The Children Act (2017)

DVD- This movie is based on the book by Ian McEwan, which has an amazing cast lead by Emma Thompson. She plays a British High Court judge who makes difficult and serious judgements, that affect the life and death of people on a daily basis. Stanley Tucci plays her sexually frustrated, left behind, husband. The film revolves around the child Adam Henry, played by Fionn Whitehead (Dunkirk). Emma Thompson’s character has to decide a whether the hospital has legal standing to authorize Adam to undergo a blood transfusion which will save his life or, grant him the autonomy to trust in a faith that prevents him from accepting blood products.

I found this movie serious and intense. A few of the heavy hitting topics this movie works through include:  religion, law, middle age marriage, affairs, and an infatuated youth of a mature woman.  How courts are governed in Britain, with their customs and rules is an interesting feature, as well. Lastly, the locations depicted in the film, are beautiful.

If you are looking for an excellent, cerebral movie, this is it! If, however, you are looking for a lighthearted movie with the normally-silly Stanley Tucci and Emma Thompson, keep looking!

The Christmas Card (2006)

DVD –  In the middle of a war in Afghanistan, Master Sargent Cody Cullen receives a Christmas card thru a random act of kindness and never leaves his side. Cody is drawn to the cover art (a picture from Nevada City, California) and the message. He considers the card a symbol of good luck to stay with him throughout the war. Once he is back in the USA, he decides to find the woman who wrote the magical card.

Faith’s long time, distant, Wall Street boyfriend Paul, out of the blue asks her to marry him. Who does she end up with, and what can a retired military officer give her, a corporate guy can’t?

The Christmas Card is one of my favorite Christmas movies! Though predictable to a degree there is enormous, deep passion between everyone. Also, it engages me to think about what life might be like for a man coming home from war. Definitely a warm and fuzzy holiday movie!

As You Wish by Chelsea Sedoti

Book – In As You Wish, author Chelsea Sedoti crafts a novel about the power of wishing.  In the small, boring town of Madison, the residents have a secret.  It is a secret they work hard to keep hidden from the prying eyes of the rest of the world, lest they be made a freak attraction.

In Madison, everybody gets a wish—one wish that will come true.    On your eighteenth birthday, you are led to the cave of wishes where the deed is done.  If it sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is.  The residents spend their youth conjuring up the perfect wish–to be the most beautiful, the best sportsman, to have the unconditional love and devotion of their chosen mate.  Many have made wishes that they will regret for the rest of their lives.  But there are no takebacksies.  No wish can be undone.

For 17 year old, Eldon, his upcoming wish is a source of stress and despair.  He fails to relate to the giddy excitement of his fellow classmates and friends as their wishing days also draw closer.  He is pressured constantly by his mother to do the right thing, to make a wish that will help his family and support those he loves.  What Eldon desires more than anything is to just ignore the whole tradition altogether and never make his wish.  Through the stories of other wishers and their mistakes, Eldon tries to understand how to make the best decision, a decision that could change his entire life for better or worse.  He’ll do anything he can to not make the same mistakes as those around him.

Year of No Sugar by Eve Schaub

Book – As a lover of all things sweet, Year of No Sugar by Eve Schaub sounded like the worst thing imaginable.  A whole year? No sugar!?  How awful!  Once I got over my initial shock, however, I immediately grabbed the book and started reading.

Eve was inspired to start her Year of No sugar project after reading books by obesity and sugar experts, including Dr. Robert Lustig.  Though Eve and her family led a relatively healthy lifestyle, she soon discovered sugar was in nearly everything they ate.  And so the project began.  The first few chapters introduce the planning of the project, as Eve consulted with her husband and two daughters on how the year would run out.  I loved the idea of doing this project as a family, having that support system to get through it together.  I can imagine the kids dismay, learning how their lives would be affected, and dealing with social pressures outside of the home with all things sugary and sweet.  Instead of going completely cold turkey, Eve and her husband finally decided on the 1 Dessert a Month rule.  Also, the two daughters could make their own decisions when it came to offerings of sweets at school, sleepovers, and other functions, as long as they were open to their parents when they did choose to indulge.

Eve is an honest, funny, and wonderful writer.  She managed to mix science with her own experiences without making my brain explode.  I appreciated her point of view, with the added input of her husband and children as they embarked on a journey not for the faint of heart.  Check out Eve Schaub’s newest memoir, Year of No ClutterOne book at a time, Eve is conquering my biggest vices.

 

 

Shot on Gold by Jaci Burton

Book- Will, a hockey player thru and thru and loves his life as one. This will be his second year at the winter games for Team USA.  At his first games, Will played, and partied, too hard. This year, however, he wants to take a step back to be in the moment.

Amber, a figure skater thru and thru, is attending the winter games for a third, and final, time. Although she is 26-years-old, she is considered past the “prime” age of competitors.  Nevertheless, she worked on a new routine and honed her skills for 4 years.  Amber has stood on the medal stand, but this year she is going for gold and nothing will get in her way. Always the good girl, she rarely left her room unless it was to practice. This year, Amber wants to do it all! Can she party, find a man to help her let loose, and win the gold?

I adore this series and like most of the other books, this one is likewise amazing. Author Jaci Burton does a fantastic job of detailing life in Olympic Village. I was drawn into the story and felt like I was experiencing life alongside Amber and Will. Of course, this is a romance novel, so the ever-looming question prevalent in most romance novels is,
“Will they stay together forever or was it just a fling?”  I thought of at least a dozen endings to this story, but Burton went above and beyond in her storytelling, tying things up with a little bow on top of the whole package.

This is the 14th book in the Play by Play series. We have several of the books in our library holdings.  Most of the titles are available on Hoopla.

Version Control by Dexter Palmer

Book–Set in the near future, Palmer’s novel follows Rebecca Wright, a thirty-something recovering alcoholic, and her physicist husband Philip. Philip has been working fruitlessly for many years on a causal volatility device (in layman’s terms, a time machine), and as far as he knows, has not been having much luck. Meanwhile, Rebecca has been having a nagging sense that something is not right; the president is not the right person, her friends’ personalities aren’t quite right, her life isn’t what it should be. Palmer has an interesting take on time travel that, without spoiling anything, powers much of the narrative. For me, the attraction of this book was the depiction of the near-future society, where the president delivers personalized messages to each citizen and cars drive themselves.

While the main character is not, in my opinion, likeable, she is very real and flawed. Palmer’s views on race, gender, marriage, and technology are very much on display here and, regardless of whether you agree with them, they are certainly interesting to read about and only occasionally preachy. Version Control is a perfect sci-fi and literary fiction blend sure to appeal to fans of Atwood’s Oryx and Crake and Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow.

Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern

Book – Sh*t My Dad Says is the hilarious, wonderful memoir detailing the quirky relationship between author Justin Halpern and his father.  As the title implies, readers will quickly discover the foul mouth of Justin’s always blunt, yet caring dad.  The memoir began online as a Twitter page titled “Sh*t My Dad Says,” which featured all the many quotes of Justin’s beloved dad.  All of Justin’s friends that his Dad’s quotes were hilarious and it soon became clear that the internet loved him too. The Twitter account quickly accrued a mass following with news stations requesting interviews with the writer and the man of the hour himself.

Justin is a very relatable narrator, chronicling life after college, moving back home, and trying to survive in the chaos of adultdom. The introduction starts with Justin’s longtime girlfriend breaking up with him, the catalyst that causes him to seek refuge at home while searching for new life prospects.  The life lessons his father instills upon him as a child, adolescent, and adult are often filled with-tough love, and are downright brutal.

Each chapter is titled with a different theme/life lesson and relevant Dad quote.
Justin traces stories of his childhood with his family and details the lessons he learned from his father.  Many of these stories are experiences that everyone shares, though of course with the special touch of Justin’s father.

The humor reminded me of author Jack Gantos, specifically his series featuring a young man named Jack Henry.  Gantos’ writing is full of crude, weird humor, very similar to Justin’s novel.

The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines

Book–Fans of the hit HGTV show Fixer Upper, which focuses on quickly renovating beat-up homes in Waco, Texas to turn a profit and give families their dream home, will be no stranger to Chip and Joanna Gaines, the down-to-earth husband and wife team at the heart of the show. The Magnolia Story traces Chip and Jo’s origins from their parents’ childhoods all the way to the present at their iconic farmhouse, dwelling on their great rapport with and respect for one another along the way. The Gaines come off as truly humble and grateful for the chance to improve Waco and help their family and employees through the opportunities afforded by the show.

I’m by no means a Fixer Upper superfan myself, so I can attest that there is plenty to enjoy here even for those who have seen only a few episodes of the show. I highly recommend the audio book version narrated by Chip and Joanna, which feels like a folksy conversation between the two and showcases their different versions of their shared story. While occasionally a little repetitive and with abrupt jumps in chronology, this fun, squeaky-clean, and meandering memoir will keep you entertained (and make you wish the show was still on Netflix).

Anything Is Possible by Elizabeth Strout

Book – Anything Is Possible is a set of connected short stories about the people living in the small, rural town of Amgash, Illinois. Retired school janitor Tommy Guptill reflects on the lives of some of the former students as he shops for a birthday gift for his wife. The three Barton siblings attended the school and  we learn about their difficult childhood and lives as adults. Linda Peterson-Cornell relates the consequences of her husband’s voyeurism and infidelities. A war veteran searches for love and redemption. I loved seeing characters through the eyes of different townspeople, as they encountered them in their daily lives. Despite the obstacles and difficulties they faced, there were also moments of grace and hope. I have found myself reflecting on these stories and on the bonds of families and friends. Stout also wrote Olive Kitteridge, My Name is Lucy Barton, Amy and Isabelle and other popular novels.

Letting Go by Maya Banks

Book – A tragic accident leaves Josslyn a widow and after three years, she finally decides to move on with her love life. She has a wonderful set of best girlfriends who help her grieve, but no one has been her rock moreso than Dash, her late husband Caron’s best friend. Carson’s childhood abuse meant that he was never able to fulfill Josslyn’s craving for dominance in the bedroom. Carson knew of Dash’s romantic interest in Joss, but was nevertheless secure in his marriage. In spite of the enormity of decisions and expectations laid out for herself, Joss secures a membership at The House, a safe and secure place to explore one’s inner sexual fantasies. Her first night, just as she steps in the door, Joss is confronted by Dash. He is furious upon seeing her, but is inevitably the one who introduces her to the world of BDSM.

I found this book to be an eye opener into the world of BDSM. Prior to Letting Go, book 1 of The Surrender Trilogy I had never read Maya Banks. Though the book touches on BDSM, it is a character driven story. I cried, laughed, blushed, and ohh la la ‘ed. This is for adults looking for a little steam, with surprises along the way. I highly recommend the series.  Letting Go is available in Book and digital, format for Kindle.