Tag Archives: Movie Review

Book Review (Winter Garden) & Movie Review

Lately, it seems like I am just tearing through books. I tend to go through spurts like this every now and then. Typically, I’m not a very fast reader. Apparently finishing The Hunger Games so quickly, made me “hungry” for more reading ASAP. Hence this post will be filled with a book review and movie review.

Alas, no food or running will really be highlighted. I’m in a bit of slump there. I haven’t run at ALL since last Saturday’s 5k race.  I’m hoping that I’ll get a chance to do a longish run in Utica this weekend and find my running mojo.

So anyway – here goes my book review:

Winter Garden

By: Kristin Hannah

I approached reading this book in a tentative manner. First of all, I wasn’t too excited that I was going to be reading about winter at the very end of summer. I am ready for some fall weather, but didn’t want to jump right into winter.

Despite my trepidation, almost as soon I started reading Winter Garden, I was hooked. The initial setting is an apple orchard in western Washington state and Meredith is the narrator. I guess I connected immediately when she told the reader she had to start off her day with a run (okay, so morning really isn’t my favorite time to run, but I liked that the narrator was a runner in general).  From there, the story introduces us to her family: husband, Jeff; father, Evan; mother Anya; sister, Nina; and her two daughters. We begin to follow Meredith through life on the orchard and immediately notice a strange relationship with her mother.

Soon a tragedy occurs in the family, that bring Nina back home and forces Nina, Meredith and Anya (mother) to interact. The word “strained” does not do justice to how difficult it is for Nina and Meredith to connect with their mother. From there, we begin to hear a story within a story that helps to explain why Anya is the way she is. We are taken back to Russia during WWII and begin to understand the mystery that lies behind this cold, quiet woman.

At first I wasn’t sure about the story within the story and how it started off. It was difficult to grasp where it was going, who it was about and what the point was the first few times it was interjected. But slowly the “mystery” of the fable begins to unfold and the reader begins to understand the implication and what we need to gather from the story to proceed with the exterior family story.

Mid-way through this book I was completely invested. I really enjoyed it and wanted to learn more about this family, the mother’s secret, and what happened in Russia. The glimpse into Russian life at that time was especially interesting and engaging.

If you are interested in reading this book, please realize it might take some time to get into the story and connect with the characters, but it will happen. I really enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it.

——

And now on to a movie review….

Just Go With It

This netflix movie had been sitting next to our t.v. for over a month. Although we’ve been very busy, I also just wasn’t that excited to watch this movie. I’m not even sure why I added it to our list. It stars Jennifer Anniston, Adam Sandler and Brooklyn Decker. I knew this was going to be cheesy and potentially unbearable before we even started it.

The beginning part of the movie shows Adam Sandler with a GIANT fake nose and we see how/why he becomes so disillusioned with women and relationships. Then  it fast forwards to him being a plastic surgeon and Jennifer Anniston being his assistant.

Let me pause to say that I think Jennifer has most definitely had some facial work done and I don’t like it one bit! No lines, no wrinkles – it’s starting to look bad. She’s moving in the direction of her friend, Courtney Cox, and that is NOT a compliment. I hope she stops. I still like her.

Anyway, back to the movie. It was NOT nearly as intolerable as I thought it would be. I admit that I have a soft spot for both Jennifer and Adam, even though they’ve both made some terrible movies in the past. But for some reason, they seemed to have a decent chemistry in this movie. I believed that they probably did really joke around a lot when the cameras turned off.

As for Brooklyn Decker – a superb actress she is not. But I didn’t hate her. And then there was a totally unexpected cameo from Nicole Kidman and Dave Matthews. Totally random and appreciated. I miss Nicole.

Getting back on track. I was pleasantly surprised by this movie. I didn’t hate it and actually found myself laughing quite a bit. The ending is predictable, but I got past it and was able to enjoy the movie overall. Not a total hit, but not a complete waste of time either.

Have you seen any good movies lately? Give me your suggestions! Next on my list are Limitless and Bridesmaids (no, I can’t believe I haven’t seen it!!). I also just bought the book One Day, so that I can eventually watch the movie with Anne Hathaway.

Midweek with a Movie Review

How is it Thursday? This week is FLYING by. I last posted on Tuesday and really wanted to get back into the swing of any everyday post, but not happening. The good news is that we’ve made it over the mid-week hump and I’ve actually managed to get some running in.

Tuesday – no running to speak of. I’m pretty sure that was the day I attempted to run in the morning before work (a plan my husband laughs at whenever he hears it), but of course I just hit snooze instead. Seriously people – how do you do it? Unless I am meeting someone, I just can NOT seem to get up and run. It could have to do with the fact that a morning run for me means running at 5:45 a.m., which to my mind is CRAZY early. If I could run at 6:30, things might look a little different. But because of my work schedule, it has to be that early. ARGH!

So seriously – tell me your early morning running tricks. I think next time I may try sleeping in my running clothes. I believe this might instill a more pronounced sense of guilt if I’ve worn the clothes and done all the prep, only to hit the snooze five times. We’ll see how that works out for me. Other tips?

So because  I did not get my lazy arse up on Tuesday morning (or Wednesday), I decided to squeeze my run in before our book club meeting Wednesday evening. I fueled up with a decent lunch and then ate an early dinner of leftovers from Tuesday night.

Brown rice, chicken, grape tomatoes, mushrooms and carrots with low sodium soy sauce. It made for decent pre-run fuel on Wednesday afternoon as well.

After work I begrudgingly hit the gym treadmill for four quick miles before book club. An outside run would have been ideal, but not realistic given my time constraints.

Run done – feeling better, I headed to our book club meeting which happened to at a movie theater this time around (we usually meet at a restaurant that coincides with our book theme) to see The Help. I actually read The Help awhile ago and you can check out my book review here.

I will say upfront that I RARELY like a movie even half as much as the book. So I was a little surprised when halfway through the movie, I found myself enjoying it. Don’t get me wrong, I still liked the book better. But the movie did not make me want to scream insults or get up and leave. And before you say it sounds like I really didn’t like it. I truly did. I just won’t ever give a movie as much credit as a book, no matter how well-scripted and acted it is. The movie reel in my mind that goes along with the book is always 10 times better.   

Anyway…it was good. I love Emma Stone (like in a serious girl crush kind of way) and I think I’ve seen just about every move she’s been in. I do need to see the other new one she is in with Steve Carrell and Ryan Gosling though – it’s on my list.

To summarize this travesty of a movie review, I will finish by saying it’s a good movie, I thoroughly enjoyed it, thought the acting was great and I recommend it.

So now it’s Thursday evening and it’s time for what I hope will be a delightful run in exceptionally tolerable weather, a delicious dinner (there may be corn-on-the-cob on the menu), perhaps reading a bit of The Hunger Games (just started it, sooooo good), and then if I’m being completely honest…probably some Jersey Shore. :-) Have a great night all!

Running Around and Reading

I’m here, really, I am. But I’ve just been really busy. So my initial dive back into the blog world is realistically going to be more of a slow creep into the water. You know, like when it’s really cold and you put your toe in, then your leg and as you get up to your torso you kind of squirm a little? My entrance will be gradual, with hopefully less squirming.

I was so excited to be tagged by Katie in the 7 Links thing that I’ve seen going around the blog world lately. But I have not had time to analyze my past blog posts enough to actually formulate a worthwhile response. It’s coming though – probably this weekend. :-)

This week has flown right by. Monday is an absolute blur, it feels like ages ago and I can’t even recall what happened. I think it rained and I think I worked a little late. Oh and watched Trueblood with Hubby when I got home (any other Trueblood fans out there?!!)  Tuesday I went to the Yankee game with Hubby and had a great time. CC was having a fabulous night and we were all hoping for a no-hitter, but when that didn’t happen, we were just as happy with a win. Then Wednesday I was running like a mad woman at work and then forced myself to keeping running after work, even though I got out late. I logged a quick 3.5 miles  and hope to squeeze in 4-5 miles tonight. And we watched “Due Date” last night. So here’s my quick review:

Due Date

I went into watching this movie with low expectations and finished it pleasantly surprised. I have decided that I love, absolutely love, Robert Downey Jr. He is getting a little older and gray around the edges, but he is really talented and hysterical. He made the movie, even more than Zack Galifi…whatever his last name is.  The random cameo from Jamie Foxx was unexpected, but I like him, so it was appreciated.

Some of the scenes were a little drawn out of far-fetched, but a lot were pretty darn funny. I’d actually go ahead and recommend this movie to people. It’s no Hangover, but it’s entertaining for the short hour and a half you give it. Why not?

Recent Reading List
So that’s all from me for right now. I owe quite a few book reviews. I have to look at my list, but a few offhand are: “The Adventures of Cavalier and Clay,” “The Postmistress,” “It Happened in Italy,” “Just Kids,” “Heaven is For Real”…and I know there are a few more, but I have to confirm. If I could recommend only ONE of those, I’d go with “Heaven is For Real.” And I don’t spout religion or push spirituality on anyone, but this book is really good. Very touching and inspirational.

So that’s all for today folks. Tell me, have you read any REALLY good books lately?!! Please share!!!

The Trifecta: Restaurant, Book & Movie Reviews

Good afternoon all! I know I promised you a book and restaurant review today and I wanted to get them up earlier, but then I decided to just lump them together with a movie review and make a GIANT post. My apologies in advance for the length. So let’s begin.

Restaurant Review

Nobu
I was admittedly very excited when I learned that Hubby’s co-workers were planning a dinner at Nobu that would include significant others. Score! Besides being excited to see some of his co-workers and their signficant others I’d met before, as well as meeting some new team members, more importantly, I was thrilled to hear we would be gathering at Nobu!!

And so it was that I left work last Thursday and headed to Nobu on 57th. The restaurant is actually a bit hidden and set inside a little covered area.

Once our party arrived, we were escorted upstairs and Bill’s boss promptly spotted Ace from American Idol. For those who know me, I’m awful at spotting celebs, so I truly appreciate when people spot them and point them out to me. Apparently, I am oblivious.

Once we got down to business with the Nobu menu, I turned from oblivious to clueless and overwhelmed. Thankfully, I was with some people in the Nobu-know who guided our table to make the right selections. The downside of that – I’m at a loss to tell you what some of these pictures are. I will do my best…

Pretty sure this was the sashimi salad.


Some sort of mushroom salad that was soo tasty.


Rock Shrimp – Hubby’s favorite and might be mine as well. This was amazing. A must-order if you ever go.


Holy sushi and sashimi selection! All the ones I tried were amazing.

All of the food was soo delicious. I’m sorry I can’t go into more detail – I wish I had paid more attention during the ordering. There were also some other dishes that I didn’t post because  literally had no clue what they were. There wasn’t  a single thing that we ordered that I did not like. However, it was not a cheap meal by any means. That is my word of warning to everyone. Be prepared to spend some dough. And also be prepared to see some of the most pretentious and well-dressed people you’ve ever seen. There were some people there like our table - low-key, fun and laid back. But you could also spot a ton of uptight business folk or freshly bo-toxed glamazons . And I swear to you that just as we were about to leave the Jonas Brothers came in, but they were seated behind a wall and I knew it would be inappropriate to try to scale it. Not that I’m a fan of the JBs - just desperate to actually recognize some celebs from time to time.

Book Review

The Girl Who Played With Fire

By: Stieg Larsson
[photo source]

I’ll assume that if you want to read this book or already bought this book that you’ve read the first book: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. If not, I’d like to kindly ask you to stop right there and go back to the first book. You can not read the second book in this trilogy without reading the first.

That being said, this book does have a completely new story-line, but you need the history to gain the full understanding. It’s so difficult to explain Larsson’s plot line within these books. I’ll leave it at saying that  Lisbeth Salander is back and is working with journalist Mikael Blomkvist again on unraveling some criminal activities and mysteries. However, the relationship between Salander and Blomkvist has changed drastically since we last heard from them, so that adds a twist to the feel and direction of the plot.

General thoughts on this book – it made me immensely nervous right from the beginning. I was terrified for Lisbeth and worried about what would happen to her next. I felt this way a little bit in the first book, but this book intensified those feelings and did so right from the start.

As per Larsson’s first book, it’s a fast-paced, intriguing page turner. I cancelled plans and skipped the gym to go home and read this book. I did not want to put it down. However, toward the end there were a few details and situations here and there that I found to be a bit unbelievable or far-fetched. This disappointed me momentarily, but did not affect my overall opinion of the book.

The end of this book way okay, but nothing entirely amazing. Overall though, if you liked the first Larsson book, I can pretty much guarantee you will enjoy this one as well. But remember – it’s not for the faint of heart, there are some serious thrills and chills in these books.

Movie Review

Get Him to The Greek

We watched this movie last night and I have to be honest and say that it did not live up to my expectations. Perhaps it was because before we popped in the Netflix DVD, we had been watching “The Hangover” on HBO. It’s hard to think anything is as hysterical as that movie. So maybe not such a good pre-movie choice.

Regardless, this movie has its funny moments. Hubby doesn’t really like Russell Brand, but I found him to be amusing and a pretty decent actor. He’s got potential. His character reminded me of the washed up rock star from “Love Actually.” Now that was a great movie.

Anyway – this is a short movie and it’s probably better off that way. You’ll enjoy it if you go in with some realistic expectations and a willingness to forgive some predictability. I did really like that they tied it to “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” – now that was another great movie! Somehow, I doubt that I’ll ever say that about this movie though.

That’s all folks!!

A Thurdsay Book and Movie Review

Happy Thursday all on this rainy, cold day.  Oddly enough, I went to bed last night without setting an alarm (by accident) and managed to wake up at exactly my normal time today. So strange. Ever had that happen? Talk about internal alarm.

So I FINALLY saw The Social Network on Tuesday night. I also have to share that my friend and I picked up dinner from the Whole Foods salad bar and ate it in the theater – a first for me. On two fronts: 1) first Whole Foods salad bar experience; and 2) first time eating dinner in a movie theater.

On the first front – LOVED the food from Whole Foods! I don’t know why it took me so long to try it. I think because I knew how much I was going to like it and want to go back.

On the second front – eating my dinner in a theater was a lil weird. I managed to finish my food before the movie started. I did not want to be crunching away while the movie was playing. It was interesting.

Now as far as the movie goes: I wasn’t obsessed. I thought it was interesting and it was definitely a different style than I thought it would be, but it didn’t wow me. I think I built it up too much in my head after hearing so many reviews about it. And essentially being one of the last people to see it. Don’t get me wrong – I thought it was interesting and I was sufficiently hooked in many scenes, but I didn’t think it was exceptional.  I’m glad I saw it, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to convince someone else that they had to see it.

And now lastly, here is a nice little book review for you!

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

By: Jamie Ford

The last time I was visiting my parents I finished the book I was reading. My mom had just finished this book, so I grabbed it for my train ride back to the city. This book is definitely a quick read and very enjoyable. I don’t think the author’s writing is particularly unique or memorable—it is more the topic that will draw your attention.

Basic premise of the story is about a 12-year-old Chinese boy named Henry Lee. He lives in Seattle during World War II and goes to a “white” preparatory school. His parents want him to become more Americanized. He meets a Japanese girl at this school called Keiko. Although they live in the U.S., Henry’s father has strong ties to China and follows the fighting going on between the Chinese and Japanese. He hates the Japanese and will not allow his son to associate with anyone of Japanese descent. Of course, as you can guess, Keiko and Henry become good friends and then develop stronger feelings for each other.

That is the basic overview, but more than the relationship between Henry and Keiko, I was taken in by the descriptions of how Japanese families were treated during this time and then shipped off to internment camps. We’ve all learned about these camps in U.S. History classes, but this gave me a new, personal look into that time, and the anger and hatred that these families faced.

This is a book of fiction, but many of the places and some of the people mentioned in it are real. And the author did his research on the internment camps and relocation of Japanese families. I found the relationship between Keiko and Henry to become almost secondary to the real story of these families. And I wasn’t exactly sold on this teenage love being the right backdrop for this very important subject. I didn’t hate their little love, but I didn’t actually fully believe it either.

Essentially, I enjoyed the book for what I learned about that era and the look into the internment camps. I probably could have done with the pre-pubescent love story though. But who knows—maybe this isn’t a story that is geared toward me. Maybe this is a book that Ford intended for middle schoolers to read. Perhaps the author is simply a device to help engage younger readers in an historical story.

Regardless, it is a quick read and offers a unique insight into that time, place and issue in U.S. history. I say it’s definitely worth a read.