Sunday, March 30, 2014

19. Faking Normal - Courtney C. Stevens

2014 Harper Teen
321 pgs.
Written for YA
Finished 3/29/2014
Goodreads Rating: 4.10
My Rating: 4
Setting: Contemporary Tennessee
1st sentence/s: "Black funeral dress.  Black heels.  Black headband in my hair.  Death has a style all its own.  I'm glad I don't have to wear it very often."

My comments:  Read this all in one night.  I loved Bodee - but who wouldn't?  I loved Alexi's mom, but again, who wouldn't? I couldn't stand Alexi's sister - but you weren't supposed to. I liked the whodunnit aspect. A little-too-pat ending, but I wanted that.  So why not a five?  I needed more reason that Alexi couldn't say NO!  More than once! This is just not believable to me - her reasons (or non-reasons) just don't cut it.....

Goodreads Review:  Alexi Littrell hasn't told anyone what happened to her over the summer. Ashamed and embarrassed, she hides in her closet and compulsively scratches the back of her neck, trying to make the outside hurt more than the inside does.

When Bodee Lennox, the quiet and awkward boy next door, comes to live with the Littrells, Alexi discovers an unlikely friend in "the Kool-Aid Kid," who has secrets of his own. As they lean on each other for support, Alexi gives him the strength to deal with his past, and Bodee helps her find the courage to finally face the truth.

MOVIE - Divergent

PG-13 (2:20)
Wide Release 3/21/2014
Viewed Saturday afternoon 3/29/2014 at El Con
RT Critic: 40 Audience: 79
Cag: 3 Equaled expectations and was fun to watch
Directed by Neil Burger
Lionsgate Films/Summit

Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet, Ashley Judd, TonyGoldwyn, Miles Teller

My comments:  Well, I was particularly impressed with the casting of the movie - the two leads did a great job (Shailene Woodley, playing Tris, knocked it out of the park and Theo James is so intense - and gorgeous).  The addition of Miles Teller as Peter was particularly well-cast, as was Tris' father (hello, Mr. President!)  The only ones that didn't do it for me were Christina and Will, those didn't work for me at all.  The storyline followed the book pretty well, but it doesn't really bother me when things are left out....they can't include all the idiosyncrasies and nuances that you get from a book.  It was very entertaining and fun to watch, I was completely absorbed.

Rotten Tomatoes Review:  DIVERGENT is a thrilling action-adventure film set in a world where people are divided into distinct factions based on human virtues. Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley) is warned she is Divergent and will never fit into any one group. When she discovers a conspiracy by a faction leader (Kate Winslet) to destroy all Divergents, Tris must learn to trust in the mysterious Four (Theo James) and together they must find out what makes being Divergent so dangerous before it's too late. Based on thebest-selling book series by Veronica Roth.

18. Chasing Darkness - Robert Crais

#12 Elvis Cole/Joe Pike
audio read by James Daniels
8 unabridged discs, 7 hours
2008, Brilliance Audio
288 pgs.
Adult Murder Mystery
Finished 3/27/14
Goodreads Rating: 4.14
My Rating: 4.5 (Loved it)
PBS - now it's my turn to send it off into the great unknown -
Setting:  LA (or course!)

My comments:   I really enjoy Robert Crais' writing.  A lot.  He writes believable mysteries that keep me guessing. I love Elvis Cole. He's fun and funny.  I want to learn more about Joe Pike, but I like that he's kept a bit mysterious.   You can read this series in any order - I have and it works just fine. Bring 'em on!

Goodreads Review  It's fire season, and the hills of Los Angeles are burning. When police and fire department personnel rush door to door in a frenzied evacuation effort, they discover the week-old corpse of an apparent suicide. But the gunshot victim is less gruesome than what they find in his lap: a photo album of seven brutally murdered young women -- one per year, for seven years. And when the suicide victim is identified as a former suspect in one of the murders, the news turns Elvis Cole's world upside down.
          Three years earlier Lionel Byrd was brought to trial for the murder of a female prostitute named Yvonne Bennett. A taped confession coerced by the police inspired a prominent defense attorney to take Byrd's case, and Elvis Cole was hired to investigate. It was Cole's eleventh-hour discovery of an exculpatory videotape that allowed Lionel Byrd to walk free. Elvis was hailed as a hero.
          But the discovery of the death album in Byrd's lap now brands Elvis as an unwitting accomplice to murder. Captured in photographs that could only have been taken by the murderer, Yvonne Bennett was the fifth of the seven victims -- two more young women were murdered after Lionel Byrd walked free. So Elvis can't help but wonder -- did he, Elvis Cole, cost two more young women their lives?
Shut out of the investigation by a special LAPD task force determined to close the case, Elvis Cole and Joe Pike desperately fight to uncover the truth about Lionel Byrd and his nightmare album of death -- a truth hidden by lies, politics, and corruption in a world where nothing is what it seems to be.:

MOVIE - The Grand Budapest Hotel

R (1:40)
Limited Release 3/7/14
Viewed 3/26/14 at ElCon with Sheila and Connie
RT Critic: 92 Audience: 90
Cag:4 - A freakin' riot - liked it a lot.
Wes Anderson
Fox Searchlight

Ralph Fiennes + a whole lot of famous actors doing smallish parts (including Bill Murray)

My comments: I've got to admit I wasn't really looking forward to this movie and probably wouldn't have gone to see it if Sheila and Connie hadn't picked it.  But what a pleasant surprise - it was 100 minutes of pure pleasure.  I'm so glad I saw it.  (Someone said that this was Ralph Fiennes first comedic part.  And the young man who played Zero was just great!))

Rotten Tomatoes Review: THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL recounts the adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend. The story involves the theft and recovery of a priceless Renaissance painting and the battle for an enormous family fortune -- all against the back-drop ofa suddenly and dramatically changing Continent.

MOVIE - Non-Stop

PG-13 (1:50)
Wide Release 2/28/2014
Viewed 3/21/14 at ElCon with Fran
RT Critic: 59 Audience: 71
Cag: 4 A really good movie!
Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra
Universal Pictures

Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore

My comments:  I didn't realize how much I was going to like this movie - the mystery kept you guessing back and forth, one way then another; the tension was perfect, and Liam Neeson was his usual enjoyable-to-watch self.  Nto a bad afternoon at all!

Reviews  Global action star Liam Neeson stars in NON-STOP, a suspense thriller played out at 40,000 feet in the air. During a transatlantic flight from New York City to London, U.S. Air Marshal Bill Marks (Neeson) receives a series of cryptic text messages demanding that he instruct the government to transfer $150 million into an off-shore account. Until he secures the money, a passenger on his flight will be killed every 20 minutes.

Classic & Great Movies

It's time to watch some classic movies!  The Arizona Inn has a huge library of classic movies that feature people that have stayed at the Inn.  It was fun poking through their annotated list of titles and choosing one to watch.  I have not seen many of the old classics.  I guess it's time!  

I've gathered this list of movies from here and there.  Let me know those I've missed!

Classic Movies Watched in 2014
North by Northwest (1959) Alfred Hitchcock - Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint

Alphabetical Order:
39 Steps, The (1935)
400 Blows, The (1959)
2001 (A Space Odyssey) (1968)
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
A Fistful of Dollars (1964)
A Hard Day's Night (1964)
A Place in the Sun (1951)
A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
Adam's Rib (1949)
Adventures of Robin Hood, The (1938)
African Queen, The (1951)
All About Eve (1950)
All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
All the King's Men (1949)
Amadeus (1984)
American Grafitti (1973)
An Affair to Remember (1957)
An American in Paris (1951)
An Officer and a Gentleman (1982)
Anatomy of a Murder (1959)
Annie Hall (1977)
Apartment, The (1960)
Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)
Asphalt Jungle, The (1950)
Bad and the Beautiful, The (1952)
Bells of St.Mary's, The (1945)
Ben-Hur (1959)
Best Years of Our Lives, The (1946)
Big Heat, The (1953)
Big Sleep, The (1946)
Birds, The (1963)
Blazing Saddles (1974)
Blow-Up (1966)
Body Heat (1981)
Bonnie & Clyde (1967)
Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)
Bride of Frankenstein, The (1935)
Bridge on the River Kwai, The (1957)
Bringing Up Baby (1938)
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
Casablanca (1942) saw on the big screen at the Fox Theater, downtown Tucson
Chinatown (1974)
Citizen Kane (1941)
City Lights (1931)
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
Cool Hand Luke (1967)
Day the Earth Stood Still, The (1951)
Deliverance (1972)
Dirty Dancing (1987)
Dirty Harry (1971)
Dr. No (1962)
Dr Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
Dr. Zhivago (1965)
Double Indemnity (1944)
Duel in the Sun (1946)
East of Eden (1955)
Easy Rider (1969)
Elmer Gantry (1960)
ET (1982)
Field of Dreams (1989)
Five Easy Pieces (1970)
Flashdance (1983)
Forbidden Planet (1956)
Frankenstein (1931)
Freaks (1932)
French Connection, The (1971)
From Here to Eternity (1953)
From Russia With Love (1963)
Godfather,, The (1972)
Goldfinger (1964)
Gold Rush, The (1935)
Gone with the Wind (1939)
Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, The (1966)
Goonies, The
Graduate, The (1967)
Grapes of Wrath, The (1940)
Greed (1924)
Groundhog Day (1993)
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967)
Heiress, The (1949)
High Noon (1952)
His Girl Friday (1940)
How Green Was My Valley (1941)
Hustler, The (1951)
Inherit the Wind (1960)
In the Heat of the Night (1967)
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
It Happened One Night (1934)
It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
Jaws (1975)
Key Largo (1948)
King and I, The (1956)
King Kong (1933)
Kiss Me Deadly (1955)
Lady Eve, The (1941)
Last Picture Show, The (1971)
Laura (1944)
Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948)
Lost Weekend, The (1945)
M (1931)
Maltese Falcon (1941)
Manchurian Candidate, The (1962)
Manhattan (1979)
M*A*S*H (1970)
Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
Metropolis (1927)
Midnight Cowboy (1969)
Mildred Pierce (1945)
Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936)
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
Modern Times (1936)
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1974)
Moonstruck (1987)
Murder, My Sweet (1944)
My Darling Clementine (1946)
My Man Godfrey (1936)
My Fair Lady (1964)
Night of the Hunter, The (1955)
Night of the Living Dead (1969)
Notorious (1946)
North by Northwest (1959)
Nosferatu (A Symphony of Horror) (1922)
On Golden Pond (1981)
On the Waterfront (1954)
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
Only Angels Have Wings (1939)
Out of the Past (1947)
Ox-Bow Incident, The (1943)
Philadelphia Story, The (1940)
Pillow Talk (1959)
Planet of the Apes (1968)
Postman Always Rings Twice, The (1946)
Princess Bride, The (1987)
Psycho (1960)
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Quiet Man, The (1952)
Rain Man (1988)
Rashomon (1951)
Rear Window (1954)
Rebecca (1940)
Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
Red River (1948)
Red Shoes, The (1948)
Repulsion (1965)
Rio Bravo (1959)
Robe, The (1953)
Rocky (1976)
Roman Holiday (1953)
Rosemary's Baby (1968)
Saturday Night Fever (1977)
Say Anything (1989)
Searchers, The (1956)
Seven Samarai (1954)
Seven-Year Itch, The (1955)
Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
Shane (1953)
Shawshank Redemption (1994)
She Done Him Wrong (1933)
Silence of the Lambs, The (1991)
Silver Chalice, The (1954
Singin' in the Rain (1952)
Some Like it Hot (1959)
Sound of Music, The (1965)
Spartacus (1960)
Splendor in the Grass (1961)
Stagecoach (1939)
Star Wars (1977)
Strangers on a Train (1951)
Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
Sullivan's Travels (1941)
Summer of "42 (1971)
Sunrise (1927)
Sunset Boulevard (1950)
Sweet Smell of Success (1957)
Swiss Family Robinson (1960)
Taxi Driver (1976)
Ten Commandments, The (1956)
Thelma & Louise (1991)
Thin Man, The (1934)
Third Man, The (1949)
Three Days of the Condor (1975)
To Catch a Thief (1955)
To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
To Sir With Love
Tootsie (1982)
Top Gun (1986
Top Hat (1935)
Touch of Evil (1958)
Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The (1948)
Trouble in Paradise (1932)
True Grit (1969 & 2010)
Twelve Angry Men (1957)
Vertigo (1958)
Way Out West (1937)
West Side Story  (1961)
What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)
When Harry Met Sally (1989)
White Heat (1949)
Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolff? (1966)
Wild Bunch, The (1969)
Witness (1985)
Wizard of Oz (1939)
Written on the Wind (1956)
Wuthering Heights (1939)
Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)
Young Frankenstein (1974)

MOVIE - North by Northwest

Unrated (2:26)
Wide release 9/17/1959
on DVD 8/2000
Viewed at the Arizona Inn with Fran and Terry
RT Critic: 100 Audience: 94
Cag: 3/Liked it
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Turner Studios

Actors:  Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, Martin Landau

My comments:  I must be missing something.  People rave about this film - a young acquaintance has seen it a dozen times. Cary Grant was certainly charming. To me it was predictable though fun - production techniques and acting has certainly changed (improved?) over the years.  My question - has it been colorized?  Or was it originally in black and white?  I saw the color version, but the black and white might have given me an "older" feel and thus I might have been able to watch it more as a classic and not thought it was actually funny.....

Rotten Tomatoes Summary:  While having lunch at the Plaza Hotel in New York, advertising executive Roger O. Thornhill (Cary Grant) has the bad luck to call for a messenger just as a page goes out for a "George Kaplan." From that moment, Thornhill finds that he has stepped into a nightmare -- he is quietly abducted by a pair of armed men out of the hotel's famous Oak Room and transported to a Long Island estate; there, he is interrogated by a mysterious man (James Mason) who, believing that Roger is George Kaplan, demands to know what he knows about his business and how he has come to acquire this knowledge. Roger, who knows nothing about who any of these people are, can do nothing but deny that he is Kaplan or that he knows what they're talking about. Finally, his captors force a bottle of bourbon into Roger and put him behind the wheel of a car on a dangerous downhill stretch. Through sheer luck and the intervention of a police patrol car and its driver (John Beradino), Roger survives the ride and evades his captors, and is booked for drunk driving. He's unable to persuade the court, the county detectives, or even his own mother (Jesse Royce Landis) of the truth of his story, however -- Thornhill returns with them to the mansion where he was held, only to find any incriminating evidence cleaned up and to learn that the owner of the house is a diplomat, Lester Townsend (Philip Ober), assigned to the United Nations. He backtracks to the hotel to find the room of the real George Kaplan, only to discover that no one at the hotel has ever actually seen the man. With his kidnappers once again pursuing him, Thornhill decides to confront Townsend at the United Nations, only to discover that he knows nothing of the events on Long Island, or his house being occupied -- but before he can learn more, Townsend gets a knife in his back in full view of 50 witnesses who believe that Roger did it. Now on the run from a murder charge, complete with a photograph of him holding the weapon plastered on the front page of every newspaper in the country, Thornhill tries to escape via train -- there he meets the cooly beautiful Eve Kendall (Eva Marie Saint), who twice hides him from the police, once spontaneously and a second time in a more calculated rendezvous in her compartment that gets the two of them together romantically, at least for the night. By the next day, he's off following a clue to a remote rural highway, where he is attacked by an armed crop-dusting plane, one of the most famous scenes in Hitchcock's entire film output. Thornhill barely survives, but he does manage to learn that his mysterious tormentor/interrogator is named Phillip Vandamm, and that he goes under the cover of being an art dealer and importer/exporter, and that Eve is in bed with him in every sense of the phrase -- or is she? 

Series Synopsis - Robert Crais

Robert Crais

born June 20, 1953
raised in Louisiana 
adopted - only child
I'm guessing he now lives somewhere in the L.A. area

Robert Crais has written (or helped write) scripts for many tv cop series and has penned many unproduced (and a few produced) tv pilots.  

He writes with tongue-in-cheek humor and puts a huge value on friendship.  His mysteries have everything I look for - I need to be kept guessing.  And his photos make him look gorgeous.  A nice plus!

Robert Crais has quoted that he doesn't think his books need to be read in order.  I agree.  I've skipped around with them and have had no trouble at all.  I WILL read them all, though.  I adore Elvis Cole and am super fascinated by Joe Pike.

He says he will not sell the movie rights to Elvis Cole.

Elvis Cole/Joe Pike series:

1 - The Moneky's Raincoat (1987) The title comes from a Basho haiku included in the front of the book
2 - Stalking the Angel (1989)
3 - Lullaby Town (1992)
4 - Free Fall (1993)
5 - Voodoo River (1995)
6 - Sunset Express (1996)
7 - Indigo Slam (1997)
8 - L. A. Requiem (1999)
9 - The Last Detective (2003)
10 - The Forgotten Man (2005)
11 - The Watchman (2007)
12 - Chasing Darkness (2008)
13 - The First Rule (2010)
14 - The Sentry (2011)
15 - Taken (2012)

Non-Series novels:
Demolition Angel (2000)
Hostage (2001) (Made into a 2005 film starring Bruce Willis)
The Two Minute Rule (2006)
Suspect (2013)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

MOVIE - Gloria

R (1:49)
Limited Release 1/24/14
Viewed 3/19/14 at the Loft with Fran
RT Critic: Audience: (can't bring this up on Rotten Tomatoes!)
Cag: 4-Liked it a lot
Directed by Sebastian Lelio
from CHILE - in Spanish with subtitles

Fandanago Review:  Gloria is a "woman of a certain age" but still feels young. Though lonely, she makes the best of her situation and fills her nights seeking love at social dance clubs for single adults. Her fragile happiness changes the day she meets Rodolfo. Their intense passion, to which Gloria gives her all, leaves her vacillating between hope and despair -- until she uncovers a new strength and realizes that, in her golden years, she can shine brighter than ever. GLORIA is Chile’s official entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards®, and stars Paulina GarcĂ­a in a tour de force performance that captured the Silver Bear Best Actress Award at this year's Berlin Film Festival.

My comments:  One of those movies that makes you think during ... and long after ... the movie is over.  What is loneliness?  Your kids are grown, your husband/partner is gone (I guess it doesn't matter if it's through divorce or death), but you're still very much alive.  What happens next?  THAT''S what this movie is about!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Through the Evil Days - Julia Spencer-Fleming

Rev. Clare Ferguson & Russ VanAlstyne Mystery #8
audio read by Suzanne Toren
2013 Macmillan Audio
368 pgs.- I only got through a little more than 50
Adult mystery, quit reading on 3/19/2014
Goodreads Rating: 4.09
My Rating: 1/Didn't Like it
Setting: Contemporary upstate New York

My comments:  I guess I should have read these in order, but the first books in the series were totally unavailable (or extinct) in audio, so I jumped into #8.  I made it through almost the first two cds.  Too many bigoted church people. Too much talk about church and church-related "stuff."  And one of the most unlikable protagonists I've encountered in a while (Russ). Totally negative, pissed about his new wife's pregnancy, temper easily triggered.  I spent a 35-minute ride without even turning it on - that's when I decided I didn't like it and didn't want to listen to another word. (In 50 pages, the mystery was barely even touched upon!)

Goodreads Review:  On a frigid January night, Chief of Police Russ Van Alstyne and Reverend Clare Fergusson are called to the scene of a raging fire, that quickly becomes a double homicide and kidnapping. Which is the very last thing Russ needs...Currently he's struggling with the prospect of impending fatherhood. And his new wife is not at all happy with his proposal for their long-delayed honeymoon: a week in an unelectrified ice-fishing cabin. The vestry of St. Alban's Church has called for the bishop to investigate Clare's "unpriestly" pregnancy. She has one week to find out if she will be scolded, censured, or suspended from her duties. Officer Hadley Knox is having a miserable January as well. Her on-again-off-again lover, Kevin Flynn, has seven days to weigh an offer from the Syracuse Police Department that might take him half a state away.
     As the days and hours tick by, Russ and Clare fight personal and professional battles they've never encountered. In the course of this one tumultuous week the lives of the Millers-Kill residents readers have come to love and cherish change forever. Readers have waited years for Through The Evil Days and Julia Spencer-Fleming delivers with the exquisite skill and craftsmanship that have made her such a success.

17. The Tyrant's Daughter - J. C. Carleson

2014, Alfred A. Knopf
295 pgs.
Finished 3/19/2014
Goodreads Rating:  3.99
My Rating: Liked it (3)
Contemporary Washington D.C. area
1st sentence/s:  "My brother is the king of nowhere."

My comments:  Great premise, excellent research, believable characters. I liked it. However, it didn't grab me as I expected.

Goodreads Review:   From a former CIA officer comes the riveting account of a royal Middle Eastern family exiled to the American suburbs
          When her father is killed in a coup, 15-year-old Laila flees from the war-torn middle east to a life of exile and anonymity in the U.S. Gradually she adjusts to a new school, new friends, and a new culture, but while Laila sees opportunity in her new life, her mother is focused on the past. She’s conspiring with CIA operatives and rebel factions to regain the throne their family lost. Laila can’t bear to stand still as an international crisis takes shape around her, but how can one girl stop a conflict that spans generations? 
          J.C. Carleson delivers a fascinating account of a girl—and a country—on the brink, and a rare glimpse at the personal side of international politics. 
          *Bonus Backmatter includes a note about the author's CIA past, and a commentary by RAND researcher and president of ARCH International, Dr. Cheryl Benard. Recommendations for further reading are also included. 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

MOVIE - Labor Day

PG-13 (1:51)
Wide release 1/31/14
Viewed at Century Gateway 12 on Sunday afternoon, 3/16/14
RT Critics: 31  Audience: 58
Cag: 4/Liked it a lot
Directed by Jason Reitman
Paramount Pictures

Josh Brolin, Kate Winslet

My comments:  What do the critics know?  I liked it.  It was slow in places, but the tension built and built, the charisma between the two adult leads was lovely, and the part of 7th-grade Henry was played perfectly.  I loved the special touches added to make Frank's personality show through - the way he treated the neighbor-boy with cerebral palsy, his cooking and baking talents, his love of baseball.....  I couldn't wait to see the end credits, because the scenery was all Massachusetts - even though it was set in New Hampshire.  I've been down those roads before, I've seen those houses on those quiet streets - and sure enough, it was Massachusetts.  It couldn't have been anywhere else!

Reviews:  "Labor Day" centers on 13-year-old Henry Wheeler, who struggles to be the man of his house and care for his reclusive mother Adele while confronting all the pangs of adolescence. On a back-to-school shopping trip, Henry and his mother encounter Frank Chambers, a man both intimidating and clearly in need of help, who convinces them to take him into their home and later is revealed to be an escaped convict. The events of this long Labor Day weekend will shape them for the rest of their lives.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

16. A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty - Joshilyn Jackson

Audio read by the author (another slam dunk!)
10 unabridged discs
2012, Grand Central Publishing
322 pgs.
Finished 3/12/2014
Adult CRF/Southern Fiction
Goodreads Rating: 3.93
My Rating: 5/Just wonderful - stayed up late to listen
Setting:  Small town, rural Mississippi

My comments:  For me, everything that makes a really good read came together in this book.  An exceptionally woven plot.  Characters with personalities that are deeply drawn, real, and believable.  A strong voice - in this case three strong voices.  Three points-of-view that tell this story perfectly.  And to top it off, a reader that hits the absolute bulls-eye.  Joshilyn Jackson once again reads her own book and she's just perfect, including her own wonderful southern lilt.  I'm not a particular fan of southern fiction, but I'd follow Jackson anywhere - this is the third book of hers that I've read/listened to and I consider her an exceptional writer and storyteller. (I love the cover, too - maybe it's the color?)

Goodreads Review:  A GROWN-UP KIND OF PRETTY is a powerful saga of three generations of women, plagued by hardships and torn by a devastating secret, yet inextricably joined by the bonds of family. Fifteen-year-old Mosey Slocumb-spirited, sassy, and on the cusp of womanhood-is shaken when a small grave is unearthed in the backyard, and determined to figure out why it's there. Liza, her stroke-ravaged mother, is haunted by choices she made as a teenager. But it is Jenny, Mosey's strong and big-hearted grandmother, whose maternal love braids together the strands of the women's shared past--and who will stop at nothing to defend their future.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

15. Let Me Go - Chelsea Cain

Archie Sheridan (& Gretchen Lowell) #6
Audio read by Christina Delaine
10 unabridged cds
2013 Macmillan Audio
358 pgs.
Adult Murder Mystery
Finished 3/9/2014
Goodreads Rating: 3.96
My Rating: 3/Liked it
Contemporary Portland, Oregon

Goodreads has a page about this series here.

My comments:  3 is "liked it."  I did.  This installment included some flashbacks from Archie and Gretchen's initial liaisons - which helped me more fully understand Archie's fascination with her. However, I cannot understand his feelings for Susan.  At all.  Maybe it's the way the reader of this audio makes her sound - but to me she's immature, outspoken, selfish many ways....stupid. These stories always fascinate me, and I'm hoping for more, but I'm glad I'm finished with the ones that are currently out so that I can take a little Archie Sheridan break.

Goodreads Review:   Detective Archie Sheridan is about to receive a birthday present from the last person he ever wants to see again: Gretchen Lowell
          The investigation into Jack Reynolds's drug enterprise is heating up and has Archie heading off to attend a masked Halloween party on Jack Reynolds's island, where Susan is a reluctant guest. But the next morning one of the guests is found murdered, and Archie quickly realizes that nothing is what it seems. Only one thing is clear: Gretchen is back, and she's been closer than anyone thinks. On Halloween Eve, with time running out, Archie will have to risk everything, and choose wisely whom to trust, if he and his loved ones are going to live through the night.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

MOVIE - Omar

NR (1:38)
Limited release 2/21/14 (Nominated for an Academy Award)
Viewed at Loft with Sheila 3--5-14
RT Critic: 88 Audience: 83
Cag: 5: Outstanding film
Directed by Hany Abu-Assad
Adopt Films
In Arabic with subtitles

The actor who played Omar, Adam Bakri, was mesmerizing.

My comments:  What a story!  (And what an incredibly high wall).  I'm thinking this took place in Jerusalem/West Bank/Occupied Territories - will do a little more research now, which is usually the way of it, right?  This was the only tiny problem I had - I had to spend a little too much time figuring out the setting.  I could understand the language being spoken was Arabic, but so were all the police-types.  I had no pre-information, but now that I've read the review, I'm glad I didn't.  Watching this movie with no previous "clue" about its content was the best thing I could have done.  The ending fit perfectly with the character and personality of the protagonist.  Anything else would have been untrue to his innermost character.  Added note:  I can't imagine living like this.  On either side, Palestinian or Israeli.  Human beings are human beings.  How do I know what I'd do if I were put into non-human situations?

Reviews: A tense, gripping thriller about betrayal, suspected and real, in the Occupied Territories. Omar (Adam Bakri) is a Palestinian baker who routinely climbs over the separation wall to meet up with his girl Nadja (Leem Lubany). By night, he's either a freedom fighter or a terrorist-you decide-ready to risk his life to strike at the Israeli military with his childhood friends Tarek (Eyad Hourani) and Amjad (Samer Bisharat). Arrested after the killing of an Israeli soldier and tricked into an admission of guilt by association, he agrees to work as an informant. So begins a dangerous game-is he playing his Israeli handler (Waleed F. Zuaiter) or will he really betray his cause? And who can he trust on either side? Palestinian filmmaker Hany Abu-Assad (Paradise Now) has made a dynamic, action-packed drama about the insoluable moral dilemmas and tough choices facing those on the frontlines of a conflict that shows no sign of letting up. 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

14. Between, Georgia - Joshilyn Jackson

(Note:  I don't really like this cover....)
Audio read by the author - PERFECTLY!!
8 unabridged cds/ 9 hours
2006 Hachette Audio
294 pgs.
Adult Contemporary Realistic Fiction (Chick Lit, I guess....)
Finished 3/2/2014
Goodreads Rating: 3.85 (7,619 ratings)
My Rating:  Absolutely delightful (5)
Setting: Contemporary Between, Georgia (halfway between Atlanta and Athens, GA)
1st sentence/s:  "The war began thirty years, nine months, and seven days ago when I was deaf and blind, floating silent and serene inside Hazel Crabtree."

My comments:  Joshilyn Jackson - the author - read this book so beautifully that I wanted it to go on and on.  Love stories/chick lit aren't usually my thing, but this was so much more.  I loved the writing, I enjoyed the story, I was fascinated by a mother being deaf AND blind, I was intrigued by the personalities of the three very different sisters, and I didn't mind taking a peek into a tiny Georgia community. "The south" is one part of the country that I do not relate to, or know very much about.  I read Gods in Alabama - also by Jackson - a couple of years ago and remember very much enjoying it. Think I'll try another, especially if she's reading it herself.

Goodreads Review:  Nonny Frett understands the meanings of "rock" and "hard place" better than any woman ever born. She's got two mothers, "one Deaf-blind and the other four baby steps from flat crazy." She's got two men: her husband, who's easing out the back door; and her best friend, who's laying siege to her heart in her front yard. She has a job that holds her in the city, and she's addicted to a little girl who's stuck deep in the country. And she has two families; the Fretts, who stole her and raised her right, and the Crabtrees, who lost her and can't forget that they've been done wrong.