CURL UP WITH BOOKS, MOVIES, & OUR ROUTINES

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If you have something to muse or rant about, head on over to Should Be Reading and join in.

Possible topics:

Describe one of your reading habits.
• Tell us what book(s) you recently bought for yourself or someone else, and why you chose that/those book(s).
• What book are you currently desperate to get your hands on? Tell us about it!
• Tell us what you’re reading right now — what you think of it, so far; why you chose it; what you are (or, aren’t) enjoying it.
• Do you have a bookish rant? Something about books or reading (or the industry) that gets your ire up? Share it with us!
• Instead of the above questions, maybe you just want to ramble on about something else pertaining to books — let’s hear it, then!

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Recently I downloaded two books that I hadn’t even considered buying or reading…because they had been made into movies.  And I LOVE movies.

Yes, I love books, but books made into movies are my go-to thing.

If I Stay (click for review)was a book that left me sighing and weeping a little.  But the movie, which I saw yesterday, even more so.  To find out more about WHY, check out my Sunday Potpourri post.

Yesterday was my day off the grid.  Very little reading…and binging on movies.  After seeing If I Stay at the theater, I went home and watched a movie called At Middleton.  Loved it!

 

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I had noticed this title On Demand, but hadn’t watched it…but then my daughter kept urging me to do so, saying she was sure I’d love it.  Does that girl know me, or what?

I watched it On Demand…but then recorded it later last night, after noticing it on Starz.  I want to be able to watch it again…and you never know about On Demand.  Some of those movies hang around, and others disappear quickly.

I used to buy DVDs for everything…and you can tell by my DVD shelves…I have more than 800 movies there, and that doesn’t count the few VCR tapes that I still have!

Here’s a brief glimpse of a portion of the shelves that extend the length of the hallway.

 

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My obsessions (which I prefer to call collections) are numerous, but recently I’ve been purging my bookshelves.  They are overflowing again, even though my habit nowadays is to download new books to Sparky.

But there are those giveaways and those Vine review books!

Right now I’m reading a Vine book called Falling Into Place, by Amy Zhang, from Vine.  In some ways, it is reminiscent of If I Stay, as the girl in the story has also been in a horrendous accident and is lying in a hospital bed, while the world (and her world in the past) swirl around her.

But how she got there is very different.

 

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Earlier today, I read a lovely post by Nose Graze, a blog I recently started following.  She talks about her routines and how much she loves them.

And I could definitely relate.  Even though mine is different, the similarities exist in the security of having something real and secure in our worlds…something that we look forward to in our days.

What has your day been like so far?  Your week?  Do you savor the routines, or do you like playing it by ear?

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REVIEW: WHISKEY BEACH, BY NORA ROBERTS

91vtD4nQq6L._SL1500_Eli Landon has come back to Bluff House in Whiskey Beach, beaten down and troubled after a traumatic year in Boston. His grandmother Hester, who has lived in the home for years, is recuperating in Boston after a fall one night that left her without her memories of what had transpired.

The big old house is filled with sentimental objects and reminders of the family legacy. Abra Walsh, his grandmother’s housekeeper, has taken on the project of helping Eli recover from his horrendous year, and her little reminders of healthy living in the form of post-its are amusing and delightful. Will a special connection develop between these two?

What Eli must try to piece together is what really happened to his wife Lindsay, who was found murdered in their Back Bay home. One bulldog cop named Wolfe is sure that Eli killed her, but neither he nor the DA have been able to make a case. But that doesn’t mean he didn’t do it, is Wolfe’s line of thought.

Starting over in Whiskey Beach will become complicated by some troubling events that happen soon after Eli’s return. A break-in, an assault on Abra, a P.I. who is investigating Eli, and then the death of that same P.I.

And who is digging trenches in the Bluff House basement? What is the truth behind the legend of Esmeralda’s Dowry, a supposedly buried treasure? Are all these events somehow connected? And what long buried secrets will be unearthed?

Whiskey Beach is a gorgeously written tale that wrapped itself around this reader, reeling me in with each page, wondering about the mysteries while enjoying the interaction between the characters. The settings, and most especially the gorgeous Bluff House, with its nooks and crannies and secret passages, that felt like another character, made me want to savor the moments in this story. I also enjoyed the historical references to Prohibition days as they related to the whiskey barons in this story. Recommended for those who enjoy romantic suspense. I didn’t have everything figured out before the end, but I liked that I correctly guessed some of the plot twists and turns. 5.0 stars.

MY BOOKISH (AND NOT SO BOOKISH) THOUGHTS: CHANGE, ETC.

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Welcome to another Thursday!  And if you are in the mood to rant, or just share your thoughts about what is fabulous in your life, check out Bookishly Boisterous and join in the fun.

I started to write about the new posting system here at Word Press, but then felt childishly stupid for how I hate when a blogging platform changes things up.  If it isn’t broken, why fix it?  I’ve been perfectly happy with how it all worked up until now!

Do you ever feel that way about life in general?  And yes, change is the one true constant, but sometimes it can be so frustrating.  Like over at Facebook, they changed the format on the “Like” pages, and when you comment, it appears in another section (Posts to Page).

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After many years of working for a bureaucratic organization, I am all too familiar with change, the only thing you can count on in that world.

Most of the time I can roll with it, but sometimes it is just too irritating.  Like the little changes here at Word Press or at Facebook.

Now, heavy sigh!  On to more positive things.

I have read three fabulous books this week so far.  I’m on a roll!

The Wrong Girl, by Hank Phillippi Ryan (click for my review) was a page turner that literally kept me up at night.  It all started with one young woman in search of her birth mother.  Great characters, and it is part of a series.  This one is Book Two, but I didn’t feel lost in the shuffle.

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Then there was Belzhar, (click to my review), a book that I wasn’t even sure I would enjoy…but surprise!  I did.

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And finally, the best of them all:  The Furies, (again, click!) a psychological thriller that had me guessing at every turn.  A grief-stricken woman starting over….and a group of troubled teens.

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Since these wonderful books have made my life enjoyable the last couple of days, I guess I can deal with the changes here and elsewhere.  For now.

What has your week been like?  Come on by and let’s chat.

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REVIEW: BELZHAR, BY MEG WOLITZER

20821376When sixteen-year-old Jam Gallahue arrives at The Wooden Barn, a therapeutic boarding school in Vermont, she has to put the devastation of her life in New Jersey behind her. Or try to do so. She must forget all about the boy she loved for forty-one days. The British exchange student named Reeve Maxfield.

Almost immediately, she is drawn into a group of students in a very unique English class, taught by Mrs. Quenell.

None of the students know why each one has been chosen, but the class sets them apart in many ways. First of all, they study only one writer throughout the semester. And a big part of what they do involves special journals in which they are urged to write. During this semester, these students will be studying Sylvia Plath.

What happens to each of them when they write in those journals? Where do they go, and how does the special place they call Belzhar (created from the title The Bell Jar) help them heal?

Even as they draw closer to the traumas in their lives through their time in Belzhar, they are also bonding with one another. Now they are forced to decide what to do when the journals fill up. How will they “let go” of Belzhar and move on? And what surprises await Jam when she finally confronts what happened between her and Reeve? With each trip to Belzhar, more about the traumas of each character is revealed.

Narrated in Jam’s first person voice, we are slowly offered glimpses into her emotional life, and finally, surprisingly, we are shown what really happened between Jam and Reeve, a twist I didn’t see coming.

Belzhar was a unique journey into the emotional traumas of each character, like a magical voyage that could finally help them each deal with their losses. A beautiful story that left me remembering what it felt like to be emotionally raw with all that teenage angst, and how a new perspective can change everything. 5.0 stars.

REVIEW: HOME, BY TONI MORRISON

15798977What does it mean to come home?

For Frank Money, it means finding his way back to Lotus, Georgia, to rescue his fragile sister Cee. In 1950s America, the adversity a black man faces is clearly shown to the reader, from the moments on a train or in a restaurant, to his discoveries in Georgia upon his return. He is clearly suffering from some kind of Post-Traumatic Stress, as the images that war within his head follow him wherever he goes.

What has happened to Cee in his absence is devastating, but the strengths of their bonds help the two of them recapture a sense of family and home. And a scene near the end illustrates the essence of this feeling.

A short novella with beautiful prose, Home (Vintage International) was memorable and captivating. 4.0 stars.

MY BOOKISH (AND NOT SO BOOKISH) THOUGHTS: NOISE POLLUTION & CELEBRATIONS

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Okay, folks, it’s Thursday already, and the only good thing about it is our Bookish/Not So Bookish posts.

Well, and one other thing, in honor of THURSDAY.  I finished reading and reviewing the fabulous Thursday’s Children, by Nicci French.  The fourth in the Frieda Klein series.

 

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Now I love this series…and I couldn’t wait for this newest book, so can I say that I was not disappointed?  I woke up several times during the night to read some more.

And perhaps this lack of sleep will account for my current irritation, but the NOISE POLLUTION created by the gardeners right now is making me want to scream!

 

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Usually they only come on Friday afternoons, and I try to leave during their stay.  The leaf blowers are the most ridiculous part of it.

At least today, they seem to be blowing into a container and then putting the leaves in a bin.  Usually they blow the leaves onto my patio.  LOL

Okay…now that I’ve vented about them…they seem to be gone.

On a happier note, tonight I’m having dinner at my daughter’s house…and then on Sunday, brunch, to celebrate her upcoming birthday.  My only daughter, the youngest, after three sons.  She had quite a time of it growing up.

But on the upside, I must say she was a bit spoiled by all of us.  Here we are, back in the day.

 

 

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And here she is on her first birthday:

 

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Nowadays, she is more likely to be celebrating with drinks:

 

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But she loves sharing her moments with family, too.  This morning, she posted this on Facebook, in honor of her three big brothers:

 

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Of course, to get to this place of adult friendship with her siblings, we had to traverse much teenage angst…I try not to focus on those days….LOL.

Family is even sweeter for the rough roads we travel to get to a feeling of peace and acceptance.

So…on each of their birthdays, I celebrate those moments.

Now…what are you sharing today?  I hope you’ll stop by and leave some comments and links.

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REVIEW: EVERGREEN, BY REBECCA RASMUSSEN

51M9TIJLaXLThey were two people wanting a quiet life. So when Emil and Eveline moved to Evergreen, Minnesota, to start their married life together, they were prepared for the challenges of living in the forest. But what would separate them and keep them apart for too long would come unexpectedly and would change everything. Their story began in 1938.

After the birth of their son Hux came the news of Emil’s father’s illness. Emil’s departure to Germany would come at a time when wars were heating up, and leaving Germany would become an impossibility. Time passed, and while her husband was away, Eveline somehow managed, with the help of neighbors.

Until one day when a visitor came and took from Eveline something that would leave her powerless to change the consequences.

After an untenable decision changes lives, the story leaps ahead to 1954…and then again to 1961, with Hux an adult seeking his lost sister Naamah. In the end, the year is 1972, and while many separations have come and gone, there is a bond that links them all.

What happened to them all is revealed through the pages in a tale that sweeps across time and generations.

The emotional impact of Eveline’s decision would have an effect on all of their lives, but the reader only sees the after-effects in others. Without a look into her mind and heart, or seeing how Emil reacted to what she’d done left me struggling to make sense of the missing pieces of Emil and Eveline’s story. Leaping ahead across time left this reader with a disjointed feeling. A sad feeling of missed opportunities for healing. But then, finally, as Evergreen: A novel drew to a close, there was one recurring theme: mothers and children, separated, could be reunited, as if the past no longer defined them. 4.0 stars.