Monday, December 26, 2016

73. Die Trying by Lee Child

#2 Jack Reacher
listened to in the car - end of trip to PA and up to Maine, all in December, 2016
originally published in 1998
552 pgs. in Mass Market paperback
12 unabridged cds
Adult Murder Mystery
Finished 12/26/16
Goodreads rating: - 4.0 - 67,368
My rating: 3
Setting: Chicago, then the wilds of northwestern Montana

First line/s: "Nathan Rubin died because he got brave."

My comments: I'm reading this series out of order, which works fine for me.  This is the second book in the series, and what I'm finding is that I like the more recent books better than the beginning titles.  This one was TOO detailed, too much information and explanation about guns, bullets, velocity, too much of the nitty gritty.  (If it were about cutting fabric for a quilt I'd probably feel differently).  It also seemed to go on forever and ever and ever...but no matter how impatient I get, these are great for listening to on a 8 hour plus drive!

Goodreads synopsis:  In a Chicago suburb, a dentist is met in his office parking lot by three men and ordered into the trunk of his Lexus. On a downtown sidewalk, Jack Reacher and an unknown woman are abducted in broad daylight by two men - practiced and confident - who stop them at gunpoint and hustle them into the same sedan. Then Reacher and the woman are switched into a second vehicle and hauled away, leaving the dentist bound and gagged inside his car with the woman's abandoned possessions, two gallons of gasoline. . . and a burning match. The FBI is desperate to rescue the woman, a Special Agent from the Chicago office, because the FBI always - always - takes care of its own, and because this woman is not just another agent. Reacher and the woman join forces, against seemingly hopeless odds, to outwit their captors and escape. But the FBI thinks Jack is one of the kidnappers - and when they close in, the Bureau snipers will be shooting to kill.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

MOVIE - Why Him?

R (1:51)
Wide release 12/23/16
Viewed in Carlisle, in the cushy recliners at RC Carlisle 8
RT Critic:  40  Audience:  61
Critic's Consensus: Solidly cast but overall misconceived, Why Him? offers the odd chuckle, but ultimately adds disappointingly little to its tired father-vs.-fiancĂ© formula.
Cag:  4.5
Directed by John Hamburg
20th Century Fox

James Franco, Bryan Cranston, Megan Mellally, Zoey Deutch

My comments:  Okay, I loved this movie.  It was really crass and really funny.  All the actors were wonderful, though I wished it had shown a little more about the relationship between Laird and Steph.  But the scenes between Bryan Cranston and James Franco were a RIOT!!!!!  James Franco can do anything...and all the wild & crazy paintings throughout the movie were done by him.  Love it, love it.  Today is Chrismas, I saw it last night and I can't get it out of my head.  What a hoot!

RT/ IMDb Summary:  Over the holidays, Ned (Bryan Cranston), an overprotective but loving dad and his family visit his daughter at Stanford, where he meets his biggest nightmare: her well-meaning but socially awkward Silicon Valley billionaire boyfriend, Laird (James Franco). The straight-laced Ned thinks Laird, who has absolutely no filter, is a wildly inappropriate match for his daughter. The one-sided rivalry-and Ned's panic level-escalate when he finds himself increasingly out of step in the glamorous high-tech hub, and learns that Laird is about to pop the question.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

72. The Poet's Dog by Patricia MacLachlan

Library Book
2016, Katherine Tegen Books
96 pgs.
Middle Grades CRF w/a touch of magical fantasy
Finished 12/22/16
Goodreads rating: 4/03 - 740 ratings
My rating: 4
Setting:   Contemporary winter, somewhere in the USA where it snows

First line/s:  "I found the boy at dusk.  The blizzard was fierce, and it would soon be dark."

My comments:  A very sweet, gentle story, told as though a dog could really and truly converse with humans; humans who love poetry and dogs.

Goodreads synopsis:  From Newbery Medal winner Patricia MacLachlan comes a poignant story about two children, a poet, and a dog and how they help one another survive loss and recapture love. "Just what I needed," raves "It's a heart-warming story of loss and love that filled me with hope for a better future and renewed my belief in good."
          Teddy is a gifted dog. Raised in a cabin by a poet named Sylvan, he grew up listening to sonnets read aloud and the comforting clicking of a keyboard. Although Teddy understands words, Sylvan always told him there are only two kinds of people in the world who can hear Teddy speak: poets and children.
          Then one day Teddy learns that Sylvan was right. When Teddy finds Nickel and Flora trapped in a snowstorm, he tells them that he will bring them home—and they understand him. The children are afraid of the howling wind, but not of Teddy’s words. They follow him to a cabin in the woods, where the dog used to live with Sylvan . . . only now his owner is gone.
          As they hole up in the cabin for shelter, Teddy is flooded with memories of Sylvan. What will Teddy do when his new friends go home? Can they help one another find what they have lost?

Sunday, December 18, 2016

2016 Golden Globes

Best Motion Picture: Drama
     Hacksaw Ridge
     Hell or High Water
     Manchester by the Sea

Best Motion Picture: Musical or Comedy
     20th Century Women
     Florence Foster Jenkins
     La La Land
     Sing Street

Best Actor: Motion Picture Drama
     Casey Affleck; Manchester by the Sea
     Joel Edgerton; Loving
     Andrew Garfield: Hacksaw Ridge
     Viggo Mortensen: Captain Fantastic
     Denzel Washington; Fences
Best Actor: Musical/Comedy
     Collin Farrell; The Lobster
     Ryan Gosling; La La Land
     Hugh Grant; Florence Foster Jenkins
     Jonah Hill; War Dogs
     Ryan Reynolds; Dead Pool
Best Actress: Motion Picture Drama
     Amy Adams; Arrival
     Jessica Chastain: Miss Sloane
     Isabelle Huppert; Elle
     Ruth Negga; Loving
     Natalie Portman: Jackie
Best Actress: Musical/Comedy
     Annette Bening; 20th Century Women
     Lily Collins; Rules Don't Apply
     Hailee Steinfeld; The Edge of Seventeen
     Emma Stone; La La Land
     Meryl Streep; Florence Foster Jenkins

Best Supporting Actor
     Mahershala Ali; Moonlightt
     Jeff Bridges; Hell or High Water
     Simon Helberg; Florence Foster Jenkins
     Dev Patel; Lion
     Aaron Taylor-Johnson; Nocturnal Animals

Best Supporting Actress
     Viola Davis; Fences
     Naomie Harris; Moonlight
     Nicole Kidman;  Lion
     Octavia Spencer; Hidden Figures
     Michelle Williams; Manchester by the Sea

Best Director
     Davien Chazelle, La La Land
     Tom Ford, Nocturnal Animals
     Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge
     Barry Jenkins; Moonlight
     Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea

Best Screenplay
     Damien Chazelle, La La Land
     TomFord, Nocturnal Animals
     Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
     Keneth Londergan, Manchester by the Sea
     Taylor Sheridan; Hell or High Water

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

71. City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

The Mortal Instruments #3
listened to Audible
2009, Margaret McElderry
541 pgs.
YA Dystopia
Finished 12-13-16
Goodreads rating: 4.34 - 579,031 ratings
My rating: 3
Setting:  Alicante, the Shadowhunter home "world"

First line/s:  "The cold snap of the previous week was over; the sun was shining brightly as Clary hurried across Luke's dusty front yard, the hood of her jacket up to keep her hair from blowing across her face."

My comments:  I listened to this book - mostly on the road traversing Texas.  It was highly predictable, a little repetitive and wordy in places, but pure entertainment during a long, long road trip.  I've recently watched the Shadowhunter TV series and totally dislike the actor portraying Jace.  It took me about half the book to get back the original picture of Jace that I had in my head. The setting moved from NYC to Alicante, of which I wasn't the greatest fan.  I think, perhaps, that this would be an excellent place to end this series.

Goodreads synopsis:  To save her mother's life, Clary must travel to the City of Glass, the ancestral home of the Shadowhunters - never mind that entering the city without permission is against the Law, and breaking the Law could mean death. To make things worse, she learns that Jace does not want her there, and Simon has been thrown in prison by the Shadowhunters, who are deeply suspicious of a vampire who can withstand sunlight.
     As Clary uncovers more about her family's past, she finds an ally in mysterious Shadowhunter Sebastian. With Valentine mustering the full force of his power to destroy all Shadowhunters forever, their only chance to defeat him is to fight alongside their eternal enemies. But can Downworlders and Shadowhunters put aside their hatred to work together? While Jace realizes exactly how much he's willing to risk for Clary, can she harness her newfound powers to help save the Glass City - whatever the cost?

Friday, December 9, 2016

MOVIE - Rules Don't Apply

Wide release 11/23/16 - went to cheap theaters almost immediately
Viewed date at Century Gateway Friday, 12/9/16 MY LAST MOVIE IN TUCSON!!!
RT Critic: 56   Audience:  44
Critic's Consensus: With Rules Don't Apply, Warren Beatty takes an overall affable -- but undeniably slight -- look at a corner of old Hollywood under Howard Hughes' distinctive shadow.
IMbD Rating:  6.3/10 
Cag:  4
Directed by Warren Beatty
Twentieth Century Fox

Warren Beatty, Lily Collins

My comments: I came out of the theater feeling a little unsettled.  that's what the movie did for me, it was unsettling.  Some of it was much too long and drawn out, some of it was just delightful.  A lot of big names appeared here and there, and that was fun.  The two young leads had great rapport and I enjoyed the scenes with the two of them together most.

RT/ IMDb Summary:  An aspiring young actress (Lily Collins) and her ambitious young driver (Alden Ehrenreich) struggle hopefully with the absurd eccentricities of the wildly unpredictable billionaire, Howard Hughes, (Warren Beatty) for whom they work. It's Hollywood, 1958. Small town beauty queen, songwriter, and devout Baptist virgin Marla Mabrey (Collins), under contract to the infamous Howard Hughes (Beatty), arrives in Los Angeles. At the airport, she meets her driver Frank Forbes (Ehrenreich), who is engaged to be married to his 7th grade sweetheart and is a deeply religious Methodist. Their instant attraction not only puts their religious convictions to the test, but also defies Hughes' #1 rule: no employee is allowed to have any relationship whatsoever with a contract actress. Hughes' behavior intersects with Marla and Frank in very separate and unexpected ways, and as they are drawn deeper into his bizarre world, their values are challenged and their lives are changed.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

70. The Prayer Box by Lisa Wingate

listened to on Audible
2013 Tyndale House
400 pgs. - read 125 pgs.
Adult CRF
Started and gave up on the same day, Sat. 11/26/16
Goodreads rating: 4.1 - 6069 ratings
My rating: 1.5
Setting: Contemporary Cape Hatteras

First line/s:  "When trouble blows in, my mind always reaches for a single, perfect day in Rodanthe."

My comments:  I've listened to over 30% of this book and I can't get into it...perhaps because I can't stomach the protagonist or her choices?  Or perhaps it goes waaaay too slowly.  Not going to waste my time going any further...too many others waiting for me out there.

Goodreads synopsis:  When Iola Anne Poole, an old-timer on Hatteras Island, passes away in her bed at ninety-one, the struggling young mother in her rental cottage, Tandi Jo Reese, finds herself charged with the task of cleaning out Iola's rambling Victorian house.Running from a messy, dangerous past, Tandi never expects to find more than a temporary hiding place within Iola's walls, but everything changes with the discovery of eighty-one carefully decorated prayer boxes, one for each year, spanning from Iola's youth to her last days. Hidden in the boxes is the story of a lifetime, written on random bits of paper--the hopes and wishes, fears and thoughts of an unassuming but complex woman passing through the seasons of an extraordinary, unsung life filled with journeys of faith, observations on love, and one final lesson that could change everything for Tandi.

Monday, December 5, 2016

69. Against the Odds by Mara Jacobs

Anna Dawson, Las Vegas Gambler #1
read on my Kindle
228 pgs.Adult Mystery
Finished 12-5-16
Goodreads rating:  4.09 - 570 ratings
My rating: 4
Setting:  Contemporary Las Vegas, NV

First line/s:  "Get it together, I told myself.  This isn't life or death.  It's just college basketball.  Nobody's going to die from what I'm about to do."

My comments:  I purchased this book despite the cover (not one I'd usually choose) and I made the correct choice.  The book is nothing like the cover, or even the blurb on Goodreads, which make it sound like it's a "romance."  This is a good whodunnit through and through, in a setting I love (Las Vegas) with a bunch of really interesting characters.  And Anna, the protagonist, is a really great person with a big flaw or two.  In other words, REAL.  I liked the plot, setting, and characters, and will read more in the series since this looks like the first one.

Goodreads synopsis:  My name is Anna Dawson, and I'm a professional poker player. And I'm good. Very good.  But, I also have a little bit of a problem with placing bets on a sporting events. Not so good.
          Sometimes my little problem becomes a whole lot of trouble and I need to resort to some, shall we say, less than stellar actions to get out of debt. So, I become my alter ego, JoJo, and fix college basketball games. Hey, a victimless crime, no one's the wiser, and it's better than the alternative, which is a drive into the desert with my loan shark and a shovel in the trunk. Although, it has to be said, my loan shark is pretty good looking.
          I love Vegas, and I love the life I've built, but when one of my friends is murdered, and another one shot at, I know I need to take a serious look at myself. And I need to call in the big guns. Even if that means teaming up with detective Jack Schiller, a man who's dealing with his own problems. But dang, he sure is sexy.
          I'm just trying to juggle protecting my friends, helping sexy detective Jack while not letting him get to close, and finding a murderer. And, oh yeah, no one can learn about JoJo.
          Because if they do, there's no way I'll be able to bluff my way out.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

MOVIE - Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

PG-13 (2:12)
Wide release November 18, 2016
Viewed Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016 at Century Park Place....for the last time?
RT Critic:  78  Audience: 83
Critic's Consensus: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them draws on Harry Potter's rich mythology to deliver a spinoff that dazzles with franchise-building magic all its own.
Cag:  4/Enjoyed it very much, but it was a bit long
Directed by David Yates
Warner Brothers Picture
Written by J. K. Rowling

Eddie Redmayne, Dan Fogler (I really liked him!)

My comments:  The first few bars of music at the very, very beginning of the movie are notes from the Harry Potter theme.  After those first few notes, the music hanges.  Yes, this movie is by J. K. Rowling and yes, it is set in the world of wizards and awizardry, but other than that there's not much comparison to Harry Potter.  It's a standalone.  The setting, for one thing, is completely different - 1920s in New York City.  And for the most part, the story is about adults, not kids or even young adults.
     It's hard to compare the two movies, they are pretty much incomparable.  It was okay, entertaining, and had interesting actors.  I loved Jacob Goldstein, he was actually my favorite character in the move.  The Actor, Dan Fogler, was wonderful.

RT/ IMDb Summary:  The adventures of writer Newt Scamander in New York's secret community of witches and wizards seventy years before Harry Potter reads his book in school.

Friday, December 2, 2016

One Postcard Received Friday, Dec. 2, 2016

702.  Greetings from Czech Republic
Because I have only painting "reading cards" and you are man (!!) with a sense of humor, I send you raven card.  Raven is poem from Edgar Allan Poe, and you know it.  Enjoy your raven card and have a funny day, Jana.  
PS:  Raven in Czech:  KRKAVEC

MOVIE - Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

PG-13 (2:07) (might be scary for younger or nervous kids)
Wide release 9/20/16
Viewed 12/2/16 at Century Gateway
RT Critic: 63   Audience:  64
Critic's Consensus:  Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children proves a suitable match for Tim Burton's distinctive style, even if it's on stronger footing as a visual experience than a narrative one.
Cag:  4.5 Liked it so much more than planned...
Directed by Tim Burton
20th Century Fox
Based on the book by Ransom Riggs

Eva Green, Chris O'Dowd, Judi Dench (small part)

My comments:  I couldn't get into the book, only got as far as Jake finding the bombed-out mansion.  However, the movie was fascinating, the storyline incredibly clever.  Maybe I didn't go far enough?  Apparently for me it translated better on film than in print.  I wonder what the difference are between them?  All the effects were pretty darn cool and I love the kind o mind that can come up with a story like this.  Fantastic time travel/fantasy.  Chris O'Down, as the dad, was marvelous.  And I wish there had been more of Juki Dench - love her!

RT/ IMDb Summary:  From visionary director Tim Burton, and based upon the best-selling novel, comes an unforgettable motion picture experience. When Jake discovers clues to a mystery that spans different worlds and times, he finds a magical place known as Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. But the mystery and danger deepen as he gets to know the residents and learns about their special powers...and their powerful enemies. Ultimately, Jake discovers that only his own special "peculiarity" can save his new friends.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

68. The Body Reader by Anne Frasier

read on my iPhone/Book/listened to audio CD/Audible...
2016, Thomas & Mercer
289 pgs.
adult murder mystery
Finished 12-1-16
Goodreads rating:  4.18
My rating: 4.5

First line/s:  "One day she stopped screaming."

My comments:  First of all, I can't (and don't want to) imagine what it would be like to be held captive in a basement "cell" for three years.  In the best of circumstances this would be horrendous, but Jude Fontaine was held under horrid circumstances.  So when she is able to escape and re-enter the real world, it is hard to comprehend how she would or could survive.  The foremost feeling I have after reading this book is that Anne Frasier is a wonderful, creative writer.  It's a really believable story that could so easily be the opposite.  Impressed.

Goodreads synopsis:  For three years, Detective Jude Fontaine was kept from the outside world. Held in an underground cell, her only contact was with her sadistic captor, and reading his face was her entire existence. Learning his every line, every movement, and every flicker of thought is what kept her alive.
     After her experience with isolation and torture, she is left with a fierce desire for justice—and a heightened ability to interpret the body language of both the living and the dead. Despite colleagues’ doubts about her mental state, she resumes her role at Homicide. Her new partner, Detective Uriah Ashby, doesn’t trust her sanity, and he has a story of his own he’d rather keep hidden. But a killer is on the loose, murdering young women, so the detectives have no choice: they must work together to catch the madman before he strikes again. And no one knows madmen like Jude Fontaine.

Postcards Received Thursday, 12-1-2016

698.  Postcrossing Indonesia - Batam
Hello.  I am Ucy.  I live in Batam City, but my hometown is Bukithngsi city, west of Sumatra province.  I like to collect stamps, coins, banknotes, and I like to crochet.  I hope you like this card.  Happy Postcarduniting!

699.  Tura Beach, NSW, Australia
Did You Know? Humpback Whale
The humpback whale is not the largest of the whale family, but it can still grow to 16 metres in length, weigh up to 40 tonnes and can live to be 48 years old.  These great mammals can throw their great mass up out of the water in a fantastic display.  They are a living wonder and have been an endangered species since 1963.  The breeding ground of the Humpback Whale remains a mystery.  Pods of humpback whales are observed every year on the coast of Australia during their 5000 km migration, returning to Antarctica.

700.  Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Hello Chris, Greetings from Penang Island - the second smallest state in Malaysia.  Georgetown is Penang state capital and UNESCO world cultural heritage site.  This historic city was founded in 1786 by Captain Francis Light as a British trading port.  Penang Road (Jalan Penang) is a famous street in Georgetown with many classic shops such as this shop which trades caneware.  It is a vanishing trade as there are just few shops of its kind left in the city.  Rattan is the raw material for making caneware and is harvested from rain forests.

701.  Greetings from Malaysia!
Malaysia features some of the world's most stunning tropical beaches.  The diversity of this nation comes from the intermingling of Malaysian, Chinese, and Indian cultures, and has generated a dynamic environment with a unique cuisine.  There are many rainforests, natural scenery.  If you love travelling, maybe ccan think of travel here one day?  I choose this Classic Poem of Chinese for you.  Hope you will like it.  Happy Postcrossing and have a nice day! Janet