Monday, March 26, 2012

The Hunger Games movie

We went to see The Hunger Games last night. I liked it quite a bit but there were a few things that did not live up to my expectations. I thought Peeta's character in the movie was not particularly well portrayed. You really fell in love with his gentle sweet nature in the novel and I just did not pick up on this so much in the film. It was a great help to have read the book, so many details were left out. I know, the book is always better...
Jim was appalled at the subject matter of children pitted against children to the death and this was a very difficult part of the story for me as well. An allegory for real life where our children are sent off to war and we watch the devastation unfold in our 24-7 age of media coverage, perhaps.
I would give 4 of 5 stars and recommend it, but not for younger children under 13.

Friday, March 23, 2012

22 Britannia Road

Author: Amanda Hodgkinson
4 (of 5) stars

This is the story of a Polish couple and their son from Warsaw and what happens to them both during and after World War II. Silvana is forced to flee and survive in grueling conditions, unimaginable to most of us today. They spend a lot of the wartime dwelling in the forest, living like animals. The odds of coming through this ordeal alive are staggering. Starvation, freezing, German soldiers, disease and illness are everyday battles for this mother trying to protect her child.
Janusz goes off to fight for Poland and gets separated from his unit, and eventually ends up with the British army. He tries to build a new life on 22 Britannia Road for his wife and son when the war is over. So much has happened between the couple in the past years that this may be one battle too difficult for them to overcome.
I really loved the story and had such a soft spot in my heart for Janusz, he tries so hard to make things right and normal for his family. You can't help but root for him to bring it all together somehow and start the post-war healing process.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Springtime Snoopy Tree

I started decorating the house for spring and Easter this week. This tabletop tree features Hallmark Peanuts ornaments since I've always had a soft spot for Snoopy :) More decorations to come this weekend!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Author: Ransom Riggs
2 stars. The following contains some spoilers.
Grandfather Abe lived on a remote Welsh island in 1940 in a very strange orphanage where all of the children had special abilities. The orphanage is bombed and destroyed in a German air raid. Jacob returns to this place from present day to unlock the secrets of his grandfather's odd, secretive past and his gruesome death with the stories Abe has told him and the old, eerie photgraphs he has seen. He steps into a "time loop" where these people all live on in their strange little world.
I think that this story had the potential to be something great, the premise was an interesting one and time travel is always fascinating fuel for the imagination. It just sort of fizzled somewhere along the line. The book was peppered with vintage "peculiar" and just downright creepy photographs, many obviously doctored. These characters that were just randomly thrown in there didn't have much point, the photo just happened to fit in the weird category so it was added to the story.
The book came to an abrupt end just as it was starting to pick up some steam. They literally sailed off into the sunset. Must be setting up for a continuation which I definitely would not read.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Okay For Now by Gary D. Schmidt

5 (out of 5) stars. Highly recommended, young adult fiction.
This was a powerful and deeply moving story about a kid growing up in a town near New York City in 1968. There were so many other characters that we got to know and love in the process. Some that we may have thought were just lost causes who win us over when we get to know them and walk a mile in their shoes. I laughed, I cried, and mostly I think I learned to be a bit more kind hearted and forgiving of others. Nobody is completely what they seem on the surface, and if we can take the time to listen and learn, the world would be a much better place.

Shamrocks and Bells Of Ireland

I couldn't resist picking up the pretty shamrock plant (oxalis) and Bells of Ireland that they had at Trader Joe's today. I mixed in some white daisies and the Bells have little white flowers fixing to come out. The pretty little Donegal porcelain vase with the Claddagh was a gift from my sister when she visited Ireland.

Bella's Beauty Day

Bella went for her pampering at Petco. Hair, nails, the works! I loved the welcome sign they had out for all of their canine customers :)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Please Look After Mom by Kyung-Sook Shin

Please Look After Mom was a heartbreaking read that tells the story of a Korean woman who is left behind at the Seoul subway station and goes missing completely. Her husband and children search the city for her but mostly it is their hearts and memories of Mom that are searched and related here in this story. Did any of them truly know Mom, what her hopes and dreams were? How could they have lost her so long ago and not even have seen it? This novel brought up so many thoughts and feelings that cross any cultural divide and speaks to all of us about what is most important in life and how we need to see past the business or busy-ness of our everyday lives and connect more deeply with our closest, most important people. If I could have just one more day to spend with my own Mom every second of it would be precious.
People are people no matter what country or culture you were raised in. All of us have dreams and the basic need for love and connection. It makes me so sad to think of all of the countless souls out there in the world that feel that they are pretty much alone, without a feeling of purpose or appreciation.
This was a wonderful story about family and love that will stay with me for a long time.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

11/22/63 by Stephen King

If you could go back in time and change an event, which one would it be and why? How would that alter the course of history? This is the premise behind King's latest novel of that fateful day in American history when JFK was assassinated. The main character travels back to 1958 and spends some time there in preparation for foiling the attack by tracking down and killing Oswald. King has a story telling gift like no other, drawing you back in time and making you feel nostalgic for those simpler times. I really loved the book although I think it could have been a lot shorter and still been effective. 840 pages is a pretty hefty read.
When all is said and done, the past just does not want to be changed.
It's a Wonderful Life just like it is!