the age of adalineHave you ever seen a preview and told yourself you would never watch the movie? That’s how I felt with The Age of Adaline. The premise seemed unbelievable and the whole idea far-fetched. One day, however, someone told me I should really check it out because the movie was better than what the preview presented. Thus begins my falling in adoration of The Age of Adaline.

The Age of Adaline follows the life of young Adaline Bowman and her decades long endeavor to keep her real identity hidden from everyone. This necessitates having to move every decade and to change her identity. Adaline Bowman was in a near-death car crash when she was 29 that left her unable to age. Having remained 29 for almost eighty decades, Adaline has managed to keep her identity a secret by following a set of rules she has written for herself. She steers away from love, chooses friends wisely, and never tells anyone her real name – well except for one person, but that was years in the past.

In present day, Adaline manages to keep all of her promises until she meets Ellis Jones, a philanthropist who works his way fully into her life. Adaline soon finds herself having to deal with the clashing of her past and her present when a weekend trip to his parents’ house brings up memories that she would like to leave behind. This trip changes her life forever and forces her to come face-to-face with her destiny, whatever she chooses it to be.

 

 

Oscar BlogThe Academy Award nominations were announced early on January 14, and the ceremony will take place on February 28. The Academy Awards are widely known as the ultimate acknowledgement in the film industry. Unlike most film awards, the Academy Awards focus on every aspect of film making from Best Production Design to Best Supporting Actor to Best Film of the Year. While it may be the most coveted of all film awards, the actual event is probably the least exciting of any movie award show. Usually they open up with some fun awards, but the middle has a bunch of awards the general public doesn’t really care about that are won by a bunch of people we’ve never heard of. I LOVE this award show, but when the award for Best Sound Editing comes up I take a bathroom break. This is where I stop and thank my DVR for all of the wonderful things it does! 

Coincidentally my favorite Oscar moment occurred during the longest ever Oscar ceremony. Of course this particular year I was watching it live and remember it well. In 2002 Whoopi Goldberg hosted the ceremony that would last 263 minutes. That is 1 hour and 23 minutes over the 3 hour allotted time slot. But it was well worth the wait as my second favorite actor of all time finally took home the Best Actor Oscar for his roll in Training Day. Fourteen years later Denzel Washington continues to be a standard in acting as he was awarded the Cecil B. Demille Lifetime Achievement award at the Golden Globes on January 10.

This year is a big year for me as a fan, probably the biggest year in my 20 years of watching the Oscars. Despite everything I just said about the award shows being a bit boring in the middle, I am definitely watching it live this year! My favorite actor of all time is up for Best Actor and he is a shoe in to win. He is one of the few Hollywood acting elite that have yet to take home an Oscar. To earn the nomination, Leonardo DiCaprio was the lead actor for the film The RevenantFor those of you that have not heard by now, the cast and crew had to endure excruciating filming conditions. The weather was was often far below zero and there were multiple set backs and difficulties. Only when temperatures reached -40 degrees did production halt for five weeks. DiCaprio pulls out all the stops for this film, including eating a raw bison liver. Leo is not the only cast member being honored, the film leads the Oscar pack with a total of 12 nominations.

Another highlight of this year’s Academy Awards will be host Chris Rock. Chris Rock previously hosted the award ceremony in 2005. There has been some push for the actor to drop out of hosting the awards due to the lack of diversity of the nominees this year. But as of right now, the actor is standing by the Academy. Rock leaves me laughing every time and I think this show will be no exception.

For more Oscar fun, see below.

Complete List of Nominees

33 Fascinating Academy Awards Statistics

Academy Awards Trivia Quiz

50 Greatest Oscar Moments

how to talkIf you have ever felt like the words you speak are falling on deaf ears, you may want to check out How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish.

The book is addressed to parents, mostly, but I have found the suggestions presented are useful in many other contexts, too. Teachers will no doubt find them useful, as well as anyone who wants to work on their communication skills or has ever had to deal with difficult people.

The authors learned many of their principles of effective communication from their teacher, Dr. Haim Ginnott, of Columbia University. They went on to hone their approach over many years through their experiences as parents and teachers.

The following principles are taken from Dr. Ginnott’s approach:

  • Never deny or ignore a [person’s] feelings.
  • Only behavior is treated as unacceptable, not the [person].
  • Depersonalize negative interactions by mentioning only the problem. “I see a [broken lightbulb].”
  • Attach rules to things, e.g., “[People] are not for hitting.”
  • Dependence breeds hostility. Let [people] do for themselves what they can.
  • Limit criticism to a specific event—don’t say “never”, “always”, as in: “You never listen,” “You always manage to break things”, etc.
  • Refrain from using words that you would not want [anyone] to repeat.
  • Ignore irrelevant behavior.

The book presents these ideas using amusing vignettes of common scenarios and how best to handle them. If you like this book, you may also be interested in the following by the same authors:

Siblings Without Rivalry: How to Help Your Children Live Together So You Can Live Too  

Liberated Parents, Liberated Children

Between Brothers & Sisters: A Celebration of Life’s Most Enduring Relationship

How to Talk So Teens Will Listen & Listen So Teens Will Talk 

the knickCinemax has put together a splendid fictional drama based on the medical field and goings on at the Knickerbocker Hospital in New York. In this show called The Knick,  surgeons, doctors, nurses, and other hospital staff and benefactors, deal with the ins and outs of running a hospital in downtown New York in 1900. The star of this show is the new chief of surgery, Dr. Thackeray, having just inherited this position after the suicide of his predecessor.

Dr. Thackeray and the rest of his team are forced to deal with changes due to poor finances and increased competition between the other hospitals when all of their wealthy patients leave. In order to keep the place afloat, viewers will see the administrators wheedling for money, extorting patients, selling bodies, all the while telling people things are going okay.

The Knick is a fairly bloody and graphic show, which one must expect considering it is a medical drama. This show deals with complicated subject matter, like drug addiction amongst the doctors, racial and gender prejudice when Dr. Thackeray is forced to work with his new Deputy Chief of Surgery who just happens to be a black doctor, while all the while dealing with a typhoid outbreak (HELLO Typhoid Mary!) and trying to come up with and perform new surgeries to save their patient’s lives.

I found this show to be riveting and personally can’t wait for the second season to come to DVD, so I can check up on Dr. Thackeray and friends to see how they are all fairing!

Box Office BlogAs 2015 came to a close, I found myself curious about how the box office turn out was for 2015. Box office refers to the grand total a particular movie made while it was in the theaters. Sales are counted for United States and world wide. What I was most interested in was the United States totals. 2015 was a great year, grossing more money than ever with a grand total of 11,125 million dollars. The big push to put 2015 over the top came at the very end of the year, when the highest grossing film of all time was released to theaters.

Box office numbers are taken from Box Office Mojo. The top ten highest grossing films of the year are as follows:

10. Spectre with $198,579,382 – Spectre is the most recent release in the James Bond movie franchise. DVD release in early February.

9. Cinderella with $201,151,353 – Cinderella  is the remake of the classic fairy tale starring Lily James as Cinderella.

8. The Martian with $226,579,382 – The Martian stars Matt Damon as an astronaut stranded on Mars.

7. The Hunger Games: MockingJay Part 2 with $277,901,047 – Final installment in the Hunger Games series. DVD release late winter/early spring.

6. Minions with $336,045,770 – Minions is the prequel to Despicable Me that centers on the history of the minions.

5. Furious 7 with $353,007,020 – Furious 7 is the most recent release in the Fast and Furious movie franchise.

4. Inside Out with $356,461,711 – Inside Out is a Disney Pixar animation film that gives personalities to emotions.

3. Avengers: Age of Ultron with $459,005,868  – Age of Ultron is the second film in the Avengers series and part of the even larger scale Marvel franchise movies.

2. Jurassic World with $652,270,625 – Jurassic World is the next installment to the popular 90’s Jurassic Park trilogy. Fourteen years later the park is bigger, better, and more dangerous than ever.

1.Star Wars: The Force Awakens with a whopping $819,687,937 in only 14 days! – The Force Awakens is the long awaited 7th installment in the Star Wars movie franchise. It takes place about 30 years after episode VI.

For a complete list of 2015 box office movies go to Box Office Mojo.

symphony for the city of the deadBiographies or any sort of nonfiction relating to the siege of Leningrad that occurred amidst World War II can become depressing to read because of the many, many atrocities committed and the vast number of people who died. Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad by M.T. Anderson is the opposite of the traditional heavy nonfiction. Anderson breaks up his story of Shostakovich and the evolution of Leningrad by dropping in back-and-white historical photographs that allow readers to put a face to a name. This inclusion breaks up the chaos and destruction happening within his descriptions of Stalin’s purges and the eventual siege of Leningrad by bringing in pictures and maps to connect the history presented with an actual physical place and actual people. It may seem easy for people to ignore and write off atrocities committed, but I find that when authors choose to add pictures into their books, the subject matter becomes even more real and life-changing.

Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad really brought to life for me the importance of art and culture to a nation and its citizens, both in a negative and a positive light. Anderson tells readers the story of Stalin and his purges: how he rid the country of top military officials, science experts, and a wide variety of other people and effectively set his country up for more widespread disaster when Hitler invaded and he had no experts to ask for advice. This book focuses on art and culture, specifically music and Dmitri Shostakovich. This Russian composer escaped death at the hands of Stalin and instead found himself navigating the tricky tight-rope of composing the music that Stalin finds appropriate while still staying true to himself. Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony is the one that he writes for Leningrad, “The City of the Dead,” and this book effectively sets the stage for discovering Shostakovaich’s mindset around that time and also the necessary cultural and political framework that he was up against. Highly recommended!

Check out the following fiction and nonfiction books for more information about the siege of Leningrad and related topics!

the madonnas of leningradcity of thievesleningrad siege and symphonyinferno the world at warstalin the court of the red tsarabsolute war

Read 2016

It is a new year and the perfect time to start a reading challenge. I struggle at times with what to choose, because there is so much out there to read, and my time is limited. A reading challenge consists of following a set of specific reading guidelines over a certain period of time. The reading criteria all depends on the kind of reading challenge it is. You can usually find a local summer or winter reading challenge at your public library where you can read for prizes. But there are other reading challenges that you do for fun or to broaden your reading repertoire. There may be a requirement on your reading challenge for a type of book you would have never picked up on your own, but for the sake of the challenge you give it a try. It could be the best or worst thing you ever read, but that is the fun of the challenge. You just never know what you will have to pick up. In this blog are a list of reading challenges that span the entire year. They are different so you can pick out one that appeals to your style or current interest.

Committing to a year long challenge is great for keeping you reading, and for guiding you on what to read next. I’m not quite sure which one I will pick, but I will be participating in one of these challenges. I hope your year in reading is a good one!

Bustle Reads Challenge 2016 Read books by women and writers of color. Includes 20 book categories to complete.

Modern Mrs Darcy 2016 Reading Challenge Read one book a month. Categories are broad and leave room for you stay in your comfort zone if you want to.

The 2016 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge  Challenge consists of 24 books and includes a downloadable chart to keep track. A wide range of books are covered including read a play and read a food memoir. Definitely a challenge that will get you out of your comfort zone.

Popsugar Ultimate  2016 Reading Challenge  If you read a lot, this may be the challenge for you! This list includes 40 different categories and you won’t find any books that you can read in a day. Unless you read very fast! But there are a slew of fun topics like read a book written by a celebrity. 

Challies 2016 Reading Challenge This challenge is pretty cool because it has a challenge for every reader! The Light Reader challenge is the first of four different challenges and consists of 13 books for about 1 book every 4 weeks. The Obsessed Reader is the fourth and most difficult, with 104 books! That’s 2 books a week folks. There are two other challenges that fall somewhere in between light and obsessed.

Daring to Live Fully Reading Challenge I liked this challenge because it gives you book suggestions under each category to get you started. There are 12 books on list which makes it very doable.

Back to the Classics Reading Challenge As the name suggests, all the books in this challenge are considered “classics”. Site gives detailed explanation of each category and one book recommendation.

2016 Diversity Reading Challenge  These are books either written by or about a person of diversity. Two categories include a book in which a character suffers from a mental illness and a book with a LGBT main character. There are 12 categories.

Intrigued? The Davenport Public Library is about to launch their own online reading challenge! It will be a low-stress, no obligation way to expand your reading horizons and maybe help you find your next great read! Watch this space for details coming next week!

 

 

miles morales ultimate spidermanMiles Morales: The Ultimate Spider-Man is a graphic novel that introduces the world to a brand new Spider-Man. In this world, Peter Parker has been killed in a major superhero-villain brawl and everyone is left in the lurch, mourning the loss of Spider-Man, dealing with the fall-out of learning his identity, and coming to terms with the fact that they don’t have a hero anymore. Along this same storyline, runs the story of junior high student, Miles Morales, and the various happenings of him and his family.

Miles lives with his parents and has his name entered in the lottery to go to a charter school, instead of a public school. After learning his school fate, Miles heads to his Uncle Aaron’s apartment, his dad’s brother, the one person that he is constantly told to stay away from. Once there, Miles is bitten by a spider with a number written on its back, a spider that escaped from Norman Osborn’s laboratory in Uncle Aaron’s bag while he was robbing the place. Everything seems normal until Miles runs out of the apartment and discovers that he can turn invisible. With that one discovery, his life is turned completely upside-down.

With his roommate, Ganke, being the only person who knows he has spider-like powers, Miles wrestles with what to do. Was he given these powers for a reason? Should he become a new Spider-man since the old one is deceased? What will his dad, a vocal non-supporter of any kind of mutant activity, think of him? How will he balance fighting crime and being a normal every-day junior high student? These questions and more are answered in this collection as Miles begins to fight crime, is introduced to Nick Fury and various members of the Avengers, and as he struggles to deal with balancing family, school, and his brand new superhero life. The author has added in some twists that are guaranteed to make you question everything that you think you’ve learned about the old Spider-Man and the new Spider-Man.

apocalyptigirlA theme that seems to be present in most of the materials I have been reading recently is the apocalypse and the end of the world. ApocalyptiGirl: An Aria for the End Times is no exception. Aria is stuck alone on the planet at the end of the world with only a cat named Jelly Beans as her companion. She discovered tunnels under this overgrown city and has transformed them into her living chambers. Although Aria is by herself, she has a mission to complete and one important part of this is to find working parts to transform Gus, a giant robot machine, back into working order.

Aria’s main mission? To find an ancient relic with immeasurable power called the Grand Photon. This gift from above is perfect energy because of its ability and power to transform an entire planet into a veritable Garden of Eden. History says, though, that the inhabitants of this planet had used the Grand Photon for evil, harnessing its power and weaponizing it, which eventually led to the scorching of the planet and the killing of almost every living thing. Aria was sent to this planet for what she thought would be three months, armed with a tracking device on her arm, to find the Grand Photon. Those three months turned into six years.

Andrew MacLean has put together a beautifully illustrated story about a young woman’s struggle in an action-packed adventure comic about the extremes of humanity and how even in a world that has been completely ravaged by war, we still long for a place to call our home. The artwork is bright and reminiscent of manga with woodblock art and a very-detailed, almost old American comic feel to it. Through the first few pages, it definitely becomes apparent that this story takes place not in this time period, but the art has you wanting to pay close attention to the vividness of each color and the different story lines. This graphic novel is not overly filled with back story; MacLean chooses instead to give us glimpses of history through Aria’s streaming consciousness, in essence she is talking to herself and through this talking, readers are privy to a much-needed-to-know history. With no one to talk to on this planet, Aria would naturally keep a running commentary in her head and also with her cat, Jelly Beans. This graphic novel was both serious and humorous; two things that if done right, work perfectly together.

the flashI’ve been on a superhero kick lately, as evidenced by all of my recent blog posts featuring superhero graphic novels. I decided to branch out on my last library check-out and snagged the first season of The Flash.

The Flash is a television series that began in 2014 and is currently running its second season on the CW. This show is based on the DC Comics run of the Flash and is actually of spinoff of Arrow, another show that is running its 4th season on the CW right now (the library has the first three seasons!). Don’t worry! It’s not necessary to watch all of Arrow in order to understand the story of The Flash. When the characters cross over, they do a good job of explaining their back stories.

In The Flash, Barry Allen is a crime scene investigator for the Central City police department. He’s an incredibly smart young man, one who is endearingly awkward and geekishly handsome. Barry moved in with his best friend, Iris, and her father, Joe, after his mother was murdered and his father was sent to jail for having killed her. Despite having to grow up with only Joe has a parental figure, Barry chose a career path that would help him learn all he can about the science behind his mother’s murder, something that would help him free his father from prison, and find the mysterious “man in yellow,” the man Barry believes to have killed his mother. After an explosion at Star Labs, Barry wakes up and realizes that he has become the fastest man alive. Every superhero has to have partners in crime and Barry found his in a group of scientists operating out of Star Labs since it was shut down. Realizing that he has an opportunity to help people, Barry and friends help to fine tune his abilities and he uses his new power to race through the streets of Central City to fight crime. Check out this first season to watch Barry test the limits of his speed, figure out ways to fight the other metahumans(what they call the people who were also affected by the explosion at Star Labs), and cheer for Barry as he struggles to find a way to free his father from prison.