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Nerdy Special List July 2015

July 2, 2015 – 12:08 am | 9 Comments

We have a long weekend ahead! Hope you have fun plans for the Fourth of July, if you celebrate it. After a rough week, I hope to commence Operation Couch Potato.
This month, I’m very excited …

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Advance movie reviews and behind-the-scenes discussions with filmmakers

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Movie Review: INSIDE OUT

June 21, 2015 – 5:45 pm | 4 Comments

I’m going to start this review by saying if you haven’t seen Inside Out and have any reservations about seeing it, thinking it’s only for kids or girls or whatever, just throw those doubts out the window. This is the best movie I’ve seen so far this year.

The best way to experience it is without knowing too much about the plot so I’ll be very brief: The movie is a trip inside the head of an 11-year-old girl named Riley who’s trying to adapt to a major life change. Her emotions are Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust, and Anger, who take turns at a control board to guide Riley through life.

The voice cast is terrific, with Amy Poehler and Phyllis Smith being standouts as the dominant and seemingly at-odds Joy and Sadness. You’d think a character named Sadness would be a downer, but Smith, best known as Phyllis in the American The Office, made me laugh as much as she moved me. And the little blue character representing this emotion is adorable, reminding us Sadness is not always scary and sometimes is exactly who we need to sit beside us.

As with Riley, Joy and Sadness were my primary emotions during Inside Out. I laughed often and hard, and cried just as hard. Pete Docter and his codirector/cowriter Ronaldo Del Carmen have created a confection that looks like a dream but is firmly rooted in reality. Its psychological insight on childhood, parenthood, marriage, and life in general is spot-on and depicted in beautifully subtle ways. Repeated viewings are encouraged to catch all the smart jokes and little nuggets of wisdom. When the Oscar nominations come around next year, Inside Out deserves a place among the best-picture nominees, not only relegated to the animated-feature category.

Docter also had a hand in writing and/or directing Up, Wall*E, and the Toy Story movies, the best in the Pixar canon. From now on, when I see his name on a movie, I won’t pass Go or collect $200 and will just head straight to the theater.

Nerd verdict: Moving and beautiful Inside Out

Image: Walt Disney Pictures

Big Bear Adventure

May 25, 2015 – 6:11 pm | 7 Comments
IMG_2021

Since we had a long weekend, Mr. PCN and I decided to run away from civilization and the noisy neighbors with their chainsaws and leaf blowers and constantly barking dogs.
We rented a cabin in the mountains near Big …

Guest Book Review: HOLD STILL by Sally Mann

May 17, 2015 – 10:57 pm | 2 Comments
Photo by Liz Liguori

This review is by contributor Thuy Dinh, editor of Da Mau Magazine.
The cover photograph of Sally Mann’s memoir, Hold Still, shows the author as a prepubescent tomboy, airborne against a gray expanse of sky. She …

When Is a Spoiler a Spoiler?

May 14, 2015 – 10:47 pm | 12 Comments
FullSizeRender (1)

I had two extremely annoying reading experiences recently and it brought to mind a question I’ve had for a while so I thought I’d seek outside opinions.
Here’s what happened, with two books in a row. I was reading …

Nerdy Special List May 2015

May 4, 2015 – 7:38 pm | 4 Comments
disclaimer

Happy Cinco de Mayo!
We have a full list this month. After a couple of lackluster reading months, I was happy to read some strong books in April and to see my blogging friends did, too. Hope …

Nerdy Special List April 2015

April 8, 2015 – 8:20 pm | 4 Comments
spinster

April is always a big month for me. Not only is it my birth month, it’s also that of my mother, husband, goddaughter, and two close friends. I should buy stock in Hallmark considering how …

Book Giveaway: THE MYSTERY WRITERS OF AMERICA COOKBOOK

March 19, 2015 – 10:35 am | 8 Comments
MWA cookbook

A couple weeks ago, I received a cookbook for review. Since me in the kitchen is the equivalent of a child running with scissors while chased by wild dogs across a freeway, I might seem …

Book Review: A TOUCH OF STARDUST by Kate Alcott

March 11, 2015 – 10:53 pm | One Comment

This review originally appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers and is reprinted here with permission.
Last year was the 75th anniversary of the movie Gone with the Wind, and now Kate Alcott’s novel A Touch of …

Nerdy Special List March 2015

March 5, 2015 – 11:53 pm | One Comment
life or death

Though we’ve been enjoying gorgeous weather in Southern California, my family and friends on the East Coast are soooo over all the snow and freezing temps. But they’ve had lots of snow days, which means …

Book Review: CANARY by Duane Swierczynski

March 4, 2015 – 9:06 pm | 3 Comments
canary cover

This review originally appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers and is reprinted here with permission.
Sarie Holland, the protagonist in Duane Swierczynski’s Canary, is a 17-year-old college student who’s busted after unwittingly helping another student on a …

Book Review: ONE STEP TOO FAR by Tina Seskis

February 10, 2015 – 5:08 pm | One Comment
one step too far

This review originally appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers and is reprinted here with permission.
At the start of British author Tina Seskis’s debut novel, One Step Too Far, a married lawyer named Emily Coleman is running …

Watch Oscar-Nominated Film for Free This Weekend

February 4, 2015 – 9:14 pm | 5 Comments

Last October, I raved about the Rory Kennedy-directed/produced documentary, Last Days in Vietnam (my review here). Last month, it was Oscar nominated for best documentary feature.
This weekend, from February 5-7, you can stream this film …

Nerdy Special List February 2015

February 2, 2015 – 11:34 pm | 7 Comments
touch of stardust

January always seems like it lasts a year, with post-holiday blues and crappy weather, and I didn’t have many good reads last month. But February is here, bringing with it more promising books.
Here’s what my …