Sunday, August 19, 2012

Black Beauty, The Artist

Finally, for the first time in my life I read Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. Wow! I can see why it's a classic. I'm not a horse person so much, but the message of being kind to animals was easy to see as an allegory to being kind to everyone. I loved the moral lessons the horse told. What an uplifting read! Oh, and by the way to anyone who hasn't read it...Black Beauty is a boy horse! No, really!

For date-night-at-the-Redbox we picked up The Artist.What a totally unexpected film. Just in case I'm not the last person on the planet to know this, it's a silent movie. Really, all the way through. There are very few placards with dialogue, too. The whole story is told through acting, rather than dialogue. It's incredible. The plot is similar to Singing in the Rain, with the setting at the change from silent movies to talkies. The music in it is beautiful. I loved the huge "reveal" in the last 10 seconds of the show, too. Worth a watch. I'd call it a PG rating, although it was PG-13. Anyone who's seen it disagree with that assessment?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

We have a winner!

Congratulations to annalisa who won a copy of Jennifer Griffith's new novel, Big in Japan! Yippee!

Thank you to everyone who entered the contest. I hope you continue to enjoy reading our blog.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Russian Ark

Watched: Russian Ark -- This was a pretty fascinating movie, but really weird; it is Russian, after all. It is about someone who has an accident of some sort and wakes up in 18th century Saint Petersburg, and most of the people can’t see him. There is one gentleman in a black coat that sees and talks to him, and they wander around the Hermitage for 90 minutes, going in and out of centuries, seeing all the famous historical figures. At the end, we decided it was just a promotional movie to get people to go see the Hermitage and Winter Palace, because as far as plot goes, there wasn’t much. But, it was fascinating in a bizarre way. And it is filmed as one single continuous shot, so there’s some interesting camera work going on. I think that was their biggest selling point, apparently the whole movie is the longest continuous shot in film history.

On a different note, I have been tallying up my books and movies, and I am at 23 books and 24 movies, so just a little behind to finish 50 of each by the end of the year.

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Decoy Bride; Life, Love and the Pursuit of Free Throws

We caught the PG-rated romance The Decoy Bride on Netflix streaming the other day. Most notably it stars David Tennant (of Dr. Who fame). He's a travel writer who faked his most famous book. His bride is an A-list movie star who wants to have her wedding without paparazzi. They've been thwarted more than once so they end up going to the Scottish island he fake-wrote about in his famous book. Conflict ensues. Good, clean fun. It's nice to have a rom-com that's not offensive. Wish we had more of those. Ah, well, I guess that's what Bollywood is for.

I finally finished my stack of Janette Rallison books by reading her middle-grade Life, Love and the Pursuit of Free-Throws about two best friends who compete on the basketball court and for the attention of the same freshman boy. While I like Rallison's older books more, this was another light, fun read. I'm glad there's someone writing things like this well so my 9 year old daughter will have some good fluff to read.

2 books 2 movies

Two books: Rapunzel's Revenge by Shannon Hale, and The Help by Kathryn Stockett.

Two movies: Diary of A Wimpy Kid: Dog Days and The Bourne Legacy.

Books first. Hale, of Goose Girl and Princess Academy fame, weaves fairy tales like a master, and she and her husband have penned a fun version of Rapunzel set in the old west with Rapunzel's Revenge. It's a graphic novel geared at the middle grade reader. My daughter is 9 and loved it dearly, as did my reluctant reader son, age 12. I found it diverting.

I am coming very late to the party in barely reading The Help. I hadn't seen the movie, wanting to read the book first. My mom shoved it into my hands when I was visiting her, and I was captivated for two weeks, reading it slowly and savoring every bit of dialogue and the various voices. I found myself shoving it other people's hands (glad to know I wasn't the last to read it), and one friend's response was, "It makes you think a lot about mothers and daughters." That, to me, was the theme much more than race. It's a MUST READ. Completely beautiful.

I've long been a fan of the Wimpy Kid series. Maybe I've got the sense of humor of a junior high boy, but I find Jeff Kinney hilarious. The first movie was a bit mean-spirited (though I love the Cheese Touch), and the second was much funnier. Dog Days is in the same vein as the second. Greg (the Wimpy Kid)'s older brother Rodrick is such a lunatic that I loved him with his whole Loded Diper band. Man, I love a good PG film. It's probably not for everyone, but I was entertained.

For date night we hit the opening of The Bourne Legacy. It was a good action flick with a twisty story and great chase scenes. (Well, a LOT of chase scenes.) I like the actor and actresses who starred, and it was a fun plot that related back to the Bourne movies, but wasn't tied to them much at all. My only gripe is that at the end where the protagonists should have kissed, instead a horrible fire alarm type music set in and then the shot panned out and it ended. No kiss? Then no second viewing. Rip off. That's why we wives sit through these things, directors. Get it through your action-flick brains. Kiss at the end. Or else.

Paige is definitely my favorite so far

Paige, the third published book in the Newport Ladies Book Club series, was my favorite book in the series so far. Through Paige, Annette Lyon does a compelling job of showing readers how really difficult being a new single mother is.  She adroitly show us how Paige must not only navigate a new job and a new place to live, but also navigate through the guilt, anger, and hurt she feels because of her recent divorce. 

I really enjoyed seeing the interactions of the women in the book club through Paige’s eyes. Paige had a knack of seeing those women with incisive honesty, but then she would quickly take a mental step back and reevaluate her first impressions with compassion, a compassion she so desperately needs. Despite some rough encounters, I love how Paige and Daisy build a strong friendship through the course of this book. I look forward to reading the next book in the series.  

A side note . . . I've really enjoyed reading this blog and over the summer I have spent my time trying to read all the interesting books everyone keeps recommending so recently I haven't had new books to recommend. Keep posting!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Dragons, Oklahoma and Without a Clue

Guess who is up too late trying to get in another post before the contest is over?! :)  I've been slackin' a little on the reading.  But I did finish another How to Train Your Dragon series book.  I read How to Twist a Dragon's Tail by Cressida Cowell.  Once again, these are fun and easy books to read!

I watched Oklahoma for the first time ever. (I even lived in Oklahoma for 4 years and never saw it, although I did hear music from it;) I saw the Hugh Jackman movie version of it.  And can I just say that I love Hugh Jackman?!  He is so good in this play! I had never heard him sing before and when he sang in the movie, he just melted my heart :)  And the music in general in the play is awesome and the story line funny!

I also watched Without a Clue, which was recommended to me by pricklypear. It has Ben Kingsley and Michael Caine in it. It is a funny version of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.  It is a good one! 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Mission Impossible

I forgot to write up about watching Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. It was pretty good, all those cool, improbable stunts, inside of a pretty cool, improbable story. Oh, and I like Simon Pegg, so overall I enjoyed the movie. I just had to remind myself that it's okay that I'm not that cool.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Lots of books

To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee) -Wow, what a good book! If you haven’t read it, check it out. This is probably required reading for pretty much every high school student, but I just barely got around to it, and now I’m going to have to watch the movie, so good!

4 in a series by Dianna Wynne Jones (The Worlds of Chrestomanci Chronicles):  Charmed Life, The Lives of Christopher Chant, The Magicians of Caprona, and Witch Week - These were pretty fun to read. They are about alternate worlds, and one man, Chrestomanci, who can travel between them. They skip around his life, I liked in the The Lives of Christopher Chant the best because it has to do with dreaming, I have a soft spot for well-told stories about dreams.

Healers Keep (Victoria Hanley) - This is the companion book to another called “The Seer and the Sword” which I loved, but I didn’t love Healer’s Keep. I never grew to love the characters as much. This is young adult fiction/fantasy with magic and everything.

An Incomplete Revenge (Jacqueline Winspear) - I’ve never heard of this author, but I acquired 2 of the books for free, so I thought I’d try it out. I have to say, this was not the greatest mystery novel in the world. I think the author was trying to make the main character very interesting, almost mystical, but it was really too “special.” Plus there were fires. I don’t like fires.

Cloud Atlas (David Mitchell) - A set of 6 stories set inside of each other, like a nesting doll, or a very tall mirror imaged sandwich, like this 1-2-3-4-5-6-5-4-3-2-1. The first 3 are set in different eras in the past, the 4th is in the approximant present, and the 5th and 6ths are in the future. My favorite one was the 5th,, with Sonmi, although I had an I’m-going-to-be-sick moment, you’ll probably recognize it when you see it. I had a very hard time with the 1st story, so I had a very hard time finishing the whole book. There’s a lot of discussion throughout the about greed and slavery and what that means, and at the very end (which makes me glad I did force myself to finish the last 10 pages) there was a really nice something about it, which I can’t even really remember, but it was very touching. A funny thing, the 2nd story is about a composer, he writes a piece of music called “Cloud Atlas Sextet,” which is the same format as the book, with different instruments solo parts nesting inside of each other, he asks his friend if the format is “genius or gimmicky?” and I kind of think it was a little gimmicky, but overall a pretty enjoyable book.

The Bronze Bow (Elizabeth George Speare) - Set in Galilee in the time of Christ, this is about a boy whose parents were killed by the Romans, and he of course swears vengeance, an eye for an eye. And it’s about love. It was really nice, recommended by Noelle. I had no idea Elizabeth George Speare wrote other things besides The Witch of Blackbird Pond, and I have one more of hers to read.

Picture of Dorian Grey (Oscar Wilde) - I’ve been listening to this book on tape (ipod) for the last 6 or so months, and finally finished it. Yay! It’s a pretty dark story morality and how you can’t be a better person by pretending the things you’ve done wrong in the past never happened. I would recommend it, but not as an audio book, there’s so much that I wished I could have just skimmed over, instead of listening to every single word.

Plays listened to, presented by L.A. Theater Works (I’m counting these as books):

Barefoot in the Park (Neil Simon) - Ah, the struggles of newlyweds…  this one had me laughing out loud at times.

Lady Windermere’s Fan (Oscar Wilde) - “A divinely funny story of good girls, bad husbands, and the moral hypocrisy of high society.”

The Doctor’s Dilemma (George Bernard Shaw) - “… if Shaw could be didactic, he could also be wickedly funny…”

Lots of Movies

I haven’t posted for a while, so I’m going to break it up into 2 posts, one for movies, one for books. Also, I want to post more so as to enter some more to win the give-away!


Assassin in Love - Funny British movie about an assassin who has to go into hiding and pretends to be a baker in a small village; the villagers somehow find out that he’s an assassin and think that when they ask him to “bake a cake” for someone (wink, wink) that he’ll bump them off. It was on Netflix instant play for a while, but it’s gone now. I think I missed a little at the beginning, but what I did see was pretty hilarious.

Maverick - Nothing to say here.

The Man with One Red Shoe - kind of silly, kind of obnoxious Tom Hanks movie from the 80’s involving a bumbling CIA mix-up. I wouldn’t recommend it.

The Avengers - pretty fun action flick. Less about Iron Man than I thought it would be from the previews, which was fine by me. I liked seeing all the other superhero characters also.

Dark Shadows - What a weird movie. I knew it would be weird, but it was a little more than I expected. Also, I don’t understand what’s up with the vampire obsession. Oh well.

Brave - This was a fun movie, not my favorite, I thought I would like it more, and I was surprised at the story they ended up telling here. My resident expert on horses was impressed with the animation of the horse in it.

The Trouble with Angels - I watched this a while ago, and for some reason never got it up here. Not much to say, it’s an older movie with Haley Mills, I didn’t love it.

The Damned United - This is about Leeds United, the British football team, during the 70’s and mostly about the coach. It’s pretty fun and interesting the way it’s presented, but it’s very British, as in, it’s okay that they say the “f” word a bajillion times, so if that bothers you, don’t watch it. 

My first post here as well.

So it's August and I haven't posted anything here. But the person who posted just before me said what I was feeling. As early in the year, I got behind on my reading and movies, I became self conscious. But today I post regardless.
I want to first give a review of Batman: Dark Knight Rises. Good movie. Well made and interesting. It is dark though, of course, as you can imagine. So if you are looking for a thriller then go for it.
Next if you want to enjoy a little something extra with some movie watching try the attached picture. Harry Potter workout. There are loads of these out there too! I did it a week ago and it's a pretty decent workout!