February in Review

Wow, February really flew by this year, but it was an exciting month for me in terms of my blog! I read 4 books and listened to 3, making my total February book count 7. Here are the books read/listened to in February:

There were many great books in this list, but The Art of Racing in the Rain was my favorite. Review coming soon…

This month I also saw a bunch of great movies, two of which have been reviewed on this blog. I am excited to announce William Guth as a guest contributor who posted a wonderful review of one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time, An Education. He also co-authored the review for A Single Man. Expect more movie and book reviews from him in the future.

Another thing that happened this month was my switch from blogspot to wordpress. So far I’ve been very happy with the change and am excited about all the possibilities there are on wordpress.

In March I will finally be reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson, which has been on my radar for quite some time now. I’m also starting a new audio book by Anita Shreve called A Change in Altitude, as well as reading a nonfiction choice, Thinking in Pictures by Temple Grandin. There is a movie based on this book currently playing on HBO called Temple Grandin.

I also hope to do my first giveaway in March. Look for that coming up soon! Stay tuned…

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Oryx and Crake

Book: Oryx and Crake

Author: Margaret Atwood

Short Summary:
This novel takes us into a not too distant future where humans have all but died out due to a plague. Snowman, formally known as Jimmy, is the only one left alive that he is aware of. He lives among the “Children of Crake” who are green-eyed, plant and grass eating, gentically engineered human-like beings who have little understanding of the world as the rest of mankind knew it. The book goes back and forth between Jimmy’s former life and friendship with his brilliant buddy Crake, and his new life as Snowman, which he now must adapt to. Slowly, mysteries are unturned and through flashbacks it is revealed just how the world had come to be the unfamiliar place that Snowman must now struggle to survive in.

My Thoughts:
Fans of dystopian fiction will rejoice after reading this brilliantly crafted work of fiction. Atwood had an amazing way of building curiousity in me with each new detail in this frightening futuristic world. Continue reading

An Education

Somehow in the last 3 months I’ve managed to see 5 of the 10 films nominated for Best Picture and IMO, this movie was really something special

Plot Summary: The film takes place in 1960’s London (or specifically the suburb of Twickenham).  Sixteen year old Jenny lives with her parents. On her father’s wishes, everything that Jenny does is in the sole pursuit of being accepted into Oxford, as he wants a better life for her than he had.  Jenny Moller is bright, pretty, hard working but also naturally gifted.  Her life changes after she meets David Goldman, a man over twice her age; who goes out of his way to show Jenny and her family that his interest in her is not improper. He solely wants to expose her to cultural activities, which she enjoys. Jenny quickly gets accustomed to the life to which David and his constant companions, Danny and Helen, have shown her, and their relationship becomes a romantic one.  Jenny, however, slowly learns more about David, and by association Danny and Helen, and how specifically they make their money. Jenny has to decide if what she learns about them and leading such a life is worth forgoing her plans of higher education at Oxford.

My take on it:

And the award for Best Picture goes to (drum roll please!) . . . . . ‘An Education.’

Based on Lynn Barber’s memoir ‘An Education*,’ the twenty four year old Carey Mulligan absolutely jumps off the page as sixteen year old Jenny Mellor, who despite her bright future, can’t help wondering if all her efforts aren’t for nothing in the end.  Daughters beware, this film may well prove that your parents Continue reading

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Book: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Authors: Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Short Summary:
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a novel written entirely in letters. Taking place in the late 1940’s, this book takes us into the life of Juliet Ashton, a writer living in London post World War II. She receives a letter from a man named Dawsey Adams due to a literary coincidence. Dawsey lives on the island of Guernsey off the coast of Normandy. This one letter leads to a series of correspondence between Juliet and many of the people of Guernsey. She learns of their lives during the German occupation and soon considers them dear friends even though she hasn’t met a single one.

My Thoughts:
There were many things I enjoyed about this book. The most enjoyable being the character of Juliet. She was so likable, had whit, sarcasm, charisma, and a strong sense of self. Her voice throughout the novel made it a delight to read. Continue reading

A Single Man

Based on Christopher Isherwood’s novel A Single Man
Directed by
Tom Ford

A Single Man is a wonderfully stylized movie starring Colin Firth as George, a “homo-sexual” college professor (to use the parlance of the movie’s time,) who has 8 months ago suffered the loss of his lover of 16 years.  The movie takes place in 1960s Los Angeles and chronicles the emotional aftermath of George’s loss on a day when he is feeling less than optimistic about continuing his own life.  Firth’s character genuinely struggles to find meaning in his life without the presence of his lost love, personified through flashbacks and photographic memories.

I thought the acting in this movie was excellent. Colin Firth, who is up for an Oscar in this role for Best Continue reading

My New Love…Audio Books

I’ve always loved to read, but I never imagined I would like to be read to as much as I do. I have friends and relatives who are always telling me I should listen to audio books, but for some reason I was hesitant. When I’m in the car, I enjoy listening and singing to music in order to pass the time. I thought that I would get easily distracted if I were to attempt to have someone else read a book to me instead of reading it for myself. It seemed it would take away the imagination that I use when reading a book for myself.

I’m so glad I put my hesitation aside and decided to give the world of audio books a try. I discovered I absolutely love listening to audio books. It always takes a few minutes for me to get used to the reader, but once I do I become fully engaged in what I’m listening to. It’s almost like when you are watching a movie with subtitles. It takes a few minutes to adjust, but once you do you Continue reading

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Book: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Author: Jamie Ford

Short Summary:
Alternating between 1942 and 1986, this book is the story of Henry Lee, a Chinese-American boy who is dealing with his feelings for a Keiko Okabe, a Japanese-American girl. Henry is sent to an all white school by his parents where he meets and quickly befriends the only other Asian American, Keiko. Their friendship develops quickly, but is forbidden by Henry’s family because of Keiko’s Japanese heritage. The world is at war and the Japanese are the enemy to both China and America. This book explores the unlikely relationship between Henry and Keiko, as America becomes less accepting of Japanese Americans and eventually puts them in internment camps. We are also brought into Henry’s life 40 years after the war, as he deals with the loss of his wife Ethel to a long battle with cancer. Henry’s relationship with his son, Marty, is somewhat strained and he is working to repair it. Henry mourns Ethel and also can’t help think about the girl, Keiko, who disappeared so many years ago.

My Thoughts:
This is a story that deals with an important and shameful topic in American history, Japanese internment during World War II. While the topic is a heavy one, the story deals with it in a somewhat simplistic and lighthearted way.

The relationship between Henry and Keiko was sweet, but sometimes too much so. It was almost too perfect which made it feel unrealistic. Continue reading