Monthly Archives: December 2014

Best New Books Of 2014

I’ve read many books over the past 12 months. Some were good, some were merely decent and some were a waste of time.  In this last post of 2014, I’m going to list the top five new (to me) books of 2014.

5. Thank You For Firing Me– No one is immune to the pain of loosing their job. This book is the perfect balm to the emotional and professional wounds that come with being fired.

4. Bad Feminist– No one is perfect. Even those of us who claim Feminism as our own still cling, in some small way, the double standard that still exists in the world.

3. Downtrodden Abbey– This very funny spoof of a television program that in five short years, has taken on a life of it’s own.

2. Tie- Enchanted & Ash– Fairy tales with a twist that kept me hooked to the very end.

1. Jane Austen’s First Love–  What was Jane Austen like as a teenager?

Happy New Years and Happy reading into 2015 and beyond.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Downton Abbey, Feminism, Jane Austen

January 1, 2015 – Happy new year!

Happy New Year!

Motivating Giraffe

newyear

Here’s to making it a good one.

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The Best Movies Of 2014

2014 has been a very interesting movie going year for me. While I did not see any movies that would substantiate a worst movies of 2014 list, there have been more than a few that are vying for best movie of 2014.

Honorable Mentions

5. Noah-While this movie tried, it lived up to the title of biblical disaster for several reasons.

4. Get On Up– A biopic is always more interesting when the audience gets to know the whole person, warts and all.  However, that doesn’t mean there can’t be a few scenes that can be saved for the extra’s portion of the DVD.

3. Monuments Men– I like this untold World War II stories, but there was something lacking.

2. Wish I Was Here– A realistic view of adulthood that felt a little too real.

1. Begin Again– Keira Knightley, breaking from her previous BPD (British Period Drama) roles and Mark Ruffalo as a disgraced music exec.

And now the fun begins. (Drum roll please) The top 5 movies of 2014 are….

5. Tie between Philomena and Maleficent– Two women who must go on a journey to re-discover their pasts and who they are.

4. Tie Between Captain America: The Winter Soldier and X-Men: Days Of Future Past– Two excellent comic book movies which could easily stand on their own, but fit in perfectly with the rest of the genre.

3. Belle– A BPD with a woman of color and an engaging true story.

2. The Theory Of Everything– The life story of Stephen Hawking.

1. Ida– This movie is story telling at it’s best.

There you have it folks. My list of the best movies of 2014. See you next year.

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My 2014

2015 is within our grasp. With the old year winding down and the new year coming up quick, many of us are making resolutions and remembering the people we were last year at this time.

For me, the beginning of 2014 was even keel and predictable. The spring started to bring on small, positive changes to my life. Then came the summer and the huge roller coaster that was my life. The fall calmed a bit, though, it had it’s moments. Then came the winter and the outlook is hopefully positive.

One of the things that I have learned through my kick boxing classes is that change happens in small increments, not big leaps. When we look back at the path we took and the challenges that we overcame, we see the big picture and the small steps. When we are still on the path, we can only see the small steps.

I’m not a fan of New Years Resolutions as I’ve learned through my own experience at least, that they infrequently or never come to fruition. What I am a believer in, is making small steps and taking chances.

Wherever you are and whomever you are with this New Year’s Eve, remember to appreciate the good times and the bad, for both mold us into what and whom we will become.

Happy New Year.

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The Mists of Avalon Book and Movie Review

The myth of Camelot usually incurs images of King Arthur and his loyal knights. While there are women within the Camelot myth, they are forced into the usual roles of the virginal good girl and the bad girl witch or sorceress with little to no shades of grey in between.

In 1987, author Marion Zimmer Bradley turned the spotlight on the women of Camelot in The Mists Of Avalon. Morgaine (formerly Morgan Le Fay) is the older half sister of the man who will be King Arthur. Gwenhwyfar (formerly Guinevere) is torn between two men: Arthur and his cousin, Lancelot. The plot also centers around the older generation: Morgaine and Arthur’s mother Igraine, and her two sisters, Lady Morgause and Lady Vivianne, the Lady of The Lake.

In 2001, The Mists Of Avalon was turned into a TV movie. The cast included Julianna Margulies as Morgaine, Samantha Mathis as Gwenhwyfar, Caroline Goodall as Igraine, Joan Allen as Morgause and Anjelica Houston as Vivianne.

The book is quite hefty. What I liked about it is that while it kept much of the basic story of King Arthur intact, the story is completely different when told from the point of view of the women who are closest to him. There is also an element of reality as the author threads in the traditions and beliefs of the local population as Christianity slowly takes hold of the island.

I did enjoy the filmed adaptation. As with most filmed adaptations, certain parts of the novel were edited or removed completely, but that is to be expected.

While I recommend the movie over the book, the book is still decent read.

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The Age Of Innocence Book And Movie Review

Edith Wharton’s classic 1920 novel, The Age Of Innocence, can be described as the clash between personal desire and the driving force that tells us to do what is right and honorable.

Newland Archer is the scion of a well respected late 19th century New York society family. He is engaged to marry May Welland, the daughter of another well respected New York Society family. Newland has always done what is right and proper, never considering his own wants and needs. Then the Countess Ellen Olenska enters his life. Ellen, who is his fiance’s cousin, is attempting to divorce her abusive European aristocratic husband.

Initially Newland looks to help Ellen, who has become an outcast due to the divorce, because she is soon to be his cousin by marriage. But he will soon discover that he and Ellen have a spark and he must decide what he wants from life and who he wants to spend his life with.

In 1993, The Age Of Innocence was made into a movie with Daniel Day Lewis as Newland, Winona Ryder as May and Michelle Pfeiffer as Ellen.

I like both the book and the movie. Certain novels are considered classics because within the story or the characters, there is something we all can relate to, regardless of the time and place that the author set the story in. This novel is no different. What we as individuals need and want versus what the larger society tells us what we should need and want is a struggle that has never ceased.

I recommend both.

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Kidnap

©2014

The sound of the organ was heard as the bride walked up the aisle. She walked alone, shunning a traditional male arm to hold onto. She was considered to by several guests to be eccentric, an odd choice of a bride. But they knew the power of the groom’s family. They also knew it was wise to keep their opinions to themselves.

Upon reaching the groom, the bride took his arm as the judge began. Instead of a church wedding, the bride has insisted on a civil ceremony. The groom, against the wishes of his family, acquiesced to his bride’s wishes.

Then the commotion started.

The men came out of nowhere, pointing their guns at the guests, warning them to stay in their seats.

“You, come with us” the leader pushed the groom away, pulling on the bride’s arm.

“I will not”.

“If you don’t come with us, we will kill everyone in this room, starting with him” the leader pointed his gun at the groom.

Nodding silently, the bride allowed herself to be escorted away.

“I will find you” the groom called out as the van drove away.

“How was that?” the leader asked.

“Perfect” the bride replied, casting aside her veil. Now the fun would really begin.

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Pegasus Book Review

Sometimes the most dramatic thing that can happen to us is life.

Danielle Steel’s 2014 novel, Pegasus is about how dramatic life can be. Alex von Hemmerle and Nicolas von Bingen  have been friends since they were boys. Both are the only sons and heirs to ancient German noble families. Having lost their wives years before, they are raising their children alone. Alex has a teenage daughter, Nick has two sons.  They live in quiet Bavaria, hoping to lead the lives their ancestors lived. But it is 1938 and war is in the air.

Nick was raised by his father, his mother has been a mystery to him. Then he hears devastating news. The mysterious mother whom he has never met is half Jewish. That means that according to the government, Nick and his sons are Jewish and subject to the same laws and harassment that other Jews are experiencing.  They leave must leave Germany immediately, otherwise be forced to live as Jews under Nazi Germany.  Alex gives his friend several of his horses so he can make a living as a circus performer in America. While Nick and his sons adjust to a new life in America, Alex is forced to deal with life under Nazi rule and the agonizing choice of loosing what is left of his family and his heritage.

I don’t normally read Danielle Steel books, but I picked it up at the library and it sounded interesting. This book ripped my beating heart from my body and did not return it until the final page. I was gripped by the story and and the characters.  What I liked best about the book is that Ms. Steel provided an ending for the characters that felt appropriate. While closing the the book on the characters she introduced us to earlier in the book, she tells us where Alex and Nick’s families are going in the future.

I absolutely recommend this book.

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Flashback Friday-Legally Blonde

The dumb blonde is an obvious joke in our culture. She is easy on the eyes, but lacks the brain power. Or so we think.

In 2001, Legally Blonde turned the image of the blonde ditz on it’s ear.

California sorority girl Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) is eagerly waiting for a marriage proposal from her boyfriend, Warner (Matthew Davis). Instead he breaks up with her. Determined to win him back, Elle follows Warner to law school. She finds that he is newly engaged to Vivian Kensington, (Selma Blair) an East Coast Brunette that will help Warner fulfill his political ambition. Deciding to make the best of her situation, Elle finds that law school may be just what she needs and Emmett (Luke Wilson) may be the better man for her.

I like this movie. It’s funny and charming, but it also has an undercurrent of female power running through it.

In 2007, Legally Blonde was made into a Broadway show and an MTV reality show that filmed the audition process and used it as a marketing tool.

While the musical did not last very long in New York, the movie will live on.

Do I recommend the movie? Yes.

 

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Jem And The Holograms Movie

For the last few years, Hollywood has been making movies out of the childhood memories of Gen X’ers and Gen Y’ers.

The next movie that will join this genre is a big screen adaptation of Jem And The Holograms.

While I am not a fan of Hollywood constantly spinning out sequels and re-boots, I am looking forward this one.

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