Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body,
but rather to skid in broadside, totally worn out & proclaiming “Wow, What a Ride!”

movies & books

my favorite pastime is watching movies and reading books. just give me a great book or movie and i am in 10th heaven with no other needs-  seriously!

most of the time i just happen upon something that turns out to be extraordinary or surprisingly wonderful; my tastes are not of the norm; that which is on the bestseller list usually is not my cup of tea.  i hope you find something new that you too can enjoy.

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World War Z  I like Brad Pitt for his humanitarian efforts, his acting is not bad and this is a terrific story. I'm not a fan of zombies and their movies, but this story of a pandemic of them caused by an unknown infection had me mesmerized. Intense, action-packed and well done. Based on a book so it's not your screenplay quickly dreamed up to make money. Warning, not for kids. It’s not gory, the focus is on the story not how freaky you can make zombies look; but it does leave an impression and in truth, could happen. 


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this is without a doubt my all time favorite book and author

*****
Lion of Ireland is the breathtaking chronicle of Brian Boru, my most admired male figure in history, the Great King who led the bickering chiefs of Ireland to unity under his reign. He overthrew traditions, reformed society, and became the Irish Charlemagne. The Ireland of 1014 was a dream Brian Boru had dreamed and brought into being.

The story begins when an eight-year old Brian, the youngest son of the King of Dal Cais, discovers his homestead burned and his mother and two of his brothers slain by Vikings. Brian's hatred of the Vikings fuels his ambition. As a grown man, he leads skirmishes against the Limerick Vikings , luring many to their death, and in time becomes the King of Munster and ultimately High King (Ard Ri) of all of Ireland.

This is my favorite book. I grew up having historical fiction read to me by my father when I was six. Edison Marshall was his favorite historical fiction wirter, Morgan Llewelyn is mine. The way she weaves fact with fiction fills in the possibilities left unknown; she lists in the back of her novels what she knows to be fact so that the reader has an idea what is history and what is filler.  You would not go wrong to read any of her novels.

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Tears of the Sun  
****
Bruce Willis, Monica Bellucci, Eamonn Walker. After an African nation descends into anarchy, an elite special forces team is sent in to evacuate American doctors, but they won't leave without their patients, who were not part of the evacuation plan.

This is an awesome movie with a wonderful performance by Bruce Willis and his fellow cast. Not your “Die Hard, get beat up and survive against even the rath of God” movie; but a powerful, dramatic, and heartfelt story about a hardened, by the book, soldier who realizes while on a special mission that sometimes you just have to do the right thing. No more need be said, other than if you haven't seen this movie, you've been missing one of Willis's best. Definitely not for kids due to some brief violence which shows the evil that people can do who crave ascendancy. 


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****
Restoration 
I spotted this movie while scrolling through Netflix one afternoon and decided to watch it. Although, I like all the actors that were featured and I really love "period" movies, I didn't have my hopes too high for any really "catch my breath" moments... I was wrong.

This film is like walking into a bunch of 17th century paintings that have come alive. For those of you who groan at that, I defy you to dislike this film. Whatever Robert Downey was going through as he was starring in this gorgeous film, there is no doubt he had been born to be an extraordinarily gifted actor with enormous range. A young Hugh Grant (a very brief moment) worked his magic in a small part, as did Ian McKellan, Sam Neill, David Thewliss and Meg Ryan in their roles. Exuberant and sobering, keeps you on your toes

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The Book of General Ignorance – John Lloyd & John Mitchinson

This is a book for two types of people. Those who know.  And those who don't know. Those who know will read it because they would like to be sure that they know everything that they think they know. Those who don't know will read it because they would like to know what it is that they don't know. Got it?

Irrespective of which camp you belong to, I think that most people who enjoy making small talk and conversation OR people interested in trivia, would find this book an enjoyable read. The topics covered are diverse and each "nugget" or "factoid" has been presented in an extremely interesting way. A great way to cover general knowledge with the kids also.

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DailyOM: Inspirational Thoughts for a Happy, Healthy, and Fulfilling Day - Madisyn Taylor

I love this book. The author has daily online writings. This book is inspired from those I'm sure. I love it because no matter where I open the book up at the writings on that page are what I need that day. Not a book to start at the beginning and read to the end. An inspirational book and a very good one too. I hope she comes out with another.


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Skellig: The Own Man-  Tim Roth

This moving tale of a boy who befriends a mysterious man with unearthly powers will cast a spell on the entire family! Young Michael hates his dilapidated new home, he's worried about his sick baby sister and hes bullied at school. But life changes when he stumbles upon "Skellig" hiding out in a backyard shed, and quickly realizes that there's something very special about him. As magical things start to happen, an entirely new world opens up to Michael, who turns to a reluctant Skellig for help when his baby sister takes a turn for the worse. Don't miss this unforgettable story about the power of friendship and family, the beauty of hope. Loved it!

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Moody Cow Meditates - Kerry Lee McLean

This one was recommended by a friend for my nephew who was having difficultly dealing with anger/emotional issues. It worked!
Here is my friend's review she put on Amazon.

I liked the author's prior book on meditation for kids, Peaceful Piggy Meditation, but I think I like this one even better. It is funnier, and teaches a meditation that many preschool and elementary age children will love. The story centers around a young cow/boy who has had a VERY bad day (thus earning him the nickname 'moody cow'). He has a bad dream, his sister bugs him, he misses the school bus, he gets in a bicycle accident - like I said, a VERY bad day. And he gets VERY angry. To help calm him down, his grandfather helps him make a 'mind-jar', where sparkles swirling in agitated water represent his angry thoughts. Then he 'meditates' on the mind-jar by watching it until all the sparkles settle peacefully at the bottom. At that point, of course, he is feeling much better himself too.

Not only is this a great way to introduce meditation (instructions for the mind-jar are included in the back), but it also provides a way to talk about difficult emotions, and the situations in kid's lives that make them feel that way, in an open and non-punitive fashion. And it's appropriate for parents, teachers, and kids of any religious (or non-religious) background - meditation is not presented within a religious framework. Highly recommend!
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Who Moved My Cheese?:  An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life-- Spencer Johnson M.D.

This book, published ages and ages ago, still holds true and I enjoy bringing it out every so often to refresh my perspective. Even though a bit trite, this book has put into words the feelings we all have of insecurity and selfishness when it comes to making changes. It hurts to see the mice make the change without discussion, while we run in circles asking each other what it wrong. This book is alarmingly forthright. Certainly we all know what the lesson is, and what to do, but when it is put in the context of a parable it is harmless and therefore digestible. I loved this book, and will read it over and over until the simple message is absorbed. I plan to give it to my friends, as well as inspire others to get it. Simple, yes. But, also necessary.

There is a version for teens too: Here a teenage student presents the parable (identical to that featured in the adult version) in the high school cafeteria: two mice and two "Littlepeople" (Hem and Haw) who search for cheese in a maze and react to change in distinctly different ways. In a concluding discussion, the friends apply the parable to specific situations in their lives. The author's message about the importance of anticipating, accepting and using change to improve one's life can surely benefit this audience. Ages 10-up.

And last but not least, there is a wonderfully illustrated version for younger kids grades 2nd to 5th

A review from a friend: My kids love this book. For my 5 year old it's just about some mice and small people. My nine year old gets it. When we read this book at bedtime I don't have to read another because they both love this book. It is a must have for anyone wanting their kids to develop "just do it" attitudes.




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The Reckoning - Willem Dafoe, Paul Bettany

The medieval setting of `The Reckoning' and its unique story reminds us of `The Name of the Rose,' but like that Sean Connery film, `The Reckoning' has more intriguing themes at its core than a simple whodunit. That part is there for you to be revealed at the end of the film, but before you know the answer of the mystery part of the film, you'll understand what this slightly talky but thematically riveting film is all about.

In the introductory chapter Paul Bettany, a priest Nicholas living in the 14th century England will be seen preaching and then running in the woods desperately. You might feel a bit boring watching this part, but please wait. The real story gets underway when Nicholas encounters a traveling band of actors. After the vote by the band's members, the troupe accepts Nicholas as the actor to fill the vacant post.

One very interesting twist can be found in the following part of the story. The actors arrive at the village where a woman is going to be executed for murder. The actors, pushed for money, decide to perform a new piece on stage based on this murder case, in which they re-enact the imagined process up to the murder. Their exploitation, however, ends up with unexpected reaction from the audience, which makes Nicholas think the possibility of the error of justice.  this one surprised me

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The Book of Awesome- Neil Pasricha

Adapted from his blog www.1000awesomethings.com, this book will make you look at life with a whole different perspective. Things we have taken for granted for so long, or have never really thought about in the first place, that we lose that little bit of awesome in our lives. The Book of Awesome is not the kind of book you sit down and read from cover to cover - it's the kind of book you keep in your car or your bathroom to pick up when you only have a few minutes or when you need a smile. It's the kind of book you buy for someone who needs a pick-me-up; this book reminds us all that no matter how bad it seems, there is a little awesome out there just waiting to be discovered. And happily, they are the everyday things we all can share and relate to. It's what you pick up when you need a reminder to slow down and enjoy the little things in life. The Book of Awesome is awesome, the blog is awesome! book 2 is out and just as awesome too!


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Heal Your Heart with Wine & Chocolate -
 Debora Yost

In Heal Your Heart with Wine and Chocolate veteran health journalist Debora Yost shows that these and 99 other easy-to-do heart-healthy practices for women do not have to be a series of life-altering "have-nots." Rather, they are "must-haves" that are mostly pleasurable and definitely life enhancing. Each how-to tip-from food and activity choices to relaxation methods and relationship strategies-is based on medical research that shows a measurable benefit in women.

The title draws you in for an easy "fix" but this book is full of healthy and easy to use advice;well written and researched with an eye catching lay out. A real winner for all women who either hope to prevent or need to heal their hearts.


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Emotional Freedom -- Judith Orloff

I have not read this book yet, it is on my to-read list, actually up next; the reviews have me intrigued. What caught my eye was her often used term "emotional vampires," which I have in my life and would love to learn how to live with them successfully saving my energies. Here is a blurb from Amazon about the book.

“We live in a tumultuous, fear-dominated period in history and must become masters at overcoming fear and other negative emotions so they don't sabotage our power. With skill and compassion, Dr. Judith Orloff shows us how to become heroes in our own lives by transforming anger, loneliness, and envy and more rather than simply "reacting" when our buttons get pushed. As an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA and intuition expert, Dr. Orloff shares her wealth of personal and professional knowledge to illuminate the field of emotions. She draws on wisdom from traditional medicine but goes light years beyond it by presenting emotions as a path to spiritual, energetic and intuitive awakening. Why is this leap so important? The intellect has restricted vision about emotions, but bringing intuition into the feeling realm lets us go deeper within.”


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CASE 39-- Rene Zellweger, Ian McShane, Bradley Cooper.

I love Renee Z, (On Cold Mountain, Chicago) she is a talented actress, there is no question about that. Case 39 is movie about an overworked social worker who happens upon a case where a child may be being abuse and steps in to help the child. The story keeps you intrigued throughout only getting predictable at the end, however, now you're really hooked and want to know exactly how it all ends.
**** 4 stars 


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the Jack Bull -- John Cusack & John Goodman

This is a really great movie, and one that has slipped under the radar for most people. John Cusack and John Goodman's performances are flawless. I would highly recommend this movie for anyone that is a fan of Westerns or even the casual movie watcher. You won't be disappointed. The Jack Bull was produced for and premiered on HBO. it is available on DVD.
When wealthy landowner Henry Ballard sets up a toll gate and takes two of Myrl Redding's horses in lieu of payment, Redding is enraged. But when those horses are starved and beaten almost to death, he demands justice. So begins a personal feud that becomes a war .. a war that becomes a manhunt ... and a trial that will lead to a unique kind of Western justice.
     ****  one of my forever favorites.

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THE POWER OF FLOW-- practical ways to transform you life through meaningful coincidence.

I have read many books which are directly about or recount examples of synchronicity and this is the one that absolutely resonated with my life experiences. If you cannot figure out why sometimes everything just clicks into place and why sometimes roadblocks show up at every turn AND you are willing to accept responsibility for the way your fears, prejudices, hopes, beliefs, experiences and dreams control the flow of your life, then this is the book for you. This book shows you how to assimilate key principles of self-awareness, self-love, trust, acceptance, gratitude, and responsiblity in very practical ways. If the exercises are done correctly they begin a very intense, honest, and ongoing self-examination of everything you hold dear or fear in this life. If you are ready to take the risk of coming face to face with who you truly are as a person, then buy this book. The benefit is that you become much surer of who you are, clearer on what you want from life and more directed on how you need to accomplish it.
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Living Successfully with Screwed-up People- Elizabeth B. Brown

Unfortunately, you will come in contact with hundreds of screwed-up people. You may have to live with one or work with one. This book will show you how to deal with and be with a screwed-up person without becoming screwed-up yourself. This book is a breath of fresh air in the myriad of "self-help" books. Elizabeth sensitively handles everyday frustrations in a way that is uplifting without being too heavy to read or remember. She provides down-to-earth, practical tactics to arm anyone in an emotionally-charged situation. A good start to changing yourself too.


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Inception  --Leonard DiCaprio & Ken Watanabe

You are probably going to either hate or like this movie. For us, it was a no hands down “liked it” It was different, needed your attention, but if I had to give it one word…. IMAGINATIVE~




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the Town  -- Ben Affleck & Blake Lively

I have to admit I was one of those people who didn't expect much from Ben Affleck. I was wrong. In "The Town; this movie was a surprise for us. It was entertaining, gritty, not much of a message but really fun/enjoyable to watch. The impressive part was Affleck’s involvement in this film by his co-writing, directing, and acting. 




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GOOD BUGS FOR YOUR GARDEN- allison mia starcher

As a natural (no chemicals please) gardener, I found this book to be very concise and informative about some of the “good” bugs you want in your garden. It was easy reading with fun colorful illustrations of the adult and nymph insects. Starcher's style of writing reminded me of reading a good friend's "bug diary". A very charming book. I especially recommend this book to any beginning gardener who has little time for indepth study of garden pests, just the good bugs please!



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Life is a Verb—37 days to wake up, be mindful, and live intentionally--

In October 2003, Patti Digh’s stepfather was diagnosed with lung cancer. He died 37 days later. The timeframe made an impression on her. What emerged was a commitment to ask herself every morning: What would I be doing today if I had only 37 days left to live? The answers changed her life and led to this new kind of book. Part meditation, part how-to guide, part memoir, Life is a Verb is all heart.
Within these pages—enhanced by original artwork and wide, inviting margins ready to be written in—Digh identifies six core practices to jump-start a meaningful life: Say Yes, Trust Yourself, Slow Down, Be Generous, Speak Up, and Love More. Within this framework she supplies 37 edgy, funny, and literary life stories, each followed by a “do it now” 10-minute exercise as well as a practice to try for 37 days—and perhaps the rest of your life.

I bought "Life is a Verb” last January.  I jumped in to the new year as usual with the “gotta do something different, get my ducks in a row, where’s this all leading,” attitude. Who doesn't look for positive books, skim the self help aisle at Borders Books when grasping for something, anything to help them shift their lives? Truth be told- I was looking on Amazon for "The Happiness Project" when I was pointed in the direction of Patti Digh's book. Halfway through I cried, laughed, written pages and pages of self awareness I've been overlooking, and danced in my car with oomph. Tragedies in our world actually coincide with lessons, ideas, and thought processes encompassed in Digh's book. What I've learned so far- life happens whether we want it to or not, but it's how we react and create the future that makes the difference. Yes, people may say many of the ideas in the book have been heard before- but I guarantee you they haven't been told with such ingenuity and intention as Digh tells them. The writing exercises alone have made me think more about my life, others around me, and complete strangers. You get from this book what you put in to it. You keep an open mind, you give yourself the ability to learn from new ideas about the way you live- and I hope you will enjoy this book as much as I have. I've learned not everyone has a charmed life, but they are still people that deserve kindness and hope. What better way to live than writing, thinking, and learning about the world around you...the different people...and all the joy you might never bother to see?
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Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World

A joy to read... the edition I read was on my Kindle, I do recommend to at least see a printed edition, it has some pictures that are fun and just don’t look as good on a Kindle. Great for that “what to get gift."

    Dewey began his career as a library cat on a cold morning when he was found in the book return bin. Considered exceptionally handsome, Dewey won the hearts of the town of Spencer in Iowa. Through trying financial times, he was a beacon of hope.
   Dewey was named in honor of the Dewey Decimal System. He had an addiction to rubber bands. He came to Spencer at a time when farmers were struggling more than usual to make ends meet. Most of the town relied on farm work. The library became a make-shift employment center, helping with resumes and job searches. Dewey gave the disheartened patrons a brush on the leg or a chance to rub him. It is hard to focus on your struggles when you have a purring ball of fur at your fingertips.
    This is a warm and fuzzy tale (pun intended). It is not only about Dewey. It is about a town that refused to be the victim of financial difficulties. This tale is perfectly written in a flowing style. What a joy to read! 
11-6-10   (read in 2009 seeing a sequel just out in bookstores reminded me of this great book)

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RED -  an allstar cast!
Sure, Bruce Willis kicking ass is nothing new but add Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich "not as a villain for once" and Helen Mirren kicking ass too and you're in for a good time. While Mary-Louise Parker is adorable and funny as Sarah Ross, who finds herself on a blind-date from hell with Willis' character.
It's hard to make a good action film. It's even harder to make a good comedy. And it's harder still to tell a story that will not only entertain audiences, but also keep them intrigued. Not only does "Red" successfully achieve all three, it also manages to house it within the context of a graphic novel from which it was adapted. Apart from being a fun, thrilling comedy caper, it's also a thoroughly absorbing tale of conspiracy, friendship, loyalty, and yes, even romance. It displays a fair share of comic book violence, and yet it never becomes overpowering, so we can simultaneously revel in the stunts and explosions and pay attention to the plot. It's nice to know that even comic adaptations can be made to appeal to everyone and not merely exist in a closed universe.

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Splice 
Surprisingly, I liked this movie, we weren’t sure when we rented it, the lady at the store said a lot of people said it was unexpectedly good; and it was. The ending is a bit predicable, but not until close to the end. It had first-rate make up/creature development. Not over the top like many sci-fi films but realistic and believable, which adds to a good storyline and well acted characters.

Splice is about two superstar genetic engineers Clive (Adrien Brody) and Elsa (Sarah Polley) who specialize in splicing DNA from different animals to create incredible new hybrids. Now they want to use human DNA in a hybrid that could revolutionize science and medicine. But when the pharmaceutical company that funds their research forbids it, they secretly take their experiment underground--risking their careers to push the boundaries of science and serve their own curiosity and ambition. The result is Dren, an amazing, strangely beautiful creature of uncommon intelligence and unexpected physical developments. At first, Dren exceeds their wildest dreams. But as she grows and learns at an accelerated rate, her existence threatens to become their worst nightmare.

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***2nd favorite author ~ Robin Hobb
The Assassin’s Apprentice – The Farseer Trilogy- BOOK ONE


 This book came up as suggested reading for me on my Kindle. I purchased it and fell in love with it almost immediately. Even those not so “fantasy lovers” will find a meshwork of mystery and psychological intrigue. The fantasy/magical aspects had to do with the mental abilities of the characters rather than supernatural physical characteristics. I thought the story was masterfully woven. The author drops many subtle hints about why things are so and waits until just the right time for the explanations. This keeps the reader intrigued. I actually started to panic when I passed the 90% point and immediately bought the next book and started reading it when I was finished with this one. This is a trilogy [The Farseer Trilogy] that actually leads into another set of three, [The Tawny Man Trilogy] which involves all the main character of the first set but shifting the main character around.
    Although I haven’t read everything by Robin Hobb, she is a fantastic, adult, fantasy  writer. I am currently waiting for the third installment of The Rain Wilds Chronicles.” Dragon Keeper & Dragon Haven, the first two.
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THE ROAD -Viggo Mortensen--Kodi Smit-McPhee-

     In a time when there should be no hope, the father and son hold on to each other. They search for something that they have no right to hope in, a place where they can be safe and fed. It may not even exist, yet they take to the road despite the fact that many others have given up. They choose to hope.
    The relationship between the father and son was so well acted that it was very believable. A father determined to protect his son with such a fierce passion and vulnerability that it was mesmerizing. The son was vulnerable and innocent, with such trust of the father, reacting to the evil in the world, but still wanting to do good. It was moving.
       This was a movie that makes you think. It showed that in desperate circumstances, some will give up and choose death, some will choose evil to survive, others will choose to do no harm while surviving, and still others will risk everything to do good despite what they're up against.
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Saying Yes To Life – Even the Hard Parts

As Ezra Bayda says in the preface, this is a book to live with, not a book to consume. The words on each page will inspire, challenge, encourage, or perplex you. They invite you to open yourself up to life, including the parts we typically try to push away. Although these ideas weren't new to me, the gentle, wise presentation here helped me to live them more fully and see them in new ways. It's a great book for people familiar with Zen and would also serve as an excellent introduction for people new to Zen. It doesn't assume that it has all the answers - instead, it raises important, life-enhancing questions. It is one of those books you leave lying around and pick up when the whim hits you…. open it where it may fall and you’ll be surprised what inspirations you receive.

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