Some whimsy and calm before the storm. All the packages are wrapped with care awaiting squeals of little girls - Makyla is 9, Skylar is 2, Dakota is 7 months, and Abby (no doubt playing it cool) is 13.
Plenty of fun under the tree for all. We are very fortunate to be able to overindulge at Christmas time.
Family events begin on Saturday 12/23 and carry on through the weekend.
Then back to work for me on Tuesday and a blog break until after the New Year strikes.
I wish everyone all the best for the season. Peace on Earth, Goodwill Toward ...All!
More reviews, blather, and pics in 2018. I look forward to catching up with everyone then.
Meanwhile - Merry Christmas. Good health and good cheer. Happy New Year, too!
Sunday December 3rd our little writing/reading group gathered to celebrate Christmas, writing, and friendship. We enjoyed a fabulous meal cooked by Becky Thorne. We shared Christmas stories - some of our own or pieces we enjoyed from other sources. I pulled out something my mother saved from Mrs. Baldwin's Second Grade Class. Yes, I was a writer even back then.
Then we began a Christmas swap with wrapped used books that we chose to bring from our own libraries. Quite a collection that we switched, swapped, and fought over.
Interesting that Bonnie Pemberton brought a book called Pemberton. No relation, but she said it was quite good. I believe Peggy ended up with that one.
We were missing a few people (Stacy, Ann, and Beth), but this wacky group included
Lauren, Peggy, Bonnie, Me, plus Deb and Becky.
Naughty or Nice, it was a Word Gathering Festivity.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng is
HOT. Oh yeah. From the opening line - Everyone is Shaker Heights
was talking about it that summer: how Isabelle, the last of the Richardson
children, had finally gone around the bend and burned the house down - to
the last page, you will be mesmerized by this story. The characters are vivid.
The writing is brilliant. And this book “explores the weight of secrets,
the nature of art and identity, and the ferocious pull of motherhood – and the
danger of believing that following the rules can avert disaster.” (cover blurb)
Shaker Heights is a community that conforms. And the
Richardson family is key – Tripp (football star), Lexie (smart and popular),
Moody (name fits), and Izzy (non-conformist). The kids chafe at the bit to be
unique but it’s not in their DNA. Enter – Mia Warren and her daughter
Pearl. Enigmatic artist and a young scholar. They rent the Richardson’s second
house and become a part of the “family”. And yet, there’s conflict. Mia
does her art, but also cooks and cleans. She also encourages a fellow immigrant
woman to challenge for custody of her child from a Richardson best friend. The
whole area is in an uproar. Meanwhile, Pearl is best friends with Moody, but
ends up dating Tripp……how’s that brotherly love going to end? Lexie dates
another guy, ends up pregnant, and uses Pearl’s name when she visits a clinic.
Issues? Heck yeah. And Izzy. Oh Izzy……she’s transfixed and inspired by Mia’s
photography and approach to the world.
No wonder there’s a conflagration on many levels.
Celeste Ng has written an incredibly smart book. She knows people and delves
deep into the psyche. I really liked this book and shall not give any
more spoilers. The house burned down…………..and………….
Little Fires Everywhere will be on end of year
lists for 2017. It’s hot. Check it out.
Here is my baby sister, Lori, celebrating her birthday (11/25) at Longwood Gardens.
They are glorious. I've been there in the past - lovely light displays, the gardens themselves, and a wonderful fountain show.
It’s tough to read a Dan Brown book featuring his Professor
Robert Langdon, and not imagine actor Tom Hanks running around exotic locales
figuring out the mystery. The movie is already on the pages. Origin
is no different. Edmond Kirsch is a genius billionaire and futurist who
is about to make a bold announcement that will stun scientists and the world.
He was a student of Langdon, and claims his breakthrough will “answer a
fundamental question of human existence”.
In a huge presentation, guests are immersed in a multi-media
event. But chaos erupts, there’s a murder, and the “discovery teeters on the
brink of being lost forever.” (cover blurb). Robert Langdon must escape the
Bilbao museum with Ambra Vidal, the museum director and fiancée to the prince
of Spain, heir to the throne. Ambra was a good friend to Edmond and now
worried about a conspiracy. Key religious figures are disappearing, and perhaps
the Cardinal is to blame. “Navigating the dark corridors of hidden history and
extreme religion, Langdon must evade a tormented enemy.” Modern art, symbols,
and the usual mumbo-jumbo lead Robert Langdon to clues to uncover answers.
Origin by Dan Brown is an amusing read. It’s
breezy and skimmable, a fluff thriller that throws in a lot of blather to make
it sound edgy. And it should be another chance for Tom Hanks to run around
exotic locales. Thank goodness, he has job security.
Lady Bird is the first artsy movie in a while
that’s been on my radar, lived up to expectations, and is worthy of Oscars.
High praise. Saoirse Ronan is a formidable young actress and her portrayal of
Christine “Lady Bird” is amazing. She’s a senior who wants to leave…just
leave Sacramento – ready to fly the nest – head to NYC or anywhere. So her math
grades aren’t awesome and she has an attitude, but she’s very open to new
experiences. Chomping at the bit.
She’s a young lady with doting parents. The key is her
mother played by Laurie Metcalf (also Oscar worthy). The mom is a
nurse/counselor for a psychiatric hospital and works hard. She also puts up
with and fights “Lady Bird” on many levels, but it is with care and concern.
There are too many great moments to mention in this “little film”. It’s about life,
day to day interactions. It’s about Lady Bird surviving Catholic school. She
cares and yet bursts at the seams to not be Catholic. She’s excited about her
first boyfriend (Lucas Hedges) and then is disappointed. This movie is about
traversing that senior teen year when you just aren’t quite a grownup but think
you are. And meanwhile, your parent knows you aren’t a kid, but just
can’t let go.
Lady Bird is a gem with so many good moments.
It’s quiet even when it’s loud. It’s funny even when it’s poignant. I am
gushing and could see this again in a heartbeat. Go flap your wings, remember
your potential at eighteen, and see this film.
Coco is Pixar’s Hispanic reworking of the Wizard
of Oz. I have not read that anywhere, but that’s what struck me.
There’s no place like home or family is at the heart of the story. It is
a lovely story and movie. The animation is gorgeous. The story is rich. The
actors who voice the characters are excellent. I highly recommend this movie
for ages 6 and up. Based on the audience I sat with, those kids sat still,
stayed quiet, and enjoyed the flick. Any child younger – NO. Do not bring them.
Get a babysitter – no, I do not care if you are trying for family bonding. That
is rude for the rest of the audience.
So – Miguel wants to play music, but it is forbidden in his
family. On the Day of the Dead celebration, the family salutes the ancestors
but one man is cut out of all pictures. Miguel is sure it is Ernesto de la Cruz
– the greatest musician ever. So he steals Ernesto’s guitar from the mausoleum
and is suddenly sent to the afterworld in a transitory state. He must get
approval from an ancestor to return and be able to pursue music. But alas
there are complications. Miguel gets help from Hector who worked with Ernesto.
But there’s far more to that story……spoiler alert that I will NOT divulge.
Let’s just say it’s a race against time for great –great
grandmother Coco to not forget her true love. This is the key to Miguel’s
future. There’s murder, there’s death, there’s humor, and there is the
theme of life and family. All truly heartwarming and of course, it ends
well. Root for Miguel. Enjoy the brilliant palette of animation. I
really loved this movie and highly recommend it.
The Day of the Dead has a whole new meaning for me……
Claire Messud has another compelling read – The
Burning Girl. I really liked The Woman Upstairs, so when I
saw she had a new book I got on the library waitlist. It was worthy being in a
This is a coming of age book. Julia and Cassie have been
friends forever, but the dynamics change in adolescence – friendship, goals,
and actions. From the cover blurb – The Burning Girl is a complex
examination of the stories we tell ourselves about youth and friendship, and
straddles, expertly, childhood’s imaginary worlds and painful adult reality –
crafting a true, immediate portrait of female adolescence.
The author captures the ups and downs of girls, the
struggles and competition when boys enter the picture, and the issue of family.
Julia’s family is solid and caring. Cassie’s changes with a new stepfather. I
enjoyed this story and felt the pain and heartache of lost and found
friendship, deep history and concern even when paths diverge. Claire Messud’s
writing is very smooth and her characters and story flow will keep you
interested. Thumbs up on The Burning Girl.
Joanne Faries, originally from the Philadelphia area, lives in Texas with her husband Ray. She considers herself fortunate to be able to pursue a writing career after eons in the business world. Joanne enjoys reading and movies, and is the film critic for the Little Paper of San Saba.