Monthly Archives: November 2014

SIX BOOK-BASED MOVIES TO SEE BEFORE THE END OF THE YEAR

I listed these movies in no particular order. All scripts are adapted screenplays predicted by some sources to be under watch for an Oscar in the adapted screenplay category. You can expect a good story, well-told. All of them have something special to offer in addition to a good script.
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Mockingjay Part I
Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen is not to be missed! There are endless articles about this movie. You can easily find more info. Jennifer Lawrence is the outstanding young actress of this or any generation. The movie also stars Philip Seymour Hoffman and Juliette Moore, both usually give outstanding performances. Woody Harrelson gave a riveting performance in the first two movies of this series.

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Wild
Yes, I am a Reese Witherspoon fan, and I loved the book by Cheryl Strayed. Reese is receiving plenty of Oscar buzz. I can’t wait to see this movie. I expect the cinematography to be stunning.

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Unbroken
Another terrific book, a classic of this century. The word is that Angelina Jolie has done a fine job directing. Any way you slice it, it is a fabulous story. The adapted script credits list Joel and Ethan Coen, well-known and extremely able movie writers, producers and directors.

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The Homesman
Another outstanding performance or so we are told, by Hilary Swank. Admittedly this movie gets my nod because I am a fan of westerns. Here we have Mary Bee Cuddy, a Nebraska pioneer woman in the years before the Civil War, and a look at the cost to women of immigration and the life on the plains with only the wind to keep them company. The movie also stars Tommy Lee Jones. It is based on a novel by Glendon Swarthout.

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Gone Girl
This script continues to be talked about. Rosamund Pike is being touted for a best actress Oscar nomination. The movie also stars Ben Affleck. Need I say more?

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Still Alice
Several friends have recommended this book. I have yet to read it. The subject matter of early-onset dementia is a tough one. Juliette Moore’s outstanding performance draws raves from the critics and the script is in the running for an Oscar nomination.

I like the IMDb website or the app for more information about a movie or TV show. I have the app on my ipad. (How else would I understand some of the crazy TV I watch?) www.IMDb.com

Do tell us what movies you plan to see or have seen and what you think. You pay your money. You are a movie critic. Your opinion counts.

WISHING YOU A HAPPY THANKSGIVING

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WHETHER you are eating roast turkey, spending the day with your family or a good book, here’s wishing you well. Thanks for visiting readeatlive/blog. I’m thankful for every viewer/reader everyday! Without you this blog does not exist.

Be joyful in this Thanksgiving Season. It’s a time when we count our blessings. Gratitude brings joy!

DON’T YOU LOVE A GOOD MYSTERY

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Most readers love to enjoy a good mystery now and then. For some of you it is a favorite genre. I’m just finishing Tana French’s The Secret Place, a very good read. That mystery has been on many of this year’s best lists. Makes me think about what mystery I might read next.

Betrayed by Lisa Scottoline.
The all-female law firm of Rosato and Associates is back in this new book. Even Michael Connelly is a fan.

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The Burning Room by Michael Connelly
Seems like everyone likes the new Harry Bosch mystery. I know he’s always been one of my favorites, the author and the character.

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Grey Mountain: A Novel by John Grisham.

This old fashioned legal thriller boasts a great cast of characters. #1 this week on New York Times BestSellers List.

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The Long Way Home by Louise Penny.
Former chief inspector Armand Gamache in the Canadian Village of Three Pines. Louise Penny is my new favorite mystery writer. Her last book might have been even better than The Secret Place. Not to take anything away from Tana French who is receiving many accolades for The Secret Place.

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Natchez Burning: A Novel by Greg Iles.
This one gives us mystery and history in Natchez. I think this is at the top of my list.

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The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith.
It probably is time to believe that J.K. Rowling can write well in this genre and under this name. Harry Potter is not the extent of her creativity. This mystery examines fame, something that has no doubt been on her mind.

Do tell which one you will choose. Or, tell us about which one you have read and what you thought about it.

CONGRATULATONS TO THE COOKBOOK WINNERS

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Congratulations to the winners! They are listed in order of names drawn with cookbook choice or cookbook won next to their names. Jerry drew the names and the folded slips of paper were remixed for each draw. Since each winner named a favorite topic, books were awarded based on the order in which the winning names were drawn. So, for example, the Williams Sonoma Salads Cookbook goes to the first person’s name drawn who listed salads as a favorite topic.

Winners: Thanksgiving Cookbook Giveaway
#1 Barb Dean, Michigan A Painter’s Kitchen: Recipes from the Kitchen of Georgia O’Keeffe

#2 Kim Adair, Michigan Williams-Sonoma Seasonal favorites: The Best of Autumn and Winter from the Seasonal Collection

#3 Karen Kozian, Michigan Great Burgers: Mouthwatering Recipes

#4 Judith Vitali, Connecticut Salads: Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Library

#5 Susan Carter, California 50 Ways With Potatoes: Light and Healthy

When winners send me their addresses via e-mail or Facebook message, I will mail their cookbooks.

A round of applause for all who entered the contest by commenting on www.readeatlive.com and to all of you who read/viewed the post “Thanksgiving Cookbook Giveaway.” I found this harder than I thought. I wanted everyone to win. A special thank-you to those who do not often comment and entered this contest. We will do this again in a few months.

Happy Cookbook Reading to All!

THANKSGIVING COOKBOOK GIVEAWAY

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Because November is Thanksgiving Month.
Because we have so much to be grateful for.
Because I am thankful for every viewer of this blog.
Because we love to read cookbooks.

I’m giving away five lightly used cookbooks. These are smaller cookbooks, easily mailed to the winners. But each is filled with good recipes. I hate to part with them (especially two of my favorites), but viewers deserve a serious thank-you.

To enter:

Select your favorite topic from the list below. Leave your entry in the comments section of readeatlive.com by clicking on Reply under the title of this post. A window will open for your comment. It is as easy as that!

Topic List:

1. Seasonal Favorites
2. Burgers
3. Salads
4. Potatoes
5. Cooking with Painter Georgia O’Keeffe

Rules:
One entry per person. Winners will be drawn from the names of those who comment on this website in response to this post. (I like to hear from you via Facebook, Twitter or e-mail but that is not an entry for the cookbook giveaway.)
Entries will close at the end of the fourth day of the posting.

Winners will be posted as soon as possible after they have been informed they are winners, and I have received the addresses for mailing. Books will be mailed to winners at my expense via US Postal Service.

Contact me via Facebook or e-mail if you have questions.

Good luck to all (Please comment and enter) and Thanks for participating in the Thanksgiving Cookbook Giveaway!

The more the merrier. Happy Thanksgiving.

CITY OF BOOKS

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Powell’s City of Books
Portland, Oregon
Guest blogger Tom Seymour
Some photos courtesy of Tom Seymour

My first visit to Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon put scrape marks on my chin as it repeatedly hit the floor each time I turned a corner and discovered a new area of the store.

Powell’s Books, The City of Books (as it calls itself), started in 1979 and has grown to 1.6 acres of retail floor space. CNN rates it one of the ten “coolest” bookstores in the world.

When we first entered the store it looked large, but not spectacular. Then as you walk through one area, another opens up to you, then another. There are many steps and half levels with twists and turns. The store is broken up into areas designated by color, or name. For example you might be directed to the Purple Room, or the Pearl Room. The store is in the Pearl District of downtown Portland.

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The collections mix new and used books on the same shelves. I like that since I had only to look in one place for a title, and not go to a separate “new” area or “used area.

Help was everywhere. Staff was always close at hand, and very willing to go above and beyond to track down what you were looking to find.

On the third floor was a Rare Book Room with amazing Items for sale. I became interested in the Columbian Exposition of 1893 and found an original volume of color prints and text that covered many parts of the fair. It was a good addition to my collection.

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Also on the third floor is an area that looks like an art gallery. An open space with benches, and items displayed on the wall. In this case though, the items were sets of books. With a wide range of ages and topics, I did find the set of books that we grew up with. The My Book House set was read to us daily as we were growing up. I think volume 2 was the most used and contained all the traditional fairy tales that children of our era knew well.

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I also had to look up “Letters from Skye” by Jessica Brockmole, a former student of mine. Picture proof that her volume is well displayed at Powell’s Books.

We didn’t get to fully explore all of the areas of the store, but look forward to returning to continue the fun.

Note from Paulette:
Who remembers My Book House? This place looks like a book lover’s paradise. Thanks Tom, for bringing it to our attention.

The size of the store is hard to imagine. It takes up a city block and is three stories high. The flagship store contains a million books and is located at 1005 West Burnside Street.

www.powells.com Books are sold online and you can read and see pictures of the recent renovation.

EATING AT GIADA’S IN LAS VEGAS

Many of us love to watch Giada prepare food on television, to read her cookbooks, and to try her recipes. Her first restaurant, featuring a California-inspired Italian menu, opened recently at the Cromwell in Las Vegas. Good friends and neighbors ate there last week. They enjoyed an amazing eating experience. A very big thank you to Barb Dean and her handsome husband Bruce for sharing their pictures.

They rated their overall dining experience superb. The knowledgeable staff assured an awesome experience. The finest wines and liquors were available. They left knowing they had truly been pampered!

The restaurant is located on the second level of the Cromwell at 3595 Las Vegas Blvd. There are spectacular views.

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Find more information at www.thecromwell.com

Let’s get to the food.

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They dined on Mustard Crusted Rack of Lamb with side dishes of smashed potatoes and sweet corn with spicy sausage.

Desert choices included lemon cream, chocolate truffles covered in white chocolate and a glazed fruit tart along with many other decadent and delicious choices.

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Giada shares several recipes with those dining in her restaurant. You will taste Giada’s food when you read these easy-to-prepare recipes for her light and lemony food.

A giant prawn in the shrimp and spaghetti dish

A giant prawn in the shrimp and spaghetti dish

Lemon Spaghetti with Shrimp
Recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis

Ingredients: Shrimp
2/3 cup olive oil plus 1 tablespoon
¾ pound large shrimp
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Ingredients: Pasta
1 pound spaghetti
2/3 cup olive oil
2/3 cup grated Parmesan
½ cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons fried capers

Directions:
In a medium sauté pan heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat. Season shrimp with salt and pepper. In a single layer add shrimp to preheated pan. Cook for 3 minutes per side or until pink and cooked through. Set aside.

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, about eight minutes. Meanwhile combine the oil, Parmesan and lemon juice in a large bowl to make lemon sauce.

Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Toss the pasta with lemon sauce, shrimp and reserved cooking liquid. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in basil, with lemon zest and fried capers.

Fried Smashed Potatoes with Lemons (pictured with the rack of lamb)
Recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis
Prep Time: 8 min.
Cook Time: 30-41 min.
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
2 pounds baby or fingerling potatoes
¼ cup olive oil, plus extra as needed
3 cloves garlic, peeled and halved

Dressing:
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
Zest of lemons
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
For the potatoes: Place the potatoes in an 8-quart stockpot with enough cold water to cover by at least two inches. Bring the water to a boil and continue boiling until the potatoes are tender, about 20-25 minutes. Drain the potatoes in a colander and allow to dry for five minutes. Using the palm of your hand gently press the potatoes until lightly smashed.

In a large, non-stick skillet, heat ¼ cup of oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant and lightly brown, about 1 minute. Remove the garlic and discard. In batches add the potatoes and cook, without stirring for 5 to 8 minutes until the bottoms turn golden brown. Using a spatula, turn the potatoes over and cook, drizzling with oil, if needed, for 5 to 8 minutes longer until golden brown on the underside.

For the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together 3 tablespoons of oil, lemon juice, parsley, thyme and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Spoon the dressing over the potatoes and toss gently until coated. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer the potatoes to a bowl and serve.

Sauce for Pan Roasted Salmon served with Succotash or other Vegetable
Recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis

Ingredients:
½ cup crème fraiche
¼ cup whole grain mustard
2 teaspoons lemon zest, from 2 lemons
¼ cup lemon juice, from 2 lemons
¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Directions:
In a medium bowl whisk together the crème fraiche, mustard, lemon zest, lemon juice and salt. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

To serve, place 2 tablespoons of sauce in a circle onto each plate and top with salmon and vegetables and/or drizzle sauce atop the cooked salmon. Serve more on the side, if desired.

I’m lovin’ these lemon dishes. I’m not sure which one to try first. Which one will you try, or are you headed for Las Vegas?

Sincere thanks to Barb Dean for sharing the dining experience she and her husband had in Vegas!

YOUR WILD AND PRECIOUS LIFE

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Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
Author: Cheryl Strayed
Publisher: Vintage Books
Genre: Memoir
Paperback Edition: 311 pages
Source: Personal Copy

This young woman may have come from a disintegrating family. She may have made some very questionable decisions in her short life. No doubt, she suffered a devastating loss with the death of her mother. Also, no doubt Cheryl Strayed has important things to tell us in this riveting memoir chronicling her hike of the Pacific Crest Trail.

Any part of this hike would be grueling. She hiked from the Mojave in southern California to the Bridge of Gods in northern Oregon, eleven hundred miles, most of it alone. Such courage, stamina and endurance. It is another example of a woman keeping on keeping on, the kind of story that grabs the heart and holds it tight.

The trail both “shelters and shatters” her. Her changing attitude toward her body and mind from earlier drug use to feeling strong as she prepares to hike the section of trail known as Hat Creek Rim is evident. “So much depended upon mind control.” “I felt rested and strong, braced for the day.” She teaches us about facing one’s past, about being alone, accepting what is and appreciating the amazing things in our world. “They opened up inside of me like a river.” She learned to feel fierce and humble, safe in the world. The reader, too, learns much, following her story on this hike.

She tells her story in an unsentimental narrative. Suspense awaits at nearly every bend she faces. Yet it is amazing, how her hard and unforgiving physical and emotional journey steps so often in pools of warmth and humor. We all need to watch for instances of “trail magic” in our lives: “the unexpected sweet happenings that stand out in stark relief to the challenges of the trail.”

Reese Witherspoon stars in the upcoming movie based on this story. She says, “We save ourselves. Everyone knows it.” The art of reflection is an important theme in this inspiring story, an element of survival and growing beyond survival. Ms. Strayed includes a quote from the poet Mary Oliver to open Part Five. “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? It is a question any reader of this book will ponder.

Many are reading this book, perhaps you will, too. More information about the book is available online, including at www.litlovers.com May I suggest Wild is one of the best books of the year.

BOOKS! BOOKS! BOOKS! EVERYWHERE!

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Let the reading begin.

Book Beat: An Independent Bookstore Specializing in Art, Photography and Children’s Books located at 2610 Greenfield Road. Oak Park, MI

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A passion for books lives in this bookstore. The proprietors, the staff, the shoppers, and visitors who browse here are all in love with books. They are book zealots! We readers often speak of “So many books. So little time.”; here we have “So many books. So little space.” The reader who visits and browses here feels the overwhelming abundance of books.

So come on along for a picture tour.

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Owner Colleen Kammer took me here and there around the book-jammed shop, telling me at length about this book and that one. I scrutinized books and scouted new areas. I wanted to stay all afternoon and longer. Every which way I turned were books and more books. There are art books, yes. And children’s books galore. But history, science and fiction and more also fill the shelves.

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This bookstore hosts a fabulous website with a newsletter and all kinds of good stuff! Here’s the link: www.thebookbeat.com

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Book Beat is the 2012 winner of the Pannell Award, which recognizes booksellers who applaud and promote children’s and young people’s interest in books. I was especially interested during this visit in finding books I hoped would interest my middle school age grandson. He is a serious reader and one who pays attention to what he reads. I appreciated how Colleen helped me explore this genre.

Yes. I bought some books. More about them in an upcoming post.

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Read Think Create is the motto at Book Beat. This sign hangs in the window and this energy fills every nook and cranny, every stack and shelf inside.

I urge those readers who live in the Michigan area to visit this heaven found among the aisles of books at Book Beat! Mail order is available on the website.

Books for kids occupy center stage here,

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but books for all ages invite you to read, read, read. And to enjoy the bountiful beauty of books.

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Book Beat, easy to find on the front corner of the shopping strip at Greenfield and Lincoln. Don’t miss it!

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WOULD YOU CHANGE THE ENDING IF YOU COULD?

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Are there times when you liked the book, but the ending––––not so much? Are there times when you disliked the ending of a story so intensely you would change it if you could? And, if that is true, do you know how you would change the ending?

Some us are addicted to happy endings. Other readers are more likely to take a story for what it is, an interesting creation, but…..still, it might be more perfect if… And occasionally there is a reader who would like to make sure the fate of each character is the result of the seeds sown by that character. Interesting to think where individual readers fit on this continuum.

The books listed here may have been ones with endings you wish you could change.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Would you have had Anna doing something other than laying herself on the train tracks?

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Did you want things to end differently for Nick and Amy?

Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Did you wish for another ending for the main character Theo. I wanted more for him, whether he deserved it or not.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
I confess I wanted Werner to survive. Did you?

Benediction by Kent Haruf
Did you want a different fate for the minister in this story? Did you accept the inevitability of the end of Dad Lewis’ life? Who did you think should have the hardware store?

Finish this list by adding other titles, classic or recent, with endings you would like to change. Maybe Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline or….well, you tell me.

Thanks for joining the discussion.