Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Mini Book Reviews

I've had a hard time getting my reviews up whether for movies or books. I seem to do better with Cat Thursdays cuz cat pictures are just so cute and easy to put up....

Here we go...

1. Yes Please by Amy Poehler

She's hilarious and humble and real. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing. I need to get it on audio as well and listen.

2. American Afterlife: Encounters in the Customs of Mourning by Kate Sweeney

This was a fascinating look at how Americans have mourned and how we are changing our mourning customs to date. I got lots of ideas on how I may want to be buried. It helped me look at death a bit more. I still need to get my affairs in order...

3. As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride by Cary Elwes.

I love the movie and so this was so fabulous to read. I learned so many little tidbits about how the movie was made and how the actors got along or little stories that were hilarious. Cary Elwes had someone help him write this so it isn't the greatest writing in the world but its about the content. This is a must have and read for any fan.

4. The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert

It was a bit slow but overall I loved the story of Alma. She's a woman during the early and mid 1800s who becomes an expert in mosses. She experiences life and discovers a theory on evolution around the same time as Charles Darwin. Gilbert expertly weaves what women scientists experiences during this and continue to in certain degrees to this day.

5. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien

I'm enjoying reading through this series again. I actually didn't finish The Return of the King the first time so I'm looking forward to finishing it this time around. Tolkien is amazing at high fantasy. Beautiful scenery, history, and characters. I enjoyed reading the differences between the movie and the book. Some things were great but some didn't sit as well with me. But overall the movie does a great job with the material.

*All book cover images were taken from Goodreads.com


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Living and Reading in Japan (5)

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This weekly meme has been inspired by Michelle at The True Book Addict and Lisa at Lit and Life--Life: It Goes On...but I wanted to tweak it a bit for myself since I am living in Japan for the next year (2014-2015).

We had a great holiday and have been trying to stay healthy and get back into life in January.

Books I'm Reading:
  1. The Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space by Carl Sagan.
  2. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente.
  3. The Goddess Chronicle by Natsuo Kirino.
  4. Stiff by Mary Roach
  5. The First 20 Minutes: Surprising Science Reveals How We Can: Exercise Better, Train Smarter, Live Longer by Gretchen Reynolds
Books Finished:
  1. Hollow City by Ransom Riggs
  2. American Afterlife: Encounters in the Customs of Mourning by Kate Sweeney
  3. As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride by Cary Elwes
  4. The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert
  5. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien
Looking Forward To:

Our trip to Tokyo. We're heading up there in a few weeks for Gabe's birthday. We are going to see Disneyland and Legoland and whatever else we can get in in just a few days!

Making:

I'll be making chocolate chip cookies this week. Last week I made a beef stew that turned out pretty good. I don't cook much, especially in Japan but every now and then I get something good made!

Watching:

Gilmore Girls I'm in its 6th season. It's good but this season is tough. The Fall is from the BBC with Gillian Anderson as the lead detective. The series focuses on all the grays that a serial killer is. It's just a fascinating series. Transparent is also on my list. So good.

Movies: Amelie. Such a cute and quirky and fun movie. Loved it! I'm sad I didn't watch it earlier.

Things I Did This Week in Japan:


We enjoyed New Year's in Japan. They do it a bit differently here. It's called Oshougatsu and it lasts 3 or 4 days. Everyone goes to their local shrine to donate money, say a prayer or wish and get a fortune. It's a ritual to help bring luck into your new year. We went on January 2 in the afternoon and stood in line while it snowed. We were surrounded by vendors on every side selling chocolate covered bananas and squids on sticks. I'm glad we got to experience this at least once. Then two weeks later they have a big bonfire where everyone tosses their Oshougatsu decor and arrows into the flames. That happened during the week so we weren't able to attend.

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Last weekend we hiked up to another famous shrine and the Peace Pagoda. The weather has been nice with temps in the 50s during the day. But now this weekend little Gabe has gotten sick and hubby started on nights for a few weeks so weekends are harder to get out when he's on the nights schedule.


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Grateful For:

Supportive family and friends.

I'm also grateful for e-readers and e-books. I've been able to get a lot of books that way which has been a lot cheaper than ordering physical books and having them sent to me here!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Cat Thursday (40)

Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats! Enjoy! Hosted by Michelle of The True Book Addict.

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Happy Cat Thursday, everyone! I thought I'd start off for my first post in January with exercise cats! Yay!

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I also visited my cats in Utah over the holidays! Two of my cats still loved me but my white cat Wolfy has found a new best friend in my brother. They are best friends now. While I was sad he didn't love me as much, I'm glad he's being well taken care of!

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Up top is Frodo, middle is Shadow, and Wolfy is the white kitty at the bottom. Plus my brother and I being silly :)

Friday, January 2, 2015

Book Vs. Movie, Which One's Better?: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (1)

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Book:

I really enjoyed the book. It's poignant and smart. I liked it because he switches it up a bit. Green likes to talk about death using teenagers as his mouthpiece. He waxes philosophical and sometimes it can get cheesy and a bit overly dramatic. But in the novel it works. This one is sweet. Usually the books involve straight-laced boy who falls in love with wild girl. He changes it up in this one. It really is a great book.

Movie:

It's seeing the book in 2 hours. It's gut wrenching and beautiful and the acting is great. It does go over to cheesy territory with some of those lines. But they both are fabulous and deserve to be seen.

Overall, I enjoyed both but feel the book was better.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Cat Thursday (39) Happy New Year 2015!

Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats! Enjoy! Hosted by Michelle of The True Book Addict.

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Hope you all have had and have a wonderful New Year's and an excellent 2015!


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 End of Year Review

Better late than never!

I only signed up for 2 challenges cuz I know how bad I am at completing these. But I didn't get either of them done again this year. My life took a different turn shortly after I signed up for my two.

Finish the series challenge...I did not finish one series this year even though I could have :( The next one was a non-fiction challenge...I said 20 and ended up with 19. So damn close but no cigar.

No official challenges for myself this year when it comes to reading. I may make up a few. There's Amazon's 100 books to read in a lifetime, Bitch Magazine's 100 books for young feminists, and 501 Book to Read in a Lifetime...So I still have a good list to work from. Plus all the series I can still finish this year!

I didn't even get my 75 books in for my Goodreads challenge...60 books. Not a bad show, though.

Favorite Fiction:

1. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black.
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This was surprising. I figured it would be another trivial trope-filled vampire novel. Boring. It was trope-filled but with a purpose! It was funny and even had a creepy yet adorable vampire romance. Lots of blood and smarts. It was great!

2. Siege and Storm, Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

OK, I did finish a series. This one! Yay! The first book was only so-so for me when I read it two years ago but a friend convinced me to finish the series off. So glad I did. It was gripping and well-written.

3. Under the Never Sky series by Veronic Rossi

OK, another series finished. Also a great dystipian series.

4. Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson

This was a great psychological thriller. Better than Gone Girl for me.

5. Pines by Blake Crouch

Also a fabulous thriller. I read this in one night. It's crazy!

This wasn't my best year for literary fiction. I read a few smart fiction books but they didn't stand out for me!

Favorite Nonfiction:

1. Yes Please by Amy Poehloer

Funny and interesting. She's a great writer too. It bogged down toward the end but overall fabulous!

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2. Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage by Stephanie Coontz

Love has not been the main reason for marriage ever until after the industrial revolution. She takes us down history lane. Great work.

3. The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking by Oliver Burke

This one was written for me. I loved it!

4. Secrets & Wives: The Hidden World of Mormon Polygamy by Sanjiv Bhattacharya

A fascinating and yet disturbing look at various polygamous sects. He humanizes and tells their stories. Not all polygamists are the same. Great work.

5. NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson

I loved the interesting articles. These ideas were only introduced in individual chapters. Some have more studies behind them than others but in any case they were all thought-provoking.

This year hasn't been my best in posting or interacting well with my fellow bloggers. It's unfortunate and I hope to be better this next year, though don't we all. I still have some challenging times ahead and some big changes so I can't guarantee anything but look forward to trying.

I was not great at reviewing my movies at all this year. I still saw plenty but didn't put my thoughts down anywhere, unfortunately. I really hope to rectify that.

I saw 55 new to me movies this year! Thank you Netflix and Amazon!

Favorites:

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1. The Lego Movie: This is one I keep quoting and watching over and over....

2. Agora: The tragic history of the destruction of the Library of Alexandria and the murder of Hypatia. We were setback over 1000 years because of this. Just think of where we could be. Powerful.

3. Her: What's love? What makes us human? So many deep ideas in this amazing movie.

4. Philomena: This was a difficult one. Beautiful and oh so sad.

5. Stuck in Love: Just a big fat surprise of funniness and adorableness.

6. The Sapphires: Another sleeper hit for me. Can Chris O'Dowd do wrong?

7. Guardians of the Galaxy: I wasn't expecting much with this one and was really blown away by its sheer awesomeness!

8. How to Train Your Dragon 2: I cried. It was better than the first one!

9. Mockingjay Part 1: This was my favorite. It was better than its source. Lots of amazing action and story and strong women. Just a kick-ass film.

10. Veronica Mars the Movie: It wasn't the best; it could have been better but hey it was a Kickstarter project and I love Veronica Mars and it was great.

I may do a post on my least faves but for now this is good! I'm even getting this out before the new year! Yay me.


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas!

I've been traveling so I haven't posted much but I thought I'd share this fun Christmas video of Pentatonix's rendition of "Carol of the Bells." I hope everyone has a safe and happy Christmas!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Cat Thursday (38)

Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats! Enjoy! Hosted by Michelle of The True Book Addict.

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What's cuter than pics of cats smooshed on glass tabletops! Adorable.

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A cat with a cat for its beard! Ha! Ingenious.

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Organize your cats for future use!



Saturday, November 29, 2014

Living and Reading in Japan (4)

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This weekly meme has been inspired by Michelle at The True Book Addict and Lisa at Lit and Life--Life: It Goes On...but I wanted to tweak it a bit for myself since I am living in Japan for the next year (2014-2015).

I can never stay on top of this meme! Lots of things over the last month or two with Halloween and now Thanksgiving and seeing beautiful places in Japan.

Books I'm Reading:

  1. Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage by Stephanie Coontz (almost done!)
  2. Hollow City by Ransom Riggs
  3. The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien
  4. Ticker by Lisa Mantchev
  5. The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert
Books Finished:
  1. Paper Towns by John Green
Looking Forward To:

Being back home for Christmas! Devoted hubby has to stay in Japan, unfortunately so Gabe and I are headed back home to spend Christmas with friends and family! There are many things I can't get here in Japan so I'll be stocking up on when I get there. Have my bags almost packed and plans to be enacted!

Making:

Thanksgiving dinner not on Thanksgiving but on Saturday the 29th. It won't be crazy since it's just us three and I don't actually make much for Thanksgiving since we always go to my sister's house. Then we have a friend Thanksgiving the day after for more games and ham and goodies! But here it'll be roast chicken from Costco, instant potatoes and gravy, sweet mashed yams, salad, mulled wine, and an attempt at making rolls! Wish me luck!

Watching:

Gilmore Girls on Netflix (this inspired me to add every single book mentioned in the series to my goodreads list under the tag gilmore girls list!), Phryne Fisher's Murder Mysteries, this is the best murder mystery series on TV from Australia. I can't enough of it. The Bletchley Circle, also a great crime mystery series from BBC, a team of all-women decoding geniuses setting up shop in the 50s after World War 2. Gracepoint, a mini series on a murder in a small town in California. Based off of another British series with the same actor but with an American accent now...(Harry Potter's Barty Crouch!)

If you haven't seen The Sapphires with Chris O'Dowd you are truly missing a great movie. It's on Netflix and it's funny and inspiring all at the same time. I love those pleasant surprises.

Things I Did This Week in Japan:


2014-11-15 14.16.34.editLast week we walked around the Hiroshima Castle and had a picnic and enjoyed the Fall leaves and collected leaves. Then we went hiking up to a waterfall and took more fabulous pictures.

Hubster has been working nights the last 3 weeks and it's been pretty rough on all of us. We haven't gotten out as much as we've wanted. But I'm happy to say he's done with that for a bit! Yay!

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Hiroshima has put up their winter lights by the Peace Memorial park. We are heading to it this weekend and will throw up some pics then. I hear it's beautiful!

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Grateful For:

For another day on Earth. It's a beautiful place to be and I'm truly lucky to be alive!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Cat Thursday--Thanksgiving 2014!

Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats! Enjoy! Hosted by Michelle of The True Book Addict.

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Happy Thanksgiving! I will be celebrating with devoted hubby and devoted son Saturday rather than Thursday. Roast chicken from Costco...but I will be attempting rolls. Wish me luck!

I'm grateful for this Thursday meme! It keeps me sane :)

I'm grateful for my family. My hubby makes enough money so I can keep the home going and the kid alive. My son keeps me smiling. My parents are just the most supportive parents a kid could ask for.

I'm grateful for my friends. I have the best of friends. We drink, laugh, and play and cry together. Amazing.

I'm truly grateful for being alive. Without that, I couldn't experience what I experience.

May you all enjoy Thanksgiving with a grateful heart and warm family and friends :)




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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Paper Towns by John Green

I recently discovered that John Green and his brother Hank vlog together. They even have created crash courses on anything from history to chemistry and psychology. They're a great duo and I love watching them. Good stuff.

I also own every book Green has written. I loved "Looking for Alaska." I enjoyed "Will Grayson, Will Grayson." And "The Fault In Our Stars" was also very good. But I hadn't picked up "Paper Towns" yet. It's been sitting on my shelf for a few years. So when I saw him onset for the filming of "Paper Towns," I knew that was a sign I needed to get it read. ;)

A story about a boy who loves a girl and goes on a journey to discover who she really is and in turn discover who he is.

I liked it. It wasn't as good as "Looking for Alaska" but it was still thoughtful and interesting. Green is a curious and scientifically- and philosophically-literate person. He thinks. And it shows in his his books. Which I find really incredible because so many young adult books nowadays do NOT do that.

Can you love someone and still be you and let them go free? Do you love a person or just the idea you have of that person?

I always enjoy the characters Green writes. The women are usually smart and fiercely independent. The men are straight arrows that learn to live a bit through these smart and independent women.

But the story of "Paper Towns" left me a bit cold. He puts big ideas into this story and sometimes that works but it didn't quite work for me here.

Overall, it's a good read and would still recommend it even though it's not his best, in my opinion. And I will definitely give the movie a go when it comes out next summer.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Cat Thursday (36)

Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats! Enjoy! Hosted by Michelle of The True Book Addict.

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I made it to a cat cafe earlier this week! If you don't know what I'm talking about here's a fun video introduction. I miss all of my kitties so this really hit the spot. It was relaxing to just sit and watch them and to pet them and play with them. My favorites were Reo (a big sleeping ginger cat) and Akua(? I can't quite remember...something like that, though). Akua was super cuddly and purred and even gave me a sweet kiss.

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Here is my own sweet kitty Wolfy. My sister took this and sent it to me. He's so precious.




Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

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I read the book the first time right after I had watched the first movie way back when. I remember really enjoying it. But I also remember being slightly disappointed that the book didn't quite match up with the movie.

So silly of me. The second time is a charm. The initial love and lust of the movies have warn off. They are beloved movies and classics and I can now peel away the layers and look for those beautiful treasure troves. Now I can take the book on its own without the movie. It does influence how I picture the characters now. I'm seeing things I didn't see the first time around.

When I read "The Hobbit" last month I realized how Bilbo really becomes the leader in the book. He takes charge and gets stuff done. The movies don't quite portray that, I think.

Same goes for "The Fellowship of the Ring." Aragorn is more sure of his destiny than he is in the movie. Frodo is a lot older in the books and commands a bit more respect, I think, than in the movies as well.

I think the movies help add to the books but the books is where the meat lies, the heart of it all.

Tolkien truly created the pinnacle fantasy series. I only wish he had added more depth to the story by adding more women. I think there are only 3 major female characters in the series and they never talk to each other.

Overall it's the stuff of epic myth and story. Stories stay with us and make us want to be better, do better, and avoid the dark paths. Heroic imagination at its best. (This relates to the whole series not just the first book).

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Cat Thursday (35)

Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats! Enjoy! Hosted by Michelle of The True Book Addict.





Happy almost Halloween! It doesn't quite feel like Halloween while in Japan but that's OK. I have the Internet and I only burned half of my pumpkin bread in a Japanese mini oven!

OMFH! This is so adorable!

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Cats and Eeyore, two of my faves!

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