Wednesday, 8 February 2017

The Blue Castle by Lucy Maud Montgomery- Review Carlyn

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Valancy Stirling has lived for 29 years controlled by her mother and bullied by her extended family. Valancy’s life changes when she is told by her doctor that she only has one year to live. She keeps her condition a secret from her family to avoid their attempts to control her further and starts living her life the way she wants. Valancy’s family think she’s become crazy as she starts to speak her mind and behave in what they think is scandalous.

Lucy Maud Montgomery is one of my favourite authors. She is most known for writing the Anne of Green Gables series. I thought that the Anne series were the only books that she had written. However, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that she had written more books. This book is the first I have read from L. M Montgomery where the main character wasn’t an aspiring author and it’s a book for adults.

I was worried that the Blue Castle would be this depressing book where Valancy doesn’t learn to stand up for herself until the end. Fortunately, it wasn’t the case and the story gets that over with right near the beginning. I find this book highlights the bohemian lifestyle that was emerging in the 1920s which was a change for L.M Montgomery sentiments for the Victorian era. It was interesting to see what was considered scandalous in the 1920s, the era that the book is based. The things that Valancy does wouldn’t be an issue today. She goes to stay with a woman who had a child out of wedlock and marries a wild and reclusive man.

Valancy is a strong female character who challenges stereotypes. She has some idealistic qualities that are featured in most of Montgomery’s heroines but seems more grounded than Anne Shirley or Emily Byrd Starr.  However, she still gets caught up in raptures about the Canadian wilderness just like Anne and Emily. I can see how some readers might find the moments where the characters are made breathless by the sight of the light shining into the meadow or forest tedious. But at least she doesn’t get tears in her eyes from the sight like some of Montgomery’s heroines.
I wish there was a sequel to this book but it ends well. I hope it becomes more popular in time too. I recommend this book for fans of L.M Montgomery.

Monday, 30 January 2017

Entertainment Monday: Passengers ( 30 January 2017)


Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) is a passenger on the Avalon, a spaceship on a voyage to a new planet. The trip will take 100 years from earth so all the passengers are cryogenically frozen until a few months before they land. Unfortunately for Jim, his sleeping pod malfunctions causing him to wake up. Jim cannot fix his pod so must spend the rest of his life on the ship alone.
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Jim learns to adjust to his new life with the company of Arthur (Michael Sheen), an android bartender. He enjoys the facilities around the ship but always feels lonely for human company. While exploring the ship, Jim sees Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence) in her sleeping pod. He falls in love with her and hopes that he’ll meet her some day. Jim gets to meet her when Aurora’s pod seems to malfunction and she awakes up. The two fall in love but Jim holds a secret that could break their relationship.

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The actors were all great in their roles. Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence have good chemistry and Michael Sheen is an excellent robot. I kinda disliked Chris Pratt’s character but it was refreshing to have a good guy who wasn’t entirely good. I liked Aurora and pitied her for the situation that she was in. In the end, Aurora had an important decision to make and I left the cinema thinking about what I would do in the same situation.  I think I would choose differently.

I like the array of space movies that we’re having lately. I’ve had an interest in space since childhood, mainly from my brother who was space mad as a child. I thought this movie was okay and I would watch it again. I feel that wasn’t much going on in the movie. I would have liked to have seen more of Jim and Aurora’s lives throughout the years and have interesting stuff happen to them. However, I know it’s not Lost in Space. The movie’s focus is about relationships and trying to live a fulfilling life even if your dream changes. 



Thursday, 26 January 2017

Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen - Review by Carlyn

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Bobby and Fran were married for eighteen years and had one son together. Bobby worked as a police officer and Fran worked as a nurse. To outsiders, they were a normal happy couple but behind closed doors Bobby would beat Fran up for the smallest of slights. Fran decides to leave Bobby for the sake of her son and the two go into hiding in Florida.

Fran and Robert start new lives with fake personal records. Fran and Robert become Beth and Robert Crenshaw who hail from Delaware instead of Brooklyn. While in Florida, Fran reflects on her relationship with Bobby and the effect it had on herself and her son.

This is the first book that I have read on my new Kindle. I have decided not to buy books anymore because I want to be clutter free. I actually didn’t know what this book would be about when I first purchased it except that it was on the booklist that Jon and I devised in 2011. I’ve still got about six more to go.

I don’t like sad books but I didn’t think this book was overly depressing.  The book mainly focused on Fran’s life away from Bobby with flashbacks on her relationship with him. I enjoyed reading how Fran started to regain her life and build new relationships with people in Florida. However, there were times when I thought that was just plodding along. I was just waiting for the moment when Bobby would track them down. I knew that Bobby would come and find them. I thought Fran could have done a better job at protecting herself though.

*spoiler*
In the book, Bobby manages to find his family because Robert calls him. Although Robert doesn’t tell him where they are living, Bobby finds out from caller id on his phone. He uses the number to track down where they are. Fran finds out about this but she doesn’t do anything. I understand that she might not have known about caller id however, she was warned about how people can be tracked down from their phone number.
Anyway, I think a few self defense classes or buying a gun would have helped.

I also liked reading about Robert’s conflicting feelings that he had for his father. His father was always good to him and his parents shielded him from the violence. However, he always knew that his mother’s bruises were not from an accident. I liked how Robert hoped his dad would change and that they could all be a family again. I think that was realistic for a kid to feel that way.

I have some understanding of domestic violence even though I have not experienced it myself. I can understand how hard it is for some women to leave their abuser. It can be a variety of reasons but fear, more violence and the threat of death are usually top of the list. This book helped to remind me that you never know what goes on behind closed doors.



Monday, 23 January 2017

Entertainment Mondays: Crackerjack (23 January 2017)


Crackerjack is an Australian film starring Mick Molloy as Jack Simpson. Jack has been a member of the Cityside Bowls Club for many years but has never played a game. He rents out his bowls parking space to workers for some extra money on the side. One day, he gets a call that he must participate in lawn bowls otherwise his membership will be cancelled.  So Jack plays a game of bowls and quickly comes to enjoy the game.
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The other club members begrudgingly accept Jack’s presence as they need him to help win a tournament which will save their club. The club is in financial difficulties and at risk of being sold to Bernie Fowler (John Clarke). Bernie wants to buy the property and put in pokey machines to add more revenue. The club members hate the idea of the club turning into a cash cow. Meanwhile, Nancy Brown (Judith Lucy ) a reporter for the small time news reports on the tournament and is the love interest for Jack Simpson.

Lawn bowls clubs are a common sight in Australia and this is the first movie that I have watched where it was featured. I haven’t played lawn bowls before. While the story of a greedy business man taking over a struggling place has been done before, I still found this movie to be delightful. In the movie, the bowls members are sticklers to the rules and it reminded me of being on school committees. There was this funny scene where refreshments have been laid out and Jack cuts a hunk of cheese and makes a sandwich. Usually people are supposed to cut a thin slice of cheese and eat it with a cracker or its own.
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 The action is disapproved by some of the members and they have a meeting about it. Someone says that an incident happened with the cheese and they want no cheese to be served next time pending on an investigation. Someone else says that there should be a subcommittee to handle the case.

I didn’t find the lawn bowls part interesting; I rather liked the characters instead. Jack is a likeable guy although he’s a loudmouth; he’s got a good heart. The senior citizens in the movie are like sweet grandparents.

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This movie might be a bit niche for some, as it features Australian comedy and it’s about lawn bowls which is a not a popular sport in some countries. However, I recommend viewers give this film a go particularly if you are looking for a movie to watch with older people.  I will caution that there is a bit of swearing in the movie so it’s up to the viewer discretion. 



Thursday, 19 January 2017

My goals 2017


I was kinda stumped when deciding on my goals this year. I like working towards goals each year as it gives me some purpose and direction. So, I asked myself where I would like to be in five years time. When I was younger, I didn’t know how to answer that question because the future seemed so far away and I was still growing as a person. Now, I feel that I can answer that question and from there I can work out how I would like to fulfill those goals.

In five years time I want to be:

  • Financially stable and relatively debt free.
  • Living independently.
  • A capable driver who can go anywhere.
  • Working full time in a job that I love.
  • Well travelled.



Monday, 9 January 2017

Entertainment Monday: Matilda the Musical (9 January 2017)


Jon Bear surprised me with tickets to Matilda the musical for my birthday. Matilda is based from the novel Matilda written by Roald Dahl. It’s about a young girl named Matilda who is treated poorly by her family because she’s a girl. Matilda goes to school where the headmistress, Agatha Trunchbull terrorizes the children. Matilda develops telekinesis as a result of her treatment in life and uses her powers for revenge.

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I thought it was sweet and I liked the different take on Matilda.  I thought the theatre Matilda was more impish compared to the movie one. I don’t remember the book Matilda.  I liked how there was more detail to Miss Honey’s back story about her parents and how it was weaved into the plot. I also liked the use of puppetry for those scenes. One criticism that I do have is that I thought Miss Honey was a little too timid in this adaption.


All the performers were very good. I really liked James Millar who played Miss Trunchbull. He was an imposing yet ridiculous too. I also admired how hard the children must have worked and their discipline.  There were many child performers, four Matildas who perform on different occasions to meet with child labour laws.  My brother and I joked that they could change the Matildas for each scene.
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The song that I liked the most was When I grow up. It’s a cute whimsical song and I like how the actors swing out of the stage.I had a great time watching Matilda. I would recommend it for families. Thanks again Jon Bear!

Monday, 5 December 2016

Entertainment Monday: Rankin and Bass Christmas (Monday, December 4, 2016)


Entertainment Monday: Rankin and Bass Christmas

Some of the videos that I am sharing this week are longer than what we would typically share during one of our Entertainment Monday segments. Unfortunately You Tube does not show the full version of all the movies so a few of them I have provided links to where you can hopefully watch the full movie.

I do not know how well Arthur Rankin and Jules Bass Christmas movies are known World wide, but certainly most anyone growing up in 1960s, 1970s or 1980s in the continental United States would be familiar with the Christmas Specials featuring these classic films.  In an era when we had 13 television channels there were not too many cartoon Christmas movies aimed towards children, or dozens of options to sort through and choose favorites.  I remember seeing a cartoon version of Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus, Mr. Magoo's Christmas and of course the iconic Charlie Brown's Christmas, but far and away the most memorable specials of the Christmas season belonged to the Rankin and Bass movies.

I wanted to share some of those movies here with our readers.  There are some that people may know and others perhaps not, but these are my favorite Rankin and Bass Christmas films.  The films that will forever remain a cherished part of my childhood, providing memories of sitting in front of the t.v.  underneath a blanket on a cold winter night with Mom, Dad, Robert, Clifford and Heather, while we drank hot cocoa and ate Mom's delicious Christmas cookies.

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (1964)



Nestor the Long Eared Christmas Donkey (1977)



The Year Without A Santa Claus (1974)


Twas the Night Before Christmas (1974)



Frosty the Snowman (1974)



There are several other wonderful Rankin and Bass films, but these are my very favorites.  I hope that whether or not you have seen them before, that you enjoy(ed) them.  Carlyn and I want to make sure to wish all of our readers a very happy, safe and healthy Holiday season, which ever Winter/Summer (depending on where you live) time Holidays you celebrate, or even if you do not celebrate the Holidays.   We send all our best wishes for you peace and happiness in the New Year!  Thank you all for taking the time to be a part of our little corner of the blogosphere! <3 


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