Monday, November 29, 2010

Monday Movies - Ticket to Paradise

Feature Presentation...

One wonderful aspect of some movies is their ability to transport us to a different place, to show us the wonder and beauty of other parts of our country and the world. They offer us a diversion or an escape from real life. Every now and then they also inspire us to explore beyond the "world" we know and live everyday. Here are some movies that made us add a state, city or country to our list of places to which we want to travel. Share on your blog movies that made you want to get up and go. Link your post back to The Bumbles Blog. If you don't have a blog, list your choices in the comment section of The Bumbles Movie post!

Under the Tuscan Sun (2003) starring Diane Lane and Sandra Oh. A recently divorced writer goes on vacation by herself (unexpectedly) and ends up buying a villa in Tuscany in Central Italy, refurbishing it and building a new and wonderful life for herself in a gorgeous setting.

Dancing at Lughnasa (1998) Directed by Pat O'Connor and starring Meryl Streep the movie, set in County Donegal, Ireland, is told from the viewpoint of a young boy growing up in a fatherless home with his mother and her 4 unmarried sisters in 1930's Ireland. This movie made me want to buy a cottage in a small Irish village!

The Secret of Roan Inish (1994) Written and directed by John Sayles and based on the book The Secret of Ron Mor Skerry by Rosalie K. Fry. The story, based on Irish folklore, takes place on the west coast of Ireland in a small fishing village near the island of Roan Inish and in Donegal. In the movie a young girl, Fiona, is sent to live with her grandparents and cousin, Eamon. Her grandfather tells stories about her family when they fled the island of Roan Inish and about her younger brother lost at sea as an infant and raised by selkies, seals who can shed their skins to become human. Fiona doesn't know what to think and tries making sense of all that she hears from her grandfather and the people in the village.
There are beautiful beach scenes and views of other more wild, less inhabited areas of Ireland not seen as often as sweet villages and cities of Galway and Dublin.

North by Northwest (1959) a suspense film directed by Alfred Hitchcock starring Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint and James Mason. A man is mistaken for someone else and is pursued across the USA by agents of a mysterious organization who believe he wants to thwart their plans to smuggle government secrets out of the country. Traveling from Long Island to Chicago to South Dakota and Mount Rushmore mostly by train, there's much to see of the beautiful USA in this great film.

Sabrina (1995) A remake of the 1954 film this movie shows off the beauty of Paris in vibrant color. Directed by Sydney Pollack, starring Harrison Ford, Julia Ornomd and Greg Kinnear, a young woman, Sabrina, the chauffeur's daughter, has a big crush on David, the playboy-son of her father's wealthy employers. Dad sends her off to Paris to find herself, grow up and, fingers-crossed, forget her crush. Sabrina returns (I would have stayed!) a beautiful, sophisticated woman...but does she still have a crush on David?

National Lampoon's European Vacation (1985) Directed by Amy Heckerling,this slap-stick comedy starring Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo, Dana Hill and Jason Lively is about a family who wins an all-expenses-paid European vacation on a TV game show. Although mishaps and misadventures ensue, there's no denying the amazing scenery and vistas on display. While laughing you'll be wishing you were there.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sunday Salon - Thanksgiving Weekend

Happy Thanksgiving weekend! I hope you're all enjoying these days, relaxing, reading, watching football, eating, spending time with family and friends, shopping....God bless ya! I thought briefly of hitting Target on Friday and then wondered if I was nuts?! I've just been trying to take it easy this weekend.

I want to say Thank you to all of you who commented about Betsy's death. I really appreciate your kindness and best wishes. I keep forgetting that she's gone. I watch for Betsy to come in to eat or sit in her sleeping spot and Lola looks for her everywhere, that's probably the saddest. Ophelia, the new cat, has taken a sudden interest in Lola, following her around, sleeping by her and cleaning her. Lola doesn't appreciate all of it but even when she hisses a bit at Ophelia, it doesn't deter Ophelia, she keeps spending time with Lola as if she knows Lola needs a little extra attention right now! It's remarkable how cats...dogs, too...know when something sad has happened. They sense it. Ophelia is unlike any cat I've ever known in that she seems to like all of the cats here, even irascible Jazzy! Ophelia is trying to befriend all of them. A lot of the cats don't know what to make of her. She doesn't mind when they hiss at her or even hit her a bit...she thinks the other cats want to play when they do that and runs after them instead of away from them! It's very funny! And, as a result, Ophelia has been accepted by most of the other cats! She's still acting wary of the camera but I'll get some photos of her soon.

My reading has been a bit off this week since I've found it difficult to focus. But I have some reviews to post including Room by Emma Donoghue a little later in the week. I still need to think about that book a little bit! I'm trying to decide what to read next since I am almost finished with Cleo by Helen Brown. I am also reading The Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton and finding it very interesting in parts.

Have a nice Sunday!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Chronicle Books Happy Haul-idays Contest!

Chronicle Books is running a fantastic contest this holiday season called Happy Haul-idays.
Participating bloggers choose up to $500 worth of books and book-related items from the Chronicle Books website and post about them. Then, the blogger and one of the readers who comments on that blogger's Haul-idays post (that could be you!) have a chance to win the entire list! All you have to do to be entered is to leave a comment on this post or the post of other participating bloggers.

Chronicle Books has a lot of wonderful items to choose from! Here are the books and things I would choose if I won $500 worth of books and book-related items from Chronicle Books. If you'd like to win these items as well, just leave a comment! Good Luck to us!

Soup's On by Leslie Jonath & Frankie Frankeny (Paperback) $19.95

Time for Dinner by Pilar Guzmán, Alanna Stang, & Jenny Rosentrach (Hardcover) $24.95

The Commonsense Kitchen By Tom Hudgens (Hardcover) $35.00

Ernie by Tony Mendoza (Hardcover) $12.95

Curious Cats by Mitsuaki Iwago (Hardcover) $16.95

B is for Baseball (Hardcover) $15.99

Obsessed with Baseball by The Baseball Guys (Hardcover) $24.95

Six-String Heroes: Photographs of Great Guitarists by Neil Zlozower (Hardcover) $35.00

The Exquisite Book: 100 Artists Play a Collaborative Game by Julia Rothman, Jenny Volvovski, & Matt Lamothe Foreword by Dave Eggers (Hardcover) $29.95

Beaches by Gideon Bosker & Lena Lencek (Hardcover) $24.95

This is NPR by Cokie Roberts, Susan Stamberg, Noah Adams, John Ydstie, Renee Montagne, Ari Shapiro, & David Folkenflik (Hardcover) $29.95

Great Authors: What Your Teachers Never Told You About Famous Novelists, Poets, and Playwrights Quirk Books by Robert Schnakenberg (Paperback) $16.95
Art of McSweeney's by the Editors of McSweeney (Hardcover) $45.00

The Gravedigger by Peter Grandbois (Paperback) $13.95

Any Bitter Thing by Monica Wood (Hardcover) $23.95

The Punch by Noah Hawley (Hardcover) $23.95

Paper and Book-related Items
Paper & Craft: 25 Charming Gifts, Accents, and Accessories to Make from Paper
by Minhee and Truman Cho with Randi Brookman Harris (Paperback) $19.95

Reprodepot Notepad Set by Djerba Goldfinger $12.95

Sunblooms Bound Journal by Amy Butler $9.95

Garden Blossoms Notecard Book by Yana Beylinson $15.95

Animal Kisses Deluxe Notecards by Wolf Erlbruch $14.96

Large Ruled Moleskine
Red Notebook $17.95

Large Ruled Moleskine Volant Notebook/Pink (set of 2) $12.00

A Very Sad Day


It's been a very sad Thanksgiving weekend here. My beautiful cat, Betsy, mom to the adorable Lola, died on Wednesday morning. She was only 3 years old and wasn't sick. My neighbor found her in his yard and we have no idea what happened to her. I'm devestated. I keep trying to rally and manage to do some things but then I just crumple again. Lola seems to be doing okay with all the TLC being bestowed on her. But she looks for her mom and it's so sad to watch. Betsy had been encouraging Lola to be independent for quite some time as the momma cats do so, at least Lola was used to spending a lot of time without Betsy. The death of a pet is the hardest part of loving them. And I can still say that I am very happy that my husband rescued Betsy out of the tree she was in and couldn't get out of 2 years ago when she was a kitten. But I'll miss her terribly.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Teaser Tuesday Room by Emma Donoghue

Teaser Tuesdays is an interesting and fun book-related meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Be prepared to add several new books to your TBR list! I do every week!

My Teaser:

" Why he said something's wrong with me?"
Ma groans. "There's not a thing wrong with you, you're right all the way through." She kisses my nose.
"But why he said it?"
"He's just trying to drive me crazy."

from Room by Emma Donoghue (p.75 in ARC copy)

Anyone can play along! If you'd like to participate, Just do the following:
*Grab your current read
*Open to a random page
*Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page. (I used 3 this week!)
*BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
*Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their
TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

*And, finally, don't forget to link your post to MizB's at Should Be Reading. If you don't have a blog, simply share your "teasers" in a comment.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Giveaway: The Man Who Loved Books Too Much

I have one paper back copy of The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett for Giveaway. I won a giveaway for this book at Meg Waite Clayton's blog, 1st Books: Stories of How Writers Get Started. I won 2 copies, 1 which I can share with you! I was hoping to be able to list the giveaway with my review of the book but I don't have the time to read it right now. The reviews for this book have been great, anyway, so I didn't want to make you wait for it, especially with the holidays coming!

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World Literary Obsession By Allison Hoover Bartlett:

What would you do for the love of a good book? For John Charles Gilkey, the answer is: go to prison.
Unrepentant book thief Gilkey has stolen a fortune in rare books from around the country. Yet unlike most thieves, who steal for profit, Gilkey steals for love—the love of books. Perhaps equally obsessive, though, is Ken Sanders, the self-appointed "bibliodick" driven to catch him. Sanders, a lifelong rare book collector and dealer turned amateur detective, will stop at nothing to catch the thief plaguing his trade.

In following both of these eccentric characters, journalist Allison Hoover Bartlett plunged deep into a world of fanatical book lust, and ultimately found herself caught between the many people interested in finding Gilkey's stolen treasure and the man who wanted to keep it hidden: the thief himself. With a mixture of suspense, insight, and humor, Bartlett has woven this cat-and-mouse chase into a narrative that not only reveals exactly how Gilkey pulled off his crimes and how Sanders eventually caught him, but also explores the romance of books, the lure to collect them, and the temptation to steal them. All collectors have stories of what first made them fall in love, and Gilkey and Sanders are no different. Bartlett puts their stories into the larger context of book passion, collection, and theft through the ages.

Immersing the reader in a rich, wide world of literary obsession, The Man Who Loved Books Too Much exposes the profound role books play in all of our lives, the reverence in which these everyday objects are still held, and the craving that makes some people willing to stop at nothing to possess the books they love.

To Win this Giveaway of 1 copy of this book, named an Indie Next selection, a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers pick, and Library Journal's “Best Books of 2009” –

1. Leave me a comment with the name of your favorite or one of your favorite books of 2010
2. Be a follower of my blog whether by GFD, Google Reader, RSS Feed, whatever works for you!
3. You have to have an address that isn't a P.O. box somewhere I can send this book Domestic or International!

Giveaway Ends 6 p.m. December 13th

Monday Movies: What, Where, Uh ???

Feature Presentation...

Remembering those embarassing things you've done or said or those moments you wished the floor would open up and swallow you whole? Times we'd all love to completely forget! Forgetting is a common theme in film and can make for some very entertaining movies! Memory Loss, Hypnosis, Spells, Forgetfulness... Share on your blog unforgettable movies with characters who forgetLink your post back to The Bumbles Blog. If you don't have a blog, list your choices in the comment section of The Bumbles Movie post!

Memento (2001) Starring Guy Pearce, Carrie-Ann Moss and Joe Pantoliano. A man's wife was raped and killed in their home and he was knocked out trying to help her. When he awakes, he has lost his memory and doesn't remember who broke into their home and killed his wife. But he is determined to find the killer. He starts investigating and, in order to remember what he finds out during the investigation, he takes pictures and he writes notes on his body

Mulholland Drive (2001) A psychological thriller written and directed by David Lynch and starring Naomi Watts, Laura Elena Harring and Justin Therousx. A young woman, Betty, who hopes to be an actress, moves to Los Angeles to stay in her aunt's apartment. She discovers a young woman suffering from amnesia in the apartment. The story goes on from there, sometimes making sense and sometimes becoming quite surreal, almost making thew viewer feel as if they have a touch of amnesia!.

Regarding Henry (1991) Written by JJ Abrams and directed by Mike Nichols. Harrison Ford plays an ambitious, narcissistic, sometimes obnoxious and thoughtless attorney whose life centers around his work so much so that he has little time for his wife and young daughter. One night he runs out to the corner store for cigarettes and is shot twice during a robbery. He suffers brain damage, in addition to other severe injuries and, at first, cannot walk, talk or remember anything. His recovery his slow, painful and frustrating. Eventually he discovers that he wasn't a very good or nice person.

Paycheck (2003) An adaptation of a Sci-Fi short story by Philip K. Dick starring Bem Affleck, Uma Thurman and Aaron Eckhart. Ben Affleck plays Michael Jennings, a man who analyzes clients' competitor's products and creates new versions that are much better and well beyond anything imaginable. After each job, his memory is completely erased of that job to ensure he cannot be traced back to the reverse engineering effort thereby guaranteeing his client's intellectual property. But wiping clean memory technology is dangerous to the person's brain because it cooks your brain! Jenning takes a job with an old college roommate that will take 3 years because he thinks he will make a lot of money. All his other jobs have lasted no more than 2 months because the memory technology doesn't go that far into the past. They use a different method for memory erasing because a scanner would cook his brain and is too dangerous. They inject a chemical into Jennings instead but it's not 100% gauranteed. And Jennings discovers 3 years later when he "wakes up" that he's been scammed.

Men in Black (1997) A Sci-Fi action/comedy starring Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Vincent D'Onofrio and Linda Fiorentino. Tommy Lee Jones (Agent K) is part of an organization, MIB, that regulates and monitors alien activity on earth. It's a secret organization that only its members know about. In fact, when an agent leaves the MIB his memory of the work he has done and his time there is completely erased and he receives a totally new identity. Will Smith (Agent J), a member of the NYPD, is recruited by Tommy Lee Jones' character to help him in finding and stopping "Bug" an alien who is threatening the existence of Earth. If he isn't stopped and killed, the Earth will be destroyed. During the course of their investigation, as they question people about what they have seen or heard, because no one can have knowledge of their existence, the two men have a handy little device, a "Neuralyzers" which they shine in people's faces completely erasing their memories of what they have seen and replacing them with more mundane explanations. Some days 'd love to have that device!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday Salon 11.21.10

Thanksgiving Day on Thursday! It's hard to believe it's already here. At least the weather in NYC seems to have decided, finally, to cool down for good. Today it's bright and sunny but chilly out. A perfect day for football! (Go JETS!) I love Turkey Day! It's the beginning of the Holiday Season for me. I think I'm going to join the reading weekend that 3 glorious days to do not much but read. Sounds pretty great! I'm sure I'll watch a few movies, too. I'm in a movie mood lately! I saw Precious this week. I'm going to review it after I've had some time to think about it. It knocked me off my feet a bit it was so powerful.

A beautiful, long-haired tabby mix - dark brown with black markings, small ears, lots of fluffy fur around her face and a big fluffy, gorgeous tail - has moved into the basement (there's a little hole where cats can enter from outside). I'm not sure if she was abandoned, lost or ran away, but she doesn't look as if she's been outside for long and there aren't any signs about her around the neighborhood. I think the cat is a girl. I hope so because we're calling her Ophelia! She's very skittish and extremely playful as well as noisy! She meows and makes all sorts of high-pitched twittering sounds when she's excited. She's started coming upstairs more and more, a little bit for the better selection of food but mostly to find toys and other cats to play with. When she isn't afraid anymore and is more trusting, she'll have to go to the Vet. I hate doing that to them but she needs a check-up. I hope I can get a picture of her soon!

The National Book Award fiction winner was announced this week: Lord of Misrule by Jaimy Gordon. There's a good article/review about the book by Jane Smiley in The Washington Post. As for my reading etc., I finished The Postmistress by Sarah Blake and will be reviewing it this week I have a few other reviews from last week to post. I'm reading a terrific but also sad book about an adorable black kitten, Cleo by Helen Brown and will start Roomby Emma Donoghue in the next couple of days. I've also started purchasing, digging up and holiday-themed books to read in December beginning with The Reindeer Keeper by Barbara Briggs Ward.

I'm going to watch the JETS now. I hope you have a great Sunday!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Book Review - Sunset Park by Paul Auster

Sunset Park
Paul Auster
ISBN: 978-0805092868
Pages: 320
Release Date: November 2010
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Genre: Literary Fiction
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Publisher: Sunset Park follows the hopes and fears of a cast of unforgettable characters brought together by the mysterious Miles Heller during the dark months of the 2008 economic collapse.
An enigmatic young man employed as a trash-out worker in southern Florida obsessively photographing thousands of abandoned objects left behind by the evicted families.
A group of young people squatting in an apartment in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
The Hospital for Broken Things, which specializes in repairing the artifacts of a vanished world. William Wyler's 1946 classic The Best Years of Our Lives.
A celebrated actress preparing to return to Broadway.
An independent publisher desperately trying to save his business and his marriage.
These are just some of the elements Auster magically weaves together in this immensely moving novel about contemporary America and its ghosts. Sunset Park is a surprising departure that confirms Paul Auster as one of our greatest living writers.

My Thoughts: The recession and its impact on the lives of young and old floods the pages of Sunset Park. Paul Auster's young characters struggle to do something worthwhile with their lives and find someone to love while the older characters work at holding onto the careers and lives they've created. Amidst this difficult time there is emphasis on the traditions, symbols and relics of the past.

The novel, like the main character, Miles Heller, lacks direction or purpose. Interesting themes and ideas are introduced but never develop into anything substantive. There is a loosely formed plot that allows tensions to build, but, unfortunately, resolutions are anticlimactic. Relics of the past and individuals' belongings are abandoned much the same as many of Miles' future plans and goals. He spends his days furthering his girlfriend's education rather than his own and reading about former baseball players, an interest he and his father, Morris, once shared.

Miles Heller is the most prominent character and, unfortunately, much of the focus is on him. This detracts from the more interesting characters, such as Alice and Ellen. Auster does an admirable job of developing them. Alice, an English grad student writing her dissertation and Ellen, a budding artist and disheartened real estate agent, are recognizable and relatable as young ambitious women with goals, hopes and dreams. Contrast them with Miles, who is restless and without direction, and it's clear who we'd rather spend time reading about.

Then there is the young Pilar, Miles' 17-year old girlfriend. She is working hard to be accepted into and prepared for college. She's eager to learn and full of hope. Yet, we don't hear her voice or know her story much beyond the surface. She is stifled within the confines of Miles' restlessness and only permitted to grow as much as he allows.

Paul Auster doesn't seem to care too much for this novel's older female characters. Willa, step-mother to Miles and wife to Morris, although intelligent, is described as an hysterical, angry and adamant woman who selfishly wants Morris to choose between her or Miles. She won't abide both being in his life. Miles' biological mother, Mary Lee, is a self-centered actress who puts acting before anything else. The only reason she seems to allow others into her life is every meeting and get-together is a role for her to try out.

Morris Heller is the most interesting character in Sunset Park. He struggles to reconcile his love for Miles with his resentment at the tension Miles' behavior has created in the family. He worries ceaselessly that his small publishing company will fail and he will disappoint his employees. But his greatest fear is that his own behavior, which has desperately upset Willa, will be the straw that breaks their marriage in two. As Morris' story progresses, the fear that we are witnessing the unraveling of this kind, caring upstanding man becomes very real.

Bing Nathan, the other resident of the Sunset Park house with Alice, Ellen and Miles, is the unifying force among the characters. He is also another of the more interesting people who, along with Alice and Ellen, doesn't get enough attention. He values the objects and traditions of the past as evident in the shop he owns, The Hospital for Broken Things, where he mends typewriters, phonographs and the like. He encourages sit-down dinners with the house members and shuns emails for hand-written letters. This charming link to the past makes the reader hungry for more about Bing's past which, sadly, is never provided.

I almost stopped reading part way through because there wasn't anything very interesting happening. But just as I was about to give up, I turned the page to find the section on Bing Nathan followed by several of the other characters' stories. The only reason I would recommend this book at all would be for some of the character sketches. But I don't think that's enough of a reason to read it. Miles decides that there's nothing to hope for and, in terms of this novel, I can't disagree with him.

I received an ARC of Sunset Park from Henry Holt via the Shelf Awareness Newsletter.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Book Review - Every Last One by Anna Quindlen

Title: Every Last One
Author: Anna Quindlen
ISBN: 978-1400065747
Pages: 299
Release Date: April 2010
Publisher: Random House
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Summary: In this breathtaking and beautiful novel, the #1 New York Times bestselling author Anna Quindlen creates an unforgettable portrait of a mother, a father, a family, and the explosive, violent consequences of what seem like inconsequential actions.

Mary Beth Latham is first and foremost a mother, whose three teenaged children come first, before her career as a landscape gardener, or even her life as the wife of a doctor. Caring for her family and preserving their everyday life is paramount. And so, when one of her sons, Max, becomes depressed, Mary Beth becomes focused on him, and is blindsided by a shocking act of violence. What happens afterwards is a testament to the power of a woman’s love and determination, and to the invisible line of hope and healing that connects one human being with another. Ultimately, in the hands of Anna Quindlen’s mesmerizing prose, Every Last One is a novel about facing every last one of the things we fear most, about finding ways to navigate a road we never intended to travel, to live a life we never dreamed we’d have to live but must be brave enough to try.

My Thoughts: Anna Quindlen has been writing novels for many years, several of them bestsellers. It's been a long time since I read one, so when I saw Every Last One was available on Crazy Book Tours, I signed up to review the book. I looked forward to reading this book, remembering how much I enjoyed Ms. Quindlen's others. They were well-written, captivating and entertaining, filled with relatable themes and issues. The characters were complex, likable and interesting. Unfortunately, I found little of these elements in Every Last One.

The book is narrated by Mary Beth Latham, wife and mother. She is completely obsessed with her children and their daily lives to such a degree her husband tells her she's too involved. She is enamored of each child for different reasons, thinking and talking about them incessantly. The book's first half is almost entirely about the children then and now: their activities, friends, the things they say and do, their plans for the future, their hopes and dreams and more. The first few chapters seem to be building to something, but when it becomes clear the theme of obsession over her children will be an unwavering constant, the book becomes boring and tedious. As a result, the novel's pace becomes slow and plodding.

Mary Beth views her children's lives through rose-colored glasses, virtually ignoring or minimizing all problems. The Lathams, like all children, have conflicts and issues to deal with, some more serious than others. But Mary Beth is too close to them to see the reality of these problematic situations. It takes her much longer than it should to realize and react when something is wrong. Mary Beth was one of the last to realize her daughter Ruby developed an eating disorder in her freshman year of high school, for example. And it's obvious to everyone that her son Max is depressed, and has been for a while. But Mary Beth is the last to acknowledge it and take steps to help him. Mary Beth deals with her own issues in a similar way. She alludes several times to something she did in the past that she isn't proud of but refuses to dwell on it or even think about it. Not until much later in the novel do we finally learn what this thing she did is about.

Mary Beth cannot continue to live her life pretending everything is hunky-dory all the time. She's clearly in denial, despite the obvious signs all around her that something tragic is brewing. Her denial is, in fact, the basis for this recipe for disaster. She sees the signs but treats them as if they are insignificant or things will turn out okay if left alone. When just the opposite occurs and tragedy hits home, Mary Beth, like everyone else, is shocked and devastated. Her rose-colored glasses have been smashed to bits at her feet, never to be worn again. A three-dimensional, fully developed Mary Beth suddenly appears in the aftermath. As she tries to come to terms with what's happened and figure out how to go on, she faces reality and becomes a woman we can better understand.

Nothing in the first half of Every Last One prepares us for the violence and scope of the tragedy. I thought about this book for a long time after reading it and can not come up with a valid, understandable reason for what happened. Mary Beth may have needed a wake-up call, a jolt into reality, but what she experiences is uncalled for. Even unfair. I don't think she deserved what she got, not to mention it's unfair to the reader as well. I didn't like Mary Beth in the first part of the book but by the end I did. I respected her. But had I known what was going to happen, I wouldn't have read it. It's not because of the violence or the results, but because I don't think it was at all necessary or realistic. I've considered the possibility that Ms. Quindlen purposely made the first half of the book boring so when we come to the tragedy the effect of the shock is maximized, but I hope that's not the case. We, the readers, deserves more credit than that. We can get the point of a novel, when there is one, without being slammed over the head with it as we are here.

Was Ms. Quindlen's reason for this book to warn women, mother's in particular, not to deny that things might be wrong in their children's lives? To not just see potential signs as harmless, but as warning signs? And to face up to and deal with issues and problems that arise? If so, she could have, should have, done so with more subtlety; To have used less violence and taken a more realistic approach. If this was not Ms. Quindlen's over all intention, then, unfortunately, I am missing the point of the story. But I know for sure that I would not recommend Every Last One to anyone, mothers in particular.

I received a copy of this book as a part of the Crazy Book Tours.

Wordless Wednesday 11.17.10

Jazzy is the cantankerous cat in our family. She's a beautiful black cat with amazing green eyes! She's also adorable...from a distance! She doesn't like to be touched and after a warning growl will swat at you. She loves her food and makes all kinds of great growly noises while eating. It's hilarious! She runs in a graceful kind of dancing movement everywhere she goes, hence the name. She loves to spend most of her time outside where she chases mice. If she was paid for her mousing abilities, she'd be one rich kitty!

Jazzy loves playing....

Especially after indulging in some Catnip! (Just don't get in her way).

Occasionally she is grounded and put in a timeout....

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Teaser Tuesday 11.16.10

Teaser Tuesdays is an interesting and fun book-related meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Be prepared to add several new books to your TBR list! I do every week!

My Teaser:

" The more devoted you are to them, the more sorrow their departure will inflict. Opening my heart to Cleo would've been the equivalent of placing an already bruised organ on an airport tarmac and inviting planes to land on it. "

from Cleo: The Cat Who Mended A Family by Helen Brown (p.42)

Anyone can play along! If you'd like to participate, Just do the following:
*Grab your current read
*Open to a random page
*Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page. (I used 3 this week!)
*BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
*Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their
TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

*And, finally, don't forget to link your post to MizB's at Should Be Reading. If you don't have a blog, simply share your "teasers" in a comment.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Monday Movies 11.15.10 The Great Beyond

Feature Presentation...

Today is all about the Great Beyond! The topics of birth, death and even rebirth are a part of daily life and figure prominently in the movies. Share on your blog favorite movies about heaven, hell, resurrection, angels or demons linking them back to The Bumbles Blog. If you don't have a blog, list your choices in the comment section of The Bumbles Movie post!

Heaven Can Wait (1978) A LA Rams Quarterback is mistakenly taken from his body before he dies by an over-zealous angel and returns to life in the body of a recently-murdered millionaire. This is a great movie with Warren Beatty and Buck Henry.

Chances Are (1989) Starring Cybil Shepard and Robert Downey, Jr. A newly-wed husband, Louie Jeffries, is killed in a car crash and is reincarnated in the body of a young boy, Alex Fitch. Alex grows up and 20 years later he begins to date a young woman, Miranda who turns out to be Louie's daughter, born after Louie died. Alex doesn't realize the connection until he's invited to Miranda's home and things look very familiar and he begins to remember his former life!

Ghostbusters (1984) Starring Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson & Sigourney Weaver. Three Parapsychology Professors set up a ghost removal service & get some pretty interesting jobs!

The Sixth Sense (1999) Written and directed by M. Night Shymalan and starring Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment. A young boy looks for help from a child psychologist when the boy begins communicating with ghosts who don't realize they're dead.

It's A Wonderful Life (1949) directed by Frank Capra and starring Jimmy Stewart. A despairing business man is helped out by Clarence, an angel, who shows him what life would be like if he never existed.

City of Angels (1998) Nicholas Cage, an angel watching over LA, begins to have difficulty doing his job as he falls in love with heart surgeon, Meg Ryan. This was a kind of weird movie but better than some!

Angels in the Outfield (1994) A boy prays that if the CA Angels win the pennant he'll get a family and angels are given the job of making this come true. With Danny Glover and Tony Danza.

Devil's Advocate (1997) Starring Keanu Reeves, Al Pacino and Charlize Theron. A lawyer quite taken with himself and his abilities accepts a new job in a top law firm only to discover that his boss is Lucifer.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday Salon 11.14.10

My poor furry little children are sick! A cold has been going around in the cat world here for a few weeks now. Bob, Dopey & Dante are all sick but on the mend. This week Huxley and Lola were hit hard with the cold, Magoo is all better but Sadie is sneezing again and sleeping a lot after having the cold 2 weeks ago and getting all well. Sadie is adorable when she sneezes: she scrunches up her little face & her entire body shakes as she sneezes & she squeaks very loudly! It's hilarious!! She sounds just like a dog's squeak toy!! I feel terribly bad but I can't help but laugh every time. It's really the cutest thing. Otherwise, it feels like I'm running a Feline Hospital here. Sick kitties with their eyes half shut, dull & tearing, their little noses running, sneezing repeatedly 5, 10, 12 times in a row. I never knew cats sneeze so much at once. It must make them dizzy! The sick cats sleep all day, barely moving for hours & eat much less than usual since they can't smell. I took a couple of them to the vet when the cold first hit to be sure it's a basic cold & Bob & Magoo were okay (it is & they are!). I've been in touch with the vet weekly to apprise her of who's sick & how they're doing. Like with humans, a cat cold has to run its course. I have to make sure they're still eating & drinking, at least a little bit, everyday & make sure none of the cats start wheezing or exhibiting other signs of bronchitis, pneumonia, things like that. My poor little furry babies!

The JETS are playing the Cleveland Browns today. The Browns - what an awful name! It's hard to believe they couldn't come up with something better! lolol - they used to be considered an easy team to beat but this season they're playing well, especially their offense. They are a team to contend with now, particularly after the Browns beat the New England Patriots last weekend. The JETS can beat them, but the question is, will they? Last weekend, the Jets (yay!) won but it was a really ugly win which doesn't really matter but what matters, to me anyway, (heee, heee) is that they almost lost. They just aren't playing well lately, not as well as they looked like they could play in the beginning of the season. But the game, the coaching, it all confounds me. So I watch & keep my fingers crossed!

I read a great
article on NPR about artist and author Maira Kalman and her new book, And In The Pursuit Of Happiness. The book is making the rounds of blogs as part of TLC Book Tours. I received her book, The Principles of Uncertainty last year as part of one of the book blogger holiday swaps. It's a terrific, interesting graphic book with beautiful full-page illustrations by the Maira Kalman. And In The Pursuit Of Happiness also sounds like an amazing graphic book. It's based on Ms. Kalman's road trip around the USA & came about as a result of her blog with the NY Times. Their are several articles on the web about the author and her work and the book is being reviewed by several blogs such as Suko's Notebook, Rundpinne and Chaotic Compendiums. Be sure to check it out when you have the time!

I'm almost finished with The Postmistress, a book I'm really enjoying and dreading finishing! This morning I finished The Price of Life the debut of author Greg McCarthy, a good and interesting murder mystery. I'll be reviewing Sunset Park by Paul Auster, Every Last One by Anna Quindlen and I'd Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman this week. I'm planning to read Proust's Overcoat by Lorenza Foschini this week but I'm not sure what else. I absolutely love Christmas-themed books & stories. It's getting close to that time of year to read them. I had a wonderful compilation of holiday stories, poems, anecdotes, songs etc. for many years. Then I lent it to a friend and, well, suffice to say, that was that. So I'm looking for a new one. If you have any recommendations for a good book that includes a large variety of holiday-themed stories, poems, recipes, songs and other things, please let me know!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Book Blogger Hop 11.12.10

Book Blogger Hop is a weekly Party for Book Bloggers hosted by Jennifer at her blog, Crazy-for-Books every Friday. The Hop is an opportunity for book bloggers to meet, connect, support each other and share their love of books and the written word. The Hop also offers a terrific opportunity for bloggers to discover other book blogs to read!

The Book Blog Hop lasts from Friday through Monday giving anyone who's interested plenty of time to join in! If you want to be a part of the fun, head on over to Crazy-for-Books, post your answer to the week's question on your blog and enter your blog on the Mr. Linky list. And then, start Hopping to other blogs.
This week's question is from Christina who blogs at The Paperback Princesses:

"If you find a book that looks interesting but is part of a series, do you always start with the first title?"

I like to start with the first title if possible, but sometimes it depends on the series and the situation. Years ago I started reading author Andrew Vachss' Burke detective books. I didn't realize, initially, that the books were a series but they were very good stand-alone stories too and, since I couldn't get to a bookstore at the time, I read a few of them. I eventually read the beginning of the series and discovered that I hadn't missed anything.

I also started Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache series with book #5, The Brutal Telling because it was sent to me for review. It was also a very good stand-alone story. But I read the first book, Still Life soon after that and, although I hadn't missed anything vital, Inspectore Gamache's background and family were discussed in-depth making him more well-rounded and known to the reader which I really liked.
What I really want is to enjoy the book!!
Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wondrous Words Wednesday 11.10.10

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Bermudaonion's Weblog where we share new (to us) words that we’ve encountered in our reading. Feel free to join in the fun (please do!) Be sure to leave a link to your post over at Bermudaonion's Weblog.

I thought I'd posted this week's words earlier today - apparently I forgot! Oy!!

The first word is from Sunset Park by Paul Auster

"He therefore concentrates on the local, the particular, the nearly invisible details of quotidian affairs." (p.71)

1. Quotidian ~adj.
:usual or customary; everyday
:ordinary; commonplace

This word is from The Postmistress by Sarah Blake:

"In the months after the president had promised Churchill fifty destroyers, the horizon had been crenellated by these far-off ships." (p.128)

2. Crenellated ~adj.
:A battlement (also called a crenellation) in defensive architecture such as that of city walls or castles, comprises a parapet (i.e. a short wall), in which portions have been cut out at intervals to allow the discharge of arrows or other missiles.
:the action of constructing ramparts with gaps for firing guns or arrows

This next word comes from an article in the October issue of Elle magazine, The Sara Era by Rebecca Traister

"Perhaps that's because she senses--correctly, given the perfidy of the campaign that picked her and then leaked nasty stories about her all over tarnation--that party loyalty is not a quality from which she herself is likely to profit."(p.416)

3. Perfidy ~ noun
: the quality or state of being faithless or disloyal; treachery
: an act or instance of disloyalty

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays 11.9.10

Teaser Tuesdays is an interesting and fun book-related meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Be prepared to add several new books to your TBR list! I do every week!

My Teaser:

" Everything matters here," he said quietly. "Everything adds up."
She glanced over at him. "Nothing about this adds up."
"It does," he said to her. "It's all there is."
"That's nuts," she retorted angrily. "It's random as hell out there-that is hell-random, incomprehensible accidents happening night after night.

from The Postmistress by Sarah Blake (p.158)

Anyone can play along! If you'd like to participate, Just do the following:

*Grab your current read
*Open to a random page
*Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page. (I used 3 this week!)
*BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
*Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their
TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

*And, finally, don't forget to link your post to MizB's at Should Be Reading. If you don't have a blog, simply share your "teasers" in a comment.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Monday Movies 11.8.10 Hated Movies!

Feature Presentation...

Today is all about the movies we didn't like! Movies are subjective and very often a movie you hated, someone else loved. These are the movies it would be difficult for me to find anything positive about. Share on your blog the movie or movies that you didn't like at all! Link your post back to The Bumbles Blog. If you don't have a blog, list your choices in the comment section of The Bumbles Movie post!

Toys (1992) Starring Robin Williams. Michael Gambon, Joan Cusack, LL Cool J etc.. A military general inherits a toy making company and uses it to make war toys and to train children to wage war through videogames. The plot is thin at best, and the focus of the movie is all over the place. The director, Barry Levinson, was nominated for a Razzie Award for worst director!
I went to this movie with a friend when we were in the midst of studying for law school final exams. We thought going to see this movie would be a good way to relax and take a break from the studying especially since my friend had movie passes. The theater was so crowded we couldn't sit together. This became a problem for me 40 minutes into the movie when I wanted to leave, badly! I waited another 10 minutes and decided I'd rather wait in the lobby for my friend then sit through this movie. Well, she was already in the lobby waiting for me! And we were far from the only people walking out of the theater. By the time we left, it was half empty!

Independence Day (1996) This is my husband's most hated movie. It's a sci-fi movie about an unfriendly alien invasion of earth. A group of people converge in the Nevada desert and attempt a last-chance retaliation on July 4th. It stars Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman among others and was directed by Roland Emmerich. This was the highest grossing film of 1996 and then some.
My husband found it formulaic, cheesy and felt it took itself too seriously. He would have preferred it was done with a tongue-in-cheek attitude. He also felt it didn't live up to all the hype. I've never seen this movie so I can't say what I think of it. But I haven't felt a need to see it & I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything not seeing it!

Bonfire of the Vanities (1990) is another movie I intensely dislike. I learned a tough lesson with this movie. I loved Tom Wolfe's book so when I heard a movie was being made of the book, which is an interesting, entertaining story, filled with wonderfully satirical references hence lots of material for a great movie, I was very excited. Not to mention the cast is pretty top notch with Tom Hanks, Bruce Willis, Melanie Griffith and Kim Cattrall directed by Brian DePalma.(unfortunately, although the actors are good, the casting for the characters was not!) It didn't seem that the movie could be anything but great and funny. Boy was I wrong! The making of the movie was apparently a nightmare with all kinds of problems and controversy and it shows in the final product. It was a critical and commercial flop! And I learned that a great book does not a good movie make!

Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997) This movie, starring Mike Myers as Austen Powers, is a parody of James Bond films and 60's pop-culture movies. It generally relies on "bathroom humor" for laughs. One of the early scenes in the movie is one in which Austen Powers wakes up after years in suspended animation and relieves himself for a ridiculously long time. Ha....Ha. It doesn't get much better. My husband and I both hated this movie and never bothered to see installments 2 and 3.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Book Review: Strangers at the Feast by Jennifer Vanderbes

Title: Strangers at the Feast
Author: Jennifer Vanderbes
ISBN: 978-1439166956
Pages: 352
Release Date: August 2010
Publisher: Scribner
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Provided by: Crazy Book Tours
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Publisher: On Thanksgiving Day 2007, as the country teeters on the brink of a recession, the Olson family gathers. Eleanor and Gavin worry about their daughter, a single academic, and her newly adopted Indian child, and about their son, who has been caught in the imploding real-estate bubble. While the Olsons navigate the tensions and secrets that mark their relationships, seventeen-year-old Kijo Jackson and his best friend Spider set out from the nearby housing projects on a mysterious job. A series of tragic events bring these two worlds ever closer, exposing the dangerously thin line between suburban privilege and urban poverty, and culminating in a crime that will change everyone's life.

My Thoughts: Strangers at the Feast is the story of the Olson Family. The book centers around Thanksgiving Day as three generations have gathered to celebrate - Gavin and Eleanor, dad and mom to Douglas and Ginny, their adult children; Ginny, a professor of women's studies, is single, in her mid-thirties and has recently adopted 7-year old girl from India; Douglas, in his late thirties, works for a real estate development firm and is married to Denise, a nutritional supervisor at the local school. They have 3 young children and live in Greenwich, Connecticut. The story begins in Ginny's home in Westchester sometime in the late 1980s.

The point of view in the book is ever-changing, depending on which character is telling the story at the time. As a narrative tool, this can be effective but is often confusing, as well. Had the author used one omniscient narrator throughout, the story would have been more linear and cohesive. For example, Eleanor thinks about her marriage, her life as a wife and mother and worries about Ginny's life without a husband. Meanwhile, Douglas' thoughts are about his failed construction project and money, or, more to the point, why he doesn't have a lot of it and how to get more. As the story progresses it becomes increasingly clear that the members of this family don't know or understand each other. Though this results in a continually alternating focus and an uneven division of the characters' stories, it is an extremely effective means of emphasizing the distance between each family member and their confusion about each other and life.

With the Olson Family, the author has done an amazing job creating five entirely recognizable, three-dimensional adults. None of them may be you, but you'll still be able to identify all of them. Eleanor is a loving wife and mother whose greatest accomplishments are her family. The health and happiness of her husband, children and grand-children are what really matters to her and it's clear that Eleanor will do almost anything to keep her family safe. Ginny represents a younger, modern generation in which women have careers outside the family. She's an accomplished professor of women's studies always scoffing at traditional female tasks. Tasks that her mother, Eleanor, holds dear: cooking, cleaning, keeping house. Like everyone, the Olsons are not without their flaws, and some are more flawed than others. Gavin, once a light-hearted, fun-loving young man, went to war and returned from Vietnam withdrawn, resentful and tending towards the morose. He shows little interest in or love for his wife Eleanor or his children, and the strain in their relationships is palpable.

The other main characters are fleshed out just as thoroughly. Douglas, as a young man and barely out of college, was obsessed with money much to Gavin's dismay. His obsession has only grown as he made riches, then lost it all in bad investments. Now, the vexing question of why he doesn't have money and how to get a lot of it is all Douglas thinks about. His relationship with his wife, Denise, once the shining star in his life, has disintegrated to the point where they barely speak. Denise grew up poor and won't tolerate a life without wealth. She no longer trusts Douglas to provide her with the only thing that makes her happy.

What I found remarkable about this family was how little they know and understand each other. If I hadn't know better, I couldn't be blamed for thinking the Olsons were strangers meeting for the first time. Ginny and Douglas show no interest in their parents' lives. Neither Ginny nor Douglas asks their parents about their work, what they've been doing lately or how Gavin's job is. In fact, things are so disconnected that at one point, a story is relayed when Douglas asked Gavin for help but then became angry when Gavin asked him about how things were going in his life and why he needed help. Douglas is intensely interested in real estate so his sole care is in repairing the fixer-upper house Ginny recently bought, never mind that she doesn't want it repaired. Ginny, meanwhile, loves to lecture the family on the real Thanksgiving of Pilgrims and Indians, but Eleanor can't help questioning Ginny incessantly about the men in her life, determined to find her a husband as Gavin sits in the corner brooding, his resentment increasing by the hour.

Each individual family member's unhappiness is surpassed only by their fears, intense fears about issues ranging from health and safety to crime, being alone or being poor. The fear and unhappiness they carry inside them and the tension inevitably created by these negative thoughts reach a violent climax a little more than three-quarters of the way through the book with dire results. When things calm down again, as expected, some of the Olsons point fingers of blame at each other but the reality is that there's plenty of blame to go around. Each one of them could have prevented the tragedy that ensues but they don't do anything to help the situation.

Waiting more than half of the book for the conflict is a long time. A character study dominates the novel while the plot slowly develops. So what may be a lack of depth in the story is compensated admirably by a population of characters that are written with great detail as well as broad strokes, not to mention a lot of believability. The major problem with making the reader wait such a long time for the culmination of the stress and tension is that there is little resolution. The novel ends very shortly after the "explosion" and we are left wondering how the Olsons, who we've come to know well because the author has spent so much time and energy fleshing them out, deals with the tragedies aftermath. Simply put, we never really find out what the fall out is and what happened to each character. It seems a shame, unless the author is planning a sequel that picks up where this book left off, that we are left to wonder about each Olson member's fate.