Book Talk Tuesday: A Girl’s Guide to Moving On

A Girl’s Guide to Moving On, by the prolific Debbie Macomber is a sweet story of endings and new beginnings.

2016-02-A-Girls-Guide-to-Moving-On-2016.HC_Nichole and Leanne live across the hall from each other in a downtown Portland apartment building.

They used to be mother- and daughter-in-law.

Leanne’s husband cheated on her for years and she turned a blind eye. When her son cheated on Nichole and she left him, Leanne found the courage to leave also.

When the story opens, it’s been about two years since the women have been on their own. They formed their own support group and gave themselves guidelines for learning how to move on while being mutually supportive.

Neither expected to fall in love again. And they definitely didn’t expect Rocco or Nikolai, two men completely unlike their ex-husbands. But the road to new love isn’t smooth. Language barriers, cultural expectations, and health issues are just a few of their obstacles.

A Girl’s Guide to Moving On is a light and satisfying read. Debbie Macomber fans will not be disappointed.

——-

I received a free e-copy of this book via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

 

Media Monday: HIMYM

I’m usually a year or two or ten behind the times.

I’m just now watching How I Met Your Mother and it’s been off the air for awhile. But thanks to Netflix I can watch an episode on my lunch break. I’m up to the beginning season 6 now.

HIMYMI’m enjoying it a lot.

It’s a “Friends” for the new millennium. Five friends instead of six. In New York City. Hanging out at a bar instead of a coffee house. One couple already formed at the beginning of the series.

I’m not a complete hermit. I know two of the others end up married. And I know Ted does eventually meet and marry the girl of his dreams. I don’t know how it ends though (and please don’t tell me). I know faithful fans either loved or hated the ending, and that it was a bit of a surprise. I know the producers and writers defended the ending, saying they had planned to end it that way from the beginning and they stuck to their vision. I have a suspicion how it ends, but I don’t want to know for sure until I get there.

For those, like me, who are behind in their pop culture viewing, I’ll give a quick synopsis.

In the year 2030, Ted is telling his kids the story of how he met their mother. He goes back to 2005 and recounts many other stories, mostly of the women he dated who turned out not to be “the one.” He’s an architect who becomes a professor. His roommate is Marshall, who gets engaged to Lily in the first episode. Then there’s the friend Barney, a real jerk with a soft heart, played by Neil Patrick Harris who should have won an Emmy for this role. He’s seriously amazing. Then there’s Robin, the woman Ted fell for in season one, but who ends up one of his best friends.

Ted hasn’t met “the one,” yet, but there have been hints. I now know she carries a yellow umbrella, he met her at a wedding, and he used to date her roommate.

Some of the dialogue is very adult. Enough that I’m shocked they got away with it on primetime.

Overall, it’s a funny and fun show that I’m enjoying a lot. Occasionally, I’ll even stretch my lunch break and watch two episodes.

What are you currently catching up that you missed in the past?

Media Monday: Spectre

While everyone is obsessed with Star Wars just now, we did get to see the latest installment in the James Bond canon and we really enjoyed it.

I especially like Daniel Craig’s take on the spy. Craig’s Bond has some depth and hidden emotions and even a past. I loved Pierce Brosnan’s Bond too, the cool wink-and-a-smile sex appeal, but the double entendres were just a bit much for me.

spectreIn Spectre, Bond’s past catches up to him with a vengeance. Christoph Weitz is the bad guy in this iteration.

There’s a new M. Moneypenny and Q have bigger parts of the story.

Someone is manipulating Bond to take an uncomfortable walk down memory lane. It’s a walk he’d rather skip. But he also has a message from the former M that he can’t ignore, asking him to take care of one last thing for her.

It’s a new world of spying and the enemy is sometimes nebulous. Sometimes it’s ourselves. Spectre explores that concept.

The issues Spectre raises have become even more critical in the last few weeks, in multiple incidents around the world.

Thought provoking and a darn good story. Tough combo to beat.

We really enjoyed it and we recommend it!

 

Woe! It’s Wednesday: Waiting and waiting and wait…

This year’s holiday season is full of firsts.

We have a grandson due any minute as I write this (Sunday). He’ll likely make his appearance today, so by the time you read this, he’ll already be three days old. But yesterday was going to be his birthday, and we thought Friday might be it, and we thought … well, you get the idea.

So we have our first grandson, our first December grandchild, our first Christmas while Dave’s been working again, so we have a Christmas break like teachers and students. He’s also been remodeling our bathroom. But each day, each week, other urgent things take his attention. He’s looking forward to this break to finish that project.

Being on baby alert means making all plans with a big question mark. It means my gifts should be wrapped by now (they aren’t) and all my baking should be done (it isn’t).

But who cares?? There’s a new baby coming to town!

Book Talk Tuesday: The Girl On The Train

This one has been on best-seller lists for a while now and people have raved about it. I’m always behind on my TBR stacks so when it comes to bestsellers, I make a mental note but rarely seek them out.

The_Girl_On_The_Train_(US_cover_2015)A writer friend and I were recently discussing books and she recommended this one, so I reserved it at the library. Our discussion centered on how to make a basically unlikeable protagonist into a sympathetic character, someone the reader will root for. LoraLee mentioned THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN.

It’s told through the points of view of three women. We meet two of them through the point of view of the main protagonist, so we feel like we know them a little before we’re inside their heads. This worked really well for me. I liked the reminder that what we observe from the outside and what we think we know about someone, can all be false.

It’s part suspense, part murder mystery, part noir. There’s an alcoholic, blackouts, vomit, murder, blood, lies, and deception.

The other factor LoraLee and I discussed was books that keep you guessing. Books that the author has done an outstanding job giving clues but still the reader (or viewer–remember The Sixth Sense?) ends up surprised.

I had an inkling of the solution of this one, but I wasn’t certain at all until about the time the protagonist realized the truth.

It’s tough to review something like this book without giving away too much, so I’ve stayed vague.

I will say I liked this one a lot and I highly recommend it!

 

Media Monday: Christmas movies

I have two movies I must watch every Christmas season.

For several years now, while I’m wrapping, I watch Love Actually.

laThis is a 2003 movie, and IMHO, one of Richard Curtis’s best. There are several story threads that come together in the end. Which is one of my favorite plot devices and is probably why I love Liane Moriarty’s books so much.

It’s definitely not appropriate for family viewing, but I “get” it, and its themes of love and family and Christmas move me every year. I particularly love the ending song and montage. Because truly, God only knows what (and who), I’d be without my loved ones.

My other annual visit is to The Holiday with Kate Winslett and Jack Black in Los Angeles and Cameron Diaz and Jude Law in England. I’m not a huge Jude Law fan, but even I have to admit I see his appeal in this movie.

tHI watch this one late at night or on a cold and rainy Sunday afternoon with the house all dark and only candles and the lights on the tree for illumination.

I love the contrasting views of the holiday from the two different locales. I love the message (hmmm, strangely similar to Love Actually’s…) about family and love and commitment.

And it’s now the 21st and I’ve watched neither one yet this year. I guess you could say I’m behind, but I prefer to think of it as unrushed. I’ll get these two watched in the next few weeks and if it’s after New Year’s, that’s okay.

What are some of your holiday must-watches?

Woe! It’s Wednesday

This post is about why I’ve been not blogging for the last month.

I think both of my blog readers are also Facebook friends, so this won’t be news to anyone, I don’t think.

But we’ve had an awful November. In fact, with one or two exceptions, the whole last two years have been awful. We’ve gone through an arrest, the judicial process, and health issues.

Just when you think things may be looking up, you’re hit again.

I read a quote from St. Theresa of Avila recently: “Dear Lord, if this is how You treat Your friends, it is no wonder You have so few!”

Preach it, Sister Theresa. I’m right there with you.

For the most part I haven’t really questioned God or railed at him. Until this last blow.

LauraOur beautiful, funny, fun, witty, amazing niece Laura Padgett Brickey lost her fight with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma on November 10th.

She was sick for just over a year, diagnosed just under a year before she died.

I’m usually more like Job who came to realize that if we accept God’s blessings, we must also accept it when things not-so-good happen.

But this time He went too far. I’m still angry. I know I’ll eventually get over it (and myself) but for now I’m letting myself be angry, sad, in denial, or whatever I need to feel to get through this time.

Laura was two months younger than my oldest and they were the best of friends all their lives. We saw Laura in the hospital the day she was born and she was the most beautiful baby I’d ever seen (next to my own, of course), and I fell completely in love with her and that never changed.

“She lights up the room whenever she walks in,” is a cliche’ but it’s true about Laura. She always had a joke or an observation to share. She was tall, blonde, and hysterically funny, an unbeatable combination.

Laura was married to DJ for ten years and they have a three-year-old. She left devastated friends and family and broken hearts when she left us. I’ve shared a lot of memories on Facebook so I’ll only add one more here. Her dad reminded me of this one at her memorial service. When she was a year old, her family moved from Madera to Clovis, at the time a suburb of Fresno. It’s now more like an extension of the bigger city with brown street signs instead of green. A freeway was built to connect the two cities and to help commuters from Clovis to downtown Fresno. It was an expansion of a rural route. Laura decided her little hometown could never have a freeway and refused to even acknowledge it, much less drive on it. To my knowledge, she never did drive on it and never willingly rode in a car on it. The freeway opened when she was a young adult and when she was a passenger going on the overpass over the freeway, she would avert her gaze so she didn’t have to see it.

Laura was a peacemaker. She couldn’t stand to see people she loved at odds with each other. She didn’t always make things better, but she tried and her heart was in the right place. I think now that God gave her that gift so He could take her and she’d know she’d done everything humanly possible to bring reconciliation to all her relationships.

I miss her as much today as I did the day she died. I pray often for her husband, daughter, parents and siblings. And when I join her, I’m going to have a serious talk with God about why He thought this was a “good” idea. I’ve come to the realization that Romans 8:28 isn’t really about what I think is “good.” What is good for me is what makes me more into the image of Christ. So yes, all things work together for “good,” in that even the bad stuff makes me more patient, kind, humble, generous, faithful, i.e. more like Christ. But so far, this loss has just made me angry, hurt, and hurting.

I do trust that someday I might know why. I definitely trust that I will see Laura again and get to spend eternity with her and Jesus. In fact, she better be there to welcome me or I’ll be highly upset.

In the meantime, Laura’s family and mine appreciate so the prayers and encouragement we’ve received.

Book Talk Tuesday: AS YOU WISH

AS YOU WISH: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride is wonderful and a must read/listen for any Princess Bride fan.

This was a recommendation from Darling Oldest Daughter and she said it must be listened to, not read. She was right (as usual, I’m sure she would say).

AYWThe book is written by Cary Elwes (Westley) and Joe Layden. The foreward is by Rob Reiner. Several cast and crew members also contributed to the book. What makes the audio version so special is that Cary Elwes reads it and many of the other actors, producers, and others involved in the making of the movie read their contributions also.

The book starts a little slowly with lots of background info that is a necessary foundation to the rest of the book.

I loved hearing about the sword training Cary and Mandy Patinkin did all for a three minute scene. But it’s so worth it. They really do come across on screen as true swordplay masters.

There’s lots of stories about Andre’ the Giant and his life. His size was the result of a medical condition and he knew it would shorten life. There’s a great story about how the Irish playwright Samuel Beckett drove Andre’ to school.

This book is written for the fans. Cary’s affection for the movie and the experience he had making it is quite clear. We had to watch the movie again after listening to the book.

As much as I love the movie, I can’t call myself a true Princessophile because I haven’t read the novel the book is based on. That small detail will be taken care of soon though. I just one-clicked and bought the book. It’ll be here soon. I usually read books before seeing the movie adaptation. I’ll be interested to see how the opposite process works for me this time.

If you enjoy The Princess Bride, you have to read/listen to this book. You can thank me later (and you will.)

Media Monday

I know I’ve been remiss in posting recently. More about that on Wednesday, I hope.

For now, it’s Media Monday and I’m here to talk about Mockingjay.

MJI saw the final movie in the Hunger Games series a couple of weeks ago.

I read the books and have talked about them before. They do not deserve the summary dismissal I’ve heard from some people. They are not about children killing children (although, yes, that is a part of the story). They are not violent and dark (although, yes, there is violence and the scenes in District 12 are depressing).

They are about what happens when someone takes complete control of a country and/or society and culture.

There’s a love triangle at the heart of the books and I really didn’t see how the author was going to resolve it in a satisfying manner. The problem with love triangles is that one of the two vying for the third, must be a stinker. The reader/viewer needs a clear good guy and bad guy so they know who to root for.

IMHO, Sweet Home Alabama, while a fun movie, was fundamentally flawed because both the guys were great (although one of them had a witchy mother). I didn’t know who was worthy of the heroine because neither really had a flaw.

Another Reese Witherspoon movie that I felt had the same problem was This Means War. Two buddies are competing for her. They’re also skilled in espionage and spying. And of course they’re both good looking and charming. In this case, though, I knew who to root for. One of them had an ex-wife and son, so the only way that movie could end happily was for the family to be reunited and for Reese’s character to end up with the other spy.

Back to Mockingjay: I don’t want to give away the ending just in case someone out there hasn’t yet read the books and/or seen the movies.

Suzanne Collins solved the problem brilliantly, I think. One character became even more of himself and in doing alienated himself from Katniss. She sawhim more clearly and realized who was her real love.

The bad guys are defeated, although not without a terrible cost, and life in District 12 is once again worth living.

I loved the books. The movies did them justice. Mockingjay is a satisfying conclusion to the series. Two thumbs up from me. ;-)