Fifty Fifty Me: Never Let Me Go

This weeks effort to participate in the 50/50 me project,(you can read more about it here) I finished one book and shocked that it took me 2 weeks to read a single book with 400 pages. Seriously? I had these grandiose ideas that I would read copious amounts on the plane on the way to California. I slept instead. Obviously I needed to sleep. I am reaching full on burnout. Then I figured I would watch a movie or two. Westjet now charges you for movies. WTF? Air Canada doesn’t. So I sulked and read instead. That left me with time for just one and one book in two weeks. Oh well. The movie was disturbing and the book was … not sure how to describe it. Let’s get on with that shall we?

The Book

Cover of "Never Let Me Go"

Cover of Never Let Me Go

I read Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. Many reviews on this book were stellar. This book is even on the Time 100 best books of the 20th century. The book was a good read for me. But I gave it 3 out of 5 stars on my goodreads book list. First of all it is Science Fiction. I love watching Sci-Fi! Those are some of my most favorite movies and tv shows. As a book genre? Not so much. When I read, I want my book to be plausible. There are books out there – Harry Potter for example – that I love in spite of the plausible aspect. However, I find the characters real end genuine. That is important. They can be involved in kooky adventures that we can only dream of but their character must be realistic. I found the characters in Never Let Me Go to be stupid – literally.

There was a time in the book where I gasped out loud because these characters we not the physical beings I thought them to be. Then the story became very predictable after that. I kept waiting for the author to drop a bomb, something that would shock me to my core. It never happened. What was shocking was the way these characters accepted their fate without question. Who does that? This is why I did not find them believable. I want people to fight for justice. Fight for what their heart wants. Fight for their values. I do not expect them to get what they want, but I want them to try. This is what makes characters real for me. Perhaps there are people in this world that just plod along not reaching for the brass ring, not questioning the way things are done. This is not me. I could not relate to these people.

There were parts of this book I quite enjoyed, but I always felt I had to keep reading it just to complete it, not because I loved it.

Meanwhile, I am still reading Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. Mrs. Dashwood infuriates me and I have to put it down because I get so mad. This is what I enjoy about Austen’s books. Her characters make you feel.

As an easy read for the week, I pulled out British Chicklit. I’m feeling Jane Green and her bumbling heroines, I could easily be one of them. They make me laugh and I don’t need to think or be offended at the stupidity of the female leads. They are smart and usually successful. They just make bad choices I can laugh at because “Been there, Done That”.

The Movie

My children both read The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas in grade 7. I never had. It was a long time before I could bring myself to watch or read anything in regards to Nazi Germany. I had lived with stories from grandfathers, grandmothers, aunts, and uncles about their experience with WWII. It was just too close to home for me. I feel deeply and could not imagine the pain and heart-break associated with camps all over Europe. Nor could I understand how a human being could do these things to another. Since my various trips to Europe, I have been able to slowly learn more. I find it painful, shocking and disturbing, yet I cannot stop looking.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is about a German boy whose father is in charge of a camp in Poland. Behind his house is the camp. He goes exploring and finds the walls of the camp. He sees a boy, the same age as himself and they strike up a friendship. You get a sense of the ending while watching this. What struck me was the attitude of the father, the Nazi Commander. He said Jews aren’t people. For all the atrocities that happened, this is what disturbed me the most. Karma plays a hand in the end and the emotion is raw. Give this movie a look. I don’t think I could read the book knowing the emotion involved. I feel to deeply. Empathy is a great gift, but in these circumstances it is painful.

My next movie of choice will be Never Let Me Go, The Avengers and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.

Fifty Fifty Me: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

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 two others. Who does that? Who reads more than one book at a time that aren’t text books? I guess I do. I am reading Sense and sensibility by Jane Austen and Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. I only watched 2 movies, I must be busy or something. I finished Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. I didn’t think I would get through it but look at me! I did it! Anyways…. on with the words!

The Book

I didn’t expect to enjoy Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. It was on my list of new genres to try and lots of people were talking about it. The creepy pictures caught my eye and I read a blog review that made me bump it higher on my To Read list.

The beginning of this book was riveting. The Grandfather told crazy unbelievable stories just like my Grandpa did. This alone made me love him. As I became hooked, there was a moment when I thought this book might be too scary for me. Old me would have closed it and been scared of “What might have been”. New me sucked it up and kept pressing forward. I learned it wasn’t scary, but peculiar. By the end of the book I was so captivated I couldn’t put it down. I found it to be very exciting in a Harry Potter kind of way.

Don’t get me wrong, this is NOT a Harry Potter knock off, but is had a similar feel as the Potter books – well for me anyways. I enjoyed the quirky nature and time loops. The best part for me was the photographs that showed who the characters were. These wonderful vintage photos of children doing impossible things all through the magic of trick photography…or was it?

This is a great young adult book and I think my children would quite enjoy it. Only they never take my advice anymore.I wish I could be deep and insightful about how it effected me, but it was just a fun read. And it made me miss my Grandpa. Sometimes books should be just fun.

The Movie

I watch two movies this week. One at home snuggled under a blanket and one at the movie theatre with my

The Jane Austen Book Club (film)

The Jane Austen Book Club (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

daughter. We saw The Lucky One, based on the Nicolas Sparks novel. For the first time, I did not read the book first. It was enough for me to enjoy the beauty that is Zac Efron. His eyes are something else! The story was magical and fate driven. I need that in my life right now. Was it my favorite of the two? Not by a longshot. My favorite was The Jane Austen Book Club.

This movie was everything I needed to see this week. Women having intelligent conversation about well written books, helping each other through various crisis in their lives. I need a book club in my life. Every character’s life resembled one of Austen’s 6 books. They discussed strength of character, doing the right thing and struggles of life. Just like the Austen books themselves. The difference being the movie gave insight into lives down the road. Austen ends her books usually with the marriage…and they lived happily ever after blablabla…but do they? How could you not with Mr. Darcy? But i suppose Elizabeth Bennett found his stories tiresome after 30 years of hearing the same one over and over. So maybe it was just as well they ended when they did. Austen never married herself, so perhaps she did not know what to write having never lived behind those doors. The movie, however, takes you to a happily every after a few years later. That was nice but unneccessary. Life doesn’t have to be happy, and often isn’t. The point is to feel it and be present for it. Most of the movie was just like that. Real. Maybe that is why I liked it so much. It has moved into my top 10 favorite of all time, and it has me reading Sense and sensibility for the first time. I don’t love it like I love Pride and Predjuce…but her writing is exquisite none the less.

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: The Lover’s Dictionary

This week in an effort to participate in the 50/50 me project,(you can read more about it here) I read one book and watched 4 movies. I have a sneaky feeling I will finish the movie portion long before the books. I have watched 7 movies in 2 weeks and will likely watch a couple more this weekend. I wish The Avengers was out. May 4 needs to hurry up.

The Book

I was reading some book reviews here on WordPress and stumbled onto a review about a little book called The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan of 10 things I hate about you fame. After reading some heavy books of late, this was like a sorbet between courses.

This story was from the male’s point of view. I wasn’t a love story, but a relationship story. It wasn’t all romance, wine and candles. It was real. I could relate with the couple on several levels and was captivated with their story.

Because the book format was very unique,it was dictionary format spanning the alphabet from A-Z focusing on a key word that describes the moment in time that pertained to the relationship, the reader was never let into their couples lives on a daily basis. We we allowed to see snipets the dictionary definitions let us see. This chapter or definition under U:

unabashedly, adv.

We were walking home late from a bar- and the term walking is used loosely here, because you were doing something between a skip and a stumble – and suddenly you started singing out your love for me. My name and everything, loud enough to reach the top floors of all the buildings. I should have told you to stop, but I didn’t want you to stop. I didn’t mind if your love for me woke people up. I didn’t mind if it somehow sneaked into their sleep.

You grabbed my hand and twirled me around, two sidewalk sweethearts. Then very earnestly, you stopped, leaned over, and whispered, “you know, I’d get a tattoo with your name on it. Only I want you to have the freedom to change your name if you want to.”

I thanked you, and you resumed your song.

I liked it for its quick read factor. It was a lovely change of pace from the more intense, emotional reads I have been absorbed in. I did find myself wondering about the characters themselves and wishing I had more information about them. Then I realized I may not like the heroine as much. I was surprised by the emotions generated by the man. That was something I did not expect but did appreciate.

Each word and definition was it’s own chapter, so the book moved forward quite quickly. I recommend this book for two reasons, It is likely the most unique format you will ever read and it is interesting. If a book is not interesting I will not keep reading it. Case in point, The Hunger Games. I have read the first Chapter and have no desire to finish it in spite of the hoards of people telling me to keep it up, it gets better. It is not better NOW, that is the difficult part for me. I read so much for university, when I read for fun – I need it to be at least fun, interesting, relatable or riveting.

I was going to read Night Circus, but I read the first page and realized I was not in a Circus Mood. I flipped through the 145 books I have on my eReader waiting for me to dive in and I had a difficult time deciding. I need an easy read. I have a ton of research to plow through and a bit of fluff is what I am needing to turn my brain off. There are a bunch of gals in my reading group that rave about the Fifty Shades trilogy. With THAT said, my next book is 50 Shades of Grey. I understand it to be a Twilight type series for Adults without the stalker bits, vampires and werewolves. I do know it is erotica and not romance, something I havent read since pre-mommy days. I am NOT a romance type gal, so if it turns out to be sappy – I will be outta there! 2 chapters in and I have a feeling this will be … interesting. I may learn a thing or two to spice up my sex life in the process (Hi Mom! Hi Granny!) I will report back once I know.

Now…on to the movies!

The Movie

When I read that I hear ‘Let’s go to the mooooovies, Lets go see the staaaaaaars” from Annie the Musical. I did not go to any theatre this week, all my movies I watched were via streaming.

  1. The Other Woman – mediocre – I hated the kid in the beginning but liked him in the end. I hated his dad too, so this wasn’t a stellar movie for me.
  2. Hugo – How did this win best movie? Are you kidding me? It was too long, too boring and too slow. But it was pretty. The highlight of the movie was the mechanical man. He was in the middle not even the climactic end. Was there a climatic end? I can think of a billion other movies that should have won before this one…snore.
  3. Water for Elephants – Book was better. This was too romancy and not enough of the circus adventure. Meh.
  4. Cabaret – This would be my favorite of the 4. It is also on my top 100 of the 20th century bucket list movies I want to watch. I didn’t think I would like Joel Grey as the Emcee. I had seen Allan Cummings on the tony Awards and on The Rosie Show where he performed parts of his Tony Award wining role. I loved his raunchiness. Joel Grey was goofy. Both very different both excellent. I would have rather watched the Cabaret part instead of having to sit through Sally Bowles weird life. Liza Minnelli is NOT her mother. However, she has great pipes too and I could listen to he perform all night. Singing is her strength – not acting. The story was meh, the music was amazing! I loves me a good musical! With THAT said…let the flaming begin.

The next movie I plan to watch? Hmmm.   I think I will try Annie Hall. I have a had a hard time streaming it. I will keep trying. I LOVE Diane Keaton. I need to see this one. It is also on the AFI 100. That would bring me up to 55 on that list. I think Extremely loud and Incredibly Close is one I want to see especially now that i have read the book. Contagion is another movie that I really want to see. Although with my  Howard Hughes freakiness when it comes to germs, this may have me quitting my job as a preschool teacher. Too many wet orifices that leak. The plus side is Matt Damon is in it. Since I saw him run forever in The Adjustment Bureau, I have fallen deeply for him. He is a close second to my future ex husband George.

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?

 

Fifty Fifty Me

I started a new challenge! Well it isn’t very new, It is kind of tied to my current goals and that is why I think it is doable.

I joined Fifty fifty me. The purpose is to read 50 books and watch 50 movies this year. I need to figure out how I am doing with the movies, I watch about one a week in an effort to achieve my bucket list but now I suddenly need to keep track. Hmmm, If you saw a movie with me this year, please tell me what we saw!!!

I will set up a page called 5050me. You can find it on the left hand side of my blog along with all my other crazy challenges that I am doing. Can you say “Whoa there ET, Slow down?” Apparently not!

Being March, we are 13 weeks into the challenge. I have read 15 books that are not school related. I am sure I have seen at least 13 movies, but will need to reflect on that. I will commit to writing one blog post a week on books reviews and movies, part of the challenge is to keep it up on my blog. I expect YOU to help me. Share with me great reads and great movies!

Here are the Rules…well they are more like guidelines

Some Guidelines:

  • Recognize you’re doing this for bragging rights (only); although we promise some fun along the way.
  • Join anytime you like, but you only have til the end of 2012 to finish.
  • Read and watch at your own pace, just get to 50/50 before 2013
  • Finish that stack of half-read books, finally! We’ll let you count them.
  • Read/watch in any language. 50/50 is global, yo.

Questions you are asking or should be!

1) Um…What happens if I don’t read 50 books and watch 50 movies this year?
Easy: we send a bounty hunter to your house.

Just kidding- this is for fun, remember? There is no punishment (not this year, anyhow) – it’s your personal challenge, so all we ask is that you try! We know it’s a lot of books, a lot of movies; the point is that it is probably more than you’ve ever consumed in a year. That’s why it’s a challenge and not “The 50/50 Usual”.

2) Do I have to read the books, or can I just skim?
I can see how this would be confusing. Oh wait, no, it’s a reading challenge. Same as fast-forwarding through a movie isn’t the same as really watching one, this is about taking the time to really enjoy. In short, yes, for the avoidance of doubt, please read the book for it count.

3) Do long books count as 2? What about movies?
If your book is over 500 pages, you can count it as 2 books if you like.

However, if the book is 2000 pages, it’s still just two books — not four! We want to encourage you to read longer pieces. This answer has been posted for the benefit of all you Game of Thrones fanatics out there. Go forth and prosper or whatever it is.

Note: A movie is still just a (one, 1, “ONE”) movie. (That said, installments in a series (example: the individual Godfather movies) would each snag an individual point.)

4) What if I’ve read a few pages or seen a few clips of a movie already?
We’re going with the 75% rule on this one. Honor system!

5) Do textbooks count?
You poor thing. Let’s see here: A book’s a book, but are you really reading all of it or just a chapter here or there? Be honest with yourself!

Books you read for school count as well, if you’ve read them in their entirety.

6) Can I rewatch/reread? 
Of course you can rewatch and reread… it just won’t count towards your 50/50 ;)

We hope you will use FiftyFifty to inspire you to explore new stuff! Maybe next year we will include a “Reminiscing” theme, but this year around we’re asking you to go fresh.

7) Do I need a blog to do fiftyfifty.me?
You do not need a blog in order to do fiftyfifty.me! We suggest it on the website as an easy way to keep track online of what you’re up to (Blogger and Tumblr offer free blog services, for starters)

This year, we’re working on the honor system- just keep a list on your fridge or in a notebook if you aren’t interested in doing it online. The main focus is on participating- your free time is better spent on reading/watching.

8) What should I read/watch?
Anything you like! We have offered a lot of suggestions and will continue to, on our website; these are called Themes.

For example, one thing we have suggested is that you dive deeper into someone’s work and experience a few in a row (whether it’s an author, director, actor, etc.). What this does is allow you to justify why you stayed home all weekend watching Ryan Gosling’s filmography. It will also allow you to use “oeuvre” correctly in conversation with people (who rightfully probably won’t want to be your friends for long, but that is neither here nor that).

We call this “Majoring” in something (or minoring in it). You can read more about that on this post, and on any posts with the tags “Major” or “Minor”.

9) Can kids participate in fiftyfifty.me?
Yes, definitely! We encourage families and people of all ages to sign up for fiftyfifty.me, although you should prepare because the kids we know will double up and read more like 100 books in the year.

We just suggest you read age-appropriate(ish) material, and if you are under 18, have the oversight of a parent or guardian- get them to participate too.

10) How do I get my school/library involved?
Tell them about it! We are sure your school or library would encourage this adventure. If your library or school does decide to participate, let us know and we’ll be happy to post about it on our website.

While we do not offer prizes this year (other than our respect, membership in the cool kids club, etc etc). Schools or libraries may want to support the fiftyfifty.me with local awards for big achievers, or a ceremony to recognize those who accomplish this huge task.

You might also want to create a club to meet once in a while and discuss what you are reading/watching, and share recommendations in person. Libraries, local independent bookstores, and theaters would be great venues for these – get them involved!

11) How can I find people around me doing 50/50?
We do not yet ask people to identify where they are joining from, but we encourage you to set up a local gathering of 50/50 participants either by setting one up on Meetup or creating a club, etc., luring some of your friends.

12) Are there 50/50 events?
We are based out of San Diego and will be holding a launch event and occasional meetups. We hope to have other events nationwide, so stay tuned! We’ll keep you posted when/if those happen. Please be sure to sign up for our mailing list so we can reach out to you about relevant news and information.

I discovered this challenge from fellow blogger Sheila Hurst She just started too and is aiming for 30 books. Join the challenge!

Meanwhile…I need to go and do a NEW thing for my 52 new things challenge. I am going for contacts. 44 and never wore contacts. UnHEARD of in the 21st Century. I get around to everything eventually.