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Author Archives: Laura

About Laura

Mom on the move, always with a book.

Fluffy Books

Visit Tinykittens.com for more information about Hula and other rescued kittens.

A fluffy kitten to go with the fluffy books! Visit Tinykittens.com for more information about Hula and other rescued kittens.

Popping in with a quick post!

I asked my Facebook community for some suggestions for fluffy, non-mentally demanding reading, and oh boy did they come through!  Books, series, and authors in a variety of genres for me to choose from.  (I’m dealing with some health issues– nothing serious, but I’ll be dealing with some intervals of stress and physical discomfort and need some distraction).

I’ve read about 1/3 of the list (counting series I’ve started, and authors where I’ve read a few books.)  I’ve generally enjoyed those that I’ve read, so I’m looking forward to exploring more.

If you need something fun and not too demanding to read, check out the list!

 
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Posted by on June 28, 2014 in books

 

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An interesting view of Divergent

I’m back with another movie related post, although this is about an adaptation of a book.  And it’s just a pointer to someone else’s post.

But it points out something that never occurred to me, and that I think is really important.  It’s about Divergent and it’s anti-rape-culture message.  Go, read it, and let me know what you think.

The “Divergent” Rape Scene: Here’s Why It Matters

(I enjoyed the movie.  I’m rereading the books now, and hoping I like Allegiant better on a straight read-through than I did when I read it when it came out.  I don’t have high hopes, though.)

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2014 in movie

 

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Favorite movies of 2013

moviesNow that I’ve completed my Best Picture Oscar Nominee viewing, I’m ready to sort through my list of favorite movies from 2013.

I watched a lot of movies over the last year.  I count 33 movies that I think would be eligible (date-wise) for the 2014 Oscars, but many of my favorites weren’t nominated for anything.  I’m mostly OK with that.

Here’s my top 10 list:

  1. Hunger Games: Catching Fire
  2. Frozen
  3. Saving Mr. Banks
  4. Austenland
  5. American Hustle
  6. Nebraska
  7. Her
  8. Gravity
  9. Now You See Me
  10. Captain Phillips

Looking at this list, I think I can say I have eclectic taste in movies. Many of these movies appear on everyone else’s lists, but there are a few that aren’t.

I liked Frozen and Saving Mr. Banks for the same reasons everyone else did.  You can look at my Oscar Nominees post to see what I liked about American Hustle, Nebraska, Her, Gravity and Captain Phillips.

For the less usual ones: I found Catching Fire to be emotional, inspiring, thought provoking, visually intriguing, and wonderfully acted.  I loved the books, and I thought this was an excellent adaptation. Austenland never took itself seriously, and was the most fun I’ve had at the movies in ages.  I loved the twists and turns in Now You See Me.

There were only 3 movies on my list that I didn’t like.I’m not claiming these are the worst movies of the year– I generally try to avoid anything I think might qualify for that title, and I think I generally succeed. One was an Oscar nominee I went in expecting to dislike, and it was pretty much what I thought it would be (The Wolf of Wall Street).  One of them (The World’s End), I should have known better, I generally don’t like movies like that, but the trailer got my hopes up more than it should have.  And one (The Hobbit: the Desolation of Smaug) was a straight up disappointment– I didn’t dislike it, but I really wanted and expected to like it.

The other 30 were all enjoyable viewing experiences, some more than others.

I’m quite intrigued to see what 2014 brings in the way of movies.

 
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Posted by on March 2, 2014 in movie

 

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Thoughts on the 2014 Oscars

moviesI’ve abandoned the blog for longer than I care to think about, and now I’m back, I’m talking about movies rather than books.  Sorry about that!

Once again, I’ve made the effort to view all of the Best Picture Nominees.  It was a strong field of nominees, and I enjoyed expanding my horizons with some of them that I wouldn’t have otherwise watched. I thought I’d share my thoughts on the top races.  These aren’t predictions, but are my opinions.

(And yes, this is a little late in posting– I finished watching the nominees at midnight last night.)

BEST PICTURE

(From bottom to top)

9) The Wolf of Wall Street: I just don’t see the redeeming value in this one.

8) Philomena:  In interesting story, competently told.  I enjoyed it, and there was nothing wrong with the production, but it didn’t wow me, and there were many other movies that did.

Positions 7-4 are essentially a tie– the movies are very hard to compare, and they all have specific areas of strength.  I won’t be upset with any movie after this point winning as Best Picture.

7) American Hustle: From an entertainment standpoint, this may be my favorite of the nominees.  It was fun to watch. The cast is fantastic as an ensemble.  And really, that’s all I get from this movie.  Let me know if I’m missing something.

6) Captain Phillips: An incredibly intense experience, and I really think Tom Hanks should have been nominated for best actor.  It was an interesting look at how a situation can fall apart, even under strong leadership.

5) Her:  I found this a highly enjoyable movie, looking at life, love and technology. The visuals were great as well.  I think a little more of an edge might have been interesting, but maybe not as much fun.

4) Dallas Buyers Club:  An emotional and thoughtful look at a situation from the recent past, and one that still hasn’t been entirely solved today.   The acting was very well done.  I didn’t find the movie entertaining, but it was well worth watching.

3) 12 Years a Slave: This movie is incredible.  It’s an important story, very well told. It’s well done enough that it is not a pleasant experience to watch.

2) Gravity:  A visually stunning, incredibly intense experience. I felt the fear of being lost in space.

1) Nebraska This movie had everything, including visual artistry, emotional impact, engaging characters, thought provoking situation, great acting– and it was still entertaining.  Every aspect of Nebraska is well crafted.  The description of this movie doesn’t do it justice, it is really worth seeing.

And a few other races where I have an opinion:

Actor in a Leading Role

(5/5 nominees viewed)

Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club, for his excellent work in a difficult role.

Actress in a Leading Role

(3/5 nominees viewed)

Sandra Bullock in Gravity, she carried most of the weight of the movie.

Actor in A Supporting Role

(5/5 nominees viewed)

Jared Leto in Dallas Buyers Club, another difficult role well played.

Actress in a Supporting Role

(3/5 nominees viewed)

Jennifer Lawrence in American Hustle, for the wrong reasons.  I loved her in American Hustle, but I think she faced many more challenges in her work with The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and I don’t think she gets enough credit for that.  And I also have something of a crush on her, like much of the rest of America.

Or Lupita Nyong’o for 12 Years a Slave, if I really am picking only based on the listed performance.

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

(Only 2/5 nominees viewed)

But I’m still picking Frozen, because I think it was a really good movie.

DIRECTING

(5/5 nominees viewed).

Steve McQueen for 12 Years a Slave. Or Alfonso Cuarón for Gravity.  Or Alexander Payne for Nebraska.  Or David O. Russell for American Hustle. I can make an argument for any of the nominees, even Martin Scorsese for The Wolf of Wall Street (I think he did a good job of making the movie he intended to make.  Just because I don’t see the point in the existence of the movie doesn’t mean I don’t recognize that.)

SHORT FILM: Animated

Mr. Hublot gets my nod, for being a movie with heart and character and visual appeal.  Room on the Broom is a close second, for being a children’s book brought to life in a very appealing way.

SHORT FILM: Live Action

I’ll go with Helium.  I loved the whimsy and the emotion.  I actually think in many ways, the best one was Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn’t Me), which was intense and told an important story and was no fun at all to watch.

I’ll be interested in seeing who wins tonight!

 
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Posted by on March 2, 2014 in movie

 

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Review: The Original 1982 by Lori Carson

Original 1982My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

There were many things I did like about this book, but some aspects didn’t quite jell for me.

Summary via Goodreads:

It’s 1982, and Lisa is twenty-four years old, a waitress, an aspiring singer-songwriter, and girlfriend to a famous Latin musician. That year, she makes a decision, almost without thinking about it.

But what if what if her decision had been a different one?

In the new 1982, Lisa chooses differently. Her career takes another direction. She becomes a mother. She loves differently, yet some things remain the same.

Alternating between two very different possibilities, The Original 1982 is a novel about how the choices we make affect the people we become-and about how the people we are affect the choices we make.

The first thing that intrigued me was the premise of life done differently. The first book I encountered that suggested this approach was Penelope Lively’s Making it Up, which was well written and interesting, but didn’t deliver on that promise to me. The Original 1982 does that, presenting the choice that changes things, and marking out a new path (and comparing it to the old) that follows that decision.

I liked Lisa, the main character, in both versions of her life, and both paths were interesting, and completely different than any life I’ve seen.. She was surrounded by people that I wanted to get to know, and a few I didn’t, but I liked reading about anyway. I enjoyed the author’s writing. The book was written as a letter to a daughter that never was, and that choice resonated with me.

My biggest problem was that I wanted more, from both of the paths. Big issues were touched on, then the story moved on. Relationships were introduced, but not explored.

The second problem was that I didn’t entirely buy the new path, and I can’t tell if that was deliberate. Was I learning from this that Lisa is deceiving herself about what her life would have been like, or did the author fail to construct a life I could buy into? How much is the original life based on the author’s real life, and is the new life her personal wish, or does it belong only to the character of Lisa?

I enjoyed reading the book, and I’d love to have the chance to argue some of these questions with someone else that read it– I think it would be a very interesting book club choice.

I read this book as part of a TLC Book Tour, and was provided a copy of the book to read and review.  For other opinions on this book, visit the other tour stops:
TLC Book Tours

 
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Posted by on June 11, 2013 in books, reviews, tour

 

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Review: A Complicated Marriage: My Life With Clement Greenberg by Janice Van Horn

Complicated MarriageMy rating: 3.5 stars– 3 stars for the first half, 4 stars for the second half.

Summary via Goodreads:

In 1955, Jenny Van Horne was a 21-year-old, naïve Bennington College graduate on her own for the first time in New York City. She meets 46-year-old Clement Greenberg who, she is told, is “the most famous, the most important, art critic in the world!” Knowing nothing about art, she soon finds herself swept into Clem’s world and the heady company of Hans Hofmann, Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, David Smith, Helen Frankenthaler, among others. Seven months later, as a new bride, Jenny and Clem spend the summer in East Hampton near Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner, and she feels even more keenly like an interloper in the inner circle of the art scene. A woman disowned by her anti-Semitic family for marrying a Jew, she would develop a deep, loving bond with Clem that would remain strong through years of an open marriage and separate residences.

Jenny embodies the pivotal changes of each passing decade as she searches for worlds of her own. She moves from the tradition of wife and mother to rebellion and experimentation; diving into psychoanalysis; the theater world of OOB and the Actors’ Studio; and succeeding in business. Throughout, A Complicated Marriage is grounded in honesty and the self-deprecating humor, grace, and appealing voice of its author.

I picked this book for review because it reminded me of Patti Smith’s Just Kids. It wasn’t until I started reading it, and realized how strong the resemblance is, that I remembered I didn’t love Just Kids.

Particularly for the first half of the book, the resemblance was strong. There was an odd distance between the narrator and the events she described. There were a lot of mentions of friendships and parties with people I knew nothing about– and I know even less about the art world than the music world. The only familiar name in A Complicated Marriage is that of Jackson Pollock.

While I didn’t dislike the book at first, it also didn’t really click for me, I just didn’t get drawn in. That changed about halfway through– while it took more than a week to get through that first half, I read most of the second half in one day, and didn’t have to struggle to get around to the last piece.

Once the author came into herself, the book became interesting in and of itself. The time she spent in the theater world, the exploration of the complicated aspects of her marriage, the relationships she built at this time, all these mature. I think some of her distance in telling about them may have gone as well, but whatever the reason, I enjoyed it far more at this point.

I came out of the book with a little more understanding of the personal side of the American art world in the second half of the last century, some insight as to how an open marriage could work for some people, and a look at a girl who grew into a very interesting woman.

I read this book as part of a TLC Book Tour, and was provided a copy of the book for review.  Thank you for this opportunity.  You can find out more about Janice Van Horn at her website.  For other perspectives on A Complicated Marriage, check out the other stops on the tour:

Tuesday, May 14th: Turn the Page

Wednesday, May 15th: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews

 

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2013 in books, reviews, tour

 

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Review: The Cottage At Glass Beach by Heather Barbieri

Cottage at glass beachMy rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

This book had solid characters in a great setting, unfortunately the ending knocked down the rating for me.

Summary via Goodreads:

Married to the youngest attorney general in Massachusetts state history, Nora Cunningham is a picture-perfect political wife and a doting mother. But her carefully constructed life falls to pieces when she, along with the rest of the world, learns of the infidelity of her husband, Malcolm.

Humiliated and hounded by the press, Nora packs up her daughters–Annie, seven; and Ella, twelve–and takes refuge on Burke’s Island, a craggy spit of land off the coast of Maine. Settled by Irish immigrants, the island is a place where superstition and magic are carried on the ocean winds, and wishes and dreams wash ashore with the changing tides.

Nora spent her first five years on the island but has not been back to the remote community for decades–not since that long ago summer when her mother disappeared at sea. One night while sitting alone on Glass Beach below the cottage where she spent her childhood, Nora succumbs to grief, her tears flowing into the ocean. Days later she finds an enigmatic fisherman named Owen Kavanagh shipwrecked on the rocks nearby. Is he, as her aunt’s friend Polly suggests, a selkie–a mythical being of island legend–summoned by her heartbreak, or simply someone who, like Nora, is trying to find his way in the wake of his own personal struggles?

Just as she begins to regain her balance, her daughters embark on a reckless odyssey of their own–a journey that will force Nora to find the courage to chart her own course and finally face the truth about her marriage, her mother, and her long-buried past.:

The bones of this book are standard women’s fiction– a woman struggling to come to terms with her husband’s infidelity, and what that means for their marriage. This aspect of the story is handled well, particularly where it looks at the effect on the children, but there isn’t anything compelling or unusual about it.

Where the book comes into its own is when it is dealing with the island that Nora returns to, the island she used to call home. The people, the history, and how they all interrelate with the stories of the past added interest to the books, and distinguished it from many other good books exploring the same basic story. There is a touch of magical realism here, some question as to what is myth and what is real, and I thought that was nicely done through most of the book.

As I mentioned at the beginning, I wasn’t satisfied by the ending, but that may be a personal taste issue. The other thing that dragged this book down a bit in my estimation is that bits and pieces of it, particularly the mythological parts, reminded me of The Salt God’s Daughter by Ilie Ruby, which was a much richer book.

Still, this was an enjoyable light read, and I’m glad to have read it.

I read this book as part of a TLC Book Tour.  Thank you for the opportunity to participate.  For other opinions of this book, check out the other tour stops:
TLC Book Tours

 
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Posted by on May 9, 2013 in books, reviews, tour

 

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