The House at Royal Oak is a sweet memoir about a couple who decide to buy a ruined old house and turn it into a bed and breakfast. The author writes about the decision to change their lives completely and the challenges of fixing up an old building. I loved reading about the locals and the trials of starting such a project. 8/10.
I love a good BBC mystery series, and was psyched to stumble upon another one that fit the bill. Vera is about a crochety investigator in Northumberland. The murders are interesting and complicated. The scenery is lovely and the characters are really interesting and multi-faceted. It hits all the right spots for me.
The Everafter is a YA novel told from the confused point of view of a dead girl. It's a fast read, and I really appreciated how all the protaganist's relationships were important - not just the romantic one. I really liked all the mystery to it - the rules of the afterlife, how she died, and the meanings of the objects she finds. 6/10.
A bookmobile that only shows up at night? Intriguing. The Night Bookmobile was an interesting concept for a story but I couldn't find any way to understand its draw for the protaganist. It has a flaw that would make it any avid reader's worst nightmare. 3/10.
The Secret World of Arietty is another gorgeous animation from Studio Ghibli. I confess that I never read The Borrowers, but I remember it sitting on my grandma's bookshelf. I love how non-formulaic the Studio's movies are. The animation is fabulous - all those plants and details. Really lovely to watch. 6/10.
Life is certainly an adjustment these days. I'm on work leave which seems like it would lend itself to loads of free time. However, the baby is certainly and completely in charge. Sleep comes in 3 hour increments (when we're lucky!). Time is taken up with lots of feedings and diaper changes and naps (many of which happen while lying on me). We're cloth diapering so laundry is a daily task. Pretty soon, pumping is gonna be a regular job.
This means that books are generally things that can be read in the middle of the night during feedings. They must be easy to follow and light to hold up (seeing as how one hand is busy holding the babe).
Movies get started in the morning during feedings (did I mention that feeding is a pretty constant thing), paused when the babe is down for a nap so I can do luxurious things like shower or eat, and watched in 20 minute to half hour segments - longer when someone conks out on me.
However, we do enjoy lots of snuggles and milky grins and walks in the neighborhood while someone is conked out in the sling.
So expect more ramblings, movie reviewlets, and info on shorter and less complicated books - some of them children's books.
Bernie was an interesting watch. Based on a true story, the film is told with a mix of actors and the real townsfolk who knew the people involved. Jack Black is perfectly cast for the first time ever. It's a bit of a black comedy with a bit of sweet ridiculousness. I just love things that get the small town feel right, and this fits that bill. 6/10.
Talk about timely - Can Mr. Smith Get to Washington Anymore? is about a teacher with no political experience running for a Congressional seat. The political ads are tiresome these days (particularly if you live in a swing state!) but this documentary is refreshing. The staffers enthusiasm and hardwork will make you smile. 6/10.
Today was one of those perfectly lovely days. It was gorgeous and sunny, so I popped the baby in a sling and wandered off to the coffee shop for some chai while listening to the Double X podcast. Then we visited the new little flower shop on the corner and bought some pretty orange dahlias to brighten up the house. So great!
Little Bee was a really unique book - about a refugee teenager and an English mother. I knew that pretty much everyone had read it, and that it had great reviews so I picked it up. I had no idea what I was getting into.
The book is good. It's well-written and tells an important story. It is not however a great read for a new mother whose hormones have yet to settle into normal status yet. It was a brutal read and towards the end I was just determined to finish so I could move onto something that wouldn't freak me the hell out and decide to lock my baby up somewhere safe for all time.
So if you're feeling a bit fragile, maybe put this one off until you've shored yourself way up. 5/10.
“We could endlessly reminisce, live in the past to an unhealthy degree, then politely kill each other some winter night before bedtime, stirring poison into our cups of whiskey-spiked chamomile tea, wearing party hats. Then, nervous about our double homicide, we could lie in bed together, holding hands again, frightened and waiting, still wondering, after all these years, if we even believed in our own souls.”
Gorgeous, right? I adored the characters (an octogenarian obit writer and her family) and the premise was fascinating. At the end though, it felt like things petered out a bit. Still a pretty great read. 6/10.
Sidewalls is an Argentinian film following two people who are a great match but have not met. It's charming and rather sweet. The beginning of the film is rather visually dark and claustrophobic (which totally fits the story). However, if that sort of thing gets to you, watch it on a sunny day with the blinds wide open. I loved how the story concludes. 6/10.
Home is a documentary following a single mother and her children who live in public housing and want to better their situation. It's an honest look at the struggles one family faces and how hard it can be to change. I work for a social service charity, and we often lament how those in need are expected to be perfect in order to be considered the "deserving poor." Everyone is human and flawed. That does not mean that folks do not deserve compassion. /end rant. 7/10.
Take Back Halloween is a resource for women who don't feel the need to limit their Halloween costume choices to "sexy _______." Awesome! (Kinda tickled that two of the costumes featured are for ladies I dressed up as the last couple of years - Medusa and Frida Kahlo.)
More Baths Less Talking is the perfect book for someone in my situation. Almost two weeks ago, our little babe made an early arrival. We're ecstatic and adjusting to interupted sleep, feeding the kiddo every two hours or so, and lots and lots of diaper changing. It's absolutely fantastic. (Keeping my promise not to turn into a mommy blogger though!)
This book was perfect for dipping into during late night feedings while absolutely exhausted. Hornby writes about the books he's purchased, the books he'd read, and his opinions on all. I so enjoy these essays. This is his fourth book like this - all collected from his column in The Believer. I may need to go ahead and get a subscription. 8/10.
A Good Year sounded up my alley. An Englishman inherits a vineyard in France and hijinks ensue. It kind of missed the mark though. The actors seemed pretty mis-cast. The story was not so great. But the scenery was rather lovely. 3/10.
My Friend Dahmer is a graphic novel recounting the high school years of the infamous serial killer. My little brother (aka my library fairy) reserved it for me at the library - his way of making a suggestion.
I would not have picked this one up on my own but I'm glad I did read it. It did not delve into gruesomeness. It was more sad and disturbing. 6/10.