Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Princess Diarist

I have always LOVED Star Wars. I remember watching it eagerly as a child...and re-watching it time after time as I got older. Then when my kids were little the prequels came out, and I eagerly watched those. I brought my son to see The Phantom Menace on opening night. Neither of us minded Jar Jar Binks. I mean, don't get me wrong...I'm not a Star Wars Freak. I don't have collectibles around the house (well, I did buy my son that Darth Vader pancake flipper once). But I have stood in below zero temperatures while intoxicated after a Christmas party to get into the new Star Wars, Episode 7 on opening night. It was a memorable moment with my children (please remember they aren't little...). Needless to say, I am also a fan of Carrie Fisher.

I have read a few of Carrie Fisher's books before, and have always enjoyed them. I think she's funny, sassy and more than a little smart assy. Yes, she's crazy...but she's the first person to tell you that. And she doesn't appear to really give a crap what anyone thinks about her. Plus she feels honest to me. I mean, you read some people's memoirs and they seem a little contrived and read false to me. But not Carrie.

This memoir is really all about her 3 month affair with Harrison Ford while filming the first Star Wars film in England. There is a little bit about her early life, and what she was doing before filming started. And there is a little bit about afterwards, and the fame and interviews that followed. But for the most part this book is all "Carrison".

I like Harrison Ford. I've always thought he was pretty good looking, and I was definitely a fan of Han Solo back in the day. But then he's always come off as pretty much playing himself in movies. The sly and suave sarcastic asshole full of one-liners. But then I am a lover of assholes really...the more sarcastic the better (which explains a lot about my taste in men).  This memoir doesn't do him any favors, and definitely didn't change my opinion of him.

Carrie Fisher was 19 years old when she started filming Star Wars. She had really only had one boyfriend beforehand, and was very inexperienced with men. She had more experience kissing gay guys she met through her mom than anything else. So when she meets Han Solo, I mean Harrison, a 30+ year old married man with two kids, she's a bit...not star struck exactly, but in awe of this quiet and cranky charismatic man. She clearly has low self-esteem, and doesn't think very highly of herself. So she's shocked when he suddenly starts kissing her in the back seat of a car...and even more shocked when it progresses to more than that.
Since I have read a few of Carrie Fisher's other books, her mental state makes sense to me. And I also know how things like this happen. She includes in the book pages from the journals she kept at the time, and those were honestly my favorite parts. The beginning of the book has a lot of odd filler, and the end has the same. But those journal pages intrigued me. There is a lot of poetry...a lot of mixed feelings of sleeping with a married man who doesn't talk to her. It definitely appears that he was there for one thing and one thing only, and her journals read like a confused young person with her head in the clouds.

I liked the book, although I think I'm giving it 3 stars. A lot of reviews complained about the first chapter filled with the events of 1976. I didn't mind that. But there was a lot of rambling filler in the pages preceding and following the journal entries. I couldn't quite understand why she included stories people tell her when asking for autographs. I think I know what she was going for...explaining how odd fame was, and shilling an autograph for cash from people who think they know you because they love the character you played decades before. But it fell short for me. The core of the story was good though. And it was a period she hadn't covered in previous memoirs. But I think it would've made a great couple chapters in a bigger book...or a news/blog/magazine article. There just wasn't enough to make the small book incredibly compelling.

But I still love Carrie Fisher. I will still read her tweets...and her books. I will watch her "comedy" specials. And I can't wait to see her on the big screen again. I cheered when I found out she was returning to the Star Wars movies!! So if you are a fan, like I am, you will probably enjoy this. But maybe check it out from the library...or listen to the audiobook, which is narrated by her and her daughter. I think listening to it with their voices would probably be incredibly enjoyable.

So, do you like Star Wars? Do you like Carrie Fisher? Did you like Han Solo or Luke Skywalker?? Let me know in the comments, or over on my Facebook page.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Bookish Goodies Vol. 3

The Lord of the Rings Edition!

*this post uses affiliate links, for more info visit my review policy tab

Okay folks, this Bookish Goodies guide is going to show off my nerdier side. My family are HUGE fans of The Lord of the Rings...and basically anything by J.R.R. Tolkien. My son requested I do a few Lord of the Rings posts, as he and his sister are currently going through a LOTR "phase" again. This just means that my television is playing a nonstop loop of commentary, special features and movies at the moment. So, with my current gift giving ideas in mind, I thought I'd share a few of my favorite Lord of the Rings items found on Etsy!

Engraved Door Hanger 
I love the idea of this door hanger from AllyBoosCreations for $18.95. This is an easy gift in my opinion, one that any LOTR fan would enjoy...and friendly to your pocket book! I have seen a few others that were a little more complicated, but cost a whole lot more. This would look great with a "No Admittance Except on Party Business" Doormat.

Leather Passport Cover
I absolutely adore this passport cover from CurtisMatsko for $24+. It is the perfect reminder to travel, travel and travel some more. This is a great unisex gift for the world traveler in your family, and the quote is one of my favorites.

Lord of the Rings Posters
I have seen many posters and art prints dedicated to LOTR, but I think this is one from HarknettPrints for  $10.24+ is my favorite set. These would look awesome in a media room and they don't look too "movie poster" like. Framed I think they would actually look pretty classy!

Lord of the Rings Mug
I resisted the urge to choose the coffee mug saying "Was your ass forged by Sauron because it sure looks precious" and instead decided to go a bit classier with this one from ArtsPrint for $10.32+. I think this is a beautiful coffee mug, and it would look amazing sitting on your desk at work. A way of showing your LOTR allegiance without looking too low brow.

Lord of the Rings 2017 Calendar
My son is a HUGE fan of maps, and this calendar from QuantumPrints for $8.96+ merges the need for a calendar with the art of a Middle Earth map. The art work is just amazing.

Lord of the Rings Coaster Set
There are coasters, and then there are miniature pieces of art in coaster form. This set from JamestheFish for $20 is definitely Art. From the Tree of Gondor to the inscription on the One Ring, these are almost too pretty to place drinks on!

Lord of the Rings Art Print
I have what can best be described as a "thing" for art printed on the pages of books and sheet music. This piece from AmourPrints for $10 merges the music from Howard Shore's Concerning Hobbits with beautiful Rivendell artwork. I think it's just gorgeous.

Lord of the Rings Phone Case
This phone case from KayPopArt for $30.36 is a conversation piece. If I could live in any area of Middle Earth it would be Hobbiton (these are the sort of conversations I have with my kids at home). I would greatly enjoy a hobbit hole! The case is adorned with book pages and beautiful art, and what better way to show your personality than an incredibly cool phone case!

Lord of the Rings Watercolor Print
This is my other favorite style of art found on Etsy. From GenefyPrints for $9.86+ you can get this beautiful art piece of The Fellowship. This brightly colored print would look terrific in a kids room or an office. (I think it would look great perched on a book case filled with Tolkien books and Funko Pop dolls personally).

Lord of the Rings T-Shirt
I have already bought my son a few LOTR t-shirts, and this one from CoryFreemanDesign for $18+ would make a terrific addition to his collection. I think he has one with the Tree of Gondor on it, and another Prancing Pony beer shirt I believe. The artwork on this Entmoot Maple Mead shirt is incredible.

And one extra item just for the mommies and daddies!!

Lord of the Rings Bib
This baby bib from KayNoel for $7 is a must have for little Tolkien fans. Mommies and Daddies...Grandmas and Granpas...this is such a cute bib for your little ones! And what little cutie doesn't love Second Breakfast?

So there you have buying guide of gifts for the Lord of the Rings fan in your life. It was very hard to narrow my list down to 11. If you were to look at my Etsy wishlist you would see tons more! Are you a fan of Tolkien's work? Are you a fan of the movies by Peter Jackson? I'd love to hear your thoughts either in the comments here or over on my Facebook page!

Friday, November 25, 2016

The Wonder

I hope everyone had a fabulous Thanksgiving holiday. I am so thankful for all of the people who have supported me in making this blog, who read me faithfully and enjoy my writing. I am incredibly blessed. This has been a year of change for me, and I'm glad I took the leap and started this...which is something I'd had in the back of my mind for ages but hadn't acted on. Here's to many more books and sassy reviews!

Emma Donoghue's new book The Wonder had been sitting at my house for a while, and I finally got around to reading it over Thanksgiving. I'm not sure why I pick what I do when I do, but for some reason I'd been moving this one farther and farther down the stack...which doesn't really make sense since I enjoyed her previous books Room and Frog Music so much. Once I finally started reading it though I was hooked.

The Wonder tells the story of Anna O'Donnell, an 11 year-old girl living in a small village in Ireland who has become a sensation after appearing to have lived 4 months without food. She believes she is living off manna from heaven. Her local doctor is convinced she is a miracle from God, but others feel she's a scam artist. A committee is formed, and two nurses are hired to watch her non-stop for two weeks to see whether she and her family are being truthful. One is a nun who has worked in nursing throughout her years. The other is a nurse named Lib who was trained by Florence Nightingale during the Crimean War. The story is told through the eyes of Lib.

Lib is a new sort-of nurse in a field just coming into it's own. Ostracized from her fellow nurses in London due to what they consider to be her uppity ways, she jumps at the chance to travel to Ireland for a job she knows nothing about. After learning of her duties, she's convinced she will find the girl out as a fraud within hours and be back in metropolitan London and away from the backwards village she finds herself in post haste. Lib is outspoken and believes in science. She finds the Irish people's overwhelming Catholic devotion and superstitious tendencies (fairies anyone?) to be archaic and odd. And yet she becomes attached to the strange little girl she's hired to watch.

Anna is an odd little girl. Upon meeting her she appears cheerful and healthy, although a tad small for her age. She is a devout Catholic, who prays with fervor and collects religious cards she keeps in her book of Psalms. And yet she has a very curious mind...loving flowers and nature, and the riddles Lib tells her to keep her occupied. She claims to have no need for food. God gives her everything she needs to survive. So is she a fraud, or a miracle??
I found this book to be incredibly interesting, not to mention intellectually stimulating. I think I have read a lot of light and fluffy books recently, and it was great to read something that really got me thinking. Emma Donoghue was inspired by the real tales of "Fasting Girls" who claimed to live without food between the 16th and 20th century. The amount of research that must've gone into this relatively small novel is mind boggling. From the visually inspiring descriptions of the Irish countryside and bogs, to the medicine of that time frame and historical religious observances. It truly pulled me into the story, the country and the time in history.

There will be no spoilers from me, so I'm not going to tell you if Anna is a miracle or a fraud. But I can say that I felt the ending was incredibly satisfying, and I was fully engaged throughout the story. There were a few times I wanted Lib to keep her mouth shut a bit better, and wanted to sit her down and tell her how she might better go about getting others to respond to her counsel. I found it funny when towards the end the Nun who is also watching Anna tells Lib basically what I'd been thinking in my head the entire book!

The supporting characters in the story were all there for a reason. They were fleshed out enough to feel that you knew them. I enjoyed the journalist who comes to cover Anna's story for the papers. The conversations between he and Lib were smart and entertaining, and really added to a story heavy on Lib's thoughts and light on other interactions.

This would be a great book for anyone who likes historical fiction. At 304 pages it's pretty short for the genre, but there's a lot shoved in the small package. I gave it 4 stars on Goodreads, but I really think it's a 4 1/2. It was thoroughly entertaining, and just what I would expect from the multi-faceted Donoghue. I would definitely add it to your to read pile.

Are you a fan of historical fiction? Do you stick to just one time period, or do you like to bounce around to different time periods? I'd love to hear your thoughts, either in the comments here or over on my Facebook page!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

All the Pretty Things...

First off, I am so sorry I have been sporadic in my reviews recently. A month into my husband's most recent "vacation" I am reminded that deployments suck...there isn't really any other way of saying it, and I am blessed to not have little ones at home that I'm trying to put on a happy face for (and kudos to all of you ladies out there raising little ones on your own, under any circumstances because it is hard work). I can't pinpoint the issue, but the general suckiness combined with a bad week at work made for a woman who would rather veg on the couch watching Jessica Jones (David Tennant anyone?!?) while knocking back a few hard ciders than read a book. Call me human...and honest. Please forgive me. I will be busting tush to get back on my M-W-F schedule asap.

So...I finished a book finally, yay!! My insomnia reared it's ugly head and I finished All the Pretty Things by Edie Wadsworth at about 5:30 am after being up for most of the night. We'll see if it clouds my review in any way. Maybe I need to make a sass-o-meter and see if it peaks on the days I haven't slept much. Or a pie-chart. NO, a graph!! Maybe now is a good time to tell you that I get a little weird when I haven't slept. Like...embarrass your kid for singing in line at the store weird. Inappropriate joke weird. And none of this fits the tone of the book I'm reviewing, so I'm not sure why I'm still typing about it.

All the Pretty Things was one of the books I ordered recently that I pulled out for my Book Haul video on Facebook. It was billed as Glass Castle-esque, which is what I'm reading for my Book Club this month and have heard terrific things about. It also has the subtitle of "The Story of a Southern Girl Who Went Through Fire to Find Her Way Home", which I found intriguing. I am fascinated by southern fiction, as a girl whose heart calls Louisiana home. I love the South...and dysfunctional families, so I figured a combination would probably be a win for me.

This memoir is all about Edie and her daddy, whom she loves dearly.

Edie is born into a loving but poor Appalachian family. Her mother had her older brother very young and had to drop out of school...but is working her tail off at multiple jobs to better herself and take care of her babies. Her charismatic father didn't make it past the 8th grade, and is an alcoholic with a love for country music and dancing. In spite of her upbringing, Edie becomes a doctor...but her life is tainted and greatly impacted by her father and her unstable childhood. It isn't until she loses most of her belongings in a fire and really finds God that her life feels right. This memoir covers most everything in between those two events.

Edie very matter-of-factly describes a childhood filled with hunger and instability. She longs to spend more time with her daddy, even if it involves riding in his truck to bars and waiting on him while feeding her little sister chips and RC Cola...until she finally has to pee and goes in to drag her dad out drunk and shirtless to take her back to her Mamaw's house, where she puts him to bed like a good girl. Her early years are filled with fights, trailers burning down, and an extended family of down and outs.

Her teen years are filled with both longing to spend time with her absent father, and being embarrassed he'll actually show up to a school function. She excels in school and athletics, even being crowned Homecoming Queen (which Dad shows up for, in a new clean suit with new false teeth). She is constantly trying to win his attention with accolades, but for the most part fails. She attends college on scholarship, but marries young. With little ones in tow, she finishes her degrees and becomes a doctor...but not before her father passes away from cancer.
I felt this was a very well-written memoir, but it's style lacked some of the emotion necessary to really pack the punch you would expect in a story of childhood abuse and neglect. There was plenty to anger and sadden me, but I felt like the book held me at a distance if that makes sense. I honestly think it was just the author's matter-of-fact writing style. She also glosses over a few events in her life that I felt would've really added to her story, namely her sexual abuse at the hands of a family member and the affair that ended her first marriage. The sexual abuse may have been due to trying to keep her family from being too hurt by the memoir...a confidentiality issue perhaps. But the affair would've really fit into her narrative of trying to please and wanting the affection of men in her life due to the issues with her father...and I felt only mentioning it in passing left a huge chunk of her story out. She goes from being a married young doctor and saying how her marriage wasn't terrific, to going to court for her divorce while lamenting that she can't give up her affair with the guy who she was caught with. I'm wondering if her giant skip over this is due to the fact that she ended up married to the man she was having an affair with? Or was it because of her kids?

This is also a story of a woman finding her faith in God. Edie is the moral compass for her little sister and cousin, whom she is incredibly close to. She is baptized dozens of times but struggles with her faith, being both enchanted by churches and Jesus and ashamed due to her abuse and what she sees as sinful behavior. Edie goes to many different churches throughout her life until a Lutheran Church she attends with her new husband finally feels like home.

On the whole, if you find the despair of poverty-stricken Appalachia interesting, or the story of someone growing up in those conditions striving to better herself and become a doctor, you will probably enjoy this book. It would also make a good pick for those who enjoy stories of people finding their faith through adversity. Plus the author gets bonus points in my book for naming her chapters after song titles that her daddy loved. I think it's a very personal touch that shows how strongly she felt connected to him through their mutual love of country music. I have always joked that if I wrote a memoir each chapter would have to be a song, and the memories that were conjured up by it. This small touch by Edie Wadsworth personalized the story for me in a way that the writing style didn't quite. In the end I gave it a 3.5 stars, rounded up to a 4 on Goodreads.

Are you a fan of memoirs? What, in your opinion, makes one life story more compelling than another? I'd love to hear you thoughts either in the comments here or over on my Facebook page.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Hungry Heart

Have you ever picked up a book that you were convinced you were going to love, and then it took you so long to slog your way through it that you began to wonder whether it was all that you'd hoped it would be? For whatever reason it took me AGES to finish this book! I've been in a bit of a reading slump recently, picking up books...reading a chapter, and then setting it back down again...only to pick up a different book and do the same thing. They are all books that I was truly excited about, but for some reason I have been struggling to really get into any of them.

I doubt Jennifer Weiner would enjoy hearing the word "slog" in my description of reading this book, but I definitely think it's me and not her.

I was so happy to see that she had written a memoir, Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love and Writing, and picked it up at the library shortly after it was released. I started reading it immediately but it fell into my funk pile after the first chapter. Then I picked at it sporadically until I finally told myself to hurry up and finish the damn thing so I could move on to something else. Like I said, this probably won't be her favorite review.

This is a very well-written and full memoir filled with all sorts of interesting tidbits of Jennifer's life...from her childhood struggles with mean girls and weight problems right on up to the present day nuptials I saw pics of on Instagram. Pretty much everything she writes about her sister Molly had me snorting...from her getting her way all the time to the two of them harassing their mother during the first book tour. I enjoyed the sections she wrote about the writing process...from editing and rewriting to finding an agent and publisher. The chapter on notable Tweets was interesting mainly because I follow her on social media, and clearly haven't spent enough time thinking about the ramifications of being a smart-mouthed woman. Her feminist ideals are peppered throughout, and the woman is definitely a smart cookie. The chapter where she describes the miscarriage she went through was one of the most detailed and horrifically saddening things I've read in a long time. It's a good book.
I guess some of my issues initially going into it is that I'd just recently read the anniversary reissue of her book Good In Bed, which is loosely autobiographical so I felt like I'd just read a lot of these same stories, only sold as fiction. Her issues with her father, the weight problems, her mother coming-out later in life and her mother's new girlfriend, the thin younger sister etc. Jennifer's early life is Cannie's early life. Maybe I just needed some space between these two books because I gave Good In Bed 4 stars. I still stand by Jennifer Weiner cracking me up!

I also had some issues with all of the fat jokes and self-deprecation while also trying to sound like a body positive, plus-sized-girls-are-still-people-and-can-do-just-as-good-as-anyone-else poster child. Is she proud of herself and all of her accomplishments while leading a healthy and balanced life as a plus sized gal? Or is she still all self-loathing and anger at the pretty people? I say this as a plus sized gal who does plenty of the self-deprecating b.s. on a regular basis. I just had trouble figuring out what she was trying to impart. I also had no idea that she'd had weight-loss surgery.

So...if you're a fan of Jennifer Weiner and/or her books, you will probably enjoy this memoir. If you're a writer, especially one of women's contemporary fiction, even if it's just in your spare time as a will probably enjoy this book. She spends quite a lot of time talking about how critics don't take female writers seriously enough. How they belittle romance and chick-lit if it's less important than men's literature. Important stuff. I am just on the fence as to whether my trouble reading it stems from it being read at the wrong time...or if it just didn't resonate so well with me??

Therefore I think it's getting 3 stars...for the moment. I may change my mind later...sorry Weiner.

Have you read any of Jennifer Weiner's books? Are they a favorite of yours? Let me know in the comments here or over on my Facebook page.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Stuff That Never Happened

I have decided I have a small literary crush on the author Maddie Dawson (please don't tell my husband). Within the first couple of pages of The Stuff That Never Happened I was confessing my love for her and her heroines on Twitter for all the world to see. There is just something about her smart sassy quirky women that makes me want to hang out with them regularly, just so I can laugh at their sassy take on the world. I want to be Annabelle's Magda...but I'm getting ahead of myself.

First I have to say a little something about nervously reading an author you have decided you like's other books and praying that book you connected with wasn't a one off. I've been a few days without a review because I kept picking up books...reading a chapter...going meh...and then grabbing another one, which makes it very hard to write a review. Nothing was hooking me, pulling me into their story. But one day as I was shelving books I saw this Maddie Dawson copy, just sitting on the end of the shelf waiting for me to notice it. And I LOVED The Survivor's Guide to Family Happiness so I thought...I wonder if I'll like her other stuff? Because sometimes you think an author is going to be an automatic buy for you...everything they publish you are buying on the release date and placing it with honor on the prime real-estate eye-level spot on your bookshelf...and then you get burnt by a few less than stellar stinkers and begin to wonder about your taste in authors. I can now officially say Maddie Dawson is on my automatic buy list.

And it's not that her books are overly complicated tomes of "literature". For the most part I would say they could best be described as contemporary women's club books with relatable stories. But the thing that sets them apart for me is just how smart her humor and dialogue is. I may be about to alienate half of my readers here...but bear with me. It's like comparing the Gilmore Girls to the Secret Life of the American Teenager...both shows with teen characters interacting with their moms. Or comparing Dawson's Creek to 90210...both about groups of teens. One is smart...with smart dialogue...and the other one not so much.

Okay, time to stop dilly-dallying around, insulting people's television viewing, and review the book (Just an fyi, not meant as an insult. I wouldn't know what those shows were like if I hadn't watched them!! LOL).

Annabelle McKay has been married to her husband Grant for 28 years. They live in rural New Hampshire, where Grant works as a Professor and Annabelle illustrates children's books. Their two children are grown and out of the in college and the other in NYC with her first baby on the way. Things are stable and incredibly predictable for her...which equates to a little bit boring. Her husband schedules their Wednesday morning sex sessions for crying out loud.
Anyway, Annabelle is struggling with her new life as an empty-nester, which has got her thinking about an old love and what could've been. Would life be more exciting with Jeremiah, the man she had an affair with when she and Grant first got married? Is Grant ever going to look up from the book he's writing and see her...I mean REALLY SEE her again?? When her daughter has a pregnancy complication and she goes to New York City to help take care of her, she has a lot of time to think about these things. And a chance encounter with Jeremiah at the marketplace complicates things a tad.

I really enjoyed this book. Each chapter alternates between her now, and her in the seventies...which I really loved. You get a glimpse into how Annabelle and Grant got to where they are today. There are family struggles...struggles in finding your way as an adult. Plus a whole lot of insight into how your children may see you totally different from how you see yourself. How having the illusion of the perfect relationship can hamper difficult conversations with your adult children. If they feel you have never struggled, how are they to take your advice when life gets difficult for them??

I know some reviewers didn't like the character Annabelle, but I really did. I apparently don't need my heroines to be perfect people. I am a fan of flaws. I think you can make stupid decisions, but that doesn't make you a bad person. I also enjoyed the character Grant...and getting a little insight into the way he thought about their marriage. His internal struggles in how best to take care of his family and keep them from harm were intriguing. I find some women authors have trouble writing complex male characters, and vice versa. But Grant was not a cliche, which can be a little rare in contemporary women's fiction.

I think this would be a great book club book, just to hear other people's take on morphing familial structures...changing into an empty nest lifestyle, and finding yourself as a woman once you are no longer "raising" your kids. And also there is that whole infidelity thing, and how your mind can inflate past flames into superhuman specimens of manhood that are nothing even close to reality.

So, I'd love to hear if you have any automatic buy authors...ones who consistently satisfy your reading cravings. And whether you're okay with flawed heroines. Let me know either here or over on my Facebook page!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Book to Screen Vol. 1

Book enthusiasts are notorious for disliking adaptations. Usually people who LOVED a book are horribly disappointed when seeing their favorite on the screen...large or small, faithful or not. But as a huge reader, and book blogger, I thought I'd spend a little time discussing what I feel are incredibly good film or television adaptations of literature. Seems like it would be a good regular blog post, seeing as I enjoy watching a good movie or television series almost as much as I like music and books.'s up there. So welcome to...

Book to Screen Vol. 1!!!

For this edition I think we'll discuss the book Room by Emma Donoghue, and the movie by the same name which was released in 2015 and came out on DVD earlier this year.
I read another book by Emma Donoghue, Frog Music, before picking up Room...and really enjoyed it. That one is a historical piece set in 1876 and it kept me thoroughly intrigued and entertained throughout. So when I realized she was the author of the much buzzed about book Room I figured I had to give it a try.

Room was either nominated for or won what feels like every literary prize around, but has very divided reviews. People either hated or loved this book. I thought it was great and gave it a solid 4 stars when I read it in December of 2015. At the library, the reviews I've heard have been mixed. I think I was aware of the movie because I'm a fan of the lead actress...but I didn't watch it until it was out on DVD.

The book tells the story of five year old Jack and his Ma, and is mainly told from the viewpoint and voice of Jack. They live in Room. Jack's friends with an egg-shell Snake. His Ma allows him to watch one hour of television a day so it doesn't turn his brain into mush. Once a day they play a game of shouting, banging pans and flashing lights up towards their skylight. You see, Jack and his Ma are being held captive in a shack by Old Nick. His mother was kidnapped as a teen, and gave birth to Jack in the Room they call home.

The story was heavily influenced by the real stories of Jaycee Dugard and Elisabeth Fritzl...both who were held captive for many years and gave birth to their captor's children while in captivity. But in the end, this is a fictional story.

Quite a few reviews complained about the way Jack spoke in the books, and I think it was rectified for the movie. He would use big words but then phrase them oddly. He knew of some things really well, and watched television enough that they felt he wouldn't speak in such a twisted way. I think it pulled a lot of people out of the story, although it personally wasn't a problem for me.
"When I was four I thought everything in TV was just TV, then I was five and mom unlied about lots of it being pictures of real and Outside being totally real. Now I'm in Outside but it turns out lots of it isn't real at all."
Despite really liking this book and being a book blogger, I felt this was an instance when the movie was better! The acting was superb. I am a big fan of the actress Brie Larson, and she did a fantastic job as Ma, and the boy who played Jack did a great job also.
Plus the movie "fixed" some of the issues people had with the book. The fact that Ma was still breastfeeding a five year old Jack lost some of the ickiness people brought up in reviews, although that part honestly didn't bother me too much. Jack's weird speech patterns weren't as noticeable, etc. I think the father being deeply disturbed by having a grandson that was fathered by his daughter's captor played really well on screen, and it added a different aspect to this boy that you have already connected with.

My only issue with this book happens towards the end, and I won't write about it much in case you haven't read it and are interested in doing so. I just felt that a main character does something that to me doesn't match her personality and what we know of her, which I found frustrating. You think you know a character and then they go and do something you feel is unrealistic! Anyway...

If you have never read Room, I suggest you add it to your pile. If you've never seen the movie, I suggest you pick it up. It is disturbing content done extremely well, and deserving of all the kudos it received.

Let me know what you think in the comments here or over on my Facebook page!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Little Prince Guide

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Every once in awhile I get a very urgent request from one of my children to read or watch something they enjoyed. It's never a "hey mom, when you have a chance maybe you could look at ___". It's always "MOM, YOU HAVE TO WATCH THIS NOW!!!!!!". Always the sense of urgency. So when my daughter told me that I needed to watch the new movie adaptation of The Little Prince that meant I either watch it, or listen to her harass me for weeks on I watched it. And it was so terrific!!

If you're not familiar with The Little Prince, it is originally a small French tome Le Petite Prince, published in 1943. According to Goodreads it's "the most translated book in the French language"....and is billed as being for ages 12 and up...but I think it's a book that can be read by younger and significantly older...and you'll get something different out of it in each reading. I was given it in high school by my English teacher, who thought it held something that I needed to hear. 

It's the story of a boy who leaves his teeny tiny planet to explore the universe, and what he learns along his journey. It holds all sorts of little nuggets of wisdom, and is a tiny enough book I would recommend it be read by EVERYONE. This is a total 5 star for me.

So...Netflix has made the first cartoon adaptation of the book, and it is phenomenal. It tells the story of The Little Girl whose mother is trying to teach her to be a grown up. She moves next door to The Aviator, an eccentric old man who tells her his story of The Little Prince. I truly love these characters...even The Little Girl who isn't a part of the original story. I know some purists didn't enjoy this adaptation, but I was moved by it.

Anyway...because of this injection of new life into an old favorite, I thought I would post a few items I thought were cool that are inspired by the book, just in case any of my readers are fans also. So consider this a Mini Bookish Goodies Guide

The Little Prince DVD
Here is The Little Prince movie on sale for about $23 on Amazon. It is also available for viewing on Netflix, if you have it. It is rated G and is a cute family film with great reviews. My kids both enjoyed it, ages 22 and my niece's girls love it and they are itty-bitty (and incredibly adorable). So a true all ages flick. 

The Little Prince Read-aloud Storybook: Abridged Original Text


This Storybook edition, on Amazon for about $8 lists an age range of 6-9, so it is The Little Prince for littler kiddos. It's not an easy reader, definitely one that mom or dad would have to help really little ones with...but it has terrific illustrations that match the style of the film. 

The Little Prince Fox Stuffed Plush Toy


There are many stuffed animal versions of the Fox from the story, but this one runs about $12 on Amazon. The stuffed fox who comes alive in the movie is one of my absolute favorite characters, just too cute. I told my kids that I want one!

The Little Prince Board Book


For the super little ones in your house there are multiple Board Book's priced between $4-6 on Amazon. Most have the original illustrations, but are still a cute introduction to this story...or for little ones who have enjoyed the film.

The Little Prince and Rose Watercolor Print


From the Etsy shop CocoMilla you can get this beautiful watercolor print of a quote from The Little Prince book for $10 and up, dependent on the size. There are quite a few different art pieces from the book on Etsy, this was just one of my favorites. If you search for The Little Prince Art you can find varying styles and mediums. 

The Little Prince Boa/Hat Keychain


One of the sillier pieces I picked is this snake/hat keychain or cell phone charm on the Papricots Etsy page for $10.  I think this would be a good daily reminder to keep your childhood imagination intact. 

The Little Prince Snake Sticker


Apparently laptop stickers are a "thing"...and I think this one for your Apple laptop is quite hilarious. Another Boa...this one can be found on the Etsy shop Verystick for $5.71 from a shop in Paris! 

Doctor Who and Little Prince Mug


Okay, this crossover mug is just amazing! For the fan of both Doctor Who and The Little Prince we have a mug from VikitoGifts of The Doctor visiting The Little Prince on his planet in the TARDIS. All for the low low price of $12.90

Maybe this wasn't a mini gift guide!

My hope for this post is that some of you who have never read the book might be interested in picking it up. It's a tiny little book. Or you might check out the movie on Netflix. And if you're a fan, or you become one, you might find some of these cute gifts right up your alley. 

OH, and if you watch the film...when it shows The Little Girl's home next to The Aviator's house just would be my husband's idea of perfection and the other mine. Your best guess on which is which!! :)

So, let me know in the comments either here or over on my Facebook page whether you're a fan of The Little Prince or not. And if you're a fan whether you like the film, or whether it wasn't faithful enough to the source material. I'd love to hear about it!