Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Showin' My Books - April

Hey y'all, it's been a while. Time to link up and talk about books I've read lately AND find more books to add to my list.


Life According to Steph


The Knockoff by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza (audio) - Although this is predictable and I had a hard time believing that the main character was THAT clueless about technology, it was still a fun book and I really enjoyed it.


Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty (ebook) - There are other Moriarty books I like better, and this one took forEVer to reveal what happened "the day of the barbecue," but ultimately once I got to the end I found the characters staying with me.


Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan (audio) - I was drawn to this after listening to a podcast about audiobooks. I don't know if I would have liked this had I read it in a traditional way, but I loved the reader and her different voices. There are two more and I don't know that I'll read them, but I liked this one.


Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough (audio) - This book starts out like it might be a romance of sorts, shifts to a psychological thriller and then takes a turn that is crazy! I think people will either love the twist or hate it, but I loved it.


The Forgotten Girls by Alexa Steele (ebook) - Don't be fooled by my 3 star rating on Goodreads; I liked this book but it did take me a while to finish it. Still, it was a good mystery that I didn't figure out before the reveal and I liked the female detective. There's a second book and I'll probably read it.


Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Work in the White House by Alyssa Mastromonaco (audio, read by the author) - Mastromonaco started working for Obama when he was a US Senator and eventually worked her way to being Deputy Chief of Staff. It's a quick, easy read (even on audio) and I enjoyed getting some behind-the-scenes info. It was kind of annoying that she jumped around chronologically and she used a lot of nicknames that the audiobook didn't allow me to go back and figure out who the real people were, but for a non-fiction book, I liked it.


DID NOT FINISH

My Favorite Husband by Pam McCutcheon - When I get my BookBub emails I often download some fluffy chick lit since it's free (or maybe 99 cents). That's how I got this one, but I just couldn't. It was too ridiculous.



What are you reading?



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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Oscar Hangover

Remember that time I said I'd post my Oscar predictions? Yeah, that never happened and by now hardly anyone cares about the Oscars anymore but I'm going to post about them anyway.


ANIMATED SHORTS

I only saw 3 of the 5 nominees, but my favorite was Piper (the winner) about a baby sandpiper. It's adorable and fun, which I needed because I watched these immediately following...


DOCUMENTARY SHORTS

Good God, these were devastating, but so worth it. I recommend watching all of them.

  • Joe's Violin - a 91-year-old Holocaust survivor donates his violin to a New York City instrument drive and forms a lovely friendship with the 12-year-old girl who ends up playing it.
  • Extremis - deals with end-of-life decisions by focusing primarily on two families and their doctors.
  • 4.1 Miles - a Greek coast guard captain pulls desperate refugees crossing from Turkey.
  • Watani: My Homeland - follows a family living in Aleppo who migrate to Germany after the father is taken by ISIS. Watching the kids acclimate to their new surroundings is fascinating.
  • The White Helmets - are volunteer rescue workers in Syria who, after bombings, rush to save people trapped in the rubble. This group has saved more than 80,000 people.
I was pretty sure The White Helmets would win (and it did) but my heart was with Joe's Violin.


LIVE ACTION SHORTS


These were all foreign with subtitles. I enjoyed all of them. My favorite was Sing, which takes place in a Hungarian elementary school in which a new girl joins the choir but is then told to just mouth the words because the director wants only to win a national prize. The students eventually perform an act of rebellion that I didn't see coming, and it's brilliant.

I thought, however, that the winner would be Ennemis Interieurs, an interrogation between a French official and an Algerian man who has lived in France his whole life and finally wants to become a citizen. I should have gone with my heart on this one because Sing was the winner.


AND THE REST

Supporting Actor
I was certain Mahershala Ali would win, but if Dev Patel had pulled off the upset I wouldn't have minded.

Supporting Actress
All of these actresses were superb, but this was Viola's time and damn, can that woman give an acceptance speech.

Lead Actor
I voted for Denzel but Casey Affleck's performance was definitely worthy. I struggle with the off-camera controversy surrounding Affleck's win. I mean, I'm probably not going to have a beer with the guy, but he acted his face off in Manchester.

Lead Actress
Viola Davis easily could have been in this category. I'm sad that Taraji P. Henson was not nominated, and I absolutely think that Amy Adams should have been nominated for Arrival, but Emma Stone's movie was the only one in this group that I saw, so I can't really say who should have been left off the list.

In our Oscar pool, I chose Moonlight for both Director and Best Picture, but I really thought that director might go to Moonlight and picture would go to La La Land. It went the other way, but I'm thrilled for Moonlight. It's such an amazing story and apparently it was made in 4 days and cost about $12. (Yes, I'm exaggerating.)

Having said that, and having seen all nine Best Picture nominees, and recognizing that giving an award called Best Picture is pretty ridiculous, here's how I would personally rank them if someone kidnapped my cats and the ransom was my list:

Moonlight
Lion
Hidden Figures
Fences
Arrival
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water (I'm honestly not sure why this was nominated, but Jeff Bridges was great)


For what it's worth, I predicted 14 of the 24 awards correctly (and won the pool at our party).


As for the show itself, other than being too long as always, I really enjoyed it. I thought Jimmy Kimmel did a great job. The Matt Damon stuff was hilarious ("2-time Academy Award winner Ben Affleck and guest"), and the winners gave some fantastic speeches, mostly without notes. Fashion-wise, I thought there were very few clunkers (but Dakota Johnson, WTF?).

After watching the show to the end, we rewound it to the start of Best Picture. How freaking crazy was that?! Something tells me that Pricewaterhouse Coopers might lose the Oscars gig.





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Friday, February 17, 2017

Friday Six Pack - 2017 Vol. 1

Not a link-up, but I'm taking a page from Jana today with six things that are currently going on in my world.

This week's six pack is brought to you by (of course) Columbus Brewing Company's SFW. We just started bottling this farmhouse ale. It's lighter than a lot of our beers and I'm a big fan. ** Just in case you don't know, I work for CBC.






Watching
Oscar nominated movies. So far I've seen 8 of the 9 Best Picture nominees (#9 is on deck for tonight). I've also seen all of the nominated shorts - documentary, live action, and animated (OK, I've actually only seen 3 1/2 of the animated shorts because of a scheduling SNAFU on my part). Look for a review and predictions post next week.



Reading
On Kindle - The Forgotten Girls by Alexa Steele, a murder mystery that I'm enjoying but I need to step it up because I've only been reading this one in small snippets.

On Audible - Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan. I'm not sure if I would like this if I were reading it traditionally, but I'm liking the audio version a lot.



Drinking
Smoothies and juices from Zest Juice Co., a local company that I just started visiting. Today's purchase (below) a Blue Almond smoothie and a bottle of Crave juice (carrot, grapefruit, pineapple, turmeric and ginger). Other favorites include the Pistachio Oatmeal Cookie smoothie and Habanero Heat juice.






Obsessing
My latest KEEP purchases. I'm addicted to KEEP Collective's bracelets. My friend Tiffany is a consultant and decided last week to design a "nevertheless, she persisted" bracelet and she's donating some of her commission to the ACLU. Because I have a few items from KEEP, I've been mixing it up. If you're interested, let me know.










Hoping
For some good college news for our nephew James. For those who don't know, James has been living with us since July. He's a senior in high school and we're in the midst of college visits and FAFSA and the Common App and lions and tigers and bears, oh my! We were late to the party with college stuff but hopefully he'll still be able to get some scholarships and whatnot. And seriously, how can they resist this face?






Listening
Other than audiobooks, I'm also constantly on the lookout for a new episode of the NPR Politics Podcast. I started listening during the campaign last year. Of course now they have to preface every episode with "we recorded this at 2:00 pm on Thursday. Things may have changed since then." And they usually have.


Enjoy the weekend! Here in Columbus, we're expecting 60 degree weather. In February.



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