Category Archives: In Theaters

Snap Review: A Man Called Ove

Title: A Man Called Ove

My rating: 4/5

Synopsis:

A grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.
Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon, the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him the bitter neighbor from hell, but must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?
Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.

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Snap Review: Everything, Everything

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Title: Everything, Everything

My rating: 5/5

Synopsis:

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.
But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.
Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

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Book Review: Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín

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Title: Brooklyn

Author: Colm Tóibín

Published: 2009

Pages: 262

Genre: Historical Fiction

Format: Book borrowed from the library

My rating:  3/5

Reading Challenge: A book with a one-word title

Review:

“Eilis Lacey has come of age in small-town Ireland in the hard years following World War Two. When an Irish priest from Brooklyn offers to sponsor Eilis in America — to live and work in a Brooklyn neighborhood “just like Ireland” — she decides she must go, leaving her fragile mother and her charismatic sister behind.

Eilis finds work in a department store on Fulton Street, and when she least expects it, finds love. Tony, who loves the Dodgers and his big Italian family, slowly wins her over with patient charm. But just as Eilis begins to fall in love with Tony, devastating news from Ireland threatens the promise of her future.”

A quick read for sure that spends little time on scenes as smooth transitions are made throughout the 2 years Brooklyn takes place. In the third-person specifically on Eilis,  I would have liked more of her thought process and emotions, especially with the devastating news from Ireland. I felt that the story seemed rushed near the end, as actions that Eilis was taking brought out frustration and some disappointment. Reflecting on how I felt about Eilis near the end, I believe that that is how a character should be developed throughout the novel – changing our thoughts and wanting the best for them as trouble persists. It is somewhat realistic and should be expected even though we as readers may be surprised!

As one of my favorite time periods to read and learn about in U.S. history, I was pleasantly appreciative of Eilis’ 2 worlds – in Brooklyn and Ireland. The dichotomy presented of the two locations was definitive and painted the picture of culture and familial themes. Not only were the locations starkly different, it felt that Eilis created two different lives or versions of her self. This made me think about what we call home and if we can have the best of both worlds. Eilis’ struggle to figure out if she can, makes me think that it would become quite challenging keeping the connections and focus on both (maybe multiple). Coming out to the MidWest from the East Coast (although in the same country), I felt a chance to kind of start over – whilst still holding true to my values and personality – but join different organizations and teams. Whenever I go to the East Coast where my family is, I feel myself falling back into those routines again, like a pendulum. I can only imagine what folks who are making a better life or seizing an opportunity feel, sometimes having no choice.

With all the talk about immigration in the United States, in addition to the hot topic of presidential debates for the 2016 race, I couldn’t help but wonder what has changed from the 1950s to now – the populations the U.S. is concentrating on are from Mexico versus Ireland. There is talk about building a wall on the border and some other ways of regulating the process (I will not speak directly about my feelings/opinions towards immigration laws, I am only making statements about themes I read and reflected on in Brooklyn). To play the reversal, I do think about a potential dual citizenship in Europe, and I’m wondering what processes for that looks like. I’d imagine I would adjust to the culture ‘shock’ and feel more comfortable with everyday tasks the longer I stayed. Eilis’ time throughout the novel equated to 2 years in the U.S. where she was able to acclimate fairly well. *Sigh*, I digress. A simple read that gives way to somewhat complex thought on issues bigger than one person or population.

Read Brooklyn if you like the themes of:

  • Immigration
  • Homesickness
  • Love

Look out for the movie adaptation in theaters, November 6th, 2015! Until then, here’s a trailer to give some visual context to the story.

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You’ve Got Mail

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After a weekend work retreat and recovering from the worse virus I’ve ever experienced, what better way to relax than the enchanting You’ve Got Mail! The film starts out at the beginning of fall in New York City where two unknowing book shop owners meet through a chatroom (yes this is from the 90s). As my school starts back up again today, I can’t help but wish for the crunchy leaves and slowly walking through the trails whilst reading a classic – most likely Pride and Prejudice (a book frequently mentioned in the film 🙂 ). Every season in the city is represented as Kathleen and Joe battle it out over their bookstores. Being so close to Cincinnati, I have a favorite small bookstore that I frequent on my days off – not the same charm as The Shop Around the Corner – although I am a loyal patron. My goal in life is to be a regular as well as attend their unique events and book chapter readings/signings.

Every bit of Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks’ characters are a reminder of why I’ve fallen in love with books. The two different atmospheres of a chain and an independent small store, the passion for reading and wanting to share that love and knowledge, just everything. They do both go to a ‘book business’ soiree – I feel that for me, being in the book business (even though it technically is) isn’t what I would want to say if that was my job (dream job, duh!). I feel as if that makes it seem impersonal and not having the heart in the right spot – even though that is not true for every bookstore owner/employee. In college I remember applying to a chain bookstore and filling out the application, I felt euphoric! Like I was signing up for a cause! Unfortunately, I did not have any customer service/retail-type job experience so I never got a phone call :(. C’est la vie. The library in my town is moving to a larger, newer building space which looks absolutely beautiful – maybe that can be my push to get to working with books. I can start with volunteering their first and see where it goes, I do miss meeting with the consistent patrons every Monday back in my alma mater’s town.

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Despite it being dated, there are similar struggles in modern day book ‘businesses’, more noticeably in formats. I am not against receiving/reading e-books or PDFs. I would like to think I am an environmentalist, though when it comes to books, paperback/hardback cannot be beat. I have been writing letters once a month to my closest classmates in graduate school and the anticipation of receiving their letters back and having a physical letter to hold on to is more than enough. The same thing when I order books from Amazon or receive ARC’s and open my mailbox to small parcels awaiting me to dive right in. You’ve got mail, whelp in a different sense of the phrase :).

“You are what you read”

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Anne of Green Gables: The Loss of Jonathan Crombie

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Hey Carrots……Carrots!

Who could forget Anne Shirley’s first impression of Gilbert Blythe on her first day of school in Avonlea? And also having a crush on Gil? I remember watching the Anne of Green Gables movies from Sullivan Entertainment summer after summer from grade school through today. Having read the novels and then seeing the characters come to life, I couldn’t help imagining myself on Prince Edward Island and living at Green Gables with Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert.

Of course, I was rooting for Gilbert Blythe always for Anne’s future beau, even when he was engaged to Christine briefly in Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel. Their teasing friendship, romance, and ultimately marriage warmed the hearts of all those fans of Anne and Gil. Jonathan Crombie brilliantly portrayed the dashing, charming yet playful and sincere Gilbert Blythe. He was the perfect compliment to Megan Follow’s Anne Shirley.

Seeing that Jonathan Crombie passed away a few days ago at the young age of 48, my heart depressed thinking about the lives he has touched and the family he was leaving behind. Although I mainly know of his acting through the Anne of Green Gable series, Jonathan has starred in several other television series and guest starred on recent shows like The Good Wife. I feel as if the literary world lost a memorable character that has helped shape the identity of Gilbert Blythe and countless other characters portrayed on television and the big screen.

Now I’m off to the library to borrow the mini series for the umpteenth time.

Here’s to you, Jonathan Crombie. You will be missed.

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What are some of your favorite memories of Jonathan Crombie’s portrayal of Gilbert Blythe?

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Book Review: The Maze Runner by James Dashner

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Title: The Maze Runner

Author: James Dashner

Published: 2009

Pages: 374

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction/Fantasy

Format: Book borrowed from the library

My rating: 3/5

Reading Challenge: A book set in the future

Review: “Nice to meet ya, shank. Welcome to the Glade”

Thomas’ memories and past life have been wiped as he is elevated in the Box up into the Glade – the center of life for teenage orphan boys surrounded by an ever-changing maze made of miles of enormous solid rock. All he has is his name, and a strong desire to have the role of Runner – the sources of hope for escaping and returning home, wherever that may be. Unfortunately, if stranded in the maze after the doors close for the night, Gladers risk being killed by the mechanical, spiked Grievers who roam the maze.

The current occupants of the Glade attribute all they fear and experience from the Creators – identities unknown. Every month, the Box brings up a new boy, always without memory and always consistent, that is until Thomas arrives. Boys that have been pricked by the Grievers go through a hallucination of sorts that bring back a few of the memories – all with Thomas at the center. Feeling threatened and distrustful of Thomas, he is considered an enemy until he can prove he was not involved with their current state. Unfortunately, everything changes when the next member of the Gladers is a girl – slowly remembering that the two of them are responsible for the current predicament as well as a warning She is the last one. Ever.

What unfolds the rest of the story is a series of unfortunate events that places larger targets on both Thomas and Teresa’s backs. Suddenly, nothing is consistent and every move and action is questioned, always coming back to if there is a way out of the maze after these past two years in the Glade. What helps explain this strange way of living is the constant message etched in the maze walls as Thomas enters the role of Runner: WORLD IN CATASTROPHE: KILLZONE EXPERIMENT DEPARTMENT. What does it all mean? What is the purpose for the maze? Why were they chosen?

The answer to those questions come with many theories and explanations, but what was written on Teresa’s arm as she came up through the Box may shed some light: WICKED is good.

Although breaking the cardinal rule of reading the book first before seeing the movie, I still felt anxious and full of suspense as I quickly read through, my heart pounding and eyes darting to the next page to get a glance. A fairly easy read, I found some difficulty with some of the language associated with the Glade – made up by the young inhabitants. Original and creative, for sure, but somewhat distracting by over-usage.

Each chapter – page, even – Dashner grasps the reader’s attention with non-stop action, plot twists, and character development. We see Thomas through several stages of development from first waking up, to his curious nature, to anger, and finally his heroic, selfless maturity – all in the span of a couple weeks. The relationships and trust he builds in the face of adversity is commendable, as he not only battles the gruesome Grievers but also the painful memories and several doubtful Gladers. What, if anything, lies beyond the maze? And can they finally find the way out?

Read The Maze Runner if you like the themes of:

  • Young adult apocalyptic
  • Solving a complicated puzzle
  • Brotherhood

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