It’s a Vet’s Life by Cathy Woodman

11842742It took me forever to finish this book, and I think I’m done with the series. As I felt with the last book I read in this series, I’m just not feeling it.

Maz and Alex are still plodding along in Talyton St. George and decide to get married. But Alex’s father, Old Fox-Gifford, is making mistakes at work and not doing well, which throws a wrench in things. You go through about 60% of the book with Maz complaining about wedding planning and their new vet, but nothing bad happens. Then something bad DOES happen and it’s resolved in like 20 pages and everything is rosy again.

The country life is not for me, it seems. Take me back to London!

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A Few of the Girls by Maeve Binchy

27434560Maeve Binchy is one of my favorite authors of all time, and I was devastated by her passing in 2012. However, I’m forever grateful to her husband and publishers for continuing to publish her work after her death.

It’s bittersweet to read each of these stories, designed to stand on their own, knowing that she could have easily built another charming novel around each of them. Perhaps that’s why it took me so long to finish this collection of short stories; I would get so caught up in each other, and it would be jarring to leave that universe and start in a new one after only 5-10 pages.

My favorite pieces were the ones where the heroine (almost all of the stories have female protagonists) doesn’t realize how awful she is; we really are all the heroes of our own lives. Some of the “lessons” learned were a little heavy handed, and some of the stories haven’t aged as well as others. But each of the 36 stories was a fun peek into Ms. Binchy’s creative universe, and I’m sorry she’s not still here to play in it.

No Starbucks for a Year

It’s November again, which means it’s Jenniversary time! Every year, I make resolutions for the coming month and/or year. These have been hit and miss for the past couple of years, so this year, I’m trying to create achievable goals that will still challenge me.

For this year’s #Jenniversary Challenge, I’ve chosen three month-long goals and one year-long goal.

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Victoria by Daisy Goodwin

30841109Over Thanksgiving last year, I went on a book buying spree with my family, picking up a few new releases, including this one. I was excited to read it in advance of the PBS airing of the ITV mini series. I’ve previously enjoyed books by this author and I knew that she was also the showrunner/head writer for the mini series. I gave it to my mom to read before I left and she enjoyed it as well, so I was ready to love it.

Unfortunately, I just didn’t very much. Perhaps it was because I saw a bit of The Young Victoria on cable as I started reading it, so this felt like a retread. Or it was just too slow going in the beginning. Once Victoria stopped behaving like a spoiled child, it was much easier to read. I mean, I get that she’s the Queen and like 17 when this all happens to her, but there was a little too much stamping her feet and having a crush on Melbourne for me. Or maybe it was Melbourne indulging her instead of being the adult that I couldn’t take.

In any case, it wasn’t until about halfway through the book that I actually felt interested and/captivated. I’m also quite curious why the mini series appears to go way past the events of the book, if they were written at the same time. Regardless, I’m happy to finally catch up on the mini series and check this book off my list.

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes with Joe Layden

21412202The first movie I can remember watching is The Princess Bride. I’m sure there were Disney movies before that, but this is the first movie I have a clear memory of watching. My family would always spend a week on the Outer Banks with another family (the parents were my parents best friends from college) and one evening, they put in the VHS tape of The Princess Bride. I know I didn’t get all the jokes, but it was fast and funny with all the things that Peter Falk describes at the beginning – “fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles…” I also, of course, had a huge crush on Westley!

That was the first of MANY, MANY viewings. So, when I saw that Cary Elwes was coming to the Castro Theatre in 2015 for a Quote-Along screening of the film, followed by a Q&A and book signing, I knew we had to be there. The screening itself was hilarious. It was so fun to be with 3000 other people who know all the words and enjoy being dorks about it. My dad even got an inflatable sword to wave about when they start fighting. The Q&A highlighted a few of the anecdotes from the book, but the best part was getting my copy of the book signed by the man himself. I can’t recall what I might have said (if anything at all), but I DO remember that his eyes were incredible! I was giddy the whole way home, having met my first crush and not embarrassing myself (for once).

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Meeting Westley in person

Oh right, the book! I don’t know why it took me so long to actually finish this book as it’s a delightful read. Elwes is self-deprecating about his own part in things, while heaping glowing praise on his co-stars. It’s a lovefest all around, as his co-stars also contribute anecdotes related to each chapter. I loved the behind the scenes photos and all of his stories about Andre the Giant. I also hadn’t realized all the work that went into the sword fight as well as how extended it became at the last minute. Elwes is good-natured about how the movie is entwined with his legacy, which is always nice to read, since some actors get tetchy about associated with one role, no matter how long ago it was.

My only quibble with the book is that the anecdotes from his cast members are presented in boxes along with the main text, so it’s hard to figure out when the read them without losing the story that Elwes is telling. I’m sure there’s a good reason for the publisher doing this, but it was rather distracting. However, the book has further enhanced my enjoyment of the movie (which was on cable this week) as I watch for all the little things he mentioned. Knowing that he really was knocked unconscious after the Fire Swamp put that scene a whole new light! But I don’t want to give away anymore – you should really just read the book because it’s excellent, and then watch the movie because it’s excellent.

“Yes, you’re very smart. Shut up.”