Fifty Fifty Me: Playing Catch Up

I am 26 books in and I better get crack-a-lacking on my goal of 52. It seemed so doable when I made the goal now it seems exhausting. In an effort not to panic, I am just going to play it cool. Read them as they come. I have been reading since I finished Wild. I needed to digest wild and think about it. I just couldn’t plunk myself into the next book very easily. Once I did, there was no stopping me. I enjoyed the last book. When I really enjoy a book and then finish it. I need to mull it over. It is hard for me to jump right into the next book with the same eagerness to read. It took a while, but I was able to move on after Wild.

I have been laid up with Bronchitis this week and when you are on vacation, nothing sucks more than being sick for part of it. What that has done is free up some time to read. I read 3 books this week and started another. I caught up on movies as well, 6 to be exact.

The Books:

The first one was The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes by Diane Chamberlaine. It took me a fair bit of time to commit to liking this book. The early beginnings had me wondering what all the hoopla was about amongst my Goodread friends. The main character in the early stages was 16. With that comes bad choices and impossible situations.I remember being 16 and like the character I made choices that effected my entire life – and not for the good. On some level I could relate to the character, but most of me wanted to forget being 16, being naive, being stupid and mostly being seduced by older men. I understood the bad choices but I am pretty sure I knew the difference between morally right and wrong. i had the benefit of family teaching me the difference. This character did not.

As the story progressed I became more enchanted with the choices she was making. Eventually she set her life back to the moment of 16 – because 16 haunts you forever if you made stupid choices. The character rectified it all, making a huge impact on everyone in her life. That was when this story became the type of book I love, not being able to pt it down. The climax was marvelous.

The second book I read was Me Before You by JoJo Moyes. Of all the books I read this week, this one I loved from start to finish. This was billed as a romance, but I never saw it as a romance. It was more about euthanasia and choices of others. I found this book to be a real metaphor for my life. No matter how badly you want something, other people’s choices affect you in a profound way. Wanting something bad enough and working towards that goal isn’t always enough when human choices are involved.  This is one of the hardest lessons I have learned on my Tourist journey. The characters in this book handled it remarkably well. It surprised me. Typically books turn out they would would hope them too. Maeve Binchy is a master of this never happening. The ugly duckling doesn’t become the beautiful swan, she just plods along, enjoying or dealing with what life throws at her. This is real life. You are dealt a hand and the purpose is to see what you make out of it, not throw them all away and get lucky by drawing a Royalflush. That never happens. I wish it did. So in an effort to find happiness, you look within – not externally. Buddha was right.

The final book was The Nanny Returns by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus. I really enjoyed the first book, but I was young and still hadn’t figured out stuff yet I thought I knew everything. I think I have moved beyond this type of book. I want more meat or substance from a book. The bottom line is I am busy, so I want a book that is worth my time, a book that makes me think. This book had New York going for it but that is no longer enough. 50/50 me challenge had opened my eyes up to new authors and genres. I can no longer go back to the books I loved in my youth.

Now that is not to say Young Adult books have left my peripheral vision. Fantastic Mr. Fox was recommended to me. I enjoy reading children’s books because I love to talk about them WITH children. Learning from children is an undervalued resource.

The Movies:

Since my love affair with the Avengers, more notably Tony Stark, I have watched 6 movies.

  1. People Like Us
  2. Bottle Shock
  3. Single man
  4. The Best Marigold Hotel
  5. Blade Runner
  6. Things you can tell by Looking at Her

Not only have my taste in books changed since the start of this project, but my taste in movies has as well. Lets just say, I appreciate art movies more than I did before. There isn’t one movie in that list that I enjoyed more than the others. I am crazy for superhero movies – not one of those is an action pack superhero movie with the exception of blade Runner. It comes close, but Harrison Ford got his ass kicked to often and there wasn’t enough swagger going on for my taste. When I watch sci-fi or action flicks, I expect the impossible. It’s fun to revel in the impossible for a while.

English: Chris Pine poses for a photograph at ...

Isn’t he just delicious?

People Like Us and Bottle Shock had the nicest eye candy. I still have a thing for the new young Captain Kirk aka Chris Pine. He has swagger and is sexy in all his roles. A man with swagger is delicious. Single man surprised me. The Best Marigold Hotel made me laugh because those old birds are delightful! I loved this movie as much as Calendar Girls. But the movie that made me think the hardest was Things You can tell by Looking at Her.

What struck me was the mire these women were all stuck in. It made me think that although people’s lives look better from the outside, we are all the same.

 

My Friend The Reader just put me onto a great site that helps determine your next read. It’s called Whichbook.

You choose from a list of options what you feel like reading, Happy/Sad, Predictable/Unpredictable, Optimists/Bleak an d a myriad of other choices. Then it shows you which book best suits your mood. Sounds perfect for me! I will be giving it a try for my next book.

As for movies? I HAVE to get to the theatre to see BRave, Batman and Spiderman. Although, what was wrong with Toby McGuire’s Spiderman? Those were great movies! Ah well….happy reading!

 

Fifty Fiftly Me: Shopgirl

Participating in the 50/50 me project, (you can read more about it here) was difficult this week. I was POISONED and didn’t die. However that left me with little time to feel like reading. I had read one book and havent felt like reading since. Truthfully, I haven’t had the time. I am busy finishing up projects for my University Class. While be sick in be and loving the Netflix app on my ipad, I was able to watch a couple of movies this week. I watch Never Let Me Go and An Education. Moving on with the words first…

The Book

I read Steve Martin’s Shopgirl last weekend. I have always been a fan of Martin’s dry wit and humors look on life. I never considered him a writer so when Shopgirl appeared several years ago, it was aff my radar. While reading my first foray into Martin’s work, I realized I could hear his voice as he stood to the side narrating the story for his readers. I’ve always been a huge fan of his but never gave credibility to his talent as a writer. I found his style to be delicious, and his words that were strung together like a beautiful sonnet. I could identify with the main character and felt her pain, yet was removed enough to see the reason for it. I am surprised the female character was so likable aside from her sexual attributes, typically male writers miss the mark for me when it comes to female character development. Martin’s dry wit showed through the story and I smiled with pleasure. I am so pleased I decided to give this book a try. I liked it enough that I downloaded two more of Martin’s books with hopes of reading The Pleasure of My Company this week. I must be honest and say, I don’t think I will get much reading for pleasure done in the month of June. I shall keep my fingers crossed though!

The Movie

I was able to watch Never Let Me Go and An Education. Both movies starring Carey Mulligan. I am finding myself

Cover of "An Education"

Cover of An Education

becoming a huge fan of hers! I watched Never Let me Go because I read the book last week and am always curious how the movie translates onto the screen. This particular movie was fairly close to the book. Tommy is less awkward in the movie and Ruth is less of a jerk, but for the most part, I wished it had more narration to go along with the story. It needed more insight into Kathy’s feelings and thoughts. However, this movie didn’t even come close to how much I enjoyed An Education!

An Education is based on an autobiographical article for the Granta by Lynn Barber. I loved the character. She was an intellectual caught up in the fun and fantasy of being the girlfriend of a rich older man. I saw a parallel with my life except for the rich part of the older man. Her choices were better and I found myself admiring her tenaciousness. There wasn’t anything I couldn’t like about this movie. Fashion from music to writing and mishaps, all were fun to watch. I was disappointed with her choices but she righted them in the end and went on to learn from them. This is what we all hope to do but some of us are more successful at it than others. I need to place this movie in my top 10 of all time. I know I will watch it again and again. There is something so sexy about the male characters who turn out to be such disappointments in the end. This is a definite chick movie for smart gals who long to be swept off our feet because of brains not just looks.

Next week brings Avengers, the superhero loves of my life and possibly a book to finish reading…I hope.

Fifty Fifty Me: Fifty Shades of Grey – Please don’t Judge me!

This week in an effort to participate in the 50/50 me project,(you can read more about it here) I finished one book and started yet another. I watched 3 movies and played taxi driver for my son. So watching Taxi Driver seemed very fitting. As for reading, hmmm. Joining goodreads as been helpful! I invite you to join it as well, and add me as a friend. You can find the link on the left of my WordPress page. I finished 50 Shades of Grey and started Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. I have been so tired this week I have no made much progress with reading, but you will be updated!  Anyways…. on with the words!

Book

I felt the world collective pressure to read 50 shades of Grey by E.L. James. The internet is such a buzz about this book I felt compelled to give it a read. It is the first book in a trilogy and can I just say, I will not be delving into the other two books. This book was for me, like reading a dime store romance with BDSM elements. It apparently was based on fan fiction of Bella and Edward from Twilight. There are stalker elements and controlling behaviour, none of which is done in a healthy light of course, but there is reasons for it and therapy is being sought. This is not great fiction, nor does it pretend to be. What it is…is… well… interesting. I am not the girl who is naive and easily shocked. I understand this book is tame by many BDSM standards. It did take me down a road that I was curious about and did it in a non-threatening way. I think that is why this appeals to so many women, and making so many men happy. It provides insight and tools to spice up a love life that may be less than interesting or stellar.

The rules of this relationship are clear and both parties go into negotiations about hard and soft limits. Speaking up for yourself is the underlying theme. Being your own advocate in situations that make you uncomfortable resonated with me. I have been needing to do that a lot.

All in all, this book was not for me. I rate it mediocre. I have moved out of the romance genre in my early 20’s and moved into books about people struggling to find their way in life. I am currently reading a thriller-ish book. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. The grandfather could be my own, so it hooked me from the start. I am not reading this as quickly as I normally whip through books, so I may or may not be finished next week.

The Movie

This week I watched 3 movies. I started out with Taxi Driver and crossed that one off the AFT 100 list. THen I watched Bye Bye Birdie and Ballet Shoes. Could these three movies be any different? I am not sure if Bye Bye Birdie counts. I watched it when I was 7, but never saw it again since. It is no secret that I love musicals, Dick Van Dyke and the 60’s in THAT order. The dance sequences with Ann Margret were spectacular. The white dress with red polka dots and red flats that Janet Leigh wore in her dance sequence was so fabulous!I have only seen her in Psycho where she was a blond. Holy hottness was she stunning as a brunette!  Giving Ann Margret a run for her money. There were some great moments, the romantic leads were meh, and half the music was good. Was this my favorite? No, it came in third and THAt surprised me.

Ballet Shoes was a wonderful movie you should watch with your teenage daughter. It focuses on the importance of goals, strength of character, team work and support. Not one of the dreams was far fetched, and it showed that dreams come true only with hard work. I Loved this movie. It came in second.

Taxi Driver had a film noir feel to it, although I am not sure if it is classified as one. If it is, it need more narration

Cover of "Taxi Driver [Blu-ray]"

from De Niro. Can I just say, that man is AMAZING! I remember the scandal with Jodie Foster, her age and her role playing a prostitute. Let’s just say the times have changed and teen prostitution is no longer a taboo subject – at least in my circles – it is seen as a tragedy and a form of abduction and abuse. I think this may have been the first movie to show the seduction nature of the controlling pimps. Regardless whether it was or not, it sure got people talking about it. The seediness of New York was very fitting for this movie. After I finished it my immediate thought was, huh…wierd. But the inner struggles and character development was fantastic. I enjoyed this movie more the next day after thinking about it, then I did while watching and digesting it. If you haven’t seen it, it is on the AFI 100 for a reason. Simply amazing.

Next week I am looking to fulfill my girl talk need by watching The Jane Austen Book Club. It seems perfect for me and I am wanting to read some Austen, I haven’t read all 6 of her books so I think I might tackle Sense and Sensibility or Mansfield Park. It is only then I can say I have read all her books thoroughly.

Happy Reading and Happy Watching!

Fifty Fifty. Me.: When God was a Rabbit

This week in an effort to participate in the 50/50 me project,(you can read more about it here) finished one book and started yet another. I watched 2 movies and mostly did copious amounts of homework. My mind is filled with so much information, I chose drivel to read this week. I shouldn’t have done that. Fluff or drivel wounds my soul and makes my brain feel soft. There is a fine line for me to find a book that is a fun read and a book that is fluff. 50 Shades of Grey is pure fluff, and not all that fun to read. Last weeks enjoyment of A Lover’s Dictionary was fun. I think I need to start carefully assessing why I read as opposed to what people say I should read. Suggestions are wonderful, but I need to read from suggestions of people who like the same type of read as I do. Joining goodreads as been helpful! I invite you to join it as well, and add me as a friend. You can find the link on the left of my WordPress page. Anyways…. on with the words!

The Book

I read When God was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman. This book made me laugh, cry and smile. There was a dark cloud that followed this family yet it didn’t seem to matter, they laughed and lived in spite of it. I think it gave a truer sense into people’s lives when nothing is perfect, yet people live being as happy as they can. I loved following the main character through her life. She didn’t dwell on the painful moments, she moved on. Very british actually, stiff upper lip and all that. She felt emotion but realized life was a series of moments. Each moment builds on another to create the next moment. With that knowledge you can can choose to feel however you want about a situation. I loved that sentiment. I have always felt this way. There is no point in blaming someone else for past crimes against you. Its about taking what we learned and growing from it. The letting go is hard, but in the end worthwhile. This book spoke to me. I hope it speaks to you too.

The Movie

I watched 2 movies this week. Annie Hall by Woody Allen (- this can be crossed of the bucket list!) and the

Film poster for Annie Hall - Copyright 1977, U...

Film poster for Annie Hall - Copyright 1977, United Artists (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Contagion starring Matt Damon on recommendation of my friend Chef. Her delicious blog is here.

Chef is an ex-pat Edmontonian living in Texas and we share a love for all things yummy, heathy and Matt Damon.

I thought this movie might be too much for my Howard Hughes like obsession with hand sanitizer. It does justify my freaky feeling about clean hands, but it was as scary as I thought it could have been. Although people do die at an alarming rate. Famous people kept dropping like flies. Did this help? Meh… So this was not my favorite of the bunch.

I did love Annie Hall. I love Diane Keaton. I loved how innocent she was and her fella Woody Allen encouraged her to give personal growth a try and lo and behold, she out grew him. A very common theme amongst my peers of late.  I do not get the sex appeal of Woody Allen, but I do understand his intellectual appeal. I loved the dialogue. I am coming to realize that Woody Allan movies are definitely for me. Conversation, discussion, and possibilities without a clear cut happy ending. It certainly is not an escape genre, but it fulfills a need in me. Loved this one!

 

This week I am finishing up 50 Shades of Grey and am NOT going to read the other 2 in the trilogy any time soon. I have two books on my list that interest me, Under the Tuscan Sun and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Can you find two vastly different books? I think not. one thing this challenge has done for me is open my mind up to knew genres that I would normally not have considered before. We shall see how I feel after 50 shades, that will determine my next choice.

As for Movies? I am in a De Niro kind of head space. I think I will watch Taxi Driver and cross that off the AFI 100 list. Perhaps there is a movie that my teens wish to watch too. Let’s see what the week brings, shall we?


 

50/50.Me: Extremly Loud and Incredibly Close

Cover of "Extremely Loud and Incredibly C...

Cover of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

This week in an effort to participate in the 50/50 me project, I read one book and watched 3 movies. I have a sneaky feeling I will finish the movie portion long before the books.

The Book

I read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. I think I liked it. I wanted to read it and finish it, so it had me interested. I did find the story line confusing. I had hoped the movie would provide more clarity, I have never seen it but a friend has and she responded with “no, the movie is confusing too” Huh…

The book switched voices as you progressed. Each Chapter was a different voice. Once I figured out WHO and WHEN this was happening, it made perfect sense. I am not one to read chapter titles, but clearly this would have been a huge benefit on my part.

The main Character is Oskar. His father was in one of the World Trade Towers on September 11 – THAT DAY, and of coursed died. Oskar’s Dad Thomas would often leave clues for Oskar to solve. It was a game they always played. The ultimate game was when Oskar discovered a key that belonged to his father. But what was the key for?

I found myself understanding the way Oskar thinks. He can’t let things rest and needs to know WHY. That is me. I am never satisfied until I know all the details. Learning to live with unanswered questions is incredibly difficult, and friendships have been strained because of this. Perhaps this is why I liked reading about Oskar. I could related to him. The other fascinating part for me was this story took you through all 5 boroughs in New York with the story of the 6th one. I loved the backdrop. It had me at Central Park, and I went from there. The story itself encompasses 5 family members and how they deal with grief. This fascinated me and gave a great insight to the way people handle events differently. A great lesson in empathy.

The Movie

The Iron Lady (film)

The Iron Lady (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I watched 3 movies this week, Mirror Mirror – funny! New Years Eve – good! The Iron Lady – interesting!

Of the 3 I think I prefered the iron Lady the best. Meryl Streep was fantastic! I never thought about her as an actress, to me she was Margaret Thatcher. I hadn’t realized all the history that surrounded Thatcher and her rise to Prime Minister. She was often the only female in the House. I have a feeling it glamorize her family life and failed to show the heart ache of her children and husband. None the less, it was enjoyable.

Clearly I need to work on my skills as a reviewer, I’m sure it will progress.

This week i have started Peony in Love by Lisa See. I think it is a chick book. I started Hunger Games and just couldn’t keep my head in it. The gals at work rave about Lisa See so I will give it a try. As for the movie, I am planing on watching Hugo. My daughter raves about it, so I thought it might be a good family night movie.

What are you reading? Seen any good movies lately?