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Not So WILD about WILD (My thoughts on the movie)

WILD, Reese Witherspoon, Book Journey, movie, Minnesota

I had recently read listen to on audio and reviewed the book WILD by Cheryl Strayed.  I had mentioned at the time the draw that I have always had to do something like this – just escape and be with me… whoever I am at that particular time in my life and try to really get to know…


I am fascinated with those who do it.

After finishing the audio book I rented the movie.  I usually appreciate a movie version to a book – I like to see the creative vision the directors come up with and how they bring an authors work to the screen.  Here, are my thoughts…

What I liked:

Reese Witherspoon rocked this role playing Cheryl Strayed.  I enjoyed her performance very much and I like that Cheryl is a Minnesota native.  I also, as I did in the book, liked that while much of the time Cheryl was alone hiking the trail – she met interesting people when she crossed into towns.  For the most part I found her very brave to rely on help from a stranger… and of course there is one part where I find her super cool but also crazy to hike the trail alone and have already decided if I ever did something like this I would have to have a friend along… or several friends who switch out throughout the process…. alone can be dangerous.


What I did not like:

I mentioned in the book that I was not too thrilled with her (Cheryl’s) problems with being faithful to her husband and the talk of her sex life with multiple men.  For some reason I thought someone had told me that was not the case in the movie but CLEARLY I got that part wrong as the sex was even more prominent in the movie.  Thank you to Stacy who warned me in a comment to skip the movie, by the time I read the comment I had finished watching the movie.  ;)


My take away –

Yes, I think the book is worth reading.  It is inspiring to see how Cheryl hits rock bottom in her life and how she turns herself around through this almost cleansing process of the 3 months hike.  3 months is a pretty impressive endeavor!  The movie was good, but if the sex stuff bugs you like it does me… be satisfied with the book.  At least in the book it is not so graphic and you skip those parts if you choose.

Movie: Jurassic World

Jurassic world, Book Journey

On July 4th Al and I were keeping our day pretty low key.  We stayed close to home and then in the afternoon decided to go and check out the movie Jurassic World.  I grew up around the Jurassic movies and remember the excitement of imaging that such a park could exist and of course, the implications around having such a park exist.


We really enjoyed the movie.  It was like the next generation of Jurassic Park.  They were trying again to create the park that once failed all those years ago.  Now they were trying to keep up with the ever changing demands of this world – not just wanting to see a dinosaur… but a bigger, scarier, dinosaur then ever seen before.

Super sizing is not always the way to go.

It’s actually a great idea and an apparent win (according to an article I read this morning the movie is well on its way to becoming one of the biggest movies of all time).  Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard are pretty amazing in their roles.  Chris playing Owen, the “Raptor whisperer” with the smoking good looks and kick ass attitude, and Bryce playing Claire a stuffy over achiever who is all about her job and has little time for anything or anyone else.

If you get the chance – see this one at the theater for the BIG screen feel.  We went to the 3D version (mainly due to the timing) and found it to be well done.

Insurgent: The Movie

Insurgent, Divergent, Book Journey

Now that the factions are scrambling for safety and the world is literally in chaos, Tris and Four are trying to stay safe all the while knowing that the only way anyone will have hope of feeling safe is once Jeanine is dead.  In this world, you never know who you can trust.


A friend and I went to Insurgent this week.  I had read the book, as well as Divergent (the first book) and had been impressed with what they had done in the first movie.  Shailene Woodley (who also starred in Fault In Our Stars) makes an excellent Tris and I love the diversity in the roles that she plays.  Theo James as Four is a new actor to me although I see he was also in Underworld and an episode of Downton Abby so I must have seen him.  Theo is also perfect for the role that he plays in the movies.

I really enjoyed this second installment of the Divergent Series.  I have yet to read the third book due to grumblings I heard when it came out about how they should have just ended it at two books.  I have a year before the next movie will come out (Allegiant) which I see will be broke into two parts (the new trend to S T R E T CH out our movie addictions I guess.  I will read the final book before then.

I enjoyed the movie, I can not recall the book well enough to do a comparison, but I love the action and the story line. Kate Winslet gets kudos from me for playing the evil mastermind rule keeper of all (she is the equivalent of President Snow from Hunger Games).

Overall:  AWESOME SAUCE.  If you like YA Dystopia even if you have not red the books, see these movies.  They are kickin.


The Duff… The Movie, The Book, And How My Opinion Has Changed

The DUFF, Book JOurney

Yesterday my cousin and I went to this movie.  I wanted to go because:

1.  I met the author my first year at the book Expo in 2010 (she was 17 at the time)

2.  I read the book and was not a fan.


Book Synopsis:

1aBianca has two popular and gorgeous best friends.  The three have hung out together for years and while Bianca does not care about fashion or getting up two hours early to do her hair and make up for school it has always been a non issue.

Until now.

At a party, the hot popular guy that Bianca has her eye on, Wesley Rush takes advantage of Bianca’s feelings for him and then tells Bianca she is the DUFF of the group.  Designated Ugly Fat Friend.  Naturally Bianca is offended, but Wesley says not to take it so literally, it just means that she hangs out with friends that are much hotter than herself, making her the approachable one to get information.  Wes explains that every group has one.

Over the next few days Bianca starts to notice that what Wes said might be true.  Guys did approach her to get information on her friends dating status. With Bianca’s home life a mess with her fathers alcoholism and no one really to turn too Bianca throws all caution to the wind and sets her eyes on a goal that seems impossible…



Ok that was based off the book synopsis…. the book had quite a few teenage sexual encounters and Bianca although being put down by Wesley could not seem to stop herself from coming back for more.  I did read this book almost 5 years ago now so a lot of the details are fuzzy, but I do remember not liking all the extreme sexual content.  I also did not like the idea of what a word like DUFF could do to a young girls image… if a young girl already had self esteem issues, reading this book I feared could make her even more so.


the movie synopsis was somewhat QUITE a bit different.

Movie synopsis:

Bianca has two popular and gorgeous best friends.  The three have hung out together for years and while Bianca does not care about fashion or getting up two hours early to do her hair and make up for school it has always been a non issue.

Until now.

Bianca goes to a party at the most popular girl in schools home it hopes to see her crush Toby.  When her hot neighbor the popular Wesley Rush that Bianca can not stand tells her that she is the DUFF of her group of friends, Bianca is offended.  She leaves the party early.  At home she has no one to talk to as her divorced mother is a published Life After Divorce guru with her mind set on publicity events and what to wear.  Bianca decides if she is not part of a group she will not be the duff, so she proceeds to dump both of her bewildered best friends.

Bianca makes a deal with Wesley to help him with his failing grade in science if he helps her to sharper up her image to get Toby’s attention.  By working together the two discover they have more in common then they thought.


The movie is a lot different from the book.  There is no sex (YAY!).  Bianca’s dad is already out of the picture in the movie (probably due to the alcoholism and divorce). Wesley is not an ass, in fact quite likable and you route for him.  Madison, the popular mean girl ex girlfriend/girlfriend of Wesley is an awesome addition to the movie but does not appear in the book.  There is also a funny teacher who really takes Bianca under his arm who also does not appear in the book.


While book (my original review) and movie are different, the ending good message is the same.  It was curiosity that made me see the movie made from this debut book, and I am glad I did.  The movie is really funny.  My cousin and I laughed out loud many times.  To me it flowed better than the book did, but at the same time it gave me a new appreciation for the book and it’s overall message.

See the movie – at a PG13 rating it is a fun one and yay to author Kody Keplinger!  What an exciting moment this has to be!


**Fun Fact:  At the end of the movie there is a quick cameo from author Kody Keplinger.  If you do not know what she looks like you may miss it.


American Sniper – The Movie


Just this weekend I had the opportunity to go and see American Sniper with my husband.  You may think that he picked the movie, but it was actually my pick.  I am not a fan of war movies, however this is a true story and an incredible one at that.  I want those of you who think like me that a war movie is a guy thing… let me just say not always.  Do not write this movie off.

The basic synopsis is that Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) has always been an overachiever.  When he sets his mind to do something he fully plans to do it right and go all the way.  When he joins the Navy Seals he does it because he wants to protect his country.

Before he leaves to be part of the war efforts on Iraq after 911, he meets his future wife Taya,(played by Sienna Miller).  They fall in love, get married and start a family.  While Taya is pregnant, Chris is fighting for his life and his country.

Chris in all does, 4 tours.  While this is the source of many arguments with his wife who feels he has given enough to his country and it was time for him to give to his family, Chris finds he can not let go.  As in his obsessive nature, he knows that he can save lives.  And he knows he can not do that form the comfort of his couch and home.



You may know the rest of the story.  In fact it is in the news right now.  It is a powerful story about love and loss and truly giving it all.  It honestly broke my heart.  The movie is about the war yes, but it is also about one man’s desire to save every life he can.  Chris Kyle becomes known as the deadliest sniper in America with 255 kills.

Yes you do see some graphic details of the war, yet coming from someone who is sensitive to things like that, the movie as a whole far out weighs that.

I highly recommend seeing this movie.  I recently purchased the audiobook and plan to listen to that soon.





Petals On The Wind – Movie Thoughts


I grew up on VC Andrews books…. in fact last year, my first book of the year was the first book in this series, Flowers In The Attic.  I reread it because the movie was coming out and I wanted to have the story line fresh in my head.  Recently, I discovered that Petals On The Wind (the second book) was now a movie as well.  I rented it and …


To bring you up to speed… Flowers in the attic is about four children that are placed in the attic of their very rich grandparents home and kept there for two years due to their mother marrying a man who was practically her brother and the grandmother saying the children were the devil’s spawn. When the children’s father is killed in a car accident, the mother has no choice but to return to her childhood home which she hated, looking for help to survive.  The grandmother allows her to stay with stipulations, in order for the mother to get her inheritance, the now sickly grandfather was never to know that children were born of this union. The children must be kept hidden until the grandfather’s passing. Thus… the attic.

In the attic, are the two older siblings, Chris and Cathy (who are in their upper teenage years), and the twins Cory and Carrie, who are 5 when they enter the attic.  Basically, the over closeness of the children causes the two older siblings to become a little too close, and in the mother’s twisted obsession with her inheritance, she tries, and succeeds in poisoning one of her children, Cory dies at the age of 6.

Flash forward to the Grandfather dying, and the mother has now met a man who also has money and she has told him that she was unable to have children.  While the children are now to be set free of the attic, their mother has instead abandoned them to the care (ha ha) of their cruel grandmother.  The children finally escape out an attic window…


In Petals On The Wind, now Chris and Cathy are adults living with their younger sibling Carrie (who is in her mid teens).  Chris is learning to be a doctor, and Cathy is performing in the ballet.  In the movie we are missing how they got from point A to point B, which is that they were discovered while on the run by a maid who took them to where she was employed and after the children shared their true story with her employer, he took them all in. He was a doctor, and put Chris in medical school, Cathy in ballet school, and Carrie in a private school. At the opening of this movie, the man who took them in has passed away.  There is much straying from the book at this point so from here I will go with the movie version…

Chris and Cathy are still very fond of each other, and while Chris does not want any other woman, Cathy knows she needs to move on from her improper love of her brother.  She meets a man in the ballet who promises her advancement, and she moves in with him.  Hurt, Chris meets a girl at the hospital he in interning at (his bosses daughter), and begins to date her.

Oh if only things could have remained that way…. Cathy finds herself in an abusive relationship as her new man in jealous and a drinker.  When her younger sister Carrie asks to move in with them, things get worse.  Chris meanwhile feeling pressured, has asked his girlfriend to marry him, although he knows he is still in love with his sister.

Think all that is twisted?  You haven’t heard nothin’ yet…

SO the movie.  I was impressed.  I have not reread this book so had little recollection of all the details of the book to go on.  (I read a synopsis today to remind me of the book, and then I picked up on all the differences between book and movie).  While it is not accurate to the book, it has the same bones.  I found myself totally engaged with the story line.  The acting was wonderful,  I actually found this movie to be better than Flowers In The Attic (although you really do need to watch both to get the full story).

I have to say I loved these books as a teenager but do not remember them being so uhhh…. graphic.  It is funny now to think that I read these books all those years ago when even by today’s standards they would be considered… risky.

I do recommend the movie to those of us who know the books.  I think they are a wonderful compliment to the original story and add a whole new twist of creepy when you see it played out on the screen.  If you have not read the book… I recommend them.  There are 5 books in the series and I do not recall if I went beyond the third, If There Be Thorns or not.  Perhaps someday I will need to look at this series again.

The Giver Movie Review (Tastes Like Divergent)


Jonah lives in a society of contentment.  Emotions are a thing of the past and words like love, and emotions like tears do not exist.  Memories of the past do not exist.

When Jonah reaches the age of 16 he and his classmates now graduate and receive their positions in society – not like the sorting hat in Harry Potter (darn!) ( a little like what happens in Divergent except in The Giver they do not have a say as to where they will wind up).  Jonah is given the rare position of the Receiver, a highly regarded position only held by one person at a time and he becomes the holder of all the memories.

When Jonah experiences for the first time feelings and emotion and memories of what the past was like with happiness and love and dancing he is confused.  Why would this ever be blocked? As the Receiver, we is having the memories passed to him by (you guessed it…) The Giver.

The more Jonah sees what is missing from life the more dissatisfied he becomes with the ways things are.  He learns there is a boundary that surrounds the community that keeps everyone form their memories.  If Jonah can just get beyond the boundary with the memories he can release them back to everyone.  Of course, the powers that be do not want that to happen and will do everything they can to make sure it doesn’t.


I read the book, The Giver, for banned book week in 2012.  I enjoyed the book and I enjoyed the movie.  Its a scary scenario to think of a society that represses all memories and emotions for the sale of feeling well…


Sorry but if pain is the price to pay to also feel happiness…

then I will take the pain.


Definitely worth seeing.

Maze Runner – Movie


James Dashner’s book, The Maze Runner became a movie this year.  Way to go James!


All Thomas knows is that he wakes up in a world he is unfamiliar with.  He is surrounded by other male teens and is welcomed to the Glade.

The Glade?

The Glade, as he learns is a walled in community that protects the group from the Maze.  The Maze is a world of walls and changing routes and creatures that come after anyone who dares to go into the Maze.  Thomas learns that a box appears every 30 days with a male teen in it, Thomas is the latest arrival.  A few, called runners, go into the Maze during the daylight hours (safer than nightfall), looking for a way out of wherever they are.

As Thomas becomes familiar with the surroundings and engages with the other boys, things in the Maze start to change.  Some blame Thomas, saying he is not like them … and Thomas has no idea what that means, he knows as much as they do about The Glade and that is not much.

Then… another person arrives in The Glade.  The box is early… it has not been 30 days and this time it is not a male teen…

it is a girl.

And with her is a note, “This is the last one”.



I read The Maze Runner a couple of years ago after I met James Dashner in New York and found him to be delightfully funny.  I enjoyed the book very much, yet for some reason I never continued on with the series.  Now, after watching this movie, I will be pursuing the rest of the books… I am hungry to know more.

Author James Dashner and I - New York 2012

Author James Dashner and I – New York 2012

The Maze Runner movie is done very well.  I was actually surprised how much I enjoyed it.  Definitely recommend the book, the movie… and the author.  ;)

Mockingjay Book VS Movie


Mockingjay, the third and final book in the Hunger Games series came out published by Scholastic in 2010.  As I looked back on my review of this book I had to laugh as I reviewed it three days after it was released…. hmmmm…. anxious to see how it all was going to end?

The Book…

As I mentioned I read the book over 4 years ago.  I did enjoy the book but openly admit it was my least favorite of the three books, mainly due to all the politics that were involved in this final installment.  I am not a fan of politics.That said, I did still enjoy the book very much – author Suzanne Collins does not take mercy on any character and all are dispensable… it was truly a powerful read that left me thinking about it well beyond that final page.


The Movie…

I was very excited to watch the movie.  My son had warned me that it wasn’t the most exciting of movies as it is a lot of information that is necessary to prepare us for the part 2 of this movie that will come out in 2015.  I have to say I disagree with my son (sorry Justin).  I did find the movie engaging and perhaps even came to feel more real and explained better to me than the book came through.  I think Jennifer Lawrence plays the part of Katniss perfectly.  On screen she shows such emotion she brings me to tears for the cause.  If you are a fan of the series, definitely take time to see the movie – all the movies.

Bonus note – in the movie Katniss sings a song that is haunting.  Jennifer Lawrence sings the song and I looked it up when I came home and found out Susanne Collins wrote the song.  (WOW!)  I have now heard the song by another artist but prefer Lawrence’s.  Here it is:

Book vs, movie… the winner of this dynamic duel is….


The Movie.

While this is a close battle, I think because of my personal struggle with the politics of Mockingjay the visual of the movie worked better for me.  I will definitely be owning this one.


Have you seen the movie yet?  Have you read the book?  Do you plan to?  If so do you have a preference of book or movie?

If I Stay Book vs. Movie



Synopsis:  Mia Hall is a gifted cellist.  She is quite possibly on her way to Julliard and is making hard decision with her boyfriend Adam who plays in a successful band.  Stay or go seem to be the decisions that Mia struggles with.  She has wonderful loving parents and a little brother she adores… there is so much to stay for.  Then one snow day her family takes a drive and is in a terrible accident that leaves Mia in a coma.  Mia has an out of body experience as she sees herself in the hospital.  As everything crumbles around her Mia and only Mia can make the decision if she should stay or if she should go.


The Book

I reviewed this book on my birthday in 2011.  Side note.. my reviews are kind of funny then… for myself I rated the book an average read.  It was good and I liked it but it was not over the top WOW.  We reviewed this as a group for my book club and we actually had a wonderful discussion over it, which I talk about in the review.


The Movie

I recently watched the movie of If I Stay that came out this year.  I did not think it would be “theater worthy” so I waited for it to come out for rental.  I have to admit I was surprised with how much I enjoyed the movie.  Mia played by Chloe Grace Moretz was wonderful.  I teared up several times during the scenes where she experiencing the pain of seeing what is happening around her.  Adam, played by Jamie Blackley was also exceptional.  Maybe I was just in the right mood for this kind of movie but whatever it was it really touched my heart.

Knowing that time and distance from the reading of the book may have to do with my decision her today I am going to have to say the winner of this Book vs Movie is…



See it… read it… but if you are going to choose one or the other I think the movie came off as more powerful and emotional.  Dang… it was GOOD.


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