Category Archives: Blog Features

features that started from my blog

2018 – A Reading Year in Review

As I sit on my couch immersed in a Marvel Avengers binge watch (right now i’m focusing on Captain America because i’m sooo not watching in sequence) – I figured it was time to write my 2018 reading year in review post – I would say its my blogging year in review, but honestly, blog posts have been few and far between this year. Its been both a busy one (traveling to Bahrain for 2 weeks in August, starting a new job in September and running a marathon in October) and a crappy one (losing my dog to a medical emergency in August – BLOAT sucks).

On the reading front, I didn’t read as much this as in previous years. My total read count was 273 books and a total of 84675 pages. Which when compared to last year was 66 books and 5144pgs less. But on average, the books I read in 2018 were longer (310pgs compared to 265pgs).

Now onto the actual books I read during the year:
First book marked as finished for 2018: Mr Churchill’s Secretary – Susan Elia MacNeal – I found this mystery to be interesting and its a series that I would like to continue in the future – so I’ve added at least the next book in the series to Mt TBR…(which might kill me if it ever topples over…)
Last book read in 2018: Dead Witch Walking – Kim Harrison – I have to say I was disappointed in this book – i’d heard a lot about this series and originally bought this in 2010 (so its only been languishing on Mt TBR for 8yrs)…but Rachel just annoyed me and I found her to do too much dumb, impulsive shit that got both her and her friends into trouble.
Longest Book Read: Morgan’s Run – Colleen McCullough – growing up in Australia, Ms McCullough is one of those authors that I should have read growing up – the Thorn Birds by her is a “classic” and yet while I have many of her books on my shelf – I’ve never read anything by her. Morgan’s Run was ok (I gave it 2 stars but annotated that I would have given it 2.5) – overall is was too long and needed a good editor in places.
Shortest Book Read: Another Dance – DeAnne Cameron – this was 2.5 in a series I had been reading but like my longest read of the year – this one just didn’t live up to my expectations (in this case, the fact that I had previously read and enjoyed the authors books).
Most Popular Book: The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins – read by 1,796,450 ppl – I know a lot of people loved this book but for me, I was underwhelmed – there have been many other mystery/thriller/suspense like this that I enjoyed much more (the Breakdown by BA Paris being one of them).
Least Popular Book: Another Dance – DeAnne Cameron – i’m not surprised that this also showed up as my least popular book – I randomly stumbled across her books on Amazon a while back but I rarely hear her name recommended.
Highest Rated: The Sun Also Shines – Anthony Ray Hinton – it is no surprise to me that this is the highest rated book that I read this year (and Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson who features in this was my highest rated in 2017). This book is also my most recommended book of the year – if you ever want insight into why would justice system needs to be reformed – you need look no further than this book – Mr Hinton spent 20yrs on death row in Alabama for a crime he didn’t commit and with no evidence to convict him (and the sheriff who caused this miscarriage of justice is still in a position of power).
Most Read Author: Zoe Chant – During 2018 (or rather since August when I discovered her) – I’ve read 17 books by Ms Chant. They are all included in my Kindle Unlimited package and honestly just the kind of quick easy reads you need when you are down in the dumps or just need something relatively easy/brainless.

And with that, I’m signing off for 2018 and will see you all in 2019! Best Wishes and Happy Reading!

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Posted by on December 31, 2018 in Blog Features, Year in Review


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Movie Monday (6) – Incredibles 2

Pop some popcorn, sit back, put your feet up and tell us about the movie(s) you have seen this week!

Its been fourteen years in the making (and waiting) – but like many folks, I was so excited to see my movie this weekend on opening weekend (normally, I try to stay clear of those movies but I was feeling nostalgic and knew that it was worth the risk is going. So without further ado – my movie this week: Incredibles 2.

I’ll admit that I still go and see the Disney animated movie every year when it comes out – except for Frozen because for some reason I was a dumbass and just didn’t go…(no heckling allowed). When I was driving home from work Friday night – I was debating going to see Incredibles 2 or Ocean’s 8 – and it wasn’t until I actually got up to the counter to get my ticket that I decided on Incredibles. Mostly because I didn’t know if I was in the mood to deal with a movie that would have a lot of kids at it – especially since I was going to see the 7:30 showing on a Friday night during the first (or second week) of summer holidays. But surprisingly enough, the movie wasn’t sold out and the kids who were in there were mostly well-behaved (aside from an infant who apparently took offense to one of the scenes with Jack Jack).

I’ll admit that I figured out pretty early on who the antagonist was in the movie – it was kind of obvious to me – and ugh, I really hated who it was – because I liked them as a character prior to the reveal. I was REALLY hoping that I was going to be wrong. But alas…For me, the best part of the movie was Jack Jack! At the end of the first movie, the viewers knew that Jack Jack had powers, even though the rest of the family didn’t know. So we are going into the movie knowing something that characters in the movie didn’t know. There was one scene with Jack Jack and a raccoon that had me nearly rolling off my seat, I was laughing so hard. I will say that I wish there had been some more Edna (the fashion designer who made the outfits in the first movie).

While I didn’t love the Incredibles as much as I had hoped – it was definitely a solid sequel and made for an enjoyable Friday night after a long week at work. And who knows, there is the potential for a third movie based on a few of the lines and conversations that occurred….I only hope I don’t have to wait another 14 years….

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Posted by on June 18, 2018 in Movie Monday



Movie Monday (5) – Book Club

Pop some popcorn, sit back, put your feet up and tell us about the movie(s) you have seen this week!

Anyone who knows me knows that I just cringe when I see 50 shades of grey mentioned – both the books and the movies – because while I tried to read them, I found them horribly written, redundant and as someone who has been reading romances (and erotic romance, and erotic) for probably close to 2 decades, I couldn’t get past the “books that brought romance mainstream.” But that is a rant for another day…when I saw Book Club first previewed at the theatre and that 50 shades of grey was going to be featured during it, I’ll admit that I cringed, ranted on facebook and probably made some idiotic statement about not going to see it (yeah, I can be idiot like that). But I did go and see it and for the most part (aside from the parents that brought their 4ish year old see it and who wanted to watch videos on their phone during the movie)…
All I can say after seeing Book Club is that I would love to have a group of friends like the women in this movie – four friends who have seen each other through marriage, divorce, death, through times that were happy and sad. I have a few friends like that but unfortunately, the military has caused us to be spread across the country, which makes it hard for a real-life book club – but I guess a virtual one has potential.

Of the four women featured in this – Diane Keaton’s was my favorite – but then she has been a favorite of mine for many years – I think I’ve seen a majority of the movies she has starred in over the years. Her story in this was just sweet – a story of finding love for a second time (and besides the guy she falls in love with is just adorable – played by the awesome Andy Garcia). Behind Diane Keaton if I had to rank the individual stories in order of enjoyment – it would be Candice Bergen, then Mary Steenburgen with Jane Fonda bringing up the rear. Honestly, I could take or leave Jane Fonda in most of the movies that she does – Monster in Law is about the only semi-decent one of hers that I enjoyed – the rest…ehhh….Candice Bergen as a divorced judge who signs up for an online dating service – holy shit, I laughed so hard in places and Mary Steenburgen was just her normal solid self. but there were a few funny scenes with her and her husband (played by Craig T. Nelson) that just made me chuckle. I think really the only people in the movie who I didn’t like were the characters of Diane Keaton’s daughters – they drove me nuts with how they treated her (yeah, I know it was part of the movie) – but omg, I wanted to slap them silly a few times!

Book Club is definitely a movie that solidly belongs in the chick flick realm, or if a guy wants to turn in his man card – a date night movie (kidding kidding, I know men can like romantic comedies). While I wasn’t a fan of 50 shades of grey – I think enough of the movie was devoted to the storyline other than the books. I’m curious to know what book they picked to read after 50 shades…lol!

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Posted by on June 11, 2018 in Movie Monday


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Movie Monday (4) – Adrift

Pop some popcorn, sit back, put your feet up and tell us about the movie(s) you have seen this week!

My movie this week is a new release in the theatre that I checked out Saturday night while I was hanging out in Youngstown, Ohio – also know as military drill weekend. There weren’t a lot of movies showing, but the one that I had seen previewed recently had a show that fit my schedule and so after a great dinner at Appleby’s, I heading off to see it.

Adrift, starring Shailene Woodley and Sam Claflin is the true life story of Tami Oldhem and Richard Sharp who were sailing from Tahiti to San Diego in 1983 when they crossed paths with Hurricane Raymond. Adrift tells the story of their attempt at survival on a 44-ft yacht that had a broken mast, was flooding and had no food/water in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. For 41 days they were adrift before being rescued (don’t worry, these aren’t truly spoilers).

Both Shailene and Sam are actors who I have enjoyed seeing on screen before – Shailene in Big Little Lies (although I wasn’t a huge fan of the book to TV adaption in general) and Sam in The Hunger Games (mmm, yummy). I thought both of them did a great job of portraying their respective characters – Sam was very charismatic and if he was anything like the real Richard Sharp, I can see why Tami fell for him. There is something about his smile. Shailene had the footloose, fancy free woman down pat – I loved the first scene when she got to Tahiti and the immigration guy was like how long are you going to stay and she just said, “I don’t know” and smiled. She also managed to pull off the haunted, starving, stranded sailor – you could feel the desolation on the big screen. Especially with the scenes where the camera panned out from the sailboat to the vastness of the ocean where you could barely see the boat.

I can’t say that I loved this – mostly because it was tough to watch and I don’t see myself renting it on DVD when it comes out – but it was a decent movie to go and see on a free evening if you had some spare time. In fact, I don’t know if watching it on DVD would give you the feeling of just how big the ocean is.

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Posted by on June 4, 2018 in Movie Monday


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Movie Monday (3) – Prince Caspian

Pop some popcorn, sit back, put your feet up and tell us about the movie(s) you have seen this week!

This week the movie i’m featuring is from a series that I wish had had more of the series made into feature films. I found it while I was flipping through the various movies available on Amazon Prime (and coincidently this morning in the doctor’s office, Voyage of the Dawn Treader, was playing). My memories of reading these books as a 5/6 year old, are some of my most vivid and I think that the director did a good job of adapting the book to movie and keeping the C.S. Lewis magic.

I know for many people, if you say the Chronicles of Narnia, most people will be able to immediately answer with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (and of course, that could potentially open up the great literary debate – which book comes first in the Chronicles of Narnia…the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe which was published first OR The Magicians Nephew which chronologically occurred first…I know what I think, but that is a debate for another day).

If you are familiar with Prince Caspian – it starts off with the Penvensie siblings (Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy) back in England, approximately a year or so after the end of the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. There are, for many reasons, some issues in getting reacclimated (I mean going from being a King to being a kid again has to be kind of a brain blender). What we don’t know is how much time has passed in Narnia since they left – because time is different there (if you remember from tLtWtW, they were in Narnia for multiple years, but no time has passed in England).

What I love about this book is so you see the magic of Narnia from the eyes of someone who didn’t believe in it – the Penvensies’ pretty much just accepted that it existed in tLtWatW, but not so much the case with Prince Caspian. I know looking back that this is a Christian allegory for discovery and finding new beliefs but you have to look hard to find that in the movie.

I don’t think a better job could have been done of picking the actors who played the various roles. When I think back to the last time I read the books (probably close to a decade ago) – I had a hard time visualizing who I could see playing those roles and then the movies were made and it was like oh wow! I’ll admit that i’m hugely partial to Georgie Henley who played Lucy with the innocence conflicting with the desire to be a grown-up. And
can I just say that Prince Caspian played by Ben Barnes is hawt – yeah, i’m shallow enough to admit it, even now, nearly a decade after it was first released.

Have you seen Prince Caspian? Or any of the other Narnia movies? Of the books (if you have read them), which one would you like to see brought to the big screen?

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Posted by on May 28, 2018 in Movie Monday


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Movie Monday (2) – Annie

Pop some popcorn, sit back, put your feet up and tell us about the movie(s) you have seen this week!

My choice for Movie Monday this week is an oldie but a goodie. Early last week, I was laying on the couch, flipping through the movie options on Netflix, Hulu and Starz, I saw that the original Annie had been added to the Starz line-up and I knew then that I had to watch it.

Annie is one of my all-time favorite movies – i’m pretty sure that the VHS of the movie I had growning up (yeah, i’m so old that I remember VHS) that I wore it out watching it so much, especially the different songs – I would fast-forward between the different songs and just watch them and sing horribly off-tune. There are likely going to be spoilers in this post, but since the movie came out over 3 decades ago, hopefully most people have seen it.

I love Annie because its a story where the underlying theme is hope and dreams – themes that seem so often to be missing from our daily lives – Annie dreams and hopes that her parents will come and rescue her from the orphanage; when Mr Warbucks assistant (Grace) shows up at the orphanage, Annie hopes that she will be picked; even after Mr Warbucks wants to adopt her, she hopes that he will help her find her parents (culminating in her trip to the White House and the iconic song, Tomorrow). And in the movie climax – she hopes that she will be rescued after she is kidnapped….and those are just the key events during the movie.

There are so many actors who starred in Annie who are still appearing in Hollywood movies today – names like Carol Burnett, Tim Curry, Bernadette Peters. And yet others, like Aileen Quinn who played Annie – has had limited screen time since it was released (only 7 mentions of actress in IMDB). It kind of makes want me want to use Annie as a start place to binge watch the filmologies of some of these actors.

Not long after I watched Annie in my teen years – i read the book that it was based on – it was a fairly good adaptation from the book – there are some scenes that are more fleshed out (as you would expect – most of which have to do with Annie’s time at the orphanage). so I definitely recommend reading it, if you get the change.

Tell me – have you ever seen Annie? If yes, what is your favorite song from the movie? If not, tell me what movies you have watched this week?


Posted by on May 21, 2018 in Movie Monday, Uncategorized


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Movie Monday (1) – Life of the Party

Pop some popcorn, sit back, put your feet up and tell us about the movie(s) you have seen this week!

I’ve been toying with doing a Movie Monday feature for a while – mostly since over the last few months I’ve seen seeing more movies, because I’ve been traveling a lot (and you can almost always find a movie theatre to kill time at night). So I figured, why not start a blog feature where people can share what movies they have seen in the previous week. It could be a new release you saw at the movie theatre, or something you stayed at home and watched with the family. But share with us!

From IMDB:
After her husband abruptly asks for a divorce, a middle-aged mother returns to college in order to complete her degree.

My Thoughts:
I’ll admit that I haven’t always been a fan of Melissa McCarthy’s (I’m sure i’m one of the few) – for the longest time i felt like she was acting too young in many of her movies and not her age (I also felt the same way about Sandra Bullock pre-The Blind Side) – but when i first saw Life of the Party previewed a couple of months ago – i knew if i didn’t see it on opening weekend, then i would be seeing it not long after. So Saturday, i meandered my way down to the local movie theatre (ugh, i had to people!), bought a ticket and went on it.

I have to say from start to finish, i don’t remember the last time i laughed so damn hard in a movie – i think it maybe surpassed Game Night – the whole theatre was almost rolling out of their seats with laughter (which is a hard things since the local theatre totally has that whole reclining chair thing going for it). It had McCarthy’s trademark humor, with an appearance by Maya Rudolph (who appeared with McCarthy in Bridesmaids) and Julie Bowen from Modern Family, who played the evil witch (whoops, meant to say Bitch, i really did!). Aside from a cameo by Christina Aguilera, the rest of the cast was (at least to me) relative unknowns – but i have a feeling they won’t stay that way for long.

There wasn’t anything really new about the storyline – it was a classic – something bad happens, person (in this case Deanna) picks themselves up and makes a success of the tragedy that occurred (FWIW, also having the main character share a name with you is kind of freaky weird). But even so, i enjoyed seeing how it was tackled – and kudos to anyone who could go back to school and live in the dorms as an adult…i couldn’t wait to escape mine (since i lived on campus for all 4 years). For one the one-liners from McCarthy really made the movie – especially the Vagoogle (all i can say is don’t be having a drink when that line comes on the screen or you may spray your sode everywhere…don’t ask me how i know!).

Life of the Party is definitely a must-see comedy – probably a great girls night out movie (not sure about date night – but has potential!).

Tell me – what movie did you see this weekend? Have you seen Life of the Party and if yes, what were your thoughts?

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Posted by on May 14, 2018 in Movie Monday


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