch the lives of the family that lived 60 years before in her house is the "key" that helps this happen.

Goodreads Review:  "I'm obsessed with abandoned things." Siena's obsession began a year and a half ago, around the time her two-year-old brother Lucca stopped talking. Now Mom and Dad are moving the family from Brooklyn to Maine hoping that it will mean a  whole new start for Lucca and Siena. She soon realizes that their wonderful old house on the beach holds secrets. When Siena writes in her diary with an old pen she found in her closet, the pen writes its own story, of Sarah and Joshua, a brother and sister who lived in the same house during World War II. As the two stories unfold, amazing parallels begin to appear, and Siena senses that Sarah and Joshua's story might contain the key to unlocking Lucca's voice.

Friday, September 20, 2013

MOVIE - Thanks for Sharing

R (1:52)
Limted release 9/20/2013 (TODAY!)  There were only 14 people at the 2:15 showing
RT Critic 52: Audience: 72
Cag:  5.5 - Gotta say that I really loved it
Directed by Stuart Blumberg
Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions
(Great music, too.)

Actors: Mark Ruffalo, Tim Robbins, Gwyneth Paltrow, Josh Gad, Pink

Rotten Tomatoes Summary: On the surface Adam (Ruffalo), an over-achieving environmental consultant, Mike (Robbins), a long-married small-business owner, and Neil (Gad), a wisecracking emergency-room doctor, have little in common. But all are in different stages of dealing with addiction. Confident and successful in his career, Adam is afraid to allow love back into his life, even if that means losing a chance to start over with smart, beautiful and accomplished Phoebe (Paltrow); Mike's efforts to control his wife, Katie(Richardson), and son, Danny (Fugit), as tightly as he does his impulses are tearing the family apart; and Neil is still deeply in denial when befriended by Dede (Moore), who has just begun to take her own small steps back to health.. As they navigate the rocky shores of recovery, Adam, Mike and Neil become a family that encourages, infuriates and applauds each other on the journey toward a new life.

My comments:  This was really good and very moving.  An addiction is an addiction, and sometimes we just consider someone addicted to sex as a pervert.  If nothing else, this movie makes you think.  And think.  The actors were really, really good.  Pop singer Alecia Moore and Broadway star Josh Gad, both unknowns to me, were terrific and put the .5 after the 5 in my rating.

43. The Buddha in the Attic - Julie Otsuka

audio read by Samantha Quan and Carrington MacDuffie
4 unabridged cds (4 hrs.)
2011, Random House Audio
144 pgs.
Adult Historical Fiction 
Finished 9/19/2013
Goodreads Rating: 3.55
My Rating: 2/ It was okay
Setting: mid-California/San Francisco area from the 1920s to mid-1940

My comments:  I just can't consider this a novel - it's more like a very well-researched piece of nonfictiom presented in a way that people who don't really like nonfiction (me) can find it a little more palatable.  Immediately apparent is the use of "we" instead of "I," which took a bit of getting used to until you figured out she was never talking about one person, but a group of women who all had different experiences.  Beautiful writing, but it really got on my nerves after awhile. List after list after list... It was a decent way to get information about Japanese pre-war brides and a taste of what it might have been like to be sent to Japanese interment camps in the US, but I would have so much preferred individual stories of a handful of these woman.  I'm a story/plot/character person and although this was original and different, I can't, personally, recommend it as a piece of fiction....

Goodreads Review:  Julie Otsuka’s long-awaited follow-up to When the Emperor Was Divine is a tour de force of economy and precision, a novel that tells the story of a group of young women brought from Japan to San Francisco as “picture brides” nearly a century ago.

In eight incantatory sections, The Buddha in the Attic traces the picture brides’ extraordinary lives, from their arduous journey by boat, where they exchange photographs of their husbands, imagining uncertain futures in an unknown land; to their arrival in San Francisco and their tremulous first nights as new wives; to their backbreaking work picking fruit in the fields and scrubbing the floors of white women; to their struggles to master a new language and a new culture; to their experiences in childbirth, and then as mothers, raising children who will ultimately reject their heritage and their history; to the deracinating arrival of war.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

42. The Arrivals - Melissa Marr

2013, William Morrow
278 pgs.
SciFi for Adults (definitely not my usual genre!)
Finished 9/18/2013
Goodreads Rating:  3.32
My Rating: Liked it (3) 
Setting: "The Wasteland" in another world, contemporary time, this planet has two moons and lots of monsters/demons/creatures - some reviews mention it's a cross between something and the Wizard of Oz....exactly!
1st sentence/s: "Kitty saw the bullets tear into Mary's belly, watched the red stain cover the flowered dress that she'd just stitched up for her closest friend, and her first thought was that there was no way she could repair that kind of damage.  The dress was ruined."

My comments:  The only good thing about being home sick is that you get to read!  This scifi/dystopia novel is not a "usual" genre for me, but I did like it.  Once I put aside the reality part of my brain and got creative trying to visualize the setting, the creatures, and the characters, I got into it a lot more.  I'm SO glad, though,that it ended - it actually ended - with no apparent sequel in the works.

Goodreads Review:  The Arrivals is the second novel for adults by internationally bestselling author Melissa Marr.  Chloe walks into a bar and blows five years of sobriety. When she wakes, she finds herself in an unfamiliar world, The Wasteland. She discovers people from all times and places have also arrived there: Kitty and Jack, a brother and sister from the Wild West; Edgar, a prohibition bootlegger; Francis, a one-time hippie; Melody, a mentally unbalanced 1950s housewife; and Hector, a former carnival artist.  None know why they arrived there--or if there is way out of a world populated by monsters and filled with corruption.

Just as she did in Graveminder, Marr has created a vivid fantasy world that will enthrall. Melissa Marr's The Arrivals is a thoroughly original and wildly imagined tale about making choices in a life where death is unpredictable and often temporary.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

41. In the Kingdom of Men - Kim Barnes

2012, Alfred A. Knopf
324 pgs.
Written for adults
Finished 9/16/2013
Genre: Historical Fiction/1967
Goodreads Rating: 3.44
My Rating:  Liked it (3.5)
Setting: rural Oklahoma but mainly the American Aramco company housing and desert surrounding it in Saudi Arabia (simply called "Arabia" in the book) in 1967
1st sentence from the prologue: "Here is the first thing you need to know about me: I'm a barefoot girl from red-dirt Oklahoma, and all the marble floors in the world will never change that."

1st sentence from Chapter 1:  "In the beginning  --- these three words my daily bread, recited at the kitchen table in our shack in Shawnee, the bible open in front of me.":

My comments:  I have ups and downs with my reactions to this book. I loved the setting - a mysterious one, for me. Arabia in the 1960's, in the American-based housing commune - certainly nothing I had any prior knowledge about.  The Bedouin.  The animosity.  The "kingdom of men"......  And I was unprepared for the ending, a feeling that left me pleasantly surprised, because it was unexpected and perfect for the story.

Goodreads Review:   1967. Gin Mitchell knows a better life awaits her when she marries hometown hero Mason McPhee. Raised in a two-room shack by her Oklahoma grandfather, a strict Methodist minister, Gin never believed that someone like Mason, a handsome college boy, the pride of Shawnee, would look her way. And nothing can prepare her for the world she and Mason step into when he takes a job with the Arabian American Oil company in Saudi Arabia. In the gated compound of Abqaiq, Gin and Mason are given a home with marble floors, a houseboy to cook their meals, and a gardener to tend the sandy patch out back. Even among the veiled women and strict laws of shariah, Gin’s life has become the stuff of fairy tales. She buys her first swimsuit, she pierces her ears, and Mason gives her a glittering diamond ring. But when a young Bedouin woman is found dead, washed up on the shores of the Persian Gulf, Gin’s world closes in around her, and the one person she trusts is nowhere to be found. 
   Set against the gorgeously etched landscape of a country on the cusp of enormous change, In the Kingdom of Men abounds with sandstorms and locust swarms, shrimp peddlers, pearl divers, and Bedouin caravans—a luminous portrait of life in the desert. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

40. The Time Between - Karen White

Audio read by the three voices (though Eleanor's is the primary voice) Jennifer Ikeda, Barbara Rosenblat, and Angela Goethals
13 unabridged cds/15.5 hours) - think I might have enjoyed an abridged version....
2013 Recorded Books
352 pgs.
Written for adults
Finished 9/15/2013
CRF with flashbacks to WWII Hungary
GoodreadsRating: 4.14
My Rating: 2/It was okay
Setting: Contemporary Charleston, SC and nearby Edisto Island

My comments: This one dragged....and I felt like slapping the protagonist and yelling, "get over it!" The foray into history - world war two and the Holocaust - was interesting, but also incredibly dragged out and predictable.  Oh well, I finished an afghan while listening to it, and it wasn't horrible....there were some beautifully written descriptive passages.

from Goodreads:  Thirty-four-year-old Eleanor Murray is consumed with guilt for causing the accident that paralyzed her sister—and for falling in love with her sister’s husband. But when her boss offers her a part-time job caring for his elderly aunt, Helena, Eleanor accepts, hoping this good deed will help atone for her mistakes.

On the barrier island of Edisto, Eleanor bonds with Helena over their mutual love of music. Drawing the older woman out of her depression, Eleanor learns of her life in Hungary, with her sister, before and during World War II. She hears tales of passion and heartache, defiance and dangerous deception. And when the truth of Helena and her sister’s actions comes to light, Eleanor may finally allow herself to move past guilt and to embrace the song that lies deep in her heart

39. Front and Center - Catherine Gilbert Murdock

#3 Dairy Queen series (D. J. Schwenk, Wisconsind high school athlete and dairy farmer...)
audio read by Natalie Moore
5 cds (5:55)
2009, Listening Library
254 pgs.
Finished 9/13/13
Goodreads Rating: 3.95
My Rating: Loved it (4) 
Contemporary Red Bend, Wisconsin

My comments:  All three books in this series were terrific, and I can't imagine reading them out-of-order or as a standalone.  There's so much helpful background on each of the character in books one and two.  This book, for some reason, seemed a little different.  I had realized that D.J. was shy, but didn't realize to what extent until I discovered her quietness on the basketball court, where she could outplay anyone, but needed leadership qualities.  It was fun seeing how she finally figured out how to deal with that.  And it was great seeing how much she loved her now-wheelchair-bound brother, who pushed her until she didn't even want to talk to him.  I think my favorite thing about her, though, was the way she thought about things, cleverly and with great humor.  Murdock pulls off a first person narrative with gusto! (But what's with the cover photo?  Yuck!)

Goodreads:  After five months of sheer absolute craziness I was going back to being plain old background D.J. In photographs of course I'm always in the background—it's a family joke, actually, that us Schwenk kids could go to school naked on picture day, we're all so crazy tall. But I mean I was returning to the background of life. Where no one would really notice me or talk about me or even talk to me much except to say things like "Nice shot," and I could just hang out without too many worries at all.

But it turns out other folks have big plans for D.J. Like her coach. College scouts. All the town hoops fans. A certain Red Bend High School junior who's keen for romance and karaoke. Not to mention Brian Nelson, who she should not be thinking about! Who she is done with, thank you very much. But who keeps showing up anyway...

What's going to happen if she lets these people down? What's going to happen when she does? Because let's face it: there's no way, on the court or off, that awkward, tongue-tied D.J. Schwenk can manage all this attention. No way at all. Not without a brain transplant. Not without breaking her heart.

MOVIE - The Spectacular Now

R (1:35)
Limited release 8-2-2013
El Con 9-6-13
RT Critic: 91 Audience: 85
Cag: 5 Loved it 
Directed by James Ponsoldt

Miles Teller, Shailene Woodley, Kyle Chandler, Jennifer Jason Leigh

Fandango Summary:   Tim Tharp's unsentimental tale of adolescent frustration comes to the screen in this comedy-drama following the story of a sociable high-school senior whose self-delusion shattered by his emerging friendship with an unpopular classmate. Sutter Keely is one of the most popular kids in his class. Outgoing and fun-loving, he's completely oblivious as to what awaits him beyond high school. Lately, however, his drinking has started to become a problem. So when Sutter's girlfriend breaks things off, he reaches for the bottle without hesitation. Awakening in the grass under the gaze of studious, practical-minded sci-fi nerd Aimee Finicky, he isn't quite sure how he got into such a predicament. Over time, however, the two teens who couldn't be any more different on the surface realize they have more in common than either ever suspected..

My comments:  I thought this was a particularly good movie. Miles Teller reminded me greatly of John Cusack....and Shailene Woodley pulled off her part beautifully.  This was a really believable story - and even with all the drinking and self-doubt, I left the movie feeling optimistic.  I'd see it again.  It wasn't fluff.

Friday, September 13, 2013

38. The Silver Star - Jeannette Walls

audio read by the author (it was okay, but I've heard better, no offense Ms. Walls)
2013, Simon & Schuster Audio
7 unabridged cds
288 pgs.
Written for adults, but I think it's almost more YA
Finished 9/9/2013
Genre: HistFiction (1970 America-smalll town CA, but mostly rural VA)
Goodreads Rating: 3.64
My Rating: Liked it (3) 

My comments:This is my first Jeannette Walls, and I enjoyed the story. Bean, the 6th grade protagonist, was a feisty, gutsy first person narrator. I'm not sure why this is billed as an adult novel, though, I would definitely consider it a young adult novel.  Sure there are some heavy-ish issues, but minor compared to some of the current YAs out there.  I enjoyed the 1970 spin on things (the mother sure seemed bipolar, but that would not have been the terminology in 1970), though other than the integration issues, it had a very contemporary feel (did anyone homeschool...or call it 1970?)

Goodreads Review: It is 1970 in a small town in California. “Bean” Holladay is twelve and her sister, Liz, is fifteen when their artistic mother, Charlotte, a woman who “found something wrong with every place she ever lived,” takes off to find herself, leaving her girls enough money to last a month or two. When Bean returns from school one day and sees a police car outside the house, she and Liz decide to take the bus to Virginia, where their Uncle Tinsley lives in the decaying mansion that’s been in Charlotte’s family for generations.

An impetuous optimist, Bean soon discovers who her father was, and hears many stories about why their mother left Virginia in the first place. Because money is tight, Liz and Bean start babysitting and doing office work for Jerry Maddox, foreman of the mill in town—a big man who bullies his workers, his tenants, his children, and his wife. Bean adores her whip-smart older sister—inventor of word games, reader of Edgar Allan Poe, nonconformist. But when school starts in the fall, it’s Bean who easily adjusts and makes friends, and Liz who becomes increasingly withdrawn. And then something happens to Liz.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

September Roses - Jeanette Winter

Illustrated by the author
Frances Foster Books, Farrar Straus Giroux, 2004
32 pages - compact size
Hardcover $14.00
I own this one - she's one of my favorite illustrators
Goodreads 3.88
endpapers: white background with 1/2-inch simple black "roses"
title page: a simple box (reminds me of a zentangle box) with simple roses in two colors - these are the roses that are drawn throughout the book

I just realized how much Jeanette Winter's illustrations remind me of Zentangling.  She's been one of my favorite illustrators for years, and I have found myself so drawn to Zentangling  - it all makes sense to me now.  This is a simple book, based on a true story that took place on 9/11.  I'm going to share it in school with the kids today - kids that were born three years after that fateful day.  It's been 12 years. It was a day that not only affected American greatly, but changed the way that we live and think each and every day.  That said, the book itself doesn't flow smoothly enough for me. The words and illustrations are wonderful, but seem somewhat disjointed..... I'll see what my fourth graders think.

Goodreads Summary: On September 11, 2001, two sisters from South Africa are flying to New York City wiIt jroses to be displayed at a flower show. As their plane approaches the airport, a cloud of black smoke billows over the Manhattan skyline. When they land, they learn of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. All flights are canceled; the sisters cannot go home, and they are stranded with boxes and boxes of roses.

In the days that followed September 11, Jeanette Winter was drawn to Union Square and saw, among the hundreds of memorial offerings, twin towers made of roses. In the pages of this small and vibrant book, she tells a moving story.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Scrap Vomit Quilts aka CACOPHONY Quilts

I've been working on a Scrap Vomit Quilt for awhile now, and I really enjoy sewing it together.  I loved coming up with my center accent blocks using fabrics from my black and white stash. I'm writing about it here so that whenever I see a sample of someone elses, I have a place to gather them all together.  This is my own "in progress" Scrap Vomit Quilt, renamed CACOPHONY Quilt by me, because cacophony is my favorite all-time word and "scrap vomit" is a little off-putting....

Ginger Monkey (I believe this is the major tutorial that most people have begun with......)
Bits and Bobbins
52 Quilts
Follow the White Bunny
Laughter in Quilts
A Thousand Needles
Blue is Bleu
Gnome Angel
Gertrude Made
Hello Quilt Lady
Small Town Quilter
Squares and Triangles (I like that she's put another square in the middle of her backing!)
Pippa's Patch (I love the yellow and lime centers!)
Jewel Weed Chronicles
Deb Robertson (A Christmas scrap vomit quilt...)
Buttontree Lane (Yellow, red, and black centers, quite striking)
Craftin' Mechanic
Jo Loves to Quilt (another striking yellow, red, and black center)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

37. Maya's Notebook - Isabel Allende

translated from Spanish by Anne McLean
read by Maria Cabezas
12 unabridged cds (14.5 hrs.)
2013, Harper Audio
387 pgs.
Adult CRF
Finished 9/5/2013
Goodreads Rating: 3.83
My Rating: Loved it (4) 
TPPL Audio Book
Setting: Contemporary Chile and, for the most part, Berkley, CA, 
1st sentence/s: "A week ago my grandmother gave me a dry-eyed hug at the San Francisco Airport and told me again that if I valued my life at all I should not get in touch with anyone I knew until we could be sure my enemies were no longer looking for me."

Introductory words/a poem by Mary Oliver from The Summer Day:  
"Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"

My Goodreads Review: While I found the story quite unbelievable, I found the writing (or the translation of the original Spanish), the voice of the audio reader, and the voice of the protagonist completely mesmerizing.  The first person account switches back and forth between the present on a remote Chilean island and the past couple of years in San Francisco, an Oregon rehab facility and the darkest of dark bowels of Las Vegas.  Some of that part was quite upsetting to listen to.  But darkness and ubelievability did not deter me from enjoying the beautiful words and storytelling of Isabel Allende. This is the first of her books I've ever read, and I'm not sure why that is!

Goodreads Summary: Isabel Allende’s latest novel, set in the present day (a new departure for the author), tells the story of a 19-year-old American girl who finds refuge on a remote island off the coast of Chile after falling into a life of drugs, crime, and prostitution. There, in the company of a torture survivor, a lame dog, and other unforgettable characters, Maya Vidal writes her story, which includes pursuit by a gang of assassins, the police, the FBI, and Interpol. In the process, she unveils a terrible family secret, comes to understand the meaning of love and loyalty, and initiates the greatest adventure of her life: the journey into her own soul.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

36. Finger Lickin' Fifteen - Janet Evanovich

#15 Stephanie Plum series
audio read by Lorelei King
7 unabridged cds
2009, Macmillan Audiobook
308 pgs.
Finished 9/4/2013
Goodreads Rating:  3.94 (you've got to be kidding!)
My Rating:
Didn’t like it, complete waste-of-time, almost didn't finish it (1) 
Setting: contemporary Trenton, NJ

My comments: Okay, this was the fifteenth in the Stephanie Plum series that I've read and I've definitely had my ups and downs with the series.  But this one was by far the stupidest, most ridiculous of them all.  It almost seemed like a different writer had written much of it, if felt a bit ... off ... in places. I've always unwittingly laughed out loud before, even with rolling eyes, but I don't think I laughed aloud once while listening to this one.  It was just too silly and far-fetched.  Come on, Stephanie.  Sleeping with a naked Ranger night after night with nothing happening?  Indifference to Joe Morelli?  And I'm really tired of the same shenanigans while trying to apprehend her bail delinquints, usually to no avail without help, and am particularly tired of Lulu.  Even Grandma Mazer was a little too over-the-top for this one.  Oh well, can't win 'em all! (And yes, I'll still be reading number sixteen.....)

Goodreads Review:  Unbuckle your belt and pull up a chair. It's the spiciest, sauciest, most rib-sticking Plum yet.  Receipe for disaster: Celebrity chef Stanley Chipolte comes to Trenton in a barbecue cookoff and loses his head - literally.  Throw in some spice: Bail bonds office worker Lula is witness to the crime, and the only one she'll talk to is Trenton cop Joe Morelli.  Pump up the heat: Chipotle's sponsor is offering a million-dollar reward to anyone who can provide information leading to the capture of the killers.  Stir the pot: Lula recruits bounty hunter Stephanie Plum to help find he killer and collect the moolah.  Add a secret ingredient: Stephanie Plum's Grandma Mazur. Enough said.  Bring to a boil: Stephanie Plum is working overtime tracking felons for the bonds office at night and snooping for security expert Carlos Manoso, aka Ranger, during the day. Can Stephanie hunt down two killers, a traitor, and five skips, keep her grandmother out of the sauce, and solve Ranger's problems and not jump his bones?   Warning: Habenero hot. So good you'll want seconds

MOVIE - The Butler

PG-13 (2:12)
Wide release 8/16/2013
at El Con on 9/4/2013 with Sheila
RT Critic: 72 Audience: 82
Cag:  5 Loved it 
Directed by Lee Daniels
The Weinstein Company

Actors:  Forest Whitaker, Opray Winfrey, Liev Schrieber, James Marsden, Alan Rickman, John Cusack, Robin Williams, Cuba Gooding, Jr.

Rotten Tomatoes summary:  LEE DANIELS' THE BUTLER tells the story of a White House butler who served eight American presidents over three decades. The film traces the dramatic changes that swept American society during this time, from the civil rights movement to Vietnam and beyond, and how those changes affected this man's life and family.

My comments: I totally enjoyed this for many reasons.  One, it is a great overview of the Civil Rights Movement.  Two, the lead actors were great, and it was really, really fun to see other well-known actors play presidents and first ladies (Jane Fonda was Nancy Reagan, James Marsden was Jack Kennedy, Liev Schrieber was Lyndon Johnson, and Alan Rickman was Ronald Reagan, to mention just a few).  And three, it was based on a true story.  Granted, I don't know how much of it was true, but if Gaines' son, Louis, was indeed a part of all the civil rights media giants of the 60s and 70s as portrayed, then the Gaines family truly had a huge part in US history.  It was long ... but I barely noticed, I was so enthralled with the movie.  Highly recommended.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

35. After the River the Sun - Dia Calhoun

2013, Atheneum Books for Young Readers
348 pgs.
Written for middle grades
Finished 9/1/2013
CRF told in verse
Goodreads Rating: 4.0
My Rating: 4/ Loved it
Setting: contemporary eastern Washington state
1st sentence/s: 
"Eckhart rode a Greyhound bus
that charged down'the icy mountain road
like a knight's steed,
heedless of danger.
Lost in a game
on his Nintendo 3DS,
Eckhart didn't hear 
the tire chains rattle, didn't see
the snow pelting the window,
didn't think
about where he was going."

My comments:  Gorgeous writing. Really beautiful. Storyline is also excellent, but there are a few downfalls for me - two, actually. Uncle Al's turnaround towards Eckhart is just too sudden. A 360-degree turnaround practically overnight? I know he'd had the revelation of Eckhart's bravery, but only a few hours before this turnaround he wouldn't even look or speak to the boy? I don't care how much this adult was suffering, other personality traits didn't jive with his actions. And the second, for me personally, there was too much King Arthur. I know much of the book's premise was following the King Arthur story, but it was too much for me. It would be great for the King Arthur lover. Oh, and one more thing? $500,000 for a violin? I'm with Uncle Al on that one!  And isn't the cover gorgeous?

Goodreads Review:  Will Eckhart find the courage to rise from his past—and climb to his future? This quest for home is a stunning companion to Eva of the Farm. When Eckhart Lyon arrives at Sunrise Orchard, all he wants to do is play video games and read about King Arthur’s knights. Anything that helps him forget that his parents drowned in a river, forget his own cowardliness. Eckhart doesn’t want to clear the dead orchard, or explore the canyon, or do anything else that stern Uncle Al asks. After all, Uncle Al is only taking him in on trial, and Eckhart can’t imagine the orchard ever becoming his real home.  Then, up in the canyon, he meets Eva—a girl with a wild imagination and boundless hope who knows all about King Arthur’s knights. With her help, Eckhart sees that he is on a knightly quest of his own: a quest for home and courage. But what if he’s forced to choose between a new home and his most treasured possession—a gift from his mom?