Catching up on Books and Movies with a giveaway

It has been a while since I talked about the books I’m reading and movies to recommend.  For those getting my posts via email, you might not know that I link my Goodreads reviews on the sidebar so you can see my latest reviews.  I like to read a variety of books, lately becoming bored with murder mysteries though, so I am reading more general fiction.  I have a giveaway today too, so here we go!  Affiliate links are provided to all the books, just click on the titles.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah – A compelling and thought provoking novel about the horror and heartbreak of living in Nazi occupied France during the second world war. Vianne and her sister Isabelle are forced to make one terrible choice after another, taking grave risks as they try to survive, each in her own way. Isabelle joins the resistance, while Vianne is forced to billet German officers in her home. Hunger, poverty and cruelty become the way of life for four years, as Vianne takes one day at a time while Isabelle risks her life to fight back. I couldn’t help but wonder how I would have reacted in their position. Very well researched and written, difficult to put down, The Nightingale is highly recommended.

February Books and Reading at From My Carolina Home

The Last Camellia by Sarah Jio – Interesting easy read with a mystery involving a rare camellia bush and the untimely death of a lady of the manor. It is told in two time periods, one just after the death, and the other years later when the manor is sold. Both women attempt to find out the truth about the lady’s death and the location of the rare camellia. I have enjoyed other works by this author. Her style is easy to read, yet the story is compelling enough to make you want to read more. However, the mystery is ultimately a bit superficial. Still, it is an enjoyable novel, and nice for times when concentration isn’t required.

The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro – A totally predictable story, no surprises. The writing is ok, and the book is a nice read, but not a groundbreaker.  There was a mystery of sorts, as the protagonist Grace tried to figure out why a total stranger would leave an inheritance to her, but the plot was thin and easily figured out.  The only enjoyable thing was the information on perfumes, and the making of complex fragrances. When I started this book, I thought about doing a post on perfumes, as I like wearing pretty scents and have different ones for different seasons. But, so many people nowadays cannot stand to be around it, that mostly I use perfume very sparingly, mainly for my own enjoyment and DH’s.

February Books and Reading at From My Carolina Home

The Secret History by Donna Tartt – What would you do if your best friends committed a crime, although maybe unintentionally, then told you about it? Then what if one of them threatened to turn in everyone, including you? That is essentially the premise in the story, and it isn’t as cut and dried as you might think. I am still wrestling with how the story progressed and the choices made by the characters, particularly at the end of the more than 500 page novel. In the author’s fashion, the days go by slowly and in excruciating detail, which will annoy many readers. But I find this kind of character study interesting and engrossing. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.

Never Change by Elizabeth Berg – In some ways this was a difficult book to read, dealing with serious issues about dying and loneliness. A home care nurse in her 50s is assigned to care for her high school crush as he deals with the end of his life from a brain tumor. It is disturbing that a nurse would cross the line between personal and professional, but in a way that was the point. Her personal issues cloud her judgement. Her loneliness makes her reach out for personal attachments in inappropriate ways. Also a nurse, I found some of the ethical medical issues in the book unrealistic. I cannot imagine taking one patient to another patient’s home, especially when the second patient is a drug dealer. However, it is a necessary plot point which becomes clear later. Overall, this was a thought provoking novel, with a lesson on reaching out and making connections.

Now that DH is retired and we can see movies more easily, we are going a bit more.  First, run to the theater to see the award winner “The Post” with Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks.   It was nominated for six Golden Globe awards, and 2 Academy Awards, along with 73 other nominations from various film critic organizations.  The story is compelling about the publication of the Pentagon Papers in the 1970s.  Recent widow and new head of the Washington Post must decide whether or not to challenge the government and support the freedom of the press in publishing classified information about the Vietnam war.  It was astonishing how much of this movie rang true to the problems today with government’s assault on the press.  The scenes of the printing of the newspaper with the typesetters alone are worth the price of admission.  It has great writing, superb acting, and fabulous set design.  I’d like to see it again.

Three Billboards outside Ebbing Missouri, also a multi-nominated film, is a strange movie that I am not sure I can recommend.  Frances McDormand has a very strong role as a mother of a murdered girl at odds with the local sheriff over the lack of an arrest in the case after months.  The film was made here in western NC in Sylva and Asheville, so of course I want it to be successful.  You may not know that North Carolina has a significant number of movie productions here every year, notably Hunger Games and Dirty Dancing, among others.  But the amount of F-bombs in this movie made it not so appealing, along with the unresolved nature of the storyline and a weird ending.  It is racking up awards for acting and writing, and is reminiscent of Fargo in the darkness of the story, with spots of genuine humor between grief and raw tragedy.  Still, I think I would have rather spent money on something else for the theater and waited for this one on DVD.

Next movies on my to-see soon list are Phantom Thread and Winchester.  Phantom Thread focuses on the fashion industry in London during the 1950s, is nominated for a number of awards and is supposed to have lavish costuming.  It stars Daniel Day Lewis.  Winchester stars Dame Helen Mirren in the role of the heiress to the Winchester Rifle fortune, Sarah Winchester, allegedly haunted by the people killed with those guns.  She builds the Winchester house, the legend saying that she believed that she would live as long as she continued to build on the house.  The Winchester Mystery House is in San Jose, California, and if you are ever in the area, it is a must see attraction, loads of fun whether the legend is true or not.  I saw it many years ago, and the curator organization was in the process of refurnishing many of the rooms on the tour.

I’ve been thinking about trying out Amazon Prime. The Prime Original series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, won two 2018 Golden Globes Awards: Best Comedy Series and Best Television Actress – Comedy, Rachel Brosnahan.  The show is about a woman who had everything and lost it all, then found a talent she didn’t realize she had – doing comedy stand up. Big Little Lies was the another winner of four Golden Globes this year. With a free trial of HBO on Amazon Channels, Prime Members can watch this hit drama, where the apparently perfect lives of three mothers of first graders unravel to the point of murder.  Amazon Prime members can also see other award winning shows like Get Out, and Amazon original movie The Big Sick.  Lots to binge watch with a free trial, plus see more original programming too. Join Amazon Prime – Watch Thousands of Movies & TV Shows Anytime – Start Free Trial Now

For those who have Netflix,  DH and I have been watching episodes of Travelers and Stranger Things, also award winning shows.  Travelers is a sci-fi fantasy, where people from the future inhabit the bodies of people just seconds away from dying and prevent their deaths.  The team is given missions to do, to try to avoid the apocalypse that is their future.  It is a fascinating show, new travelers arrive every week with new missions.  Sometimes, actually saving the future means improvising in the present.  It stars Eric McCormack of Will and Grace fame.  Well written and engrossing, give this one a try if you have Netflix.

Stranger Things stars Wynona Rider, and is about the search for a missing boy, secret experiments, supernatural occurrences, and a very strange little girl in a nod to sci-fi horror movies from the 1980s.  No affiliation, but Netflix also does free 30-day trials.  This is also where you find the series The Crown, about the early years of Elizabeth II, and House of Cards which will make its final season without Kevin Spacey.

And last, but not least, a new collection of five charming short stories about quilters by an author I have recommended in the past, Frances O’Roark Dowell called Margaret Goes Modern.   The stories are engaging and wonderful, and every one of them would have been great developed into full novels.  I devoured this book in just a couple of hours, just couldn’t put it down!
Book Giveaway at From My Carolina Home
Margaret is bored with the traditional quilts in her guild, and when her granddaughter asks for a modern quilt, her world opens up to a brand new inspiration for quilting.  Amanda and Lucy are on the brink of financial ruin, and the solution may be in an unexpected direction, with just a touch of magic in the air.  Lisa is dealing with the death of her best friend, finding an unexpected solace in quilting.  Liz is an imperfect mother with a love of quilting and an irritating, near perfect, somewhat judgemental neighbor who doesn’t quilt.  Melissa believes she has a perfect single life, until it is upended by a 10-year-old charmer, an unexpected man and a quilt that permeates her dreams.  Frances is offering a giveaway on a copy of her short story collection, enter via Rafflecopter using this link –

Rafflecopter Book Giveaway

The giveaway will be open until Friday, and the winner announced Sunday. Please, Frances, keep writing!  With every single story I wanted more!!

What have you read or seen at the movies recently?


66 thoughts on “Catching up on Books and Movies with a giveaway

  1. Thanks for sharing your latest books and movies. I’m looking forward to seeing Mary and the Witch’s Flower, the latest Ghibli animated movie from Japan. On the book front, I’ve been listening to books by Irene Hannon–inspirational mysteries.

  2. Kathy h

    Thanks for sharing your reviews of books and show. I am always looking for recommendations. I am reading a series of books by Linda Castillo. It takes place in an Amish community in Ohio. I am really enjoying them.

  3. lv2bquilting2

    Hi Carole……Thanks for the book reviews, which are greatly appreciated, since I listen to 3 or 4 audiobooks on a weekly basis. You are the 2nd. blogger I follow, who gives her book reviews. She gives them on a monthly basis and I thoroughly enjoy the fact that I am able to get a peek inside the book, before ordering it from the library.

  4. Susan t

    I just finished Molly’s Game by Molly Bloom. Although just released as a movie the book was written in 2014. I’m not a poker player but I enjoyed the book to see into the lives of the rich and famous and what they will do to feel life. It’s never enough for them. How sad and even sadder how much money they just throw away. I think this would be a DVD movie for me.

  5. Kathy E.

    I always am interested in book recommendations, so I thank you for several good titles to add to my list! I’m currently reading A Man Called Ove. It’s very different than my usual reading choices, but I’m enjoying it! This is one title I got from another blog’s recommendations.

  6. I watch The Travelers, not finished with the second season – I love this show – I have only read one of your books Kristin Hannah’s I usually like her books and did this one too.

  7. Lee

    Thanks for the Review – I have started reading the Donna Leon series about Guido Brunetti a detective. The first one in series is Death at La Fenice.

  8. Linda B

    Someone I follow recommended The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher…was that you, Carole? Anyway, read the first two books and really enjoyed them…he is a wizard PI in Chicago. And now listening to an e-audiobook by him – the Furies of Calderon – fantasy set in another world. Very compelling. Just learned how to listen to e-audio books on my ipad and opening a whole new world…maybe I won’t replace my broken CD player!

  9. Shirley

    Enjoyed your movie and book reviews. I made a list of movies and books for future reference. My book club read The Nightingale (which is going to be made into a movie) and everyone enjoyed it. The Orphan Train and The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto are two books I enjoyed recently. I just saw The Greatest Showman and highly recommend it.

    1. I saw the Greatest Showman and enjoyed it as much as I did when Mama Mia came out! (Ans Hugh Jackman and Zach Efron are easy on the eyes! Just saying….)

  10. The Nightingale is a wonderful story! I just finished Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo, which is a good, but sometimes difficult read. I appreciate your reviews! My next undertaking is the Iliad and something fun to go along with it!

  11. Francine

    I read the Lilac Girls, a story of 3 women during WWII, whose lives become intertwined. It is a story of gruesome violence against Jews so my friend was unable to finish it, but it gives a historical representation that is important not to forget. On television, I watch Project Runway to learn more about the creative process that the contestants use to sew their fashions. I don’t always agree with the judges as my fashion sense, if I have any, is more down-to-earth.

  12. Susan Stanton

    Always nice to get good book recommendations. I”m reading Dry Bones, by Craig Johnson. These novels were made into the Longmire Mysteries.

  13. JoyceLM

    I am reading Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan, and Killing Season by Faye Kellerman. I usually have a couple of books that I’m reading so I can switch off, unless one grabs me and drags me to the end. thanks.

  14. Right now I’ve not found the time to read, but am looking for a good read! Thank you for these recommendations! This book sounds like something I could find the time to read! Thank you, Susan

  15. Last night I finished reading Rax by Michael Coney, an old SciFi novel written in the 1970s. I enjoyed it and will look for others by this author.

  16. Gwynette in NW Arkansas

    I always am interested in what others think about a book I may want to read. Thanks for the reviews!!

  17. Wonderful to find some new authors and get a realistic review. A good time down here to have a book on hand, as we might get some autumn days very soon, mornings are already cooler than a few weeks ago.

  18. I am not reading anything at the moment. Except quilt pattern directions for a project I am working on that should be done by the 6th. Does that count? Thanks for the reviews.

  19. Olivia Cooke

    Love to read especially stories about quilters and knitters. Thanks for the listing of books and authors.

  20. Brenda Ackerman

    Hello Carole, Many of your book and movie reviews caught my attention and I would like to read or watch them. Currently on Netflix, I am watching a series called Blue Blood and am enjoying every episode. Three other series, I enjoy watching also on Netflix are Doc Martin, Merlin and Star Trek. On You Tube, I watch an old series called Alien Nation that I enjoy also. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the movies and books that you have watched or read. I hope you have a great day!

  21. Helen Glover

    I am reading Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood. We watched it on Netflix and I am always intrigued by stories based on true facts which this was. The book is so close to the series but it is quite interesting in it’s psychological aspect as was the series. There are references to quilt blocks which is what first brought me to it. Kind of slow in spots but keeps me interested. My next read is Tearoom for Two by Susan Paige Davis put out by Guideposts. My sister is giving me these books and they also have references to quilting and sewing. Fun!

  22. Barbara

    I just finished reading an “Amelia Peabody” mystery series book (they are archeologists in Egypt)–these have a touch of humor and are one of my favorites–written by Elizabeth Peters who also writes as Barbara Michaels. I believe one of the first books in the series is “Crocodile on the Sandbank”

  23. debby

    The book I’m reading now is a comical take on quilting but I forget the name. A friend lent it to me recently. I’ll take this list to the library because several of them sound very interesting.

  24. Lois Stimax

    I think you are a sister from another mister—we love the same books and movies, and of course I love your quilts!! I hope you read Big Little Lies, because I couldn’t put down the book. You should see The Greatest Showman- the music is incredible and of course, Hugh Jackman steals the show. Now, onto watching Mrs. Maisel!

  25. I loved the Nightingale too incredible book from a talented story teller. I had trouble putting the book down and it was ages since that happened. I am currently reading Somewhere between luck and Tust by Emilie Richards, at half way point but her style is easy with interesting discussions for book club as the protagonist goes through her journey making human connections throughout the plot. Nice even reads. Also will be reading Margaret Atwood’s , Surfacing don’t know anything about that yet.

    As for movies try to see The Shape of Water. I really enjoyed it and the subject line could make for interesting discussions over desert and drink with your husband afterwards.

  26. I just finished “The Wild Trees” by Robert Preston. Great book. I would never have picked it, but my book group did. It was very educational, enlightening, and interesting. Highly recommended! Thanks for sharing the giveaway.

  27. kathyinozarks

    I am really excited about Daniel Day Lewis”s new film He is one of my favorites and sounds like this one will be his last.
    I have had the nightingale on my kindle for about 3 years now-I have started reading it several times but always sounded so depressing-I need to give it another go.
    always enjoy your reviews

  28. Melanie

    I haven’t been to a movie theater in some time, but would love to see Phantom Threads. Will watch for your review! I just finished reading The Olive Branch, an easy-read novel about an artist from London (slightly different phrases at times but does not hinder the storyline)) who buys an olive tree grove along with the large “masseria in Italy (online impulse purchase!) to escape her recent break up and start a new adventure. Interesting info. about olive trees and the process in making good olive oil.

  29. Vicki H

    I haven’t read anything since before Thanksgiving. I see a trip to the library coming, thanks for the reviews.

  30. Christine Y

    Currently reading “Under the Cajun Moon” by Mindy Starks Clark. Not a fast reader but do enjoy a good read.

  31. Teri Krugman

    I recently read Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult. My DH and I both enjoyed it and listened as we traveled between NC and Miami, FL. The readers were very strong with entertaining voices. We finished it at home, quickly reading it so we could find out what happened to a nurse accused of murdering her infant patient. Definitely recommend it!

  32. Camille

    I also highly recommend The Nightingale. I have been enjoying novels by William Kent Krueger. My husband and I listen to them when we can find them in audio form or read them as quickly as we can hoping we can both finish the book before the borrowing time from the library expires.

  33. Christi

    I am rereading a Purpose Drive Life for a class I have to start teaching. I haven’t read this one in a long time. Good reminder.

  34. Sue H

    I keep hearing how great The Post is … going to have to get to the theater! The book sounds like a great read. Thanks for the chance to win it!

  35. Loris Mills

    I’m an Elizabeth Berg fan. I will have to check this out though it sounds kind of different for her.
    I can’t wait to see The Post! Thanks for the great reviews 🙂

  36. Linda Hubbard

    Great reviews! I LOVED The Nightingale, one of my fave reads of 2017. Also loved The Post. Great acting! I’m currently reading Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese

  37. I forgot to mention I just started Nora Roberts “Year One”. It’s already starting to sound like Karen Blackstock’s Restoration series. Which I thoroughly enjoyed, but with maybe a little dark side. I hope not. Have you read it yet? Or do you read her?

  38. sorry, I was supposed to say what book I am currently reading. It is “Always in my heart” by Pam Weaver. During the way, 13 year old twins were sent to a country farm for their safety, but things are not as good as expected. In the end the mother has to find a way to rescue her children.

  39. Nikki

    I am reading City on Fire by Garth Hallberg. It is slow going for me. Lots of descriptive paragraphs….but I will make it to the end. Some of your recommendations have intrigued me.

  40. Susan Powell

    I am reading Death and the Brewmaster’s Widow by Loretta Ross the second book in the series. I am listening to At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon.

  41. I am planning on reading Home Again by Kristin Hannah over my February break. I an busy with math textbooks right now. I actually liked The Perfume Collector even though it was somewhat predictable.

  42. Carole I refreshed my coffee, grabbed a notepad and sat by the fire as I enjoyed this post and comments. I ended with a list of three movies and three Netflix to watch and a list of ten books to check out. THANK YOU! I don’t usually read during the school year as I often find myself buried in a book and staying up too late! But with a long Presidents weekend ahead I’m going to order myself a copy of Margaret Goes Modern as it sounds like the perfect weekend read. Thanks for the great post and conversations….

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