Thursday, March 31, 2016

March Letterboxing

Lots of Postals this month, I love sitting at my desk and stamping into logs!  I've colored three of the Coloring Pages books, but am disappointed that none are anything like mine, and very small.  I've also discovered I don't like coloring, especially tiny areas, very much!

My 3/31/16 Stats:

P1 F93 X46

New in March:
Traditional 4 finds
HH 3 found
Postals 25 found, 1 carved & planted
LTCS 2 quisps found
No event boxes this month

One new carve - as a donation for the 50 states box, since no one did Iowa, and I am enjoying getting to know Brailleboxer (a blind letterboxer!) in California.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

PICTURE BOOK - This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen

Illustrated by the author
2012 Candlewick
HC $15.99
32 pgs.
Goodreads rating: 4.20
My rating: 4
Endpapers:  The thick undergrowth of the ocean, seen in the last six-or-so pages (and shown below).

1st line/s:  "This hat is not mine.
                   I just stole it.
                   I stole it from a big fish."

My comments:  Wonderful illustrations - all underwater where it's BLACK - everything else is in grays, browns, beiges, and whites.  Well-earned Caldecott Award!  And such a fun, clever story.  A good one to read aloud to my class and have them write about what happened in the thick undergrowth, where the reader could not see the action.  All sorts of shenanigans could have gone on in there!

Goodreads:  When a tiny fish shoots into view wearing a round blue topper (which happens to fit him perfectly), trouble could be following close behind. So it's a good thing that enormous fish won't wake up. And even if he does, it's not like he'll ever know what happened...
Visual humor swims to the fore as the best-selling Jon Klassenfollows his breakout debut with another deadpan-funny tale.

Friday, March 25, 2016

19. Into the Dim - Janet B. Taylor

(Into the Dim #1)
I read the actual book for this one!
2016 HMH Books for Young Readers
432 pgs.
YA Fantasy/TimeTravel/Historical Fiction
Finished 3/25/2016
Goodreads rating: 3.78
My rating: 5
Setting: US/then England/then 1200 London Town....

First line/s: "Everyone in town knew the coffin was empty."

My comments:  From some of the reviews I've read on Goodreads, you either love or hate this book.  I totally and completely enjoyed it.  Sure there were a lot of things that made my adult eyes roll a bit, but it was a blast to read - time travel back to Eleanor of Aquitaine and Becket, family secrets and mysteries, a touch of romance - most of the young adults I work with will LOVE this.  Sure, dropping into London on the day of Eleanor and Henry's coronation and miraculously becoming acquainted with the most famous people of the time is waaaaay hard-to-believe, but who cares?  It sure makes a good story!  And although the book ends with somewhat of a question, I don't even have to wait for the next book  to feel satisfied.  This one did it completely for me.  Great first book, Ms. Taylor!

Goodreads synopsis:  When fragile, sixteen-year-old Hope Walton loses her mom to an earthquake overseas, her secluded world crumbles. Agreeing to spend the summer in Scotland, Hope discovers that her mother was more than a brilliant academic, but also a member of a secret society of time travelers. Trapped in the twelfth century in the age of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Hope has seventy-two hours to rescue her mother and get back to their own time. Along the way, her path collides with that of a mysterious boy who could be vital to her mission . . . or the key to Hope’s undoing.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

PICTURE BOOK - Knit Your Bit: A World War I Story by Deborah Hopkinson

Illustrated by Steven Guarnaccia
HC $16.99
32 pgs.
Goodreads rating: 3.80
My rating: 3.5
Endpaper: five WWI era photos of children - mostly boys - knitting
Illustrations: a little too Tin-Tinny for my tastes....
1st line/s: "When Pop went to be a soldier, I wanted to go with him."

My comments:  I'm drawn to picture book about knitting and quilting, and this historical fiction - about World War I - is a good one!  I'm not drawn to these illustrations, though (apologies to Mr. Guarnaccia).  Yes, boys can knit, too!  Check out:  Knitting for Charity at!

Goodreads:  Mikey’s dad has left home to fight overseas during World War I, and Mikey wants to do something BIG to help. When his teacher suggests that the class participate in a knitting bee in Central Park to knit clothing for the troops, Mikey and his friends roll their eyes—knitting is for girls! But when the girls turn it into a competition, the boys just have to meet the challenge.
                                  Based on a real “Knit-In” event at Central Park in 1918, Knit Your Bit shows readers that making a lasting contribution is as easy as trying something new! 

MOVIE - London Has Fallen

R (1:40)
Wide release 3/5/16
Viewed 3/18/16 at Roadhouse - a Friday night after a report card week!
RT Critic: 25   Audience: 62
Critic's Consensus:   London Has Fallen traps a talented cast -- and all who dare to see it -- in a mid-1990s basic-cable nightmare of a film loaded with xenophobia and threadbare action-thriller clich├ęs. (THIS IS PROBABLY TRUE!  cag)
Cag:  3.5 Liked it - very entertaining
Directed by Babak Najafi
Focus Features
wikepedia has a great blow-by-blow description.....

Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman

My comments:  This follows the 2013 film OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN with the same premise only at the White House. (And you absolutely don't have to have seen the first one.  This is a total standalone.) Yes, it's hogwash and ridiculous (shooting, shooting, shooting at people whether they're unknown to be good or bad) but it's entertaining and you care about the characters.  I hated the violence, but watched knowing it was all "made up" and "unreal."  Sure, that's a naive way to look at it, and deep down I hate that I enjoyed it...... review here.  1/2 stars

Fandango Summary:  In this sequel to the 2013 action thriller Olympus Has Fallen, a terrorist plot unfolds in London as a number of politicians gather for the funeral of the British prime minister. A Secret Service agent (Gerald Butler), the U.S. president (Aaron Eckhardt), and an MI-6 operative (Charlotte Riley) must work together to stop the terrorists from assassinating the world's leaders and destroying the city's landmarks.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

18. Glass Sword - Victoria Aveyard

Red Queen #2
Library Book
2016 Harper Teen
444 pgs.
YA Fantasy
Finished March 13, 2016
Goodreads rating: 4.11
My rating: 4

First line/s:  "I flinch.  The rag she gives me is clean, but it still smells of blood.  I shouldn't care.  I already have blood all over my clothes.  The red in mine, of course.  The silver belongs to many others."

My comments:  Well.  I couldn't believe how unhappy with this book I was at the beginning.  Just couldn't get into it.  Went back and started over, tried again.  Once I got through the first quarter or so, I was more into it, and by the last quarter couldn't put it down.  I think what might have "gotten" me was that, unlike a lot of sequels, Aveyard wrote it to read as if there were no huge gap (of the reader's time) between books one and two.  To enjoy what was going on you had to have perfect recall of every happenstance and character from the first book....and I didn't.  It had been too long. No hints or reminders as to who or what some of the mentioned people were.  SOOOOOOOOOOO - NOTE TO SELF - when the next title appears way down the road, read the last third or quarter of this book as a refresher immediately before reading the new.  (I also wasn't that crazy about the setting, some of the characters, and what went on in the first hundred or so pages! Not sure why.....)

Goodreads synopsis:  Mare Barrow’s blood is red—the color of common folk—but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to control. 
          The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from Maven, the prince—the friend—who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: she is not the only one of her kind.
          Pursued by Maven, now a vindictive king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red-and-Silver fighters to join in the struggle against her oppressors. 
          But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat. 
          Will she shatter under the weight of the lives that are the cost of rebellion? Or have treachery and betrayal hardened her forever?
          The electrifying next installment in the Red Queen series escalates the struggle between the growing rebel army and the blood-segregated world they’ve always known—and pits Mare against the darkness that has grown in her soul.

Friday, March 11, 2016

MOVIE - 10 Cloverfield Lane

PG-13 (1:45)
Wide release 3/11/16
Viewed opening day at The Roadhouse with Julee
RT Critic:  91  Audience:  87
Critic's Consensus:  Smart, solidly crafted, and palpably tense, 10 Cloverfield Lane makes the most of its confined setting and outstanding cast -- and suggests a new frontier for franchise filmmaking.   I wholeheartedly disagree.
Cag:  2- Some parts of it were okay
Directed by Dan Trachtenberg
Bad Robot Productions

John Goodman

My comments:  Smart?  Palpably tense?  Not to me....for me it was stupid and not really tense at all.  S-L-O-W (Maybe I've seen too many action films lately?)  Not high on my case you can't tell..... review here.  3 stars (?!!??)

RT Summary:  A young woman wakes up after a terrible accident to find that she's locked in a cellar with a doomsday prepper, who insists that he saved her life and that the world outside is uninhabitable following an apocalyptic catastrophe. Uncertain what to believe, the woman soon determines that she must escape at any cost.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

17. Blood Ties - Nicholas Guild

Audio read by Graham Rowatt (VERY nicely)
CD in my new car
(11:19) 10 unabridged cds
2015, Forge Books
320 pgs.
Adult murder mystery
Finished 3-10-16
Goodreads rating: 3.99
My rating: 4
Setting: Contemporary San Francisco, CA and vicinity as well as various other places in different parts of the country

First line/s:"The rain had stopped just before dawn, but up on the coast highway the air was still laden with heavy mist, enough to dissolve the flashers on the police cruisers into pulses of smeary read light."

My comments:
(For some reason I've been reluctant to give fives lately. This was very, very good....but not quite a five, and I'm not even sure why.)
How do mystery writers keep coming up with so many really different scenarios? Because there's so much going on in the real world that boggles the mind? Hmmmm. This story has a really interesting premise, and it follows it through to the end, nailing it. It started out a little slowly, but it didn't take long for me to be thinking up any excuse I could to get into the car and listen a little more. Psychopaths. Mental disorders. If you read too many of these sort of books you start looking at everyone with a questioning eye....
Goodreads synopsis:  Homicide detective Ellen Ridley of the SFPD is tracking a serial killer terrorizing young women in the San Francisco Bay Area. Ridley is sure she's cornered her most likely suspect: Stephen Tregear, a hacker and code breaker who works for U.S. Naval Intelligence. But Tregear is not the killer... he's the killer's son.
          Ridley and Tregear team up to look for Tregear's father, Walter, in an elaborate game of murderous cat and mouse. As the body count rises, Ridley must race against the clock to stop Walter before he kills any more women--and Tregear must finally confront the father who has been trying to kill him for twenty years. Blood Ties is an elegant and frightening thriller from Nicholas Guild. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

16. The Opposite of Everyone - Joshilyn Jackson

listened to this on Audible/iPhone
2016 - William Morrow
352 pgs.
Goodreads rating: 4.07
Adult CRF/Mystery
Finished 3/8/16
Setting: Contemporary Atlanta, and other places around the country - a traveling mama

First line/s:  "I was born blue.  If my mother hadn't pushed me out quick as a cat, I would have been born dead and even bluer; her cord was wrapped tight around my neck.  She looked at my little blue lips, my blue toes and baby fingers, and named me after Kali.  Kali Jai."

My comments:  I have definitely become a Joshilyn Jackson fan.  Her story-weaving gets better and better with each book.  She flips back and forth between Kali/Paula at 12 and currently, where we slowly learn/guess her background story.  What great characters!  Her protagonist has so many flaws - making her so real - that you love her and hate her and question her... keeps you busy throughout the whole novel!  I listened to this one, her brand new book.  I usually greatly enjoy her reading, but the voices she used on this one, other than Cali, Kai, and Birdwine, were a little bothersome.  She made her 23-year old brother sound around 12, and I had to keep resetting his image in my mind because of this.  Very engrossing.

Goodreads synopsis: Born in Alabama, Paula Vauss spent the first decade of her life on the road with her free-spirited young mother, Kai, an itinerant storyteller who blended Hindu mythology with Southern Oral Tradition to re-invent their history as they roved. But everything, including Paula’s birthname Kali Jai, changed when she told a story of her own—one that landed Kai in prison and Paula in foster care. Separated, each holding her own secrets, the intense bond they once shared was fractured.
          These days, Paula has reincarnated herself as a tough-as-nails divorce attorney with a successful practice in Atlanta. While she hasn’t seen Kai in fifteen years, she’s still making payments on that Karmic debt—until the day her last check is returned in the mail, along with a cryptic letter. “I am going on a journey, Kali. I am going back to my beginning; death is not the end. You will be the end. We will meet again, and there will be new stories. You know how Karma works.”
          Then Kai’s most treasured secret literally lands on Paula’s doorstep, throwing her life into chaos and transforming her from only child to older sister. Desperate to find her mother before it’s too late, Paula sets off on a journey of discovery that will take her back to the past and into the deepest recesses of her heart. With the help of her ex-lover Birdwine, an intrepid and emotionally volatile private eye who still carries a torch for her, this brilliant woman, an expert at wrecking families, now has to figure out how to put one back together—her own.
          The Opposite of Everyone is a story about story itself, how the tales we tell connect us, break us, and define us, and how the endings and beginnings we choose can destroy us . . . and make us whole. Laced with sharp humor and poignant insight, it is beloved New York Times bestselling author Joshilyn Jackson at her very best.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

I've Been Cooking - Chicken & Cabbage


3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 large container chicken broth
1 cabbage, sliced & chunked
1 bundle of celery, sliced about 1/4-inch (I discarded the leaves in the middle)
1 huge onion, chunked

Put the breasts in the bottom of the crockpot, pour in the broth. Throw in the veggies and cook on low for as long as you want - my low is pretty high and this was done in about 5 hours, but I left it in a lot longer.  Using a fork, pull the chicken breasts apart into bite-sized pieces. Add parsley, salt, pepper, and cook a short time longer.

Makes a huge amount.  I always freeze some.

Friday, March 4, 2016

MOVIE - Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

R (1:51)
Wide release 3/4/15
Viewed opening day at The Roadhouse
RT Critic: 61   Audience:  65
Critic's Consensus:  While WTF is far from FUBAR, Tina Fey and Martin Freeman are just barely enough to overcome the picture's glib predictability and limited worldview  And my reaction to this consensus?  You guys have seen too many movies....or we're looking at different criteria completely!
Cag:  5/ Loved it
Directed by Glenn Ficarra, John Requa
Paramount Pictures
Based on the memoir by Kim Barker

Tina Fey, Margot Robbie, Martin Freeman, Billie Bob Thornton, Alfred Molina, Josh Charles

My comments:  I very much enjoyed this movie.  Although Barker is smart, she is impetuous and flawed - which makes her very, very REAL.  This movie is full of humor with opportunities for deep thinking, admiration, and lot of questioning.  Afghanistan!  The Taliban!  The media.....(Silly me, it wasn't until my ride home, along Grant, that I realized what the title meant.  Duh.)

Fandango Summary:  Eager for a new professional challenge, TV reporter Kim Baker (Tina Fey) decides to serve as a foreign correspondent in Afghanistan, where she is embedded with a Marine unit. During her time abroad, she is forced to contend with a fiery U.S. general (Billy Bob Thornton), and befriends a fellow reporter (Margot Robbie) and a British photographer (Martin Freeman). Alfred MolinaJosh Charles, andChristopher Abbott co-star. Directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot was adapted from journalist Kim Barker's memoir The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

MOVIE - Triple 9

(R) 1:55
Wide release 2/26/16
Viewed Tuesday, 3/1/16 at ElCon with Sheila
RT Critic:  54  Audience:  50
Critic's Consensus:  Triple 9's pulpy potboiler thrills don't quite live up to the ferocious talents of its cast, but the film's efficient, solidly crafted genre fun is often enough to balance its troublesome flaws.
Cag: 4 - this was a good movie, had to pay close attention to "get" it all (I hate that I love dark, gritty, full-of-murder books and movies)
Directed by John Hillcoat
Open Road Films

Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson, Kate Winslet, Chiwetei Ejiofor, Anthony Mackie

My comments: Very entertaining, once you got past two things.  One: very, VERY violent. Two: shows the "underbelly" of cities in the US in a really shocking way.  Even though I was aware of gloom, gangs,guns, drugs, darkness, crazy people this really, REALLY showed it - too well.  It was really unsettling.  The story was intricate and interesting.  You had to pay attention.  It wasn't until the drive home afterward that something said at the very beginning of the film was remembered and made sense (the three in the car were talking about their upcoming heist, and the guy in the back seat said he didn't worry about Marcus, but wasn't sure about the "other guy."  I'm glad I remembered that later!  (It always amazes me how Woody Harrelson totally takes on a role - he definitely becomes the perosn he's portraying.  He was great!)

RT Summary:  In TRIPLE NINE, a crew of dirty cops is blackmailed by the Russian mob to execute a virtually impossible heist and the only way to pull it off is to manufacture a 999, police code for "officer down." Their plan is turned upside down when the unsuspecting rookie they set up to die foils the attack, triggering a breakneck action-packed finale tangled with double-crosses, greed and revenge.