Saturday, July 26, 2014

I Saw the Movie First/ From the Book: We Bought a Zoo

Occasionally you will now be seeing my new discussion posts about seeing the movie before reading the book.  Like many readers I prefer to read the book first and often like the book much better than the movie. Sometimes though you can't wait to see a movie and either don't find out until after the movie there was a book or just didn't get the time to read the book first.
This my first I Saw the Movie First post and I hope you like it but would love feedback either way.
Some time ago I happened to catch We Bought a Zoo on TV, I happen to love Matt Damon and am always a sucker for animal movies so had to watch it.  It took until about 6 months ago for me to realize that it was based on a book.
Now when I watched the movie it was incredibly emotional. Full of both conflicts, grief, struggles and joy.  The animals really played a key role and definitely had personalities all their own, and of course the main and even sub-characters were all fantastic. The actors they chose for the movie were perfect and really played off each other well. This movie could possibly be one of my top 20 movies and I definitely watch it every time I happen to catch it on TV.
Once I found out there was a book the movie was based off I went on the hunt and downloaded the audio version.
The audio version was a little over 8 hours and I was almost immediately thrown off to find out not only was author British and the Zoo located in England but the narrator also had a British accent. Furthermore, the book was not nearly as emotional and I had absolutely no connection with the events or the characters.  I was surprised as to how little the animals came into play in the story until a few brief glimpses at the end.  Also the family connection was not there at all, the wife's medical issues and subsequent death were approached from a very analytical view and had absolutely no emotion connected at all.   You can see my full review HERE.
All in all the movie was many times over was more emotional and relatable. I definitely preferred the movie.
As kind of a side note and a little bit of From the Book, we recently visited a privately owned zoo in our area.  We went to the Southwicks Zoo with Munchkin (his first visit to a zoo) and were very impressed.   We have a State Zoo closer to us and have been a few times but were impressed with how much larger, and viewable the zoo was at Southwicks. We spent several hours walking through and viewing their animals and still did not even come close to seeing everything (I was a little disappointed I never found the Armadillo, my favorite animal).  Either way I have a feeling we will try to at least visit this zoo once a year in the future.
For your viewing pleasure, pictures of Munchkin, animals and our visit to the zoo.
he was a little nervous at the petting zoo, the goats were very pushy
Munchkin loved roaring at the tigers
'Look Momma'
I am pretty sure there is a baby in there but couldn't get a clear view
The Deer Park was fantastic, the deer weren't too push but would approach and it was a nice walk through the woods.
The giraffe exhibit was unbelievable! I think we counted 3 babies and they were so cute!
Munchkin's favorite, he kept calling him Curious George and wanted to play ball with it.
Of course being a boy his favorite part of the day
Munchkin's comment "Wow! Momma, Wow! Digger!"

Friday, July 25, 2014

Bedtime Story: Milo Armadillo by Jan Fearnley

Synopsis: "When no one can find a pink fluffy rabbit to buy for Tallulah on her birthday, Grandma gets creative with her knitting needles. But the surprise Tallulah lifts out of the box is not a rabbit, it’s a pink fluffy . . . thing, named Milo Armadillo. He’s athletic, musical, and great for sharing adventures, but Tallulah’s friends say he’s funny-looking. What can poor Milo do to make Tallulah happy? With humor, poignancy, and a nod to the out-of-the-ordinary, this sweet story shows that if you can’t be with the one you want, you can definitely love the armadillo you’re with.'

My Review: I thought this was a very cute story with a great message (and of course it doesn't hurt that it features my favorite animal). I really, really love the lesson taught in this story about loving unique gifts and showing appreciation for them even if they aren't what everyone else has or wants. The illustrations were brightly colored and definitely caught Munchkin's eye and even though this book is suppose to be for kids a little older than him he was very happy to sit and listen to the whole story.
My Rating: A cute story featuring and Armadillo! Talk about Win Win! I give it a rating of Four Paws!
Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

After Dark Review of Blue Balls and Push Up Bras by Mandy Harbin

I have added After Dark Reviews to my blog as a way of notifying you of a review of a book with Adult themes and scenes. From now on I will keep my reviews of all books I read that have explicit scenes in them for late night posts for those of you who prefer to avoid them or easy to find for those of you who seek them out ;)
Synopsis: "Abstinence makes the heart grow fonder...

Sex would be nice. But after giving birth, Sophie is a little self-conscious about her body, and her husband, Sawyer, hasn’t even tried coming on to her. What’s a girl to do? Don’t blab to your friends, that’s what! Their reaction is a mix of shock and pity, but they unite under one common goal: to get her laid. In one week, she’s going to show Sawyer just what he’s been neglecting. At her reluctance, the girls all agree to break out their push-up bras for a night of showing off their assets in support of her mission.

But Sophie wants it now. The talk with her friends sparks her to be the initiator, but when she tries turning on the charm, Sawyer still doesn’t give up the goods. Now the only big O she’s getting is offended.

So she hatches a little plan of her own..."

My Review: Nothing like some good old fashioned payback and punishment to steam up your love life! I thought this book was a great little pick me up. I loved the interactions between the ladies and especially Sophie and Sawyer. I can definitely sympathize with Sophie, the time period after having a baby is treacherous for both wife and husband, simple misunderstandings can go way off the deep end. I loved the planning and scene with Hannah, I almost died laughing. If you are having a spat with your significant other, this book would be a fun way to lighten your mood.
My Rating: A fun and steamy book. I really enjoyed it and it was short enough to read in one sitting. I give it a rating of Four Paws.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Review of Jesper Jinx by Marko Kitti

Synopsis: "Jesper Jinx is eleven, and probably the unluckiest person in all of Puffington Hill. Everything he touches seems to end up in sweet disaster. Hence his nickname 'Jinx'.

In this first book of Jesper Jinx's wonderfully wicked adventures you're going to meet Jesper's family and Snowy the Cat.

Also, there's a mysterious new classmate with a moustache. And it's up to Jesper to launch his famous Boredom Breaker.

As Jesper so frequently says, 'What harm would it do to have a little fun?"

My Review: This was such a fun book to read. It was full of funny quirks (including a secrecy agreement the reader must sign). While Jesper isn't always out looking for trouble, there is definitely a lot resulting in his antics. I love how the narrator/author incorporated himself into the story and it makes the book appealing to all readers. I think that particularly reluctant readers might find this book very enjoyable to read.
My Rating: I really enjoyed this book, the stories were funny and definitely fit the age group. I am sure Munchkin will love this series when he gets older (but hopefully he doesn't get any ideas).  I give it a rating of Four Paws!
Jesper Jinx was sent to me by the author for an honest review.
You can find out more about Marko Kitti and his work on his Goodreads Page or Website.
You can obtain your own copy of Jesper Jinx in digital or print format on Amazon or print format on Barnes and Noble.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Review of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

Synopsis: "The Dursleys were so mean and hideous that summer that all Harry Potter wanted was to get back to the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. But just as he's packing his bags, Harry receives a warning from a strange, impish creature named Dobby who says that if Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts, disaster will strike.

And strike it does. For in Harry's second year at Hogwarts, fresh torments and horrors arise, including an outrageously stuck-up new professor, Gilderoy Lockheart, a spirit named Moaning Myrtle who haunts the girl's bathroom, and the unwanted attentions of Ron Weasley's younger sister, Ginny.

But each of these seem minor annoyances when the real trouble beings, and someone--or something--starts turning Hogwarts students to stone. Could it be Draco Malfoy, a more poisonous rival than ever? Could it possibly be Hagrid, whose mysterious past is finally told? Or could it be the one everyone at Hogwarts most suspects...Harry Potter himself."

My Review: Really?! Why did everyone rave about this series, granted everyone keeps telling me that the next books get better but why would you have even continued to read the series to find that out? I unfortunately feel like I need to finish the series since it was a gift from my Hubby and if I don't read the books he gives me he may stop feeding my book devouring habit! So anyway back to the story, the characters were again so dull and boring (not to mention sometimes all high and mighty) that I had no connection to them at all. Thank goodness Ginny showed up and portrayed some real emotion and personality! Again the story was really drawn out and only seemed to pick up steam the last 50 or so pages. Though I do appreciate the fact that there is time between the events, not everything happens within two weeks which seems a lot more genuine. All in all I am still horribly disappointed and just want to push through and finish this series up so I can put it on a shelf to just look pretty.
My Rating: So yea, I know so many of you absolutely loved this series but I just don't get it. I almost don't want to have my son ever read these books because I am afraid it could possibly ruin his love for reading.  I give it a rating of One Paw and a Stump Wag.

Monday, July 21, 2014

What's for Dinner This Week? (16)

What's for Dinner This Week is a little insight into my life for you every Monday night. I carefully plan out meals for the week ahead of time and do my shopping over the weekend.  So I wanted to start sharing with you one of the recipes or dinners I am most looking forward to each week.
I am here to tell you to never be afraid of the boxed dishes. Granted they aren't as healthy as cooking from scratch but they are still quick and easy dishes and often inexpensive. I always stock up on things like Rice a Roni, Taco Meals, Stove Top and Shake n Bake when they go on sale 10 for $10.
Always look at the back of the box there is usually one or more recipes or ways to prepare it and make a full meal.

Last night I made the Chicken Bake at the top but I have made all three of these before. Most of the ingredients I have on hand at any time (a lot of them are non-perishable).  It is quick and easy to throw together and put in the oven.  Granted I always change up the recipes a little to our tastes, like I have said before we almost always add mushrooms to anything we make. This time I also added extra garlic powder and herbs, we also didn't have any frozen veggies so I just used a can with some fresh green beans too. 
The wonderful thing about these, you can change them up super easy to fit your tastes and budgets.

Monday Reading List

Its Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Shelia at Book Journey. Share what books you have finished in the last week, are currently reading and what might be coming up next!

Reviews Posted Last Week:
Links will take you to my review

Wednesday Letters by Jason F. Wright
The Well of Being by Jean-Pierre Weill
Surrounded by Temptations by Mandy Harbin (After Dark)
The Crown on Your Head by Nancy Tillman (Bedtime Story)
Flight Vol. 1 (Graphic Novel)

Books Finished Last Week:
Reviews will be posted at a later date

Dakota Home
Unwritten Vol. 1
The Secret at Haney Field
Hard as You Can
Sesame Street I Spy

Currently Reading:

Mozart Season by Virginia Euwer Wolff - PB - on page 35 of 272
Cabin Fever by Diana Hunter - PB - on page 89 of 272
Visions of a Revolution by Jeffery Minucci - Kindle - 27%
Secrets in the Sauce by Linda Evans Shepherd - Nook - on Page 22 of 336
From Baghdad With Love by Jay Kopelman  - Audio - 62%
The Fight for Olympus by Kate O'Hearn - PB - on Pg 62 of 368

 Books to be Read Soon:

Dakota Always by Debbie Macomber
Buffalo Valley by Debbie Macomber
Bella Tuscany by Frances Mayes
My Heart to Yours by Michelle Zarrin (Requested Review)



I worked really hard last Sunday to get my chores done for the week so I could spend every evening after Munchkin went to bed reading.  The boss was also out of town for a couple of days last week so I was able to get caught up on scheduling posts and get more reading in (especially those paperbacks that I can't normally read at the office). I did get quite a bit more reading done this week and have really been captured by From Baghdad with Love and can't get enough of listening to it! I actually took today off from work as a mental health day, needing a break from both Munchkin and the busy stressful office. I hope to get some projects and reading done today but with hubby home with me I have a feeling we will end up cleaning the basement (need to get it done before Munchkin's birthday in a month).

Happy Reading!!