Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng is
just brilliant writing that sweeps you into a family saga. I was captivated by
this story – curious, caring, and interested.
Cover blurb – “Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this
yet.” What an opener of a tale about a Chinese American family living in 1970s
small town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child, and her parents are determined
that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But that’s a lot
of pressure. When her body is found in the local lake (not a spoiler),
the delicate balance act that has been keeping the Lee family together is
destroyed, tumbling them into chaos.
Hannah, the second daughter, plays second string. But now
she has to deal with the shadow of Lydia. What happened? And she’s her own
person who misses her sister, cares about her parents, worries about her
parents, and tries to make up for the huge missing link that is Lydia.
Nathan, the son, also has to grasp the gravity of Lydia dead. It’s all
Parents, Marilyn and Lee, both worked hard to overcome a
“mixed” marriage. Dealing with prejudice can take its toll too. This
book has so many layers of issues, but it does not beat you over the head as
you read it. You just flat out care – you care about the parents and where they
are coming from. You care about the pressures on youth these days. And there’s
a sadness too. Celeste Ng captures a family in chaos and pulls the past and
present together with her story. Everything I Never Told You will
grab your gut and not let go.
Support your local theater. I enjoyed a cheap Saturday night ($22) at Onstage Bedford. The group did Lone Star Love Potion - an adult farce. It was corny, slapsticky farce and yet had enough twists and turns to keep me interested. The actors worked hard and gave it their all. The small theater was sold out and I was five minutes from home. What's not to like?
Who was scheming over whom? Who was jumping into bed with whom? Property, a potion, a will...oh, there's trouble over land, and you can bet that multiple parties are involved. The heiress, the butler, the neighbor, and the lawyer....all might have a hand in the game.
This was silly, amusing fun. And I was out past 10 pm on a Saturday night......big time!!!
Tully is part of a trifecta and is not for
everyone. I personally love director Jason Reitman, writer Diablo Cody, and
actor Charlize Theron. I loved Juno, Young Adult, and now Tully
proved trickier but good. Had to think, not for everyone, seriously – not for everyone,
and yet well done. A couple behind me - the woman kept saying “ I
don’t like dark movies. This is dark. It’s depressing. I don’t like this.”
I wanted to turn and say – Crap, lady – just leave!!!!
But no, I contained myself and she shut up for most of it. Yes, you had
Charlize plays Marlo – pregnant in her 40s with two
kids. One – Jonah – is a challenge – definitely on the autism spectrum
and being kicked out of his school as “quirky” in kindergarten. Not good.
Husband (the ever patient and solid Ron Livingston) is working hard and giving
it his best but is still clueless. His brother (Mark Duplass) is highly
successful and he and his wife just have it all. Marlo and crew are
So we watch her waddle, give birth, and then try to be the
perfect mom for all. Can she make the cupcakes? Can she help Jonah? Is
she setting a good example for her daughter? Tough call. The brother has
offered to pay for a night nurse – a woman who will come in, help, and allow Margo
to sleep, pull herself together, and be what she needs to be for the
family. Too good to be true? Mackenzie Davis is Tully – a free
spirit young lady with lots of New Age wisdom. We watch Margo relax, seemingly
get her crap together, and become the mother she needs to be.
But there’s so much more to this journey. Motherhood
is hard. Motherhood in the 40s is harder. This movie has weird
twists and turns…….you have to go with it to complete the full
creation. Like I said, it’s odd and yet it works. Charlize
Theron is just beyond fantastic – she can play dumpy and feeling awful, and
then be luminescent and real and beautiful. If you see this, you will root for
Who’s not in Avengers: Infinity War? Ant-Man
who has a movie this summer with Wasp (Paul Rudd), the Arrow dude (Jeremy
Renner), and maybe someone else I can’t think of as I am not a fanatic.
Otherwise, the whole gang is around to battle Thanos (Josh Brolin) who’s
huge and just wants to have all the power and kill half of humanity. No other
reason that I could fathom, but what the heck. He was busy gathering Infinity
stones from various planets and sacred keepers. The stones represent
Power, Soul, Time, Reality, Mind, and Space. So it’s up to our favorite
super heroes to try to work together, avoid death, and save the planet. Just
This movie is filled with non-stop action, battles, quick
quips, power struggles, team work, and off the cuff maneuvers. It’s fun and
trippy and keeps the sagas moving along. Loki (Tom Hiddleston) vs. Thor
(Chris Hemsworth), Thor with Star Lord (Chris Pratt), Iron Man (Robert Downey
Jr) and Spider Man (Tom Holland), Black Panther and Captain America and Black
Widow and….the story circles between different planets and Wakanda and the USA
as different stages occur in the fight. Dr.Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is
holding onto the Time Stone – you think he’s in danger? And Vision with
the Mind Stone embedded in his head. The Scarlett Witch does her best to keep
him safe. If you have not watched any of the Marvel movies, then you will
be lost. If you are up on the saga, then this movie will blow your mind. And
poor Mark Ruffalo keeps trying to summon the Hulk, but the big guy isn’t angry
enough. How can that be?
Fun, fast paced kick butt blockbuster – Avengers:
Infinity War ramps up the summer movie season. And yes, stay for
that after the credits Marvel teaser….whoa!
The Gunners by Rebecca Kauffman is a
winner. Finally I can give a thumbs up review. I was hooked from
the beginning. Mikey Callahan is a very sympathetic character. At thirty
years old, he’s the only one of the old gang to stay in the same town. His
vision is degenerating and he really has no life – he works, he lives, he has a
cat. But he learns a childhood friend, Sally, committed suicide. Dang. This is
a blow. Slowly we learn that the strong friendship as kids deteriorated and
Sally left the group in high school. No one knew why. Now, as everyone
comes back into town for the funeral, the group gathers and stories come out.
The Gunners was the name given to their private clubhouse group.
Cover blurb – Mikey especially needs to confront dark
secrets about his own past and his father. How much of this darkness accounts
for the emotional stupor Mikey is suffering from as he reaches his
maturity. And can the Gunners, prompted by Sally’s death, find their way to a
new day? The core of this adventure, made by Mikey, Alice, Lynn, Jimmy, and Sam,
becomes a search for the core of truth, friendship, and forgiveness.
I liked all of the characters and could feel their pain and
concern, and their need to find the truth. Sally, in death, is also a
hovering ghost that you, the reader, will care about.
Kauffman is a solid writer who writes deep characters and
a solid plot that keeps moving and keeps you guessing. The layers of life
in The Gunners are deep and worth exploring. Excellent read. I am
delighted to give a solid thumbs up.
Monday Moment fun. My book reviews last week were far too serious. Time for some goofy.
How's this - Dakota will turn 1 end of May. She's exerting personality. Third girl in the family. Oh, is she learning from those big sisters? Yikes
Two birthday girls. Skylar turned 3 on 5/2. She's a stinker. And then Dakota is right there in the middle of trouble. Big sis Makyla isn't pictured here.
Lots of energy in that household. Hope I made you smile on a Monday.
As much as I was enamored by The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, I was a bit beat down by Alias Grace. I can't fault the writing. Ms.Atwood has a tremendous way with words and a rich style. Perhaps it was the characters. I was interested in Grace and her story, but bogged down by the doctor who was interviewing her. The book seemed to drag on and I found myself skimming. Yet, I did want to know what happened to Grace.
She was convicted for her involvement in vicious murders of her employer. Was she a misguided innocent, caught up by the older co-worker? Or was she a scheming cold blooded killer? She did not seem to remember a thing from the murders. Now Dr. Simon Jordan, an expert in the new field of mental illness, has been hired to explore her mental condition and seek a pardon. In the back and forth of the circumstances leading up to the murders, Atwood builds quite a foundation of hardship for an orphan girl in Gilead.
I also tried to watch the series based on Alias Grace and was not pulled into the show either. So, perhaps this was just not my cup of tea all around.
The Rocks by Peter Nichols was annoying.
The premise was good, but the execution was very disjointed and disconcerting.
From the cover blurb - What mysterious catastrophic
event drove honeymooners Gerald and Lulu apart so suddenly and absolutely in
1948 that they never spoke again despite living on the same island?
Let’s just say, she is really annoying. Gerald – I
liked. His kid is good and his intentions are fine. Lulu and her son,
Luc……….really annoying. I kept reading, waiting for a redeeming moment……..and
it never came. The back story – eh. The front story – eh. I bought
this book on a half-price sale table and can’t say it was worthwhile. I
hate to give up on a book……….
No, don’t get this from the library or buy it half price
An American Marriage by Tayari
Jones is absolutely an awesome read. It’s an Oprah pick. It should be one
for every book club in America. I finished this book, shut it with a whoa in my
brain, and had to pause. I love a book like that. The writing is brilliant. The
characters are rich. And Ms. Jones just taps into so many themes.
Awesome. Get this book from the library or buy it. Huge thumbs up.
From the cover blurb – Love makes a place in your life.
It makes a place for yourself in your bed. Invisibly it makes a place in your
body, rerouting all our blood vessels, throbbing alongside your heart. When it
is gone, nothing is whole again.
Before I met you, I was not lonely, but now I’m so lonely
I talk to the walls and sing to the ceiling.
Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are heading to her parent’s home
in LA when he’s arrested. Say what? It’s a young black man, wrongly
accused. Ultimately what occurs for him and her is still a part of the American
nightmare. He was on the road to success. She also has her dream coming
true. But An American Marriage brings home the challenges
for young successful blacks in real America.
Ms. Jones is a skillful author who writes the truth.
Read and be in awe of an amazing author.
This couple could be any of us – black or white, young or
old. I truly loved this book, the characters, and the dilemma faced. Sad,
heartfelt, and heartrending. Read and judge yourselves,
Tuesday evening was perfect baseball temperature - 80 degrees, light breeze. And The Ballpark in Arlington was a ghost town. I liked this Eat More Fowl sign on the 3rd base line. Notice lack of fans
The Ranger mascot waved his flag to no one, except us - we were in the 2nd deck - great seats and view. Except when the only four people to arrive late plopped right in front of us. Seriously? You don't have to sit in your ticketed seats when there are lots to choose from. Must we all cram together?
Even I (with bad eyes) can see the monster screen. We were counting on Cole Hamels to pitch well, but he seems to have lost his mo-jo.
So, V for Victory (or Not)....the or NOT prevailed once again...and another decent player got injured and will be out for awhile. Sad baseball times in Arlington Texas and it's downhill for a long hot summer.
Went to visit my Dad last weekend in suburban Philly. He's hanging in there - hobbling about at 86 in the house where I grew up. He's a hoot - loves his sweets, keeps up with ABC news, is appalled at the current administration, and snoozes plenty. But he kept me hopping - fetching stuff, fixing stuff, and re-arranging. I inspected the fridge and threw away a few gems from 2016!!! Yikes!
These lovely pics are from a walk around the block. It was brisk - spring is very late arriving. On Saturday 4/14, the temp hit 80 or so. Then boom - a big plummet to 30 or so. And on Tuesday, teensy snowflakes fell. That's just wrong for mid April
I got to eat my favorite - Pudge's cheesesteak. Got to hang with friends - plenty of laughs. And time with Dad is precious - we have a grand time
I've shown this before - yes, a rotary phone in the kitchen with an added keypad. He won't get rid of it because then he'd have to re-paint the wall. This phone has to be the most expensive phone in history - AT&T has made a bloody fortune from his monthly payment. Crazy - well, yeah...but hey, it's part of the house.
I've been just shadowing the A to Z - not doing official posts. But here's my Friday R contribution.
In this day and age, a certain someone (sadly) has been a HUGE influence on proper decorum. Now I'll admit, maybe I'm just not in step with 2018 morals, accepted behavior, and current code of conduct. That's fine by me. I do not participate in Twitter, and from what I read in sound bites, I'm judging it as appalling. This is strictly MY opinion. I'm not a hot demographic - I'm not in the "base" (thank goodness - again, my opinion). But, I personally cannot see where total rudeness wins. Why be ugly just to be ugly?
Anyway, here are some quotes that I felt applied to the topic of Rudeness:
All words are pegs to hang ideas on - Henry Ward Beecher 1887
A Deluge of Words, and a Drop of Sense - Thomas Fuller 1732
Words - so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become, the the hands of one who knows how to combine them - Nathaniel Hawthorne 1847
All our words from loose using have lost their edge - Ernest Hemingway 1932
You can stroke people with words - F. Scott Fitzgerald 1945
A word out of season may mar a whole life - saying (Greek)
Have a super good weekend, and ponder what you say, what you read, and how you interpret words.
P is for Pie. When you walk out of Waitress, the musical, you will want a slice of pie. I'm not even a "pie" person, and I wanted some pie. This touring production of a Broadway show was heavenly. Good story (based on the movie starring Keri Russell). Great singing (tunes by Sara Bareilles). Good acting. And just a fun theater experience. I was lucky to see this at a matinee in Dallas.
Jenna is in a rather loveless marriage. She was too young and now feels trapped since she's pregnant. Earl is abusive. But her job at Joe's Pies allows her to create and vent. Her grouchiest customer is Joe himself and thank goodness she treats him right. Her best friends at the diner are Becky and Dawn.
The show is about grit and determination. It's about taking no crap and taking care of yourself. It's about dreams and making those dreams come true.
The soundtrack is fabulous. Fun, excellent show. Sugar, Flour, Butter..........that's the key to making dreams come true.
Leonardo Da Vinci – beyond brilliant man. Artist, sculptor,
architect, inventor, imagination extraordinaire. This genius is beyond
adjectives and description. Yet, author Walter Isaacson, in his opus – Leonardo
Da Vinci– brings the man alive in amazing detail. This book is
heavy – both physically and linguistically. This is a rich book – the
publication is beautiful: lovely presentation, rich reproductions of paintings,
and dense printing – nice pages. This is not a cheap book and I advise buying
the official hardcover. It’s worth the investment.
Cover blurb – Leonardo’s ability to combine art and
science, made iconic by his drawing of what may be himself inside a
circle and a square, remains the enduring recipe for innovation. His life
should remind us of the importance of instilling, both in ourselves and our
children, not just received knowledge but a willingness to question it – to be
imaginative and, like talented misfits and rebels in any era, to think
That’s the key to this fascinating book – question. Leonardo
woke up thinking outside the box. Every day was an experiment – whether art,
sculpture, defense weapons, flying, and any scientific properties, he conducted
experiments, kept journals, and asked questions. Optics, math,
perspectives in art, autopsies – you name it – he dug in deep to find
answers. Every page of this book is filled with extraordinary research on
a man who affects life today. Isaacson’s writing keeps the reader engaged and
amazed. Contemplate the Mona Lisa, The Last Supper, and more. Just wow…….
L is for Leonardo Da Vinci – the man, the book
– explore and learn more………and just say wow.
A Quiet Place is truly a solid, brilliant,
subtle horror flick. Directed by John Krasinski, it stars him and his
real life wife, Emily Blunt and they are SO good. She can say so much with her
eyes and her face reflects so many feelings. The first part of this movie
is about family – albeit under crazy circumstances. Silence rules. The world
appears to have ended. Creatures who attack, based on sound, rule.
The key is quiet – barefoot, playing monopoly with cloth tokens, using sign
language, and no sound.
The first glimpse of horror is with the “baby” boy – age
4-5. On a foray to a store, he wants a toy rocket. The dad says no – too noisy.
The sister (brilliant young actress who is deaf – Millicent Simpson) grabs it
for him, and he nabs the removed batteries). The family is walking home when
suddenly there’s sound – the kid put in the batteries and is playing – oh the
joy………..until a creature leaps from nowhere and wipes that kid away. Dang
freakin’ scary. This was day 73.
Fast forward to day 473. Oh so much sadness and yet living.
Mom is pregnant – now how can they bring a baby into this world? The
middle son is afraid of life. He doesn’t want to go out with Dad to learn how
to survive – get fish, etc. His eyes show fear. Whereas his deaf sister wants
to go, she’s resilient, but there’s a deeper issue. Do the parents blame her
for the death of the youngest boy? Well, no, but she’s beat herself up about
it. This film is about family dynamics, love, and survival. It’s tight
and in ninety minutes, it’s relentless. The creatures are fierce and it’s all
about sound and frequency. I will not give away more.
Hold your breath and appreciate A Quiet Place
for great story telling and acting. And I dare you to sit, watch, and not JUMP!
Hey - It's a Monday. H is the letter. I'm killing time. Here I am at the Dallas Arboretum in March. It was a gorgeous day and everyone looks good flanked by tulips.
History - yikes - let's go to the way past. Here are the siblings surrounding my grandmother. Can't say what year. We are all quite young, but yes I'm am the oldest. I beat my brother by five years, my sister by ten. Yowza
and another in the family living room. Nothing has changed.... except us. A lot older, maybe wiser, and yep - still Humble.
Ray and I saw Gretchen Carlson at the final UTA Maverick, Speaker session for this school year.
She was awesome. This woman was a former Miss America winner from Minnesota. She's a Stanford graduate. She's a successful journalist from NBC, CBS, and Fox News. As a registered independent, she prides herself on her lack of bias. She worked hard to get where she was, and unfortunately encountered sexual harassment along the way.
Enough was enough. Twenty months ago, she was the first very public face to call out her harasser - Roger Ailes from Fox. She brought down this mogul fair and square and opened up a whole new world in regards to the workplace. Women from all walks of life - rich and poor, black and white, old and young said "enough was enough." Time's Up. Me Too. You name the tag line - we could all relate. I include myself in regards to some verbal situations. Women should not have to question themselves. They should not have to worry about their jobs if they don't "submit" to something ridiculous.
Ms. Carlson gave an excellent talk and her continuing work to empower women is awesome. She was quite inspirational and her true hope is that her kids and those of the next generation do NOT have to put up with such crap. I truly hope her work is not in vain.
I am having fun shadowing our A - to - Z gang. I'm following so many - they are listed in my Blog Followings - awesome material all around
Here are just two quotes from the news this past month. Consider this a debrief and commentary.
Interpret as you wish
This can be a very mean-spirited town, but you don't have to choose to participate in that. Each of us gets to choose the person we want to be, and the way we want to be treated, and the way we will treat others - Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson - farewell speech to the State Department.
(my personal opinion and take - classy dude who could only take so much. He was fired, but left with his head held high)
Y'all can stare at your phones all night, but I pull a book out of my purse and suddenly I'm the anti-social one - North Texas comedian Katy Evans.
Steve Robinson writes Jefferson Tayte genealogical
mysteries. The Lost Empress is his fourth in the series, but does
stand alone. A foggy night in 1914, the Empress of Ireland sinks in the
St.Lawrence River. It crossed the ocean from England. Cover blurb – When
genealogist Jefferson Tayte is shown a locket belonging to one of the Empress’s
victims, a British admiral’s daughter named Alice Stillwell, he must travel to
England to understand the course of events that lead to her death.
As an expert tracker, Tayte unravels truths about a maritime
tragedy, pre-WWI espionage, and Alice’s life. Plus he’s caught up in solving a
present day murder too. In The Lost Empress, the author takes us
back and forth in time in various chapters. We meet Alice, a
strong-willed young woman, who is entangled in a kidnapping and ransom plot.
Being the daughter of an admiral presents her with opportunities that cause her
a lot of grief. Alice’s story part of this book is strong and well written. As
the story builds toward her boarding the Empress, intrigue grows.
Meanwhile, the Jefferson Tayte part of the book has
various interesting parts, but also aspects that bog down the action. I
found him to be a tad preachy and ponderous at times. I found I zoomed
through his chapters to get back to Alice. Ultimately, bits all tie together in
a very satisfying ending. I won’t give anything else away. The Lost
Empress is a quick breezy read. It was a book club selection but I’m
not sure how much there is to discuss. If you are going on a cruise, look out
for spies on the upper deck!
Simon Spier (a charming Nick Robinson) is seventeen and
considers himself a “normal” teen who’s fortunate. He’s got great friends
(Katherine Langford, Logan Miller, et al), wonderful parents (Josh Duhamel and
Jennifer Gardner), a sister he enjoys, teachers he likes, and plans for the
future. But. There’s always a but. He’s got a secret and it’s really starting
to bother him more and more. He is gay and it’s getting harder to hide it. He’s
known since junior high age. He dated girls but the spark wasn’t there. Now
Love, Simon is a sweet movie with a nice
message about being true to yourself. This does not hammer the issue over your
head. It’s not trying to convert anyone. The movie shows a really nice kid who
just wants to live his life, not make a big deal out of it, but be able to move
on and find true love. Throw stereotypes out the window – he dresses on the
preppy side, but just like every other kid shopping at the Gap or wherever. He
likes current music, movies, and his best friend is female. He doesn’t want to
change the dynamic of his life. Posted on an anonymous “facebook” like
school page, another young man nicknamed “Blue” basically says the same thing –
“I’m gay, but it’s a secret and my life is like a ferris wheel full of ups and
downs.” Simon starts emailing Blue and feels a connection.
Slowly, Simon deals with his secret, deals with a cyber
bully issue, deals with hurt friends, tells his folks, and goes through a
miserable period. So, will he find “Blue”? Will his friends accept him
again? How are his dad and mom? Love, Simon is a bit Hollywood
neat – ties up a lot of issues in less than two hours. But it’s a refreshing,
funny, and well done movie. Good acting and a good message for anyone. Root for
Simon. You do have to be true to yourself before you can move on in any aspect
I'm always preaching to support local theater. Here's a reason why - just a really nice afternoon spent listening to Stephen Sondheim tunes from his various Broadway Shows. Onstage Bedford did a nice, thoughtful production. This is the last weekend to see it. Four of the five vocalists were quite decent. One young woman was a tad "pitchy" but that's being nit-picking. She gave it her all, as did the others in the show.
I found that hearing the Sondheim tunes in independent scenes, rather than in his complete shows, I really heard the words and had some different interpretations. Maybe a tad deeper. His music is "tough" in my opinion. You don't come out humming like a Rogers & Hammerstein musical. Sondheim is darker - explores a lot of the human psyche.
Good show, no seat has a bad view, worthy sound, and worth my twenty dollars!
Check out local talent in your area. These folks are working hard for your entertainment
My father - dapper dude back in the day. No doubt he was driving a car with huge fins
My mom - what can I say - no wonder she hooked my father
So, I've been digging in the the archives - not a lot of history pictures, but this is fun for a Monday moment. What's funny is my dad has shrunk and lost hair, but his face has not changed. He truly looks sorta the same at 86 and still attempts dapper. Fashion pride - it does kill him to not wear fitted slacks and decent shoes these days.
Let's all start the week with some pride - accessorize in some way...or slap on some decent shoes!
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.