Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Horror Movie Wednesday--My Bloody Valentine

For Valentine's Day my horror ladies and I watched My Bloody Valentine--the 2009 remake of the 1981 slasher movie. It seemed a fitting movie for the evening!

A small coal-mining town is ripped apart when coal miners are massacred in their mine. One teenager manages to get away...

Now 10 years later the killings are happening again. Is it Tom, the lone survivor of the original massacre, who's back in town? Or is the killer still alive? Or maybe it's....

They tried to throw some red herrings throughout, but it's pretty obvious who the killer is! But it was a fun B-movie cheesy ride. Lots of bad acting, gore, and laughs.

The Ritual (2018):

This one appeared on Netflix a week or so ago. I read the book back in 2016 for a horror challenge in October. The book was different and I really enjoyed the pacing and storytelling. So I was excited to see it had been made into a movie.

The book was a lot better. But the movie still had an amazingly creepy vibe that kept you guessing. They changed the ending quite a bit, which was disappointing, but I can see why.

The story introduces us to a group of guys from England whose lives are changed when one of their buddies dies in a robbery. They decide to go on a backpacking adventure in a Swedish forest in order to spread their friend's ashes there and say goodbye. But after an injury and a shortcut they find they are on the run for their lives. Something is stalking them...

It was genuinely creepy and I love the story but it wasn't a well-made film overall. The book is better but it's a fun movie to watch before bed.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer

Goodreads Summary:

Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; all the members of the second expedition committed suicide; the third expedition died in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another; the members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within months of their return, all had died of aggressive cancer.

This is the twelfth expedition.

Their group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain and collect specimens; to record all their observations, scientific and otherwise, of their surroundings and of one another; and, above all, to avoid being contaminated by Area X itself.

They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers—they discover a massive topographic anomaly and life forms that surpass understanding—but it’s the surprises that came across the border with them, and the secrets the expedition members are keeping from one another, that change everything.

My thoughts:

I read this one on a Sunday afternoon. It's short, barely 200 pages. It's quick and mysterious. What is this world they've entered? Is it evolution? Nature biting back? Is it a bioweapon gone awry by this government? We don't know and it's quite a ride to figure it out.

The biologist is the one writing the notes and whose view we see through. She's an unreliable narrator as well since she's being influenced. But how much do we trust? Is there a good guy? What about her colleagues?

I love the mysterious new world. We don't know know much about the government the biologist comes from. We know they're not being told everything. There are conspiracies. There are mysteries to be found.

This was a great book. I loved how it was told and I loved the world the author created. Vandermeer is a creative writer and he offered up some good insights through his protagonist.

The beauty of it cannot be understood, either, and when you see beauty in desolation it changes something inside you. Desolation tries to colonize you.

That’s how the madness of the world tries to colonize you: from the outside in, forcing you to live in its reality.

I look forward to finishing off the series soon and to seeing the movie coming out soon with Natalie Portman.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Goodreads Summary:

August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. WONDER, now a #1 New York Times bestseller and included on the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance. 

My thoughts:

I read this one aloud with G. We both loved Auggie and his family and we were heart-broken by their tragedies and cried alongside their triumphs. It's a beautiful novel about love, acceptance, and loyalty.

Palacio allows us to see the points-of-view of the different people in Auggie's life. We get to see how they feel and why. Also, not everyone is redeemable right away. Which helped to make the book feel more realistic. Things happen and we don't know why and that's OK.

Thoughts about the book vs. the movie:

We finished up the book and the next week we headed out to see the movie. I loved seeing Auggie's story visually. The little boy underneath that makeup did a superb job.

They had to cut a few parts out which I really enjoyed in the book. And one of the characters changed/was different at the end of the movie which I didn't like as much.

Overall, they did a great job adapting the movie. But the book still wins out for me over the movie.

But please go read and see both. It's a poignant and beautiful story that all should read and see.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Cat Thursday--February 15, 2018

Cat Thursday is hosted by Michelle at True Book Addict. Share all things cat and be sure to link-up!

The Dodo reported on this cute kitty named Cashnip Kitty. He snatches your money and donates it to charity!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Cat Thursday--February 8, 2018

Cat Thursday is hosted by Michelle at True Book Addict. Share all things cat and be sure to link-up!

This is the cutest thing ever! I love watching people get excited about cats!

And this next video will leave you in happy tears. This is the sweetest story about two brothers.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Horror Movie Wednesday--Tragedy Girls

Tragedy Girls (2017):

This movie is a twist on the final girl theme of the horror flick genre. Sadie and McKayla are best friends and they host a blog called Tragedy Girls where they share their findings about the serial killings happening in town and the unsolved disappearances of their fellow students.

Well, the the twist is these girls are killers and have actually tracked down the real serial killer in order for him to give them tips and pointers. What ensues is the way these two best friends vie for attention and whom they should kill next without getting caught. It was a dark and very funny film and not for the faint of heart.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

January Wrap-up

I read 11 books in January:

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

The Power by Naomi Alderman

Obama: An Intimate Portrait: The Historic Presidency in Photographs by Pete Souza

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

Ghosts of the Tsunami: Death and Life in Japan's Disaster Zones by Richard Lloyd Parry

Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology by Leah Remini

The Annotated Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

How to Be Happy by Eleanor Davis

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying by Nina Riggs

7 were fiction and 4 were nonfiction. My goal was at least two nonfiction this month! So yay. I made it! I've been doing a lot better on my reviews. I sill need to get Wonder and Homegoing up this next week.

Wonder was my favorite fiction book this month. I laughed and cried with son while we read it together. We had some great experiences together.

My absolute favorite nonfiction this month was Ghosts of the Tsunami. Five stars from me. It's truly an achievement in writing about humanity.

Friday, February 2, 2018

The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying by Nina Riggs

Goodreads Summary:

Nina Riggs was just thirty-seven years old when initially diagnosed with breast cancer—one small spot. Within a year, the mother of two sons, ages seven and nine, and married sixteen years to her best friend, received the devastating news that her cancer was terminal. 

How does one live each day, “unattached to outcome”? How does one approach the moments, big and small, with both love and honesty?

Exploring motherhood, marriage, friendship, and memory, even as she wrestles with the legacy of her great-great-great grandfather, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nina Riggs’s breathtaking memoir continues the urgent conversation that Paul Kalanithi began in his gorgeous When Breath Becomes Air. She asks, what makes a meaningful life when one has limited time?

"There are so many things that are worse than death: old grudges, a lack of self-awareness, severe constipation, no sense of humor, the grimace on your husband's face as he empties your surgical drain into the measuring cup."

I enjoyed Riggs' musings on life through her love of the French philosopher Michel de Montaigne. She quotes heavily from his life and essays. And since she was a descendant of Ralph Waldo Emerson, she quotes a lot from him too having studying him early on.

The way she tackled life and love and death is inspiring. I can only hope to face death and live life in such a way.

"It's about honoring the unknowing and the awkwardness and the mystery of dying. he said. It's unsettling-- and that's okay."

This is the last paragraph in her book. To me it was profound. You can tell she was ready. It was alarming and tragic and poignant to read.

"Already, the boys are off to the wilds again-- whooping and surviving. It will be getting dark soon--the sky has started with that eerie postapocalyptic light of a warm evening in winter-- but I am not ready to call them back in. There is nothing in this whole world that could make me call them back in."

*Part of my 2018 Nonfiction Reading Challenge.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Cat Thursday--February 1, 2018

Cat Thursday is hosted by Michelle at True Book Addict. Share all things cat and be sure to link-up!

Calgary Airport now offers some cute cats for visitors to pet while they're waiting for flights. The airport has offered dogs in the past but two cats have just joined the team! This clip hightlights Taz and his owner. So sweet. Makes me want to travel to the Calgary just for this....

Heather Rutherford and Taz volunteer once a week at the airport for roughly 1.5 hours. (Mike Symington/CBC)

'The animals make such a difference to the people — not only the people travelling through YYC, but the people who work here,' says Peggy Blacklock, manager of airport community engagement. (Mike Symington/CBC)

Friday, January 26, 2018

Ghosts of the Tsunami: Death and Life in Japan's Disaster Zone by Richard Lloyd Parry

Goodreads Summary:

The definitive account of what happened, why, and above all how it felt, when catastrophe hit Japan—by the Japan correspondent of The Times (London) and author of People Who Eat Darkness.

On March 11, 2011, a powerful earthquake sent a 120-foot-high tsunami smashing into the coast of northeast Japan. By the time the sea retreated, more than eighteen thousand people had been crushed, burned to death, or drowned.

It was Japan’s greatest single loss of life since the atomic bombing of Nagasaki. It set off a national crisis and the meltdown of a nuclear power plant. And even after the immediate emergency had abated, the trauma of the disaster continued to express itself in bizarre and mysterious ways.

Richard Lloyd Parry, an award-winning foreign correspondent, lived through the earthquake in Tokyo and spent six years reporting from the disaster zone. There he encountered stories of ghosts and hauntings, and met a priest who exorcised the spirits of the dead. And he found himself drawn back again and again to a village that had suffered the greatest loss of all, a community tormented by unbearable mysteries of its own. 

What really happened to the local children as they waited in the schoolyard in the moments before the tsunami? Why did their teachers not evacuate them to safety? And why was the unbearable truth being so stubbornly covered up?

Ghosts of the Tsunami is an intimate account of an epic tragedy, told through the accounts of those who lived through it. It tells the story of how a nation faced a catastrophe and the struggle to find consolation in the ruins.

Parry leads us through one of the most harrowing tragedies a person and community can go through. I read this in a day and I think that's what made this book so powerful for me. He lets us know through the words of those who experienced it the weight of their grief; it's palpable. It sticks with you for days after.

"For many of those who experienced it, the tragedy of the tsunami was formless, black, and ineffable, an immense and overwhelming monster that blocked out the sun. But to Naomi, no less stricken than the others, it was glittering and sharp and appallingly bright. This harshly illuminated clarity was the opposite of consoling. It pierced, rather than smothered, and left nowhere to hide."

Not only do we get a taste of what these people went through after the tsunami hit, we also get insight into the culture of Japan and how they traditionally deal with disasters, grief, and death. We get to experience to good and the bad and the in between. I found myself shocked at how the children died. Why didn't they do anything? This is what I would've done....but Parry helps us make sense of it. How it could have happened and why. And it's just a tragedy.

"It's easy to imagine grief as an ennobling, purifying emotion--uncluttering the mind of what is petty and transient, and illumination the essential. In reality, of course, grief doesn't resolve anything, any more than a blow to the head or a devastating illness. It compounds stress and complication. It multiplies anxiety and tension. It opens fissures into cracks, and cracks into gaping chasms."

"'The children were murdered by an invisible monster,' Sayomi Shito said once. 'We vent our anger on it, but it doesn't react. It's like a black shadow. It has no human warmth.' She went on, 'The tsunami was a visible monster. But the invisible monster will last forever.'

I asked, 'What is the invisible monster?'

'I wonder myself what it is,' said Sayomi. 'Something peculiar in the Japanese, who attach importance only to the surface of things. And in the pride of people who cannot ever say sorry.'"

There are so many more quotes just like these that make you feel what they feel. It's a beautiful and tragic book and I came away with utter sadness at the tragedy, compassion, and hope for those who are left behind.

*part of my 2018 nonfiction reading challenge hosted by Doing Dewey.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Cat Thursday-- January 25, 2018

Cat Thursday is hosted by Michelle at True Book Addict. Share all things cat and be sure to link-up!

Ursula K. Le Guin, the famous author of sci-fi and fantasy, died Monday. The New York Times wrote up an obit and shared a picture of her with her cat Lorenzo back in 1996.

While I have not read any of her works yet, they have been on my list for awhile now. I'll be sure to read a few this year. I'm so happy to hear she was a cat-person. Rest in peace, Ms. Le Guin!

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Horror Movie Wednesday-- Happy Death Day

Happy Death Day (2017):

This was an interesting take on Groundhog's Day.

Sorority sister Tree wakes up in a random guy's dorm room...she can barely remember her name let alone his. He seems sweet but she blows him off. She continues back to her dorm and we see that she's not the sweetest or kindest person we've ever met. We do not like her. But as the day goes on she's attacked and killed in a tunnel....but she wakes up to the same day!

It's actually kind of funny. We see her change and try to be a better person. She gets to know people in her sorority. She forms a relationship with the guy who's dorm room she woke up in. And she continues to try and solve her murder. But each murder takes its toll and she doesn't know how many more deaths she can take...

I'm a sucker for change-of-heart movies. So throw in horror/thriller and I'm sold. It wasn't super scary but it was a great little thriller.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Week-in-review-- January 22, 2018

Let's see...this weekend involved G playing basketball! He made an amazing pass of his head right to his teammate...totally planned! It was adorable. We started a fun game called Hero's Quest together. G really enjoys these types of RPG games where he can fight and look for treasure.

Books Finished:

None. I started a bunch but did not finish any this last week.

Currently Reading:

The Power of Meaning: Crafting a Life that Matters by Emily Esfahani Smith, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte, The Unwomanly Face of War: An Oral History of Women in World War II by Svetlana Alexievich, and Wonder by R.J. Palacio (reading with G before bed).

Listening To:

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. I love listening to this one. I ended up listening to podcasts rather than finish off this one off...but this should be the week!

Caught up on RadioLab and Waking Up podcasts.


Beatriz at Dinner was an interesting movie for me. A bit too depressing and nihilistic for my mood this weekend but it had some insight as well. Exceptional acting by Salma Hayek and John Lithgow.

DH and I finished up The Orville's first season. I can't say I love it. It's not the greatest show on TV but it's goofy and fun and so we continue to watch!


I made fish tacos this weekend and they were amazing! They were easy and delicious. I'm hoping to get a recipe going in my InstantPot. Quite a learning curve here....

Looking forward to:

The wine night did not happen since my friend got sick but it's been moved to this Friday!

Pics from the week:

G took a power nap with Shadow. Talk about the winter blues in January. I'm noticing a trend of not getting out much...

2018-01-17 15.44.38

Thursday, January 18, 2018

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

Goodreads Summary:

In the summer of 1968, after travelling from Brooklyn to Oakland, California, to spend a month with the mother they barely know, eleven-year-old Delphine and her two younger sisters arrive to a cold welcome as they discover that their mother, a dedicated poet and printer, is resentful of the intrusion of their visit and wants them to attend a nearby Black Panther summer camp.

In a humorous and breakout book by Williams-Garcia, the Penderwicks meet the Black Panthers.

My thoughts:

Delphine and her two sisters, Vonetta and Fern, head to Oakland, California to spend the summer with their mother, who left them right after Fern was born.

I enjoyed Delphine's view. She's the oldest and remembers her mother the most. Their mother is not very nice and acts like she doesn't want them there. She sends them off to the Black Panther center every morning for breakfast and summer camps. They meet some new friends. And they begin to see the community and haven the Black Panthers have provided for people who need it. Soon Delphine and her sisters are making signs and handing out flyers for a peaceful protest.

Delphine learns more about her mother and why she left and the true name of her little sister Fern. She learns that everyone has layers and nobody is what he/she seems at first glance.

It's a wonderful and nuanced story. It's a great one for kids and adults alike.

*part of the Monthly Motif Challenge--Diversify your reading in January hosted by GirlXOXO.


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