Friday, October 6, 2017

The Petrified Finger by Erin Mindes

I feel so fancy! A friend of mine is a budding author and I KNOW HER!! Yesterday I read her new short story, The Petrified Finger by Erin Mindes, which you can get for FREE for the next two days here!

A baker in a small village sees a scary old woman enter the town square. She reminds him of the legend of the witch that he and his friends used to scare each other when they were children. Something about the woman makes him worry for the safety of his own daughter and all the other village children.

This was a fun spooky story, perfect for  pre-Halloween festivities. Appropriate for children and fun for all ages, I recommend this short story. And I can't wait to read what Mindes has next!

What I've Seen- The Mountain Between Us

It is opening day for The Mountain Between Us starring Kate Winslet and Idris Elba. I read the book just last month and I was really, really looking forward to the movie. I could tell from the trailer that a few things had been changed, but the book wasn't perfect so I was willing to accept a few things that might help the story along. Well, turns out it was more than a few things that were changed.

The only thing they didn't change was the title!!!

I sat through the first half of the movie saying, "Wait, what?" After that, I just gave up. How can any screenwriter take one story and remove so much of the source material? So much of what gave the book heart was surgically excised; things that could have easily been left and things that were vital to the integrity of the characters.

Okay, so what if I were a movie-goer who hadn't read the book? Would I have been able to enjoy it then? No. Just no. One complaint I had about the book was the implausibility of some of the events and the survivability of the circumstances. The movie blew that completely out of the water.

I said the word 

so many times that I think I wore it out.

Seriously, nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. I know that people can survive some difficult things, but this? Nope.

I found this movie completely frustrating. This is a harsh statement, but I think this may be the WORST book-to-film adaptation that I have ever seen. It just wasn't at all the book and it wasn't a good movie on its own.

On the upside, I did get to eat Kettle Corn, so at least there's that.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

What I've Heard- The Subtle Knife

The second book in Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series is The Subtle Knife and I've just today finished listening to the audio version. Oh, how I love an audio book with a full cast. This book is exciting and emotional. I found myself coming up with excuses to listen to it as often as I could do. I hope you'll give these books a listen and see how wonderful they are for yourself.

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

In B.A. Paris' Behind Closed Doors, Grace Angel has the perfect marriage. She is beautiful and quite adept at throwing the most wonderful dinner parties. Her husband, Jack, is charming and a very successful lawyer. Everyone who knows Jack and Grace are jealous of them and their seemingly perfect life. What they don't know is that things aren't quite perfect. As a matter of fact, they are perfectly horrific. It is not much of a spoiler to say that Jack isn't at all what he seems to be, but that is as far as I'm willing to go.

I don't read a lot of mystery or suspense, but to me this was quite the page-turner. Others whom I know that have read this said they found it predictable and forced, but I was too busy with the page I was on to think about what I expected to happen in the next chapter. I thought this book was scary and brutal, but in a way that wasn't more than I could handle. If you are looking for something diverting and exciting, this is a great book for you. It did give me one bad dream, but I think that is just because my brain was so obsessed with finding out what would happen in the end. It might even leave you questioning what you really know about the people you think you know.

Monday, September 25, 2017

What I've Heard- The Golden Compass

Five years ago, I read The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman and I was fascinated with the fantastically imaginative story. I just recently finished listening to the audio version for the second time and it is just fabulous. Performed by a full cast, each character in this large ensemble has a very distinct voice. This is the first audiobook I've heard that employs a full cast as opposed to a single or double narrator and I really liked it. This is a wonderful book and the audiobook is outstanding. Don't pass this up.

The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall

The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall follows the prominent Woodbury family through a most trying year. George Woodbury, a beloved teacher and a local hero following his intervention in a school shooting attempt, has been accused of something truly terrible. His wife, Joan, a well-liked trauma nurse, believes him when he says he is being set up. Their daughter, Sadie, top of the class at her exclusive private school, believes he must be innocent but can't bring herself to actually visit him in jail. Their son, Andrew, a lawyer living in New York City, refuses to even consider the possibility of guilt. Over the course of the year, this family is torn in far too many directions and the reader gets pulled along for the ride.

As a spectator of a fictional family involved in a fictional nightmare, this was very entertaining. I can't imagine how horrific it would be for anyone in this actual situation. Think of the person you trust most in the world, the person you think you know the best and who knows you best. What if that person were not at all who you thought? What if it only took an accusation to make you question how well you know that person? Is it betrayal to consider the possibility? When Joan is asked if she saw any hint of anything, this is her response:

"I would have sooner guessed that he had another whole family in another state, or an online gambling addiction, or a sudden religious conversion. There were no signs."

This book also explores what it is like to live in a tight-knit community when something awful happens. Do the people who have always been your friends remain so? What about the accused's family? How will people treat them? I liked how the author showed the way people's feelings of a person accused of a crime can very quickly bleed into their feelings of the people who surround the accused.

This book was interesting and it kept me involved with the story. I did think it was odd that the whole thing seemed to wrap up quite quickly. I never like when the climax waits until the last few pages, with only a very small explanation. Overall, I liked this book, more at the beginning than toward the end, but still I liked it.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Something Like Happy by Eva Woods

When Eva Woods started seeing her social media feeds flooded with "100 Days of Happiness" posts, she was intrigued. She claims she is not a naturally positive person, but the concept made her curious about our ability to make ourselves happy. This curiosity led her to write Something Like Happy in which we meet Annie and Polly. Annie has had a difficult couple of years and Polly is about to have three very hard months. Polly has been diagnosed with an aggressive and incurable brain tumor. When she stumbles upon Annie, to her a stranger, struggling to get paperwork for her ailing mother, Polly ropes her into a happiness experiment. Annie has no intention of falling in with this crazy person dressed in every color of the rainbow, and yet before long she finds herself unable to say no. Polly's determination leaves no one able to refuse her and her "cancer card".

"I want to show it's possible to be happy and enjoy life, even if things seem awful. Did you know that , after a few years, lottery winners go back to the exact same levels of happiness as before they won? And people in serious accidents do, too, once they've adjusted to their changed lives? Happiness is a state of mind, Annie."

Annie has her own problems and Polly is quick to acknowledge that Annie has every right to be unhappy, she just doesn't want her to be stuck that way forever. Imagine finding exactly the friend you need exactly when you need her. That is what happens to both of these characters. They do wonderful, silly, even important things in the short time they have together. I loved this quote:

"You know, I wish I'd eaten cake every day of my life. All those salads and goji berries I choked down, and I'm going to die at thirty-five, anyway. What a waste, Annie. I swear those uneaten cakes are going to haunt me. From now on, at least two cakes a day."

I think that sounds like decent advice. I'm adding it to my list right now. Okay, not really. One of the things I loved about this book was that Polly recognizes that "living each day as if it were your last" is completely unrealistic and actually quite irresponsible. Bills must be paid, the house must be cleaned. Of course we would never spend our last day doing those things, but we don't have to waste our time on things that don't matter, either.

"I just get so angry, you see, watching people...waste the time they have, when I don't have any."

It is so easy to fall into the trap of thinking we have thousands upon thousands of days ahead of us. Someday we'll learn French; someday we'll travel; someday we'll reconcile with that friend or family member. Someday all our somedays will run out and all we will have left is a pile of what ifs. 

"I think we should all live as if we are dying, too- because we are, make no mistake. We should live as if we're dying at some unspecified but possibly quite soon time."

I really liked this book. I grew attached to the characters and the storyline, but it also made me think about the life I want to live. I want to be able to look back and say I did something with my life and no one is going to be impressed with all the hours I spent scrolling through Facebook or pinning projects on Pinterest that I never actually started, and the least impressed of all will be me. Polly worked hard to use her last few months to make the world a better place. That's what I want to do, too, even if it is only a tiny corner of the world.